Emergency medicine physician Arpith Samuel, one of Kerala’s sought after drummers, talks about what makes him rock

Arpith Samuel does not make a noise about his passion. But he drums up considerable excitement among his following of diehard music buffs. Rated among the best drummers in Kerala, Dr. Arpith is credited with launching a drum channel, “a first-of-its-kind in India”.

For this emergency medicine physician at KIMS Hospital, music is a cure for “stressful hours at work”. That is why Dr. Arpith, an emergency medicine physician, makes it a point not to skip practice sessions with Kolam, a newly-formed Malayalam experimental band.

A self-taught drummer, Dr. Arpith has been playing the instrument for the last 14 years or so. “I learnt the keyboard and Carnatic music for six years when I was young. Eventually, I started concentrating on drums. I think I can express myself more through drums,” says the 28-year-old who hails from Nattakam in Kottayam district.

It was while studying medicine at Cooperative Medical College, Kochi, that Dr. Arpith’s music career took a new turn. He, along with three other friends, formed the alternative metal band, Heretic, with which he had a good run. “We were runners-up for two consecutive years at Kingfisher Kerala Rocks music contest. We’ve performed in Chennai, Mumbai, Bangalore and have done gigs with bands such as Avial and Motherjane and have done over 50 shows. We also brought out our album ‘Words to Epilogues’ with eight songs which got six nominations at the Rolling Stone Metal Awards India 2013,” he says.

Meanwhile, Dr. Arpith was invited to play with Malayalam folk band Vidwan, where he jammed with the likes of Rex Vijayan, Yakzan Gary Pereira, Vivek Thomas of Motherjane-fame, Neha Nair…

However, Dr. Arpith had to take a break once he enrolled for his post-graduate degree at KIMS. “Initially, it was tough to balance work and music. But my friends and well-wishers kept on saying that I shouldn’t let it go. So, I started again during the second year of my studies and thus was born the drum channel on YouTube,” he says.

The channel has videos of Arpith playing the covers of various albums, including that of international bands. “I always wanted to do something of my own and I thought the drum channel is the best way to do so. It is something unique,” he says.

The videos are recorded using multiple cameras with a team working behind the scenes. “The team has Vivek Thomas, Vivian Varghese (drummer and percussionist of Vidwan band), three cameramen, three sound engineers and a lighting guy. I play each song four times and the best is selected to be uploaded on YouTube. Once I actually recorded six songs in a day, playing each four times. The recording session that started at 9 a.m. finished at 2 a.m. the next day,” he says with a smile. “Unlike Malayalam covers, it is not easy to find karaoke versions of foreign bands. So we’ve come up with some technical arrangements that more or less mute the percussion portions of these songs.”

Arikuruka’ by Avial was the first song he drummed up for the channel and he followed it with the song ‘The Price Of Everything…’ of American instrumental metal band Animals as Leaders.

“I got messages of appreciation from Dan Tompkins [former lead vocalist of British band Tesseract and current member of Skyharbor], Luke Williams [drummer and vocalist of Dead Letter Circus band from Australia], Rafal Biernacki [Disperse band from Poland], Abbas Abbasi, legendary American guitarist Tosin Abasi’s father… It was overwhelming,” says an excited Arpith.

These days, he is busy with team Kolam, which comprises Tony Wilson (vocals), Chippu (bass guitar), Arun Dutt Pullat (guitars) and Joe Johnson (keyboard and synth). “We’ve released six songs and are planning three more songs. We are also planning to do live shows soon.” Meanwhile Arpith has already recorded with Pearl Drum and is hoping to get endorsed by them soon.

So how does he do it all? “Thanks to the support I get from my department and my fellow residents, I can find enough time for my music sessions,” he says with a smile.