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News |  09 May 2016 15:57 |  By RnMTeam

Juggling between three sounds

If Paresh Kamath's uncle had his way, yet another promising young musician would have ended up behind a bank desk, hating the anonymity and loving absolutely nothing about his life.

But thanks to Rock Machine and Daler Mehndi, the teenaged Paresh flipped off the idea and adopted a scarier one - music. For Paresh Kamath - guitarist at Kailasa, Hipnotribe and Bombay Black - the sheer experience of attending a Rock Machine concert at Mumbai's Rang Bhavan triggered a series of uncertain decisions that, thankfully for him, did not turn out all that scary.

Daler Mehndi's live performance invoked similar feelings. "The idea of Daler Mehndi that most people have is not entirely correct. I went to one of his concerts when I was young, and the entire experience blew me away. The precision in his 'aalaps' and the entire set-up supporting him was a treat to watch and listen. I decided I wanted to be a part of something where I could add more to that existing pop sound."

Music did not come naturally to Kamath, and neither did the decision to become a guitarist. 'Witch Hammer' - Kamath's maiden project - allowed the guitarist to translate the music he had heard during his boarding school days through covers of the popular American metal bands of the 1990s. However, just like every other 'maiden band' (or Indian heavy metal bands), Witch Hammer did not survive for long.

"Back then, musical inspirations died in no time. One demotivating moment, and talented musicians would give up and chase a job with security. The practice still exists. However, now the musicians have more reasons to be motivated, and lesser problems. I realised quite early that there's nothing else I'd like to do except music. And the thought scared me the most."

The decision was supported by the entire Kamath household. His younger brother - Naresh - followed suit and picked up a guitar as his source of lifelong income. The Kamath brothers never restricted their guitar playing and exposure to music to a certain manner or degree. That, perhaps, is one of the reasons why you would find Paresh Kamath continue to experiment with three bands creating unique sounds. Hipnotribe covers the genres of jazz, rock and everything in between, Kailasa offers the indie-folk satisfaction and Bombay Black sets Kamath loose to experiment beyond the generic ways. Always on the mission to find techniques that provide a 'different' sound to the existing ones, Kamath ensured the habit expands his horizons and versatility. And so it did. Kailasa would sound absurd without Kher's vocals, but it would sound incomplete without Kamath's guitars.

"I would even love to play with artistes like Mika Singh. I would expand on his music. These artistes have the ability to bring something out in you. The Punjabi essence with the electric guitars, imagine that!"

The Kamath brothers and Kailash Kher started working on their debut album in 2001, and the guitarist - like the rest of the country - had no idea about the singer then. For someone whose live performances (of shorter magnitude) included a harmonium, dholak and tabla, Kailash Kher found himself surrounded with electric guitars and unfamiliar musicians carrying a distinctive approach to music. Unlike Hipnotribe and Bombay Black, the sound for Kailasa revolves around the vocalist.

And the last ten years have reflected how that has worked in Kailasa's favour.

"I have been a part of many projects that did not work. In Kailasa's case, the uniquely different style convinced me (and the country) of his talent. He lets you to blend various forms of music to his compositions. The beauty of Kailasa's voice is the fact that it's more inclined towards 'rock' genre."

Of the three, Hipnotribe never received enough commercial success. And to a certain extent, nor did Bombay Black. But Kamath would not lose sleep over it. In fact, the intimacy of small venues received during Bombay Black or Hipnotribe gigs is what Kamath cherishes the most. Kailasa cannot possibly offer Kamath that intimacy any more.

Kamath loves the anonymity. He would have hated the anonymity of a bank job, but the stage is where Kamath belongs. He wanted to be a vocalist - not for the attention or the direct responsibility of being a frontman. He wanted to sing. He still does.

Kamath belongs to that rare bunch of musicians who find the prospect of performing with Mika Singh as fun as collaborating with, let's say, David Gilmour. Of course, he does not idolise the former, but nothing would stop the guitarist to put as much to shine like a crazy diamond for the Punjabi rapper. And perhaps, that is how one may define Paresh Kamath - the musician.

Not too many Kamath tales are complicated, and neither has been his journey. To a certain stretch, the juggle between three sounds for a former heavy metal guitarist does sound pretty arduous and risky. But Kamath makes the strenuous effort appear far too easy. The dynamics of Kamath's desire to express can be judged from the fact that the contribution to three distinct sounds does not come only through his guitars. At one point, the co-founder of 'Witch Hammer' might rephrase the popular John F Kennedy quote to project his attitude towards music - "Ask not what your music can do for you, ask what you can do for your music."

In the matters of politics, there's no juggling for the guitarist. Kamath understands the current socio-political situation of the country has motivated us to beautify the country, and not address the real issue.

"So much effort on beautification has been put, that we are not even trying to remove the pus from the body. Let me put it this way - there's one pizza, something two people can comfortably eat. Now one more joins in, you still manage to share it. But when the shares rise to a dozen, the people closest to the pizza start monetising the situation. That's how politics work here."

An ardent fan of Prince, Kamath loves the absence of dedicated association to one sound and the musician seems to never miss a chance to celebrate the very fact. "I write for three different styles of music. How is that not success?"

Too brilliant a point to argue, don't you think, Uncle?