Thermal And A Quarter Bring in Party Cheer on ‘What World’
The Bengaluru rock band’s latest single references a “post-pandemic” setting with Afro-beat and a horn section
Around May this year, Bengaluru rock veterans Thermal And A Quarter’s vocalist-guitarist Bruce Lee Mani began thinking of the rosy future that might just be on the horizon after two years of Covid-19 pandemic gloom. “I was looking around and thinking, we’re not even sure if it’s over yet, but what are we waking up to? The whole world went through this crazy experience,” Mani says.
It led to the creation of their new song “What World,” which follows songs like “Inside Out,” “Tilt” and their seemingly prescient 2020 album A World Gone Mad. “Even though it’s a reflective song asking these questions, it’s also a party song,” Mani adds. The six-minute song is informed by zydeco music from the American southwest as well as Afrobeat, featuring tenor saxophone by Gautam David (from hip-hop band T.ill APES) and backing vocals by Ananya Raja (from fusion act Kelvikkuri). A tune to evoke the party mood, “What World” is perhaps also a reflection of the larger ensemble performances that TAAQ have been putting together over the last couple of years.
Mani says the song wasn’t originally written with any featuring artists or particular instruments in mind, but it leaned in the direction of saxophone and choppy guitars and solid rhythms as he, guitarist Tony Das, drummer-percussionist Rajeev Rajagopal and bassist-producer Leslie Charles worked on it. “Songs sometimes start as being the spare, four-piece versions and finally gets [taken] on stage or gets produced. Adding these extra elements definitely adds a lot to what we think the song would turn out to be,” Mani adds.
On the back of releasing “What World,” Thermal And A Quarter will perform in Mumbai in November, plus a few corporate shows (“We’re not complaining, it’s nice to make some money,” Mani says with a laugh) and will continue writing new material. The frontman says their next album is inspired by “a certain altered state of consciousness that I went through recently.” He adds, “It might end up being one long piece of music. We’re still thrashing it out.”