Inside the Red Bull Tour Bus: A Quick Chat With Lagori
The Red Bull Tour Bus has taken music far and wide across the country, ever since it hit the road in 2013. From Chandigarh to Surathkal, and from Ahmedabad to Shillong, the Tour Bus has hosted gigs for numerous college fests, as well as some of the biggest music festivals in the biggest metros. The Tour Bus has hosted illustrious artists such as Papon, Pentagram, Nucleya, The Raghu Dixit Project, and Bhayanak Maut. And now, Lagori.
We traveled 50 kilometers away from Manipal, to NIT Surathkal’s fest, Incident 2017 to catch up with a band that’s going to set the MIT stage on fire next week, for the Day Three of Revels 2017. Lagori hardly needs any further introduction.
We were ushered into the Tour Bus, by Geeth Vaz himself. For a band that sets crowds insane with their electrifying energy, they were incredibly affable, and made us feel very comfortable. We then ended up having quite a candid conversation.
MTTN: You probably get this a lot, but not often do you see a band named after a street game. Why the name Lagori, and what significance does it hold today?
Geeth: We once went for a TV shoot, and we really didn’t have a name. So we randomly came up with Lagori and the name stuck ever since. A lot of people hated it, and a lot of people liked it. But one simply cannot forget it from the first time you hear it. The game is played with seven stones, and we have a fascination with the time signature of seven. The number is also very lucky for us.
Shalini (jokes): Yeah, we consulted an astrologer for this.
MTTN: What were the pre-Lagori, Fahrenheit days like?
Vinyl (laughing): We’ve never been asked this question before!
Geeth (laughing harder): See the question’s not even been asked yet!
Vinyl: Geeth and I formed Fahrenheit back in school, in 9th grade. Later in college, Eddie (Edward) joined. We used to perform for a lot of college gigs. We also performed one in Manipal.
MTTN: What brought Tejas Shankar, and Shalini Mohan to the band?
Eddie: We were actually looking for people to start the band with and a few people told me about Shalini, including a mutual friend named Shashank. She used to play for a band called Lounge Piranha. We looked up some of her videos, and decided to approach her. She came for a couple of jams, and she became a part of the band. Whereas we met Tejas, through one of Geeth’s friends who told us about his vocal abilities. He came for an audition. Sang a couple of tracks, suited his music to ours, and became a part of us.
Shalini: The previous vocalist, Shashank, used to work with me in SAP. He told me these guys are trying to form a Hindi/Kannada folk band, and I was interested.
MTTN: How has Bangalore molded the band to what it is now? How has it influenced your style of music?
Geeth: The cultural diversity plays a big role. It helps us sing in multiple languages, which are inherently spoken there. We currently speak in about six languages.
Vinyl: To be honest, you play in any language, and the crowd will like it.
Geeth: Indeed. They are a very receptive audience.
MTTN: Do you have any intentions of digressing from your style to Bollywood?
Geeth: We always keep the option open. We draw a lot of inspiration from quite a few composers.
Shalini: We usually pay tributes to those composers in our shows, by playing their songs. Also, Bollywood is hardly what it used to be 10 years back. The music is much diverse, and world-friendly. Even when a new composer comes in, they try to attract both the younger and older crowds. So getting into Bollywood, and putting in our signature is something we’d love to do.
MTTN: Choosing between a nine-to-five, steady paying job and band and music; how difficult was that decision?
Geeth (laughing): Ask Eddie, he’s hasn’t yet left his job.
Vinyl: It’s more like, anything-to-anything. Maybe eleven to two, or sometimes eleven to two a.m.
Eddie: I think I have been lucky because the companies that I have worked for have always encouraged what I am doing.
Shalini: He’s the rockstar of the company. They usually ask him to play more shows and make us look cool.
Geeth: We have in fact played for them twice. They are that encouraging, and receptive.
Eddie: People’s mindsets have changed. They encourage me to do things beyond work.
Geeth: And all of us do multiple things apart from playing in a band; recording music, jamming. You always have time to do other stuff.
MTTN: Do you guys bond beyond music, and Lagori?
Vinyl: Yes, quite often too. Geeth, Eddie and I are childhood friends. It’s like a family. We see a lot of each other. Sometimes we even get bored of each other!
Eddie: Most people think bands only meet to jam, and record, but it’s not the case with us. We usually go out, grab a beer and chill. We are together quite often.
MTTN: What are the current project you’re working on?
Geeth: We are working on our second album, but it’s at a nascent stage. We have recorded about 4 songs, but there is a lot more work that it demands. We’re collaborating with an amazing artist named Vasundhara Das. We’re working on a cover track with her which will be released this month. There are a couple of projects in the ideation stage but we can’t talk about them because there’s hardly any foundation beneath them. The last three months have been really busy, with tours and gigs. As a result we have hardly got the time to put our heads in these things right now. So once we hit the off-season, we’ll be working on collaborations, tracks, and videos. So you’ll get a lot of new material from Lagori in the next one year.
MTTN: Where do you see the band in around five years’ time?
Geeth: Maybe not five, but in the next two years we definitely want to do shows outside of India. That is of serious interest to us. We like to play music that people like to call ‘commercial’, while we simply call it ‘our own’. And we love composing music day in and day out.
MTTN: Of all the gigs that you have performed, which was your favourite?
Geeth: Personally, NIT Calicut.
Eddie: I really like DTU. We played a gig there with a close friend, Jason Zachariah. He plays the melodica, trumpets, and the keyboard. We played a special set with him. In fact, next week you guys might just see him perform live.
Vinyl: Back as Fahrenheit, I remember playing at Manipal for Campus Rock. We won that event, and it happens to be one of our best gigs ever.
MTTN: How do you feel to be performing tonight atop the Red Bull Tour Bus?
Shalini: This is our first time with the Tour Bus and it’s a thrilling experience. We are very excited. The hype that the Tour Bus has about itself, will draw out a huge crowd for sure.
Geeth: It’s a great platform for us to be performing on.
MTTN: One last question: what do you expect out of the upcoming gig in Manipal, next week?
Geeth: We are really stoked about that. As Eddie, and Vinyl said, Manipal is where we had one of our best gigs ever. That was way back in 2007 or ‘08; I cannot remember correctly. And I have never been there ever since. So even on a personal level, I am looking forward to it. We’ve also heard a lot about you guys from The Local Train.
Shalini (smiles): Yeah, we’re friends with The Local Train. So, we are expecting a massive, and an energetic crowd in Manipal next week.
Lagori is set to perform at the MIT Quadrangle on 10th March. Be there, to witness something awesome.
– by Agnihotra Bhattacharya for MTTN
Photos by Manan Dhuri
PS: Special thanks to Anant Agarwal, and the entire Red Bull team at NIT Surathkal.