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9 tours, 1 vast album for TAAQ
NIDHI GUPTA  23rd Sep 2012

Thermal and a Quarter

t the South Asian Bands Festival earlier this year, Bangalore-based band Thermal and a Quarter introduced themselves, perhaps for the umpteenth time, by revealing the reason for their mysterious name. But having had a solid presence on the music circuit for more than a decade, the equation of this name stayed only for their debut concert, when they were, in fact, three-and-a-quarter mallus. Today, a series of line-up changes and five albums later, it isn't just the raison d'etre for their name, but also their music, that has evolved.

The now three-member band – Bruce Lee Mani (guitar and vocals), Rajeev Rajagopal (drums) and Prakash K N (bass) – was in town this week to promote their fifth album 3 Wheels 9 Lives with a performance at Hard Rock Cafe. The album itself is a compilation of 28 songs on three CDs, ranging from crooning ditties accompanied with acoustic guitar strains to multi-layered heavy metal compositions. In terms of content, the songs range from inspirations by John Coltrane and Cat Stevens to auto-rickshaw rides around Bangalore and their travels across the world.

The boys who started out jamming in college and went on to establish their specific sound – which is a potpourri of jazz, punk, metal, blues and folk– as Bangalore Rock, believe that it is adaptation to their climate that has stood them in good stead. Their repertoire also includes some socially conscious renditions such as the hugely famous Kickbackistan, a take on the 2010 Commonwealth Games' corruption.

Growing up has also involved graduating (if one can call it that) from self-produced music to signing up with a label. They've signed up for their latest album with EMI, a first for the band, and a rare event for the country's fledgling indie scene. "We made the music in our own studio at the Taaqacademy (the band's flourishing music school in Bangalore), it was mixed by Kirk Yano in New York and is now going to be available on mobile phones, on Flipkart and across stores," informs Rajagopal.

Hailing from a time when organisers demanded only covers of popular Western songs, the trio feels that the indie 'scene' today is at its peak. "We are No. 3 on Flipkart's music charts and are competing with Barfi! right now," laughs Rajagopal, adding that this surely was a sign of Indian English music being accepted in the mainstream. "The only glitch would be lack of organisation and lack of returns," he says, remembering the times when they sold CDs of their music at live concerts.

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