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In The Studio: The Supersonics

The Kolkata rockers get more personal on their second album, which is a nod to Seventies rock ‘n roll, says frontman Ananda Sen

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Naman Saraiya Apr 03, 2014
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The Supersonics with producer Miti Adhikari (extreme right). Photo: Naman Saraiya

The Supersonics with producer Miti Adhikari (extreme right). Photo: Naman Saraiya

The Supersonics disbanded in 2010 at a time when they were riding high on the wave of their newfound popularity, the success of their stellar debut album Maby Baking (2009) and a short UK tour, including an appearance at The Great Escape Festival. The quartet possessed a cohesive sound, unlike any other band in the country that held its own and also marked a time in Kolkata when newer, younger bands were leaning towards writing their own music. So it came as no surprise that the news of their reunion was received with much adulation, coupled with high expectations.

 Since their reunion in 2012, the band has released an EP, which had a couple of old demos and a version of “We Are” from their  debut album and “The Evil Fly,” which was included in the Puma Loves Vinyl 2012 compilation. While the frequency of their shows decreased, it did give the quartet plenty of time to work on their material to perfection before heading into the studio, ”¨this February.

 The Kolkata rockers have spent close to a month in studio with long-time collaborator Miti Adhikari, often referred to as the fifth member of the band. The much-awaited sophomore album, slated to release later this year, “will be nothing like Maby Baking,” says the band’s 32-year-old frontman Ananda Sen. While songs such as “The Evil Fly” and “Why Do I?” are older, the band has been testing out new songs such as “Come Around You,” “Strawberry” and “To the Mall” at gigs since last year. Of course, the songs have taken new shape in the studio, with several parts being worked out on the fly.

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 The as yet untitled album finds its biggest influence in Seventies rock n’ roll, and frontman Sen says, “I’m not sure everyone who loved Maby Baking will like this record. It’s not an album that you can listen to once and figure it out. You’ve really got to get into it, to know where it’s coming from.” The songs are a lot more personal, says Sen, unlike the debut, which included more universal themes such as quarter-life angst. Even in the songwriting process, the band put most songs on the slow burner ”” seeing how each song played out with time and multiple listens, adding and removing parts as needed. Says Sen, “There can’t be any weak songs on the album; each one has to be as good as the other.”

 When the band was on a break, each of the members ”” Ananda Sen, Rohan Ganguli, Avinash Chordia and Nitin Mani ”” have been playing music with several other local groups and have bettered their approach to music. “We’ve grown older, matured; I don’t know about mentally, but as musicians for sure,” says bassist Mani, “You’ve got to be crazy in some way in order to create [music].”

 The new album will feature Vivek Nair of the Mumbai-based pop rock band The Mavyns on keys. Nair helped Sen put ”¨together a lot of the material in Goa last year. The band has also recruited the services of another ”¨old-time friend and collaborator ”¨Dwaipayan Saha, who plays ”¨percussion on all songs, and lends backing vocals on a couple of them.

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The direction that the album has taken shows a marked departure from the post-punk sound of Maby Baking. Slower, jam-based ”¨guitar parts, accompanied by introspective lyrics and country-tinged rock n’ roll, both find place in the second album. At the end of a particularly long studio session, spent mostly figuring out drum parts for a track, everyone seems pretty exhausted. During a smoke break, producer Adhikari says of their efforts, “I can’t tell you this ”” ”¨no filler, only killer!”    

This article appeared in the April 2014 issue of ROLLING STONE India.

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