If you’re a hardcore physics buff, you’d be very tied to the principle of the law of conservation of energy. But Jhanu? Well. They have a different story to tell. If your science tells you that energy can only be transformed from one to another, Jhanu’s art tells them that they can create energy. And it is true: picture four young guys with enough adrenaline to leave the Die Hard series, Usain Bolt and even Jesse Owens far behind in a race, crooning and making music like nothing before. A paroxysm of ethereal spirit bursts through you, and you are instantly sure that these guys know what they’re doing. It isn’t surprising that they tell you about their genesis in four words. “Energy, power, mass, belief. All of that’s what made the magic!” says Jhanu, the lead guitarist.
Intriguing that the band is named after the lead guitarist, right? We thought so too. But when you ask Jhanu, the guitarist, why Jhanu, the band, was named thus, he offers an enigmatic riddle in response. “Yes I named it after myself….Why not?”
The band comprises four powerhouses of talent. On the guitar is Jhanu, who formed and played in several bands that included the likes of Wreckage Avenue, Asteroid and Oxygen, and then Slingshot, which was his longest stint, before Jhanu began. The voice of the band is Lawrence, who has a massive repertoire of songs from 25 films in Tamil to his credit. The crown jewel of the lot is ‘Cable Raja’ from the movie Vaanam. Besides composing music for the movie ‘Doo’, Lawrence has also appeared on screen in two Tamil films – Pugai Padam and Uthamaputhiran. The band also has Bharat on the drums, and Hairy (yes, Hairy!) as their bassist. Coming from different backgrounds, each one brings to the table a different experience and talent bank to the band. As they explain, “Coming together from different backgrounds definitely does affect the way we play together, but on a positive note.”
Jhanu, the guitarist, resonates entirely with the philosophy underlying the band’s existence. “Both, as a band and as an individual, I’d say Jhanu exists because of music.” To Bharath, Jhanu gives him a chance to lose himself. “I lose myself when I play music!” Lawrence looks at music as a path for life. “Music is my life. And my life is a journey. Naturally, I choose to travel with music!” Hairy actually has a name, which is Harkirat Singh Sangha. Abbreviated as Harki and Hairy, the bassist is all about national integration. “I am Punjabi, but I play Tamil Rock!”
Just setting foot into the world of music, Jhanu hasn’t cut an album yet. But they have songs that have already turned the masses into frenzies like nothing before. “We have this song called Arakkan. It seems to set fire wherever we go. The song speaks about the concept “destruction”, from the perspective of Lord Shiva’s ideology of ‘destruction’ as ‘purification’. The idea is that all that starts has to end, to start again.” Wisdom in a capsule, anyone? I’ll take one for sure.
Headlining the fest at the KCG College of Engineering has been one of the most important shows for Jhanu. “We were surprised and very, very happy to see the students from the fest attending our shows regularly after that! That is the kind of thing that gives us as a band, the motivation to continue doing exactly what we believe in!” Jhanu explains. Their biggest concert was at PepperFest, at NIT, Calicut. “The crowd started singing along with us. We completely zoned out and just sailed on the high of connecting with as many as 5000-6000 people at one go! It was just priceless.”
As much as Jhanu’s philosophical twist gets you intrigued, their individual musical talents have been inspired by different artists. “For me,” says Jhanu-the-guitarist, “It would be Michael Jackson.” Bharath likes a different variant, picking Megadeth, Pantera and Whitesnake. Drawing inspiration from every manifestation of artistry possible, Lawrence casts his net wide. “My inspiration would be Rajinikanth, M. R. Radha and Charlie Chaplin!” Hairy prefers to look at Lamb of God and RATM for inspiration. As a band, though, the choices that they are unanimous appreciators of are Ozzy, Judas Priest, Daft Punk, Jim Morrison and Joe Pesci.
Jhanu, the guitarist, is from Kotturpuram, and for him, it is a natural choice to pick Kottur as a preferred area to perform at. “If we had a choice, we would love to perform in our area, Kotturpuram! Do not be surprised if we end up playing in any of these political stages set up in the area…” Jhanu says. Pausing for a moment, he adds with a grin, “And yes, we are open to playing for marriages as well!”
All set to release their music video on a song called Prachanai, this summer, Jhanu will be touring down south. “We’re looking to travel all over Tamil Nadu, starting and ending at the Marina Beach, traveling to Kovai, Trichy, Madurai and Tanjore. “We have been touring with Skrat for around one year now, and will be continuing for a while with them. They are a great bunch of musicians. Whenever we see them on stage, we lose all sense of time. When we are sharing the stage with them, we lose our senses! Skrat has been around since our school days. When I got back to Chennai after my architecture training”, begins Jhanu, “I met Skrat again after 7 years. That was when the SKRAT+JHANU shows kick-started!” So is this a collaboration for the life of the band, I ask. “Collaboration might not be the right word. I guess you can say that Skrat is a part of Jhanu and vice versa.”
Jhanu is on its path to reinvent music and its presence as a rock band in the music business. “Bands themselves do get good attention. We’d say that there has been a reasonable growth both in the quality of events and artists in the last five years. The days of rock bands composing movie tracks are not that far away!” We hope so, too!