"Come up front all you fuckers. I know you all by your names," guitarist T T Sreeram proclaimed to coax the audience to gather near the stage during the IndiearthXchange event held in Chennai recently. From the word go, the Chennai quartet Tails On Fire, had activated all their firepower soaking the audience with their dexterous energy.
Launching their arsenal of power packed tracks, the band literally played like their imaginary tails were on fire. The onslaught was snuffed out briefly midway through their set following a technical snag that plagued Sreeram.
"We would like to call our brand of music "jump rock"," vocalist Karan Nair said after I caught up with him before their performance.
And jump, the audience did.
The band has earned a reputation for triggering through their sets with monstrous energy with Sreeram combusting his riffs with a Tom Morello-esque imprint while Nair pounces around the stage in his trademark orange overalls like he was just rejected from playing a part in an Indian version of Orange is the New Black.
The Dharmaraj brothers, comprising Jitesh on bass and Ritesh on drums completes the powerhouse line up that has been thoroughly influenced by international acts such as Audioslave and Rage Against The Machine.
Tails On fire is a project that’s been in the works for close to four years now. According to the vocalist, “It’s an amalgamation of three generations of people.”
Says Nair, “When I was in school the people I used to look up to was Sreeram of Skrat and he used to look up to Jithesh and Rithesh. It’s like three generation of musicians who started hanging out, and that’s how the band started.”
So is it a democratic process when it comes to working on ideas for a song?
“No, we beat the shit out of each. It’s a lot of disagreeing and fighting. It’s like a relationship. End of the day you love the people you’re with. So you’ll figure out a solution,” Nair says.
The band doesn't want to limit themselves to pubs and auditoriums either.
"We are meant to be an arena act," Nair says quite confidently. “I don’t think we’re a pub band. Ideally we’re designed to be an arena act. To play in a pub is fine but it’s very constricting,” he says.
Like most Indian bands, finances have always been an issue preventing them from taking up music full time.
"We all have our day jobs to keep us going," says Nair, an advertising professional, who flew down from Mumbai to play with the band for the event.
All the members have been part of various bands, while Sreeram still juggles his chops with his other successful act, Skrat.
“I don’t think people have reached a stage where they respect independent music as such. The general attitude of people when you say you’re a musician is terrible. You have to be persistent and get along the guys in the band.”
By the end of the evening I was all fired with tracks from their eponymous album along with some fresh material and a riffed up version of the Shaggy's 1995 hit track "Boombastic".
By Mohan KK
Photo Credit: Shawn Menezes