After a gruelling tour including winning the Spirit of the Fringe award at Edinburgh, TAAQ is back in town for a homecoming gig this weekend
Hopping across venues for over 50 gigs in 60 days in four different countries changes the way any band would think about not just their music, but even their bandmates and their live act. Thermal and a Quarter (TAAQ) was selected to play at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe for 28 days non-stop in August, and they branched out playing at other venues in Scotland, Ireland and Kathmandu. They’re now winding up the way they started their Bangalore Rock tour – with three consecutive nights this weekend at BFlat in Indiranagar.
While the first set of three gigs was organised as a warmup/sendoff in July for the band with different setlists for the three nights, the band is following the same format for their homecoming. “We knew we’d have some withdrawal symptoms after such a back-to-back, intense tour. I guess this is the best way to keep that vibe,” says guitarist Bruce Lee Mani.
The reason for TAAQ’s selection to play the Fringe festival, their ability to find sponsors such as Air India and Pro FX and also to round up enough gigs around the main festival dates is down to their music. The fun, happy brand of rock always wins audiences . This time, they’ve proved it to another part of the world as well. Says Rajeev Rajagopal, the band’s drummer, “TAAQ took the challenge head on and came back winning serious acclaim. TAAQ made it to the Pick of the Fringe and won the Spirit of the Fringe award which no other Indian artist has ever done till date.” The Spirit of the Fringe award was one of the biggest highlights for TAAQ, who say it was only given to seven out of more than 3,500 artists who perform at the festival. “It was great company to be in,” says the band.
For their set of weekend gigs on October 4, 5, and 6 Mani says, “I think we're going to extend quite a few tracks with impromptu jams - something we didn’t do much of at the Fringe, since everything is so time-conscious. So we are looking forward to really stretching out.” Rajagopal jokingly adds, “Now all our songs will be sung with a Scottish accent.” While the high from the Fringe festival hasn’t (thankfully) worn off yet, TAAQ know the way ahead is trying to organise a similar tour in the future and start work on new material, the follow-up to 3 Wheels 9 Lives, a triple album released earlier this year.
Rajagopal mentions how one of the songs, ‘If Them Blues’ made it to their last album after the band just noodled around during soundcheck. The latest addition to the band, bassist Leslie Charles, is new personnel on upcoming TAAQ material. Says Mani, “The sound is likely to gain new dimensions, as it always will with the injection of new blood. An intense tour also leaves you completely ‘on top’ of all the older material - we could play those tracks in our sleep now. So there's no real need to rehearse the existing stuff. So songwriting it is.”
The lesson in touring delivered like no other at the Fringe according to the band was setting up instruments and gear on stage in nine minutes and then getting off stage after the performance in seven minutes. Says Mani, “At the outset, we went in saying ‘this isn’t possible’. After a few days it was more like ‘we could actually do it in less!’ That's what the Fringe does.
It redefines your own ideas of what is and isn’t possible, with your art, your work, everything.” Head down to B-flat on any three nights, at 8.30 pm starting tonight to hear some great tunes and tour stories.