Not a lot of bands can take to change like Peepal Tree does. Comprising members from classic heavy metal band Bhoomi, Peepal Tree is a new, fresh music avatar with an amalgam of songs that dabble in funk grooves with overtones of electronica, Indian melodies, folk, pop and rock, and sung in Indian languages, especially Kannada.
Featuring Sujay Harthi on vocals, Tony Das on guitars and vocals, Praveen Biligiri on the bass and vocals and Willy Demoz on the drums and percussion, Peepal Tree believes in setting trends on the go.
If there is one thing that sets the three-month-old band apart, it is their ability to connect with audiences with a range of musical tastes simply because of the musical variety they create on stage.
Tony says the new band is a long time coming. “The music of Peepal Tree is whatever we’ve been doing all these years. We all love different kinds of music. We always felt that there was a bigger scope for us and the things we like to do, even when we were playing in different bands. Peepal Tree is one of those things. People may say it’s not that heavy but we love to play the kind of music that we consider interesting.”
Praveen pitches in that their music is accepted across all music fraternities. “Die-hard metal fans who have been listening to us as Bhoomi appreciate Peepal Tree’s music too while newer folks feel we fit in as well.”
On the band’s formation, Sujay says the four of them used to jam a lot in 2003-2004 after working night shifts. “Nothing really took off for 10 years. Now when things fell into place, we decided why not.” The reputed musicians, who have played in other bands such as the Raghu Dixit Project, Thermal And A Quarter and Moksha, have a huge musical lineage of talent and creativity that they bring to Peepal Tree’s soundscape. Willy, however, puts what got them onto this bandwagon in one-line. “We just needed a reason for us to play together,” he grins.
Was the transition from a metal background to a more contemporary soundmark difficult? Tony says an affirming no. “We all listen and play all kinds of genres and are not rigid about playing just one style. What actually mattered more was the process itself. We had to hear what we sounded like and find a sound without predefining it. We just sat and wrote a bunch of songs and figured out the rest on the way. We are still in the process and would like to still keep experimenting.
Looking ahead, Willy, the band’s ‘dreamcatcher’, says just like every band has to go through the path of playing a lot of gigs, Peepal Tree also plans to play a lot and an album will be out soon.” Tony and Sujay chorus that it’s important at this stage to just play. “That is the old school, time-tested way of a band.”
Commenting on Bangalore’s music scene, Praveen points out that tastes are changing and there is acceptance to variety. “The scene’s more mature now.” Sujay says that the sheer number of gigs and venues has grown massively. “We couldn’t dream of all that earlier.” Tony says venues have understood that bands draw crowds. “That also allows musicians to connect with a wider audience.”
On their thoughts on Bangalore’s ‘well-informed audience’, Tony says they don’t know about now, especially with the kids and their EDM. “I think Bangalore is more accepting of different sounds since from way back, people were always doing different things and had better exposure and understanding of a broader platform in music.” Sujay adds that there have also been a lot more gigs happening in the music capital. “A lot of international acts come to Bangalore first. You name them, they’ve been here.” Willy, always the smart aleck one-lines it again: “We’ve got the coolest crowd here.”
Meanwhile, Bhoomi continues to go on a parallel direction, the foursome point out. “Bhoomi is still playing. The metal scene has died down a bit and there is hardly anything happening now. We will play a couple of gigs a year and be happy,” says Sujay.