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Old Jungle Saying: Pissing Off Waiters Since Umm… 1984.

By Arun Kale | April 28, 2007

Split Magazine caught up with Sandeep Madhavan, bassist for Old Jungle Saying, for a chat about the band, their new material, the dormant live music scene in Bangalore, and the adverse effects of kiwi fruit juice. Read on.

Split Magazine - Old Jungle SayingWhat’s been happening in the Old Jungle Saying camp of late? Melroy has left to re-join his old band Split, Avijit is now playing with Maximum Pudding. Is the band still active?

As a matter of fact, a lot has been happening, non-musically though. I moved to Chennai last year, so did Adi (singer) recently, but I come back to Bangalore to jam over the weekends. In between, we also found ourselves a new guitarist, in true movie style. He was toting a guitar somewhere on the streets around Pecos, and Adi asked him to come and jam with us, and we found that he kicked ass. So, songs are being written. Songs of depravity and disdain. Some are schizophrenic, some are plain out boiled in funk. We should be playing shows in a while, when we’re happy with the way the songs turn out eventually. There’s a lot more genres involved as well. Hemanth (our new guitarist) is ‘choppier’, so the songs have developed a meaner edge — which is fine, we’ve always been about excess.

Sounds great. How many new songs have you written? Most people are only aware of the three that are available for download on the band’s Web site.

There’s another that we recorded on RadioCity Live, which is available on our MySpace page called “The Grateful Ghost”, which is almost a modern take on Vikram and Betaal. There’s a few more in the works. We’re presently working on three new songs, with several more to be worked on when we get the time to jam together. If things go well, we’ll even be recording in a few months.

Will that be for a full-length album?

It could be, or a full-length EP with about seven songs. Haven’t decided yet. We still have to work on more songs, and since there isn’t the pressure of performing them yet, we have the time to work on all our parts and hone them. I really like the way the songs are sounding so far, there’s the usual quirkiness, and lyrics that are not run-of-the-mill. ‘Run of the Mill’ sounds like a good title for the album actually.

(Laughs) Yeah, that seems to be a very popular thing about Old Jungle Saying songs, the quirkiness.

Yeah, we have a habit of taking jokes and making songs out of them, and each of our songs turn out to be the soundtrack of stupid screenplays. It sounds better than saying, “Hey, we’re trying to be different and sound interesting”.

Yup, it does. One of these ‘stupid screenplays’ and my favourite song by Old Jungle Saying is “Three’s Missing”.

Yeah, that was the first song we wrote, on our first jam itself, we didnt have a singer and so Ranvir Shorey (yeah, the same guy) was hanging around. Mel broke the fourth string on his guitar, Ranvir thought he had broken his third, so he came up with the title of the song and some lyrics which disappeared by the time we jammed next. So, when we found Adi, I wrote the lyrics again.

Ranvir was just hanging around the jam room?

Yeah, he was in town, and we were jamming, so he dropped in for a couple of jams. He’s one funny chap, more funny than musical, we were cracking up more than we were jamming. Luckily, I remembered the groove the next time we got together. We used to jam with George Mathen at that point of time (Mr John’s Banned, Lounge Piranha) in his place. Then there was a lull when George decided to concentrate on his band, and then I decided to ask Greg, who drummed for Aatma, and then we found Adi serenading a beer in a pub called Legends of Rock. A few jams later we were playing at the same venue. Four jams later, I think, with the three songs we had under our belt.

Split Magazine - Old Jungle SayingHave you been playing regularly after that?

We gigged a lot at the beginning of last year, then Mel left. We still did June Rock Out when he came down from Mumbai for it, but it’s been a lull after that. It was hard to do it with me being in Chennai and not having a guitarist, but it’s much easier now, having an axeman on the same page. We did send our EP for the Jack Daniel’s Indian Rock Awards and got nominated for Best Album/EP, Best Bass Player and Best Keyboard Player. I won Best Bass Player, which is kinda cool. Heh, you can drop it in the middle of a conversation, and change the direction that it’s taking completely.

How many awkward conversations have you gotten out of by mentioning the Best Bass Player award?

Well, not awkward, but I’ve filled in many pregnant pauses with the phrase, “Have I told you …” or “Did you know …”.

(Laughs) What kind of reactions do you get normally?

Most don’t know about the damn thing in the first place. For those who do, it’s favourable, enough for them to make me buy them a second drink (laughs).

Not bad. I was coming to that, actually. That’s a lot of [nominations for] awards. Old Jungle Saying isn’t quite as well known as some other Indian rock bands, like Zero or Thermal and a Quarter. Do you think the nominations will change that?

Well, we haven’t been around that long, or put in the effort (laughs). It would probably change it, once we get around to playing and showing the folks out there what we’re capable of. Until then, at least there’s a good enough buzz around us.

Yeah. You’ve played in Aatma before this, as well. That was a popular and well-respected band in Bangalore.

