What happens when a bio technologist, an engineer and an architect get together?
They form one of the coolest rock bands in India. Skrat.
Formed fresh out of high school, band members Sriram, Tapas and Jhanu have come a long way in cultivating and performing in the indie music scene. Having done major gigs such as the NH7 Weekender, a Red Bull tour and an MTV Xtreme event, Skrat and its crew has grown in recognition and reception. Their claim to fame came in early 2012, when they released their homegrown video ‘Skrat in the Shed’, which began their idiosyncratic journey towards DIY- do-it-yourself. Taking that in their stride, in 2014 they did the ‘Loverider Experience’, a motorcycle tour of several cities, resulting in the first of its kind road movie/documentary.
‘We decided to pursue this track simply because no one else had done it,’ said singer/songwriter Sriram T.T. ‘It was done with shoestring budgets and our friends helping us along the way.’
This has made the Skrat experience personalized and approachable, making them the ‘friendly neighborhood rock band’ fans love. For all their fame and demand, they remain a close bunch of goofy music nerds, passionate about music and excited to just perform. ‘I know Tapas since 25 years, he’s been my best friend since grade 1’ said Sriram. ‘He is the driving force of our band.’ While they initially lost one of their band members, Satish, to higher education, they found Jhanu, their bass guitarist and the shot of adrenaline that made them the livewire act they are.
The spontaneity and drive, to perform anywhere they can, and build a community of fans and friends, is characteristic of their success. Fans flock to them, people offer digital services and a fierce loyalty encircles this band.
But things weren’t always easy for them, largely owing to nascent rock music scene in India, the meager number of rock music venues and the slim chances of payment. In 2008, they played livewire at a competition and came last in 81 bands, resulting in heavy criticism.
However, one of the beauties of this group is their resilience, representing a breed of people who just don’t give up. 8 years later, they performed on the same stage, this time as a guest performance act. ‘It was the most poetic performance for us,’ said Sriram. ‘Especially when I got to tell this story in front of 10,000 people.’
Hence, they introduce Bison, their latest album and a culmination of everything that makes Skrat unique. The Skrat universe and its characters, such as the Gunslinger, the Queen and now General Bison are central to all four albums the band has produced.
‘We were in Kodaikanal, and saw this massive bison, just 4 feet away from us,’ said Sriram. ‘In that moment, we turned to each other, and hence our new album!’
In this album, the songs depict a chaotic anarchy when the queen is exiled, assuming that monarchy is the original order of the world. General Bison, who is an amoral character created with the purpose of neutralizing order, is sleeping in a vineyard, to be resurrected to restore this order. The songs contain fervor, grit and a purpose, characteristic of the strong nature of a bison. While the entire album is a hit, Sriram’s top three choices are Raptor, Vineyard and the title track, Bison.
For all those bands, struggling to make their mark, pushing their music and finding their niche, Skrat serves as an example of the power in passion. ‘The most unhealthy to approach this is to cater to either the critics and commercial needs, both although opposite extremes, keep you from doing what you want to do,’ said Sriram. ‘Get into the jam room, fire it up and just make music.’
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