London-based Asian Dub Foundation teamed up in 1994 as an underground group out to rebut stereotypes concerning Asians. Today, even though the underground scene has become virtually non-existent, guitarist Steve Savale feels that their bedrock of sound will remain as is.
Presently, the seven-piece alt-punk, electronica group is on an India tour, and will play gigs across Pune, Mumbai and New Delhi. While individual members from the band have toured India on various occasions, the entire group is returning only after 10 years. “Nobody gave us a good offer,” Savale rues. “People have a static view about musicians — they think individual members make the band. We’ve always been more about the music,” he adds.
It’s official, folks
Time and again, ADF has come under the spotlight for changes in its line-up. Savale attributes this to the band’s tendency to associate itself with an unchanging concept. “ADF is more than the sum of its individual parts. It’s like a constant party whose theme is immortal,” he says.
By releasing an album almost every other year, the group has also proved that they’ve been active on the music circuit. They’re soon going to release their 14th album, titled A History Of Now. But looking back at where they came from, there’s no sense of remorse about having signed on a record label. “It’s not like we compromised our artistic integrity. When we began, we were plugged into something that was in decline. But for our music to be heard by all, we had to sign a record label,” Savale says.
A History Of Now is, as Savale simply puts it, about now. While it brings new musical elements to ADF’s ensemble, he says it also retains bits of their previous work. “I hate the idea of virtuosity. Music should paint a picture of society — you pick up an instrument and try to express something. That’s what we’re striving to achieve,” he says.
The band has kept itself abreast of Indian musical tastes and admires contemporary acts such as Shaai’r and Func and Midival Punditz. But if there’s one soundtrack that has blown Savale’s mind, it’s that of the movie Gandu by Koushik Mukherjee. “It’s funky punk rock; aggressive, twisty and avant-garde in a unique way. I don’t think I’ve even remotely heard anything like that coming out of India!” he says.