Rohit Panikker catches up with Live Banned, an entertaining stage act from Bangalore and picks apart music, which is a unique blend of genres.
Live Banned is not your typical breed of live band. As funny as it sounds, sometimes it’s almost impossible to do justice to a live act with mere words on a page. The problem usually arises when the act itself is so entertaining, you can write nothing but about how you felt rather than a prissy ‘review’ on how the music and the ‘ambience’ was! Take a look at the Facebook page of this five-piece act that’s garnered so much attention in less than two years of their inception, and you would get a pretty good idea of what you can expect from them on stage; “Live Banned is a concept. Live Banned is about entertainment. The band’s originals and medleys are popular for their humour that is sometimes intelligent and at other times atrocious. The performances are bold, flamboyant and energetic, influenced by South Indian music, Bollywood, Disco, Pop, Rock and Metal. The band satirises, restructures and twists popular music across genres and languages that appeals to everyone, from the man on the street to an audience from the corporate world.”
Comprising Amrit Rao on vocals, Dheerendra Doss on drums, Dhruv Kumar on guitar, Siddhart Kamath on keyboard/guitar and Raveesh Trikey on bass, Live Banned derives inspiration from not taking themselves, or life too seriously. According to the vocalist, “Live Banned is a live act and the music is nothing like you’ve heard before. We are shameless, we are mad, we are stylish and we entertain. We are always live and very, very loud. The ENT doctors love us. We are very nice people off stage and you are welcome to hang out with us!” Perhaps that should explain the irreverence with which they take to the stage, aiming to do nothing but just entertain.
And it’s not only on stage, but Live Banned has also built a reputation for themselves with their hilarious online videos and promos before their shows like the one they made before their Blue Frog gig or their Soda Studio promo before their Counterculture gig (“it is happening this Friday, after the dry day..ah nice,” invites Amrit in a hilarious Malayali accented impression).
Now, even after two years since they started, the band has not yet released an album, as is the norm. Amrit says, “We’re not sure if we would release a full-fledged audio album at all. The reason being, we are a very visual band and not just aural. The original tracks would make more sense with a video or at a live show. The songs were written to suit this idea, although it wasn’t a conscious effort initially. There will be a release but with a lot of visual content in the form of a DVD or even bigger. Some grand things are being planned and will be announced by the end of this year.”
Meanwhile, Amrit has gone on to release his solo project, and with a viral track called Sappa Matter Da. On the Live Banned front, they released a single called The Auto Tune, a song which Amrit explains, “is about not-so friendly, greedy, crazy, rude and mindless auto drivers in India. It’s a song the people of Chennai and Bangalore would relate to the most and brings out the anguish of auto passengers in India. After a decade of autorickshaw travel, there couldn’t have been a better subject than this to write about.”
So, what’s next on the cards for the band? “We are working some new compositions and focusing more on them to strike a balance between originals and the mash-ups. We will start shooting for our next music video ‘Death Dance’ sometime this month, which will be mainly shot in Chennai, Bangalore and Bombay and can be expected by the end of this year,” shares the vocalist.
“Parody is one of the things we do and it’s very evident. But our music and concept go beyond that,” explains Amrit about what they do. “We mash up songs, twist them around, shake them a bit and present them in the most unexpected way.” For a taste of how Live Banned can mash up a series of popular favourites, be it from your regular Tamil ‘kuthu ‘ songs or a David Guetta number. But the vocalist explains that even though parody is an essential ingredient in their act, their original compositions often tend to take a more serious issues, but yet again, nothing better than a load of sarcasm and satire to drive home a message. “Our originals are satirical and talk about issues that appeal to everyone, irrespective of the location, class and demographics,” adds Amrit.