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TAAQ Head To Edinburgh

The Bengaluru band will play 26 gigs at Edinburgh’s Fringe festival; announce new bassist

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Bobin James Apr 22, 2013
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Thermal and A Quarter Photo: Bobin James

(l-r) Bassist Leslie Charles, lead vocalist and guitarist Bruce Lee Mani and drummer Rajeev Rajagopal of Thermal and A Quarter Photo: Bobin James

Last year, Bengaluru rock band Thermal And A Quarter played short tours in the USA and Hong Kong, but their 26-gig stint at the Edinburgh Fringe in August will be their biggest international tour until date. “We’d done five back-to-back nights in Hong Kong. Here we’re playing 26 nights back to back,” says Mani. What the band is hoping to do is show the audience at Fringe that Indian music is not just Bollywood or classical.

The band is currently working out three different sets for this festival ”“ themed and with no common songs across them. “If you look at our work so far and the topics we consistently seem to address, first, there are the few love and relationship kind of songs,” explains Mani. “Then, a lot of it seems to be introspection and self-discovery, almost verging on spirituality. And then there is the whole Indian perspective ”“ just the oddballness of this country as seen through our eyes.”

TAAQ have also officially announced that they have a new bassist. Bengauru-based Leslie Charles, who will be stepping into the shoes of former bassist Prakash K.N. Charles, has been gigging with the band since October of last year when Prakash decided to move on. “Praky [Prakash] decided to go sessions after the 3 Wheels, 9 Lives launch. He wanted to go back and do his jazz thing and play sessions,” explains the band’s drummer, Rajeev Rajagopal. While Charles was officially presented as the new bassist on the band’s Facebook page early April, he has already played about 30 gigs with the band since the time Prakash quit.

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An engineer who was, until recently, working with a Bengaluru-based company that designs and manufactures valves, Charles has been active in the city’s scene for the last few years. “I had been playing off and on, but couldn’t find players to jam with,” says Charles. “Before this, I played with Allegro Fudge for a few months. Then I started this trio called the Leslie Charles Trio and played a lot of jazz.” At the same time, he started playing sessions around the city, and as he says, “I think these guys noticed me after that.”

Bruce Lee Mani, vocalist and guitarist for TAAQ, remembers the first time he saw Charles play. “I was in a music store buying a guitar for a student and I heard Jaco Pastorius’s “Portrait of Tracy.” I was like, ”˜Who the hell is playing this, especially in this day and age when I don’t expect people to even know Jaco’,” he says. “So I walk in there and there is this little fellow, tinkering away and actually doing a good job of it. That’s how we got talking and I kept running into him off and on.”

Rajagopal and Mani say that with Charles coming in, the sound of the band will change. “Leslie also sings, so we have two vocalists now. And both of us have vocal processors,” says Mani. “And I have this new guitar synth. So we are going into newer technological realms, with a lot of new equipment.” 

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Ask Charles what he feels about joining one of the biggest bands in the country right now and his answer is prompt. “It’s a good feeling, but it comes with a loto f responsibilities. I am following two tremendous players, Rudy [Rzhude David] and Prakash. While just learning their stuff is another trip, I realize that even when composing new stuff, you’d have to maintain the quality,” he says rather confidently.

While only the Fringe dates have been confirmed, TAAQ says they are also trying to get other dates in the UK and other parts of Europe. 

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