Earlier this month I reviewed a DVD by the band Indian Ocean who make their home in New Delhi, India. Watching Live In Delhi I was struck by not only how gifted the four members of the band were musically, but by the fact that although the music sounded familiar there was something distinctly different about it.
It wasn't just the fact that those songs with lyrics weren't sung in English, or the drummer stepped out from behind his kit at one point to play a percussion instrument called a gabgubi, or the fact that the percussionist sat cross legged behind his tabla and other instruments. It was like eating a really delicious dish made up of recognizable ingredients but what made it interesting were spices you couldn't identify; there was something more to it than what met the eye, or in this case, the ear.
Over the course of an almost hour and a half long conversation that I had on Wednesday September 30, 2009 with Rahul Ram, bass player for the band, we talked about everything from the history of the band, the type of music each of them had been playing before they were in Indian Ocean, how they go about writing their songs, and what types of music has influenced them.
As we talked it became clear that there was no simple answer to the question, what makes Indian Ocean sound like they do, but rather it's a combination of all those elements above. Maybe there are certain ingredients that have a stronger influence on the sound than others, but you'll have to listen to their music and decide that for yourself. For now, read what Rahul has to say about himself and the rest of the band; Amit Killam (drums, gabgubi, recorder, vocals) Susmit Sen (guitar) and Asheem Chakravarty (percussion,tabla, vocals).
Can you tell me a little about the band's history and how you ended up with your current line up?
Well, Susmit and Asheem have actually been playing together since they were in collage in 1984, but they didn't form the band until 1990. I think they went through something like three bass players that first year until I joined them in 1991. I had known Susmit when we were both in junior school. He hadn't been interested in music then at all, so when I ran into him in 1991 and he told me he had a band I was really surprised. They had made a demo in 1990 - I think Susmit had sold one of his guitars to pay for it - but nothing much came from it.