Yeah, that was my first band if I forget a highly forgettable group of musicians I first started jamming with, which thankfully never got any where. So my slate was clean when I began with Aatma. That’s pretty dormant as well, we did a show last year, but everyone was pretty involved in other projects and work so nothing much happened after that. Niranjan is a full-time music director, Sujay has Bhoomi, Greg is busy teaching tongue-tied call centre dweebs to speak like the average foul-mouthed American and playing music with a few other bands. I also did this Technophobe project with Mel in the meantime, along with with Tushar (ex-Aatma drummer) via e-mail. That was kinda cool. I’ve been writing songs for that as well. I got myself a four-track recorder recently, so I can write and record songs wherever I am — that’s really helped.

Don’t hold me to the date, but in a couple of months, you can hear ditties with references to popular culture clouded by insanity and incongruity, a rhythm section that tries to drop bombs on a slippery guitar player and songs that will stick like wax to your eardrums.

What do you think of the live music scene in Bangalore? Seems like there are quite a few good bands in Bangalore, but not enough avenues for live performances.

Yeah, there’s a dearth of venues and most importantly, there’s a dearth of people promoting it.

You’ve been playing for a while in various bands, has it always been that way? Do you see it changing?

The Bangalore scene has always lacked energy, there’s no one like an Amit Saigal or a Vijay Nair pushing for things to happen. The musicians are all first rate and will hold their own on any stage in the country, but they’re all waiting for things to happen, and waiting for the next gig. That’s only slow growth, trying to develop a fanbase, and some bands never play outside the city. That’s pretty much a waste.

How do you think that can change?

I think someone from the bands themselves [should] take the initiative and promote music as a whole, not just one individual genre. And, of course, there’s also some stupid rule against playing live music in pubs and bars that has to be done with, but that has loopholes that can be dealt with.

What rule would that be?

Live bands = dance girls. But in Bangalore, live bands = rock bands, as well. So, the cops bust up places that have live bands playing, which could be a group of guys playing raak music.

That sounds pretty bad.

Yeah, but there are gigs that happen nonetheless. But the same gig might not materialise the following week because of the same idiocy.

A lot of bands are releasing follow-ups to their debut albums. A few years ago, even a single album used to be a really big deal.

It’s because bands have realised that that’s the best way to get their music out, and have the audience sing along the next time they play. When your audience is into your songs, you can drop the cover act and develop your own sound. There’s a limit to the amount of times one can honestly play a cover and enjoy it. A section of the crowd may get off it, but where’s the joy for the band? Earlier, you’d get a studio that dealt with film music, and make your songs sound like a crappy B-grade horror movie soundtrack, with drums that sounded lke they were drowning in a toilet.

Do you think better recording facilities is one of the major reasons for bands to release more albums?

That, and the fact that audiences have evolved as well, a little bit. There’s still that hunger for cover bands and the need to enjoy themselves at rock shows by listening to a well-executed cover. We did a gig in Bangalore for the Bangalore Open [Tennis] tournament, and it was back in the day when we just had three own songs on our setlist. When we were done with it, and expected everyone to tell us after the gig how cool they were, we were asked why we didn’t have more own compositions. That’s signs of a mature audience, but thats pretty much the case in Bangalore. I don’t know how it is elsewhere, but originals are still respected out here, and an all-original show is easy to find. We don’t have a version of a BC/MC chant in Bangalore yet, but IT has brought in truckloads of people from above the Vindhyas into Bangalore, so that should change soon.

(Laughs) Let’s move on to something less serious. The Split Magazine Word Association.

Bring it. When was the association founded?

1886.

102 years before 1984. I hope my math is right.

More like 98, I think.

That’s why I flunked every single maths exam in college. Thankfully, you don’t use complex equations in day-to-day life.

Thankfully.

That’s what they never taught you in college.

Those deceptive bastards.

Yeah, I should meet my Principal now and tell him that. Oh, but he’s deader than a dodo now.

(On with the word association –)

Depeche Mode: New wave.

Coldplay: Phantom pain.

The Big Chill music festival: Sniffer dogs.

Queens of the Stone Age: Homage.

Carlos Santana: Tired.

Alright. Time for the last of Sandeep Madhavan.

[1] When was the last time you got drunk?
Two days ago.

[2] When was the last time you dabbled in suspicious substances?
I had a kiwi fruit drink yesterday that gave me the loosies.

[3] Which was the last cassette/CD you purchased?
‘Mistaken Identity’ by Vernon Reid.

[4] Who was the last rock star you shook hands with?
Mattias Eklundh (Freak Kitchen).

[5] When was the last time that you signed an autograph?
In March. It was outside a coffee shop, and it was a very pretty woman, so I obliged.

When can people expect those new songs from you? What can they expect from the songs?

Don’t hold me to the date, but in a couple of months they can hear ditties with references to popular culture clouded by insanity and incongruity, a rhythm section that tries to drop bombs on a slippery guitar player and songs that will stick like wax to your eardrums. Of course, being Old Jungle Saying, there are songs about wildebeests heading for certain death, prisoners escaping from Guantanamo and fat cats getting fatter.

(Laughs) Sounds great. Do you have any last words for the people reading this?

Never have kiwi fruit juice, especially if you’ve pissed off the waiter about to deliver it.

Comments

1 Comment. Post Yours Here.
  1. May 30, 2007, 2:19 pm adi

    sandeep!! man! I WANNA JAM!!!!! hope i can get outta this hell hole any time soon!!!!

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