It would be difficult to describe who Sidd Coutto is, if i can put it in simple words he is probably the most talented Indian Indie musician who has been constantly in the limelight in his career, starting as Zero‘s drummer to vocalist of Tough on Tobacco. His latest release ‘The Happy Goat‘ has been making waves in the Indian Rock scene and also getting regular airplay on FM’s all over India. Its my Pleasure to catch up with Sidd Coutto for this interview
Ashwin: Hey Sidd, Thanks for the interview, tell us a little bit about Tough On Tobacco, You guys are not seriously against people who smoke is it?
Sidd: We’re definitely not against people who smoke. I’m a smoker myself. The point is that it is a terrible habit. It is killing me and hundreds of thousands of other people. It is addictive. So don’t start at all. It’s not cool.
Ashwin: The release of your debut album with ToT was timed for Bakri – Eid, was that a deliberate move or just a coincidence ? ‘The Happy Goat’ is a brilliantly produced album why have you put it up for free download? any chances of it being released on a cd?
Sidd: Eid was coincidental. But I enjoyed that nevertheless. I’m glad you think its a brilliantly produced album. You might have not heard it at all if it wasn’t up for free. I want everybody to hear it. Which is why its up for free. It may come out on cd. Depends on plenty of factors, too many to get into right now.
Ashwin: How many times the album has been downloaded since you released it?
Sidd: It’s had 700 odd downloads so far.
Ashwin: Can you tell us a bit about the recording and the production on the album, composition for the songs were done entirely by you or did the rest of the members help?
Sidd: The album was in progress way before the band got together. Originally ToT was just me and Hans (engineer and co-producer of the happy goat). It comprises
of songs I wrote between Jan and Feb 2008, and two borrowed from the previous year. The lyrics came first this time. The production was intended to compliment the songs as best we could.
I played the drums on the record last February. It took till September this year to finish recording and mixing. Besides drums and 10% of the vocals, everything was recorded and mixed at either Hans’ or my home. I’ve used a traditional acoustic rock setup of drums, bass and acoustic guitar as the template around which I’ve thrown in electric guitar and everything I ever wanted thanks to the magic of software samplers. Violins, cellos, pianos, synths, trumpets, trombones, tubas, sax and percussion.And then there was the best instrument I ever owned, my voice, which did the most work on the record.
We wanted to make music the way we wanted to hear it. And I believe we succeeded.
Ashwin: I believe you always wanted to be a singer, but it was only when Warren left you decided to become a frontman, what took you so long?
Sidd: That’s simple!!! There was no drummer to play with!! When I first saw Jai Row Kavi drum, I knew I could finally sing in a band.
Ashwin: You composed songs for a Bollywood movie which didn’t go well with critics (on a certain channel, who was pretty vocal about it,) you were quoted on Buzz 18 as ’I'm in Bollywood for the Money’, Would you be doing more Bollywood movies?
Sidd: I make music. I love films. I live in Mumbai. It’s not rocket science!! Of course I will do more Bollywood !!
A film I did background score for and produced the album as well, Raat Gayi Baat Gayi releases in December. It won best film at HBO’s South Asian Indian International Film Festival.
Some films do well. Others don’t. Just like songs. That can’t stop you.
And about it being for the money … I make music everyday … And put it out for free … But if its for a commercial venture, its a job … I don’t suppose you work for free either.
Ashwin: Zero is back again, this time with Warren Mendonsa for a re-union concert, I personally am really excited about this as the last reunion gig at razz was epic!! I remember stage diving there myself .. any plans to get Zero going again? New songs? recordings?
Sidd: Musically, Warren, Rajeev and I have all moved in different directions. Bobby got into the business side of things. I have no idea how we’d all connect musically. Plus, Rajeev and Warren don’t live here anymore.
But hey, I’m excited about the Zero reunion as well. I love the Zero boys and it’s gonna be a total party. I hope the fans come out and show us some love. Otherwise, we might as well party at home.
Ashwin: In your words, who is Sidd Coutto? Singer, Drummer, Composer, Song writer, actor, comedian or someone not even you know of at times?
Sidd: Honestly, I don’t know who I am anymore. I don many hats, and some of them don’t fit right. Some on the other hand, do. And you’ve mentioned plenty of them in your question.
All of the above. Plus songwriter.
Ashwin: Sidd Coutto is a happy person, at least that’s what your songs say about you, but… are there any regrets down the line, maybe you wish some goats were spared down the line?
Sidd: I’m not a happy person all the time. My songs are what pull me out of unhappiness. I have tons of regrets, none of them to do with actual goats though .
Ashwin: From Sutasi, Avima, Zