In The Studio: The Earth Below’s Doom & Gloom Approach To New Album
Mumbai-based drummer and songwriter Deepak Raghu is working with Bengaluru guitarist Ramanan Chandramouli and bassist-producer Leslie Charles on his full-length debut
Out in a quiet part of south Bangalore, there’s a multi-story studio called Stained Class Productions LLP, where producer Mrinal M. has created one floor with the recording board and on the floor above it, literally up the stairs, is the room where Deepak Raghu, Ramanan Chandramouli and Leslie Charles are recording a heavy, plugged-in and polished new album for The Earth Below.
Mrinal and the band, who are jamming on a heavy but bluesy sort of song (shelved for now), are connected through a monitor mic. For his new album Nothing Works Vol. 2: Hymns For Useless Gods, Bengaluru-bred, Mumbai-based Raghu is running in the opposite direction compared to his stripped-down, noisy and eerie EP Dreams of a Thousand Stillness, which released in 2018.
He says after a listening session, sat on the terrace of the studio building, “It’s a bit of mixed feelings for me, coming to Bangalore. It’s the same wherever you go. You carry all your misery with you wherever you go.” Raghu laughs, but it feels like he’s certainly found a way to commit the misery to tape. This time, the drummer of erstwhile sludge band Shepherd, says the prominent sound is doom. “Once the doom bug bites you, it’s just there,” he says with a laugh.
Still in the production phase, songs with working titles like “Heavy Doom,” “Lizard” and “D Doom” are informed by bands like Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, The Jesus Lizard and Soundgarden. The riffs are chunky and fuzzy, with Ramanan’s vintage guitar tones sitting just perfectly over Charles’ basslines and Raghu’s drumming. Another untitled track has a pendulous, depleting and sinister guitar line.
This record started out with acoustic home demos, which Raghu then shared with two of his long-time friends last November. Raghu adds, “I came down in January to show everyone the parts and familiarize them with the songs. We wanted to record live, none of that metronome or tracking separately stuff.”
With a total of 10 or 11 tracks in the works, Raghu is working with musicians he’s known for more than a decade, who are part of bands like alternative act Blushing Satellite and Thermal And A Quarter. Raghu says, “They’re kind of like session musicians. It’s not so hard to adapt to different musical situations. Leslie, he’s into a lot of heavy music, but I don’t think he’s got an opportunity to play it yet. Rama as well.”
Currently, there’s lyrics, vocals and overdubs left to be recorded, for which Raghu will return to Bengaluru in August. He’s setting it all up to be finished and ready to go by the end of the year. The drummer adds about writing lyrics, “You can’t really force it. You kind of have to wait for it to come to you. That’s my process, basically, just wait.”