Folk-rockers Swarathma are known for doing the unusual. Previously, they’ve broken into harangues during gigs, sung Kannada songs for a non-Kannada audience, entertained fans with their onstage repartee and basically peppered their music with colour. In the city tonight, as part of their 10-city tour to promote their latest album, Topiwalleh, the southern sextet is hoping to do all this and more. “The idea is to do more with the stage than just sing,” says bassist Jishnu Dasgupta.
At the concert, the band is looking forward to a sea of colourful topis (caps). They have even been urging fans online to wear a ‘digital topi’ to show support and win prizes ranging from a hand-painted guitar to a tour with them, or have the band play in their living rooms! Ask them about their topi mission and Jishnu explains, “That’s what the politicians are been doing — ‘topi pehnana’ (conning people). We wanted to inject colour into politics, so we thought of this prop. It also works as a memory of the gig that fans can take back home.”
Their latest 10-track album, co-produced by Loy Mendonsa, features a peppy Kannada number, another one with Shubha Mudgal and carries on with their brand of socially/politically conscious music. “We, as a band and as individuals, are affected by things around us, so I guess that makes us politically conscious. Our music is of the people, for the people,” says vocalist and frontman Vasu Dixit, adding, “It’s a tighter album than our debut and shows we’ve all found our place in the band.”
Their recently released video of ‘Topiwalleh’ comprises footage from news channels and paints a hilarious picture of the game of politics. “It’s our take on Indian politics. Rather than presenting a dark picture of the current state, we thought of taking a fun route,” says Jishnu. So has the video ruffled any feathers? “Not yet. But if it does, we would think it’s a success. That’s the response we are hoping for,” he laughs. For now, the band is also excited about releasing their biography.
“A fan, Reishabh Kailey, made a design book on us as part of his college project. It captures the entire story of the band, our journey, where we come from along with posters, illustrations, pictures and lyrics,” says Jishnu adding, “We don’t know if a physical book is possible, but for now we are working on releasing it as an e-book.”
Other books on bands
* Euphoria: Ashish Kate writes on frontman Palash Sen’s life.
* Rock&Roll Jihad: The story of Junoon’s Salman Ahmed.