SKRAT: This band with a quirky attitude is credited with bringing the fun element back into rock music.
Cartoon Characters. I didn't say it, that's how they describe themselves! Skrat, a rock band that has represented Chennai nationally and currently has the biggest fan following. This article chronicles the change in my opinion from considering them nonsensical, much like the squirrel character their name denotes, to being stumped by their well grounded take on life!
Introducing: T.T. Sriram (TT) — Guitars/Vocals; Satish Narayanan (SAT) — Bass; Tapass Naresh — Drums; Abhinav Krishnaswamy — Guitars (nickname censored!)
What's your band's philosophy?
TT: I see everything in animation. My whole day is a cartoon sequence.
Very sweet! Let me rephrase, do your songs have a philosophy behind them?
TT: I can only write what I know about and we are a generally happy bunch. I mean, we have enough to complain about, but if we sit and complain about everything that's wrong in life, then that's all that we'd do. I could go on complaining about my college! That's where music becomes our escape into a fantasy world and when we are in that world, it's pure eccentric fun!
Rock bands usually write about oppression, sex, drugs... You guys write about super heroes?!
TT: If you're a metal-band you have to write about apocalypse, war or some scary topic. If you're a rock band, you cover drugs, sex and love. We can only write about what we are passionate about. Our genre is fun rock.
Tapass: One thing we don't want to be is ‘wannabe songwriters'. If we really wanna say something, it has to come from within. We are not trying to be unique by writing quirky lyrics about random things. It's just us!
I still don't get it! TT, can you explain a few songs to me?
“Soon before I'm dead”: All that terrorism events; 26/11 and Iraq bombings. This song is the suicide-bomber's point of view! At the end he feels real stupid for being brain-washed!
“Stay Wild”: I went for this wildlife trip to Masinagudi and realised how much we take for granted. Also, as young adults, we are given so many rules to live by. I believe if we can stay within ethical bounds, we can learn to break free. So stay wild.
“Black Hammer Man”: It's about an orphan growing upon the street; scared and lonely. Then lightning strikes him and he becomes a super hero cleaning up the streets! Yeah!
“Design”: You know those breaks between creativity! It's really painful! All you can hear is this ‘keee noise' in your head! So, this song is me talking to my head asking what to write about! This was also around the time Skrat was looking for new direction.
What new direction?
TT: Around 2008, we felt the band was not going anywhere. So the old Skrat songs were scrapped. A new direction was chosen; Same musicians, different songs.
“Gun-Slinger”: The story is about a gun fighter and his thoughts as he prepares for the duel. His opponent turns out to be his brother, but he has to stick to his gunslinger code of honour! He wins the fight, but the “Loser lives on!” Pretty depressing song actually!
Ah huh! Skrat can get dark too?
TT: There is definitely an intensity behind. But we bring it out lightly. Like when someone dies in a comic book, you don't sit and wail about it. We break the bad news gently. Even our audience knows that they are not coming for something serious, but to have a good time. We make the seriousness accessible for everyone. There's so much to worry about in life. So we chose the opposite: eccentric fun!
So how do the songs happen?
Sat: TT writes most of the lyrics and we get together and put the music together. Like just a couple of days ago, we were just jamming a riff and in 20 minutes we had a whole song structure ready!
Abhinav: All the songs in the album are strong. I've been with them couple of months and I love their work ethics. I helped with “Gunslinger” and “How'd you do that?”
Tapass: This recording is not to say “Look I'm cool, I have an album out!” It's just to keep us on a check saying ‘this is what you guys have made in three years'. Self analysis!
How did it all start?
TT: July 21, 2006 was our first show at Unwind. We opened for Nerverek. We got together on July 15 and played two originals and three covers for that show!
Wow! You remember dates?
TT: Yeah, we sat and figured out a lot of history recently. We have played about 25 gigs at Unwind! It has been the integral part of our growth. It was schooling for us. We met so many other like-minded musicians there, like Josh and Jitesh from Afterburn and Chiq (Arjun) from Nerverek. We have learnt so, so much from them.
What about the “Holding on” part?
TT: That was a song with Sid Hande. Good song. It was also Skrat's first and last love song!
SAT: We are terrible with cover songs. We can never decide on what to choose. “Holding On” started off as a terrible cover of “Wonderful Tonight”. Or was it ‘Tears in heaven'? One of those!
Which was your favourite concert?
SKRAT: The Hyderabad finals for CRI and the ‘Rain Show' i.e. JRO 2009 where about 700 people came out close to the stage, getting totally drenched! That is a feeling to die for!
Finally the name!
TT: For the June 21 show, we didn't have a name. I was online with Tapass and watching “Ice Age”. So I started mentioning the names of the characters and he said yes for Skrat!
With the name of a squirrel character whose purpose in life is getting an acorn, these musicians do not really intend to get serious! But listen up: the cost of recording, mixing, printing and every bit of the launch show cost is covered by the guys themselves!
“We were very clear that we did not want to borrow from our parents. It cost about Rs. 90, 000 altogether. We have been saving like mad; it can be done!” says TT.
Stringent budgeting, clean values, positive song writing and eccentric fun! I'm still confused, but I get one part about SKRAT, they have made rock accessible!!! They would rather watch cartoons over a bucket of ice-cream than sit and grouse about life! In today's world, I choose their kind of fun!
After three years of fun-rock, SKRAT is releasing their first recording ‘Design'
When: March 13
Venue: TTK office parking lot 6, Cathedral Road (next to Chola Sheraton)
Time: 6:00 p.m.
Entry: Rs. 100 + album