Interview with ‘WORKSHOP’
Workshop , India’s first humour metal band from Mumbai first came in to notice when stormed the Youtube comedy charts with their debut single ‘ Bunty And Mallika Sherwath . Since then the band has grown immensely . They reached the top 5 on Channel V’s Launch Pad III which is scheduled to air sometime in April this year .Workshop is ( not ‘the’ workshop… just ’workshop’ ) Sahil Makhija (the Demonstealer) on vocals and guitars, Rajarshi Bhattacharya (The Rajbot) on lead guitars, Hamza Kazi ( Humzoid)on drums and Riju Dasgupta( the Rijunator ) on bass. With the newfound fame Workshop has been gigging regularly with few gigs scheduled in March , you can watch them play live at ’Xaviors College Mahim on 7th of March and Hard Rock cafe Mubai on 10th of March . I had a chance to catch up with “WORKSHOP” ( in my invisible mode, ) and they are very true to their ‘Humour Metal’ spirit , lets hear it from them.
What’s the story behind the name “Workshop” ?
DS: Boy this is one of those questions that’s going to haunt me forever. Hahaha…. Well basically I was doing a guitar workshop and I asked Hamza and Riju to be my backing musicians for the workshop and that’s how we started jamming together and after a while and much persuasion from Hamza we said lets make this project an official band and the name Workshop just seemed like a perfect fit. And so we were christened.
Hamza: It started off with quite a coincidence actually and it so happened that all of us were employees at Vijay Sangram’s Silicon Breast Implants For Personal Computers Not Laptops Pvt. Ltd. Factory at Chinchpokli. Having worked there for fourteen years, we were pretty bored and decided to embark on a journey….a journey so perilous it made Rambo crap his pants on the sets of Rambo 78. We decided to unify the elements of Metal with the lesser, un intellectual and un ballsy forms of music such as pop/bhangda/lavni/garba, infuse this concoction with the poison of comedy topped with the one thing that is the sole reason for our existence today….no not god….no idiot not breasts either…sex. We agreed upon the fact that the average Indian male is insanely sexually frustrated and we decided to offer them a release with a comic touch so they don’t get categorized as horny pervets (whilst very intelligently cashing in on their repressed urges). So there you have it. We, workshop are four simple guys who wanna rip the Indian population off by twisting the fine line between humour, music and pornography.
Moral of the story: Not everyone who listens to workshop is a horny pervert…or mithun cant dance.
Could you please introduce the band members ( names/ nicknames) and the instruments they play?
DS: The current lineup of Workshop is
The Demonstealer Vocals/Guitar/Lyrics/PR/Marketing/Conceptualization
The Rijunator – Bass/Backing Vocals/One Liners & SFX
The Rajbot – Lead Guitars/Backing Vocals/Dancing/Being gross
The Hamzoid – Drums/Polyrhythms/Backing Vocals/Cameraman
What genre of music do you consider your work to be? Who are your major influences?
DS: Honestly I can’t really slot our music into 1 particular genre because there is no limit with Workhsop, as in there are no musical boundaries. We can throw in anything from Death metal to the bhangra into the music. So basically we all have our different musical influences. Mine are pretty much all the extreme metal bands I listen to ranging from Dimmu Borgir, Behemoth, Cyptopsy to Blind Guardian, Nightwish, Kamelot etc. I also listen to some alternative and retro.
Hamza: We would like to categorize ourselves as Blackened Progressive Death/Thrash Hipo-hop Emo Punk Pop Garba Bhangda Bangla Blues Juhu Metal.Raj Thackrey is our biggest influence…shortly followed by Himesh Reshamiya, Falguni Pathak, Dilair Mehendi, Madonna, Sex Pistols and Juhu Beach.Riju: People call us humour metal. We’re actually rumour metal. We convince people we’re a band and not the scuba divers we actually are. Our objective is a harmony of scuba diving and music.
How long have you all known each other? How did Workshop happen ?
DS: I think I’ve known these guys for about 4 years just as guys on the scene but I think once we started jamming together we became good friends. Like I mentioned in the 1st question it was formed after they became my backing band for the ESP guitar workshops I was conducting.
Hamza: We’ve known each other for more than 4 years and workshop happened when a pin dropped in a sound proof room, at the factory that we happened to work at and happened to coincidently enter into, on one fateful evening and realised that there is metal everywhere…even in the sound of a falling pin…kinda obvious….considering the pin was metallic.
Riju: We’ve known each other since the Big Bang. That is when Sahil made wild, passionate love to Raj.
When did you form your band? What inspired you to make music together?
DS: The band was officially formed in early 2008 when we said okay lets make this a proper band and starting writing songs for our debut album.
Hamza: We really cant remember but its quite similar to the big banged…once it happened everyone passed out and we’ve had no recollection of the event since then.
The Pinfall pretty much did the trick and I remember all of us saying “whoooaaa i wana make music like that”. Such is life…the most insignificant of occurances influence and change lives so drastically.
Your debut single ‘Bunty & Mallika Sherwat’ is a huge success on Youtube, tell us how this song happened and the music video of it.
DS: Well the song actually happened over 2 years ago when I had released my solo hindi material, Khooni Murda and Chhati Ke Saath Panga and I was writing more Hindi songs and this was one of them. I used to play this on an acoustic at parties and this song just seemed to fit the Workshop catalogue perfectly so we worked on it and turned it into what it is today. I had the idea to make the video so I just told my brother who is into film making and good with movie maker to make a video and this is what he did with it.
