What is Galeej Gurus all about and how did it happen?
We are about Rock and Roll. We want to explore music and have fun while at it, not saying that the fame and money doesn’t help! The name just happened, it isn’t anything significant – we liked the sound of Galeej Gurus and we adopted it. It began as a college band in our second year in 2000. Over the years there have been several lineup changes, but at the moment, the lineup is Nathan Harris on the vocals, Matthew Harris on the bass, Ananth Menon on the guitars/vocals, Naveen Thomas on the guitars, and Kishan Balaji on the drums. I have to say we have been lucky to stick together for twelve years. It takes a lot of effort to keep it together and continue playing good music – some of us are married and have kids, there are those of us who have hectic day jobs with lots of responsibility. You need to play your cards right and work hard on the marketing, it is all pretty exhausting. But the glue that keeps us together is that we love performing and still look forward to making new music together.
Tell us something about yourselves.
Nathan is married, has a set of twins, is a twin himself, and runs a successful cafe called The Hole in the Wall. He writes the lyrics and a song around this!
Matthew is married and has four dogs. He plans on running a dog shelter in the near future. And he caters events over the weekend! Oh yeah, he’s the other twin, the evil one!
Ananth is married, has two dogs and loves to ride his bicycle in his spare time. He plays the guitar full time with several bands.
Naveen plays the guitar full time and dabbles in event management occasionally. He also loves food! I mean seriously loves it. You should ask him about the cupcake fight!
Kishan plays as a sessions drummer for various acts, records jingles, and runs his own tissue paper manufacturing unit amongst many other things.
Do your diverse backgrounds impact the music you create?
Everything plays a role in the music we create. We’re all from relatively similar backgrounds economically, but I think the love for music hit all of us pretty early in life. When you play, you are in a mood to create – which means you are in a vulnerable state. You have to open yourself to stuff so you can condense it to one direction. When I say everything affects the music we create – I mean, sometimes even random pointless things in life affect our music. It may be a bad day, a fight with a spouse, a problem at work, or just some happiness spilling off our lives. It is up to us to channel that into something creative because it is a constant challenge to keep an open mind.
How do so many varied minds come up with music that is agreeable to all? Is there someone who leads the way?
Sometimes one of us comes up with an idea, we jam together and come up with music. The band gives support to that idea. We need to know that it is a sound that the band can carry off. When everybody is sure then everybody is happy. The more you learn to create and engineer these moments, the longer the band lives. With Galeej Gurus, there is no one person who leads – it is a complete democracy and everyone has veto power. No matter how many times the line-up has changed, the same rules continue to apply. It works for us – such a system may not work for all. Now we all have been coming with song ideas. Melodic ideas on the guitar while jamming sometimes translate into a structure, and we work a song around it. Of course, there is conflict – it is not all smooth. But, everything is within our closed circuit and we have a pride about that and a basic respect for each others’ lives, so we make it work.
Take us through some of your biggest songs and albums.
Our first album is in the process of mixing at the moment. Some of our better known songs are Full Meals by The Wayside, Make Some Noise, Physiological Breakdown and Believe in Tomorrow.
What inspires you all?
Inspiration comes in various ways. Sometimes an idea will just pop into your head, sometimes a movie will stir up some emotions, on occasion it could just be a spectacular sunrise. I doubt there’s any one thing that consistently fires us.
What is happening in the coming days?
Like I said the album is in its last stages, so that should be out pretty soon. We’re continuing to write and our music continues to evolve and we hope to hit Chennai sometime soon, as well as playing more in the North. We would really like to play in the North East as well. There are plans of heading abroad, but that may take a while.
Which artistes/bands inspire you most?
There’s five of us, and five worlds of music to put down, but a rough cross-section would look something like this: RHCP, Deep Purple, Eric Clapton, Cream, Foo Fighters, Kings Of Leon, Extreme, Mr Big, Bon Jovi… It really goes on, man!
Do you collaborate with other artistes and bands? Tell us about some of them.
We have collaborated in live spaces with various artists, largely local, but not restricted to. We used to have a gig every year, where we’d invite a few artists to get on stage with us. We plan to do more of those soon.
Do you think bands get enough attention in India?
When does a band EVER get enough attention? I think the attention is growing, and will continue to, because the new bands these days are writing such compelling and original material and it’s slowly drawing people in. There’s a ways to go, obviously, but I can say that it is growing. There is the Internet and stuff – everyone is getting educated about what they want to hear. Till recently adults used to make condescending noises when they heard about “bands” but now all that is changing. More information going around makes the conservative crowd more interested. Even though it is not Indian classical – increasingly grudging respect is given to Western musicians like us. They would say, they have heard about us or read about us somewhere, so it strikes a chord.