Guitar maverick Gowri, who’s now got a groovy new band called Run Pussy Run,talks about the drudgery of organising things and looking out for money as an indie musician.
The first time I saw Gowri perform was at one of the monthly Live From The Console concerts in Mehboob Studio, on January 5, 2012. I remember the exact date because I too had performed at that gig, with my newly formed band. The star of the show, allow me to declare, was clearly Gowri, who was the first one to go on stage. Because by the time my band took over, half the audience was gone. In fact, they’d started thinning soon after her set. Audience-robber Gowri.
In the three years since that gig, Gowri has wowed audiences not only with her impressive guitar playing skill, but also her on-stage charisma and her ability to turn the mundane into magic through her lyrics.If you’ve liked her solo work, you would dig the sound of her year-old band, Run Pussy Run.It’s basically funk with strokes of jazz and soul.
I got talking with Gowri and her band members, bassist Anjo John and guitarist Behrooz Mihankhah on writing music together, their band goals and the frustrating bits about being a musician in India. Here are excerpts:
I’ll ask you guys the most clichéd question first: How and why did you come up with the name, Run Pussy Run?
Gowri: It's a sequel to a song I wrote years ago, called ‘See the pussy run.’ Nothing specific.
How did all of you meet?
Anjo: I've known Gowri as a singer-songwriter for a long time, from the Mumbai music scene, basically college and pub concerts. Behrooz, Debbie and Gowri were colleagues at SAM (Swarnabhoomi Academy Of Music, Chennai).
Gowri: The band initially came together because I wanted a band to play with in Ragasthan, but then Behrooz, me and the drummer of the time –Sumair (Zubairy) - we were all neighbours then, and thought we must continue to jam. And Anjo was a good friend and always a brilliant bass player, and Abhishek (Debsikdar), the present drummer and a friend of mine from SAM days, is also brilliant to work with. It has always been a collaborative project, many of our friends have played with us, and I have all of them to thank.
Saw some great videos of you guys performing on Kappa TV. Besides the songs you played there, what other material are you working on?
Gowri: We have been on a month-break, and I've just been sitting at home and putting together more ideas. Hopefully, by our next gig, we would have filtered through some of these, and some new ideas by the rest of the guys, and we'll be working on the next bunch of pussy tunes.
What is the most grateful and the most frustrating part about being a band that plays the kind of music that you do?
Gowri: Hmmm, first is, as the creative people, we should really be given no managerial chores, but we pretty much do everything ourselves. I hate organising, looking out for money, travel, blah blah, but I've been doing it for this band because...we hadn't yet found that wonderful manager, and I think all this takes the fun out of the music. The most grateful bit is, we all get together and make and play our own music, and some of it gets better with time, and in that moment, nothing else really matters.
Behrooz: There is nothing frustrating about the music we play at all. In fact it helps us grow as musicians and the only reason to be in a band like that is the music. However surely there are some frustrating and dramatic times we have together which according to me has nothing to do with the music and should just be put out of our minds.
Anjo: The music we try to make is almost a direct result of the amount of knowledge and exposure we have of our instrument. There are no shortcuts to be in this band. You got to work hard and study music and have your chops down to be able to keep up. The most grateful part would definitely be the joy of playing and pulling off the music we make, live. The most frustrating part would be how we struggle to get together and do this more often.
Gowri, you started out as a solo guitar-armed singer and now play with the band. How has been the gradual switch been? Is it more fun because there are more people to bounce ideas off?
Gowri: I haven't really switched completely. I do both, but I do thoroughly enjoy working with the band. The sound, the attitude, approach, vibe, everything is different with people. And on stage, it's much nicer with company.
How do you guys usually approach the writing of a song: Gowri, do you pen it, compose and then the band joins in, or some other way?
Gowri: It differs, so far, it's been mostly ideas of mine that have been rearranged or put together by and with the band. But I see things changing; I hope we all start writing together sooner than later.
The biggest milestone that you have as a band reached so far?
Gowri: Nothing much, I feel like we've only started this journey. If we still exist five years from now, that'd be quite the milestone.
Anjo: The Kappa TV videos.
What are you looking forward to musically?
Gowri: Personally, I hope to become a better guitar player. As a band, I don't know, we just need to get together and let the magic happen.
Anjo: Maybe releasing an EP or an album with our original music.
Behrooz: I just want to grow as a musician and a songwriter. I'm constantly trying to improve my skills. Everything else for me is secondary.