Hamza: The song is based on a true story as narrated by our Vocalist. We jus play it like it happened. Funny, how if it is a huge success how come our pockets are still jingling with Rs. 3 Coins ?
The video was edited by Baba Siddiki when he was on tour in Sweden.
Riju: We had nothing to do with the video. Ask Superman. Although he’s probably protecting the planet. Unlike you who have no job, and listen to us.
You guys are busy recording for the debut album, when can we expect the album?
DS: Hahaha, we’ve been recording since March 2008. Initially I was certainly it would be done in June 2008 then June became October, then December, then Jan and now finally I hope its ready by April 2009.
Riju: As soon as Sahil’s voice doesn’t get screwed up…
Do you have a record label ?
DS: I guess I am my own record label: Demonstealer Records.
Where have you performed? Do you have any upcoming shows?
DS: We’ve been lucky to get some good gigs right from the start, we just started gigging in December 2008 and we’ve played a bunch of college festivals and also took part in Launchpad. Now we are constantly looking for new places to play and are even making an appearance at the Hard Rock Café in March.
Which songs do you perform most frequently? Do you ever play any covers? Do you have a set play list?
DS: Cookie Monster, She Folked Up My Jazz, Pudhe Sarka, I Came and Bunty Aur Malika Sherwath. That’s our standard set for gigs now. We don’t play covers really except one cover because we were forced to play it on Launchpad, it was Maddonnna’s like a Virgin and since we liked what we did to the song we have added it to our setlist for special occasions.
Who writes your songs for workshop? what are the main themes or topics for most of your songs?
DS: I write the basic song structure and then we jam on it and everyone adds their bit to the song. I don’t have any specific theme for the songs, its just whatever amuses me the most at any given moment.
Hamza: The Demonstealer writes almost all the songs with ideas and concepts thrown in by the other members. The themes and topics vary and we try and cover everything under the sun.
Riju: Sahil. And the influences are Sahil’s perverse nature.
What are your rehearsals like? Are they as spontaneously hilarious as shown on your youtube channel?
DS: Oh yeah our rehearsals are even funnier than our live shows because we always seem to love our own jokes and just have a good time.
Hamza: No those are staged. They are dull, boring, monotonous and morose to the absolute core. Incase you are unable to catch wind of the sarcasm here….i’l lay it on the table…we dont pretend to be funny….we just are. So the jams are pretty much what you see on youtube or in our live shows.
Riju: Yes, they’re 100% true.
Workshop made it to the final 5 of Launchpad III , tell us a little bit about this experience .
DS: This times launchpad experience was really awesome, the experience of staying with 7 bands in a house was really awesome fun and it was even great that we got to play at Blue Frog. So yeah overall it was a great experience.
Hamza: One of the best experiences we’ve ever had as a band. As it is quite apparent, all the members are camera whores and that worked well with the producers. It was great fun sharing one house with bands from across the country. Everyone seemed to enjoy it as much as we did. Thanks to the band bonding there is some potential for gigs in Delhi and Kolkatta. Letsee how it turns out.
Riju: Awesome shit! Go Reverse Polarity!
How has your music evolved since you first began playing music together?
DS: Well to be honest its only been 1 year and I really think after our 1st album we will actually see the evolution of the music and the band.
Hamza: It learnt to speak and sing…the first two gigs were purely instrumental. We are also able to mix a whole new range of genres which is the basic aim of the band.
Riju: From dinosaurs to human beings now…
What has been your biggest challenge as a band? Have you been able to overcome that challenge? If so, how?
DS: The biggest challenge has been getting Raj to take a bath and Riju to stop acting retarded and Hamza to stop talking about Polyrhythms. Not been successful at all.
Hamza: Coming from TOTALLY different musical backgrounds its hard to settle on a specific “sound”…so we took the easy way out and took the sound to all the genres possible. So our biggest challenge was to successfully create a musical bhel puri and yet retain the taste.
What’s your ultimate direction for your band? Are you seeking fame and fortune?
DS: Fame and Fortune will come to us if its meant to be, we don’t seek it. I think we just want to play as many shows as possible, write as much music and release that music and make sure everyone in the world is singing ‘do bade babble’
Hamza: If porno sites and Madonna can make money then we can too.
What advice do you have for people who want to form their own bands?
DS: Believe in yourself, work hard and don’t give up. Keep practicing and make an impression.
Hamza: Go to bed early and dont leave the toilet seat up.
Riju: FORM THEM!
Is there anyone you’d like to acknowledge for offering financial or emotional support?
DS: Definitely my parents, brother and girlfriend for always having supported me and given me the freedom to do what I wanted and pursue my dreams. I also got to thank everyone along the way who has supported me and my musical endeavors, I guess it would take forever to list them out.
Hamza: Furtados for financial support and Barkat Meat Shop for dying on the relentless quest to provide us with unconditional emotional support.
Riju: My classmate, Aditya Anupkumar. For all the amazing photos he’s taken.
Any last words?
DS: Cheers & Stay Demonic, and check out our video and songs on our myspace page www.myspace.com/workshopindia
Hamza: Kabhi alvida na kehna….kabhi alvida na kehna.
Riju: Hey Ram…they were Gandhiji’s last words…