Zebediah Plush: Of Killer Butterflies and DSP Black
Zebediah Plush was formed in March 2001 by a group of young musicians from Clarence High School, Bangalore. The band, comprising Anand, Avijit and Arfaaz (Fuzzy), and current design consultant, bassist Mark Swaroop, jammed in the school auditorium, causing many nervous moments for the school authorities. The band soon found a name, and with the arrival of bassist Anup Isaacs, Zebediah Plush found itself writing and composing their own songs. With the dawn of 2002, Anup decided to pursue his fortunes with the merchant navy, and Anand quit an oppressive engineering course to join Christ College, along with the other original members of the band. The line-up was completed by Anindita (Andy), who handled bass guitar duties. (The band also had a stint with Hari Adivarekar on lead vocals.)
Easily one of Bangalore’s finest bands ever, Zebediah Plush‘s live career spans concerts all over the country, including performances at Great Indian Rock (2004), the World Music Day festival (2004), The Rainseed festival, and their own shows, ‘Plush Sounds’ (2003) and ‘Sea of Stories’ (2004).
The band, now non-existent, released their first and only album in around four years of existence, the excellent ‘Afterlaughs’, in February 2005, shortly before they dissolved. Now, after a year since the album’s release, guitarist Anand Varghese and keyboardist Avijit Michael talk us through the songs on ‘Afterlaughs’, in no particular order.
1. Singing Lady
Avijit: I had a recorded Zep tape that belonged to Anand with me. I was recently listening to it in my car. In between there were these very nice guitar bits that I didn�t remember Page playing, but yet they sounded awfully familiar, when suddenly I realized, these were the original guitar bits for “Singing Lady”. Fuzz and Anand wrote them at Anand�s place and recorded it over the first tape they could find, so that they wouldn�t forget the parts. You can hear Fuzz tapping his sticks on the floor to keep the groove. They came to my place later and showed me what they had come up with and I put my keyboard bits over them. The keyboard solo on this is one of my favourites.
The lyrics are about one of Fuzz�s trips where the Singing Lady came to him. What do you know? Fuzz wrote a lot of the lyrics.
Anand: Bastard Jitu always bums my shit and never gives it back. I haven�t heard “Houses�” in ages!
2. Attack of the Killer Butterflies
Avijit: One hot afternoon in Pondicherry, Anand, Andy, Fuzz and I were walking down the road that leads to the JIPMER hospital, when Fuzz says, �There was this one point when butterflies used to constantly attack me!� — and the rest of us laugh. But he insists that he isn�t joking, nor was he tripping, but for an entire month butterflies would attack him with well thought-out strategies. They�d fly at him from all directions while he walked, while he rode his bike. So we HAD to write this song. No relation to Anthrax�s song, this.
Anand: The harpsichord entry was created by Jitu. Fuzz and I had been listening to a lot of Tull and other such grandiose prog at the time, and had tried to get Jitu to come with something in that vein, but to no avail. Then we said something like, “Think of a Robin Hood movie or something�”. And BANG! There it was� apparently, Jitu had been moonlighting with the Merry Men.
3. Journey to Gondolin
Avijit: One of the first few songs we wrote. Anand has a book called ‘Unfinished Tales’ by J.R.R Tolkien. The cover has one of this typical, intricately detailed, pieces of fantasy artwork depicting the water lord coming out of the sea. Fuzz suggested we write something based on that. The song mirrors the story really well. Gondolin is the hidden city of the elves.
Anand: The music itself was written courtesy the Indian Telephone Industry. I had come up with the chords one night and immediately called Fuzz and played them to him before I forgot. Amnesia is rampant in our ranks, and despite its booty-call overtones, it was the only thing to be done.
4. Elastic Man
Avijit: This was the second original we ever wrote (the first one never made it past our first couple of shows). Anand came out with this very raw riff, and we all loved it. I was given the task of writing lyrics for the song. The words are very odd (I just write as the spirits tell me to), but it basically speaks of the kind of person who is pushed around, who people walk all over. It�s about people who work in corporates, doing the bidding of their slave-driving CEOs, going in zombie-like to work.
5. A Taste of Hrothgar
Avijit: We figured the keyboard riff for this song conjured up images of armies, war, marches, history. We decided to go with a Viking theme for the song. At first we thought of talking about Valhalla, but then someone suggested the Viking hall on earth, Hrothgar. However, later I found out that Hrothgar was one of the legendary Viking leaders. This song has no homosexual inclinations, we just didn�t do our research properly!
Anand: There was at least one show that Plush was forced to play as a power trio: keyboard, bass, drums and none of the accompanying guitar cacophony. I decided to switch bass for that gig, and we wrote the song rather quickly in its honour, attempting to do something with our ELP format. Did you know “Moog” rhymes with “vogue”, by the way?
6. Star Spangled Banter
Avijit: That�s right, we don�t think too much of Right wing fundamentalists! This song is our anti-Bush anthem. America takes upon itself [the task] of being the protector of the world! Well, no thank you! We wrote this with our old bassist, Anup, who came up with the guitar riff. Some of the lyrics got lost somewhere along the line and we rewrote a few verses. But how hard is it to write anti-Bush rhetoric?
Anand: (reveals Green Card in embarrassment)
7. Sea of Stories
Anand: The chords for this song had been swimming around in my head for quite a while before they became anything coherent. Interestingly enough, the early structures to this song were written with Nolan (guitarist, Kryptos) on drums! He’s a rockin’ guitarist, but he sucks on the drums, by the way, before someone decides they want to form a pop side project with him. But despite his lack of skill, we managed to piece it together and introduce it to the rest of the band. I wrote lyrics about a young lady I was somewhat fond of (awwww�). She actually introduced me to Salman Rushdie’s book of the same name, so she was worth a line or two. After all, a woman with literary taste is to be desired. (Sexism, anyone?)
8. Tea and Toast
Anand: This is one of those unlikely crowd favourites: pops its head out for a bit, sulks, and hangs around the sidelines for months till people begin to notice. To this day, I am still trying to figure what the fuck it’s about. Fuzz wrote the lyrics over some very lazy rock ‘n’ roll chords, and it sounds mysteriously like a “morning after” sort of tale. I�ll have to ask him though. I like the way the guitar solo came out on this album for this one. And for those of you who doubt the inspirational powers of DSP Black, think again.
9. Aye, Candy
Anand: Has anyone heard this nasty rumour that Plush likes bad puns? But jokes aside, this has some really tight bass playing from Andy. I love the way she holds the groove up on this one. The mid-section was actually induced by 40 hours of ‘Outlandos D�Amour’ and unbearable heat between Delhi and Bangalore in a second class train compartment. Lyrically, we�re heading South again� big surprise, eh? After the haze of GIR and the Delhi heat, what else do you expect?
10. Weather Girl
Anand: This is Plush working on its most instinctual level. Frankly, what better influences can a song have than Led Zep and women-folk with loose morals?