MTS Discover

Interview With Neel And The Lightbulbs

By MTS Discover | 6th May, 2015

Describing their music as ‘Freshly squeezed Indie Rock / Funk’, Neel and the Lightbulbs are positively one of the coolest bands around. The band, based in Kolkata, comprises of Neel Adhikari, an established singer, songwriter and an integral part of the Indie music scene in India, along with Subhodip Banerjee (lead guitar), Roheet Mukherjee (bassist) and Avinash Chordia (drummer). These talented musicians got together and went on to record a few songs with a small audience in a house concert, which was shot by friends. That video gained popularity online and just like that, gigs started rolling in and the band was born.

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We got a chance to speak to Neel Adhikari about their journey and how they see themselves in the future.

Read on.

1) As a band, you guys describe your music to be ‘Freshly squeezed Indie Rock / Funk’. What would you say your biggest influences are? Also, tell us a bit about how the band came about.

I think that funk word came about from ‘Desert Funk’ where we play some funky arrangements with four Rajasthani musicians. I feel the shaping of our sound is a more organic process. The trouble is if you’ve lived here long enough, you would have grown up listening to pretty much everything. So, I think we have heard enough music to tap from pretty much everywhere. Like the title track of our new album ‘Rewind’ has morsing which was an idea we got at the Kasauli Rhythm and Blues Festival when we did a gig with Gafoor and Kutle Khan. However, the song has a rock n roll groove. We keep going back to our rock n roll roots and our common love for the Beatles and bands that developed from that influence. We all love Cake, Bread, Kings of Convenience, Radiohead, Wilco, Great Lake Swimmers, Parliament, Die Antwoord, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, and here I realise it’s pointless to list out our influences. Much music has been digested by us and our prime influences are the four of us. In spite of it making business sense we don’t like being boxed inside a genre. And this new word Indie that’s being reinterpreted in our country provides a safety umbrella under which we can stand and say, ‘Here you wanted a genre? Take this.’ Watch our videos online. If you like the music, come for the gig. That process eliminates the need of a genre. It’s this scene we belong to that’s the genre.

2) What would you say the biggest achievement of the band has been?

Our biggest achievement has been recording our new album ‘Rewind’. The video for the title track is already on MTV Indies and 9XO. We played a few festivals and have a strong following back in our hometown. I think we’re known in the scene somewhat but that’s something we don’t concentrate on achieving. I think we’re happy to be discovered through our gigs and our releases of videos and singles. We concentrate on achieving ideal arrangements for our songs. So after saying all this I’d say our biggest achievement is the song Padampada which we wrote together from its inception. Subhodip came up with the idea.

neel and the lightbulbs

While it gets easier to make music and cross the line beyond which one can call him or herself a musician, it’s also a lot tougher because the recording company model is over. These are complex times for music. The word indie I think denotes that nobody is a celebrity in this scene. Big music companies and publications invented celebrities. Now an unsigned artist has a different dream. We’re in that moment where we’ve suddenly realised that we ourselves will build a new structure to support our dream. And we’re building it as we speak. Most musicians I know are doing something or the other for the scene. I personally host the open mic at Someplace Else once a month and find new artists. Nishit Arora while managing pretty much the whole scene here in Kolkata plays a DJ set from time to time. Tanya who sings for Zoo manages the live gigs for Sin, for Taj gateway here. Miti Adhikari the legendary sound engineer has moved back here from BBC Radio One London. His wife Sam has managed BBC’s involvement in the biggest festivals in England year after year for decades. The fact that they’re here now in Kolkata and are fully connected and engaged in the scene nationally, is a light at the end of a tunnel.

4) What are your top 5 personal favorite tracks?

Weird Fishes – Radiohead
Free as a bird – The Beatles
There She Goes – The La’s
Warning Sign – Coldplay
Mon Deiu – Edith Piaf
In no particular order of course.

5) Where do you think the band is headed in the near future?

We have five new songs that are sounding so good that frankly some myopia has happened. So another set of recordings for sure. Can’t see beyond that right now. We’re gonna play them at our next gig soon. Also I’m playing guitar, frame drum, ukelele and working with a kazoo too. Avinash is playing drums with a laptop streaming loops and parts. Roheet is working on synth bass sounds too. And Subhodip is upping his production skills. The sound is widening while getting a deeper entrenchment in its character. And we’re enjoying ourselves. The future better be blinding.

Check out their latest single, Rewind on

Catch Neel and the Lightbulbs live, doing what they do best on Friday, 8th May, 2015, at 8.30 pm, Princeton Club, Kolkata.

Entry to the event is FREE, get yourself added to the guest list by visiting the Facebook event page here.

 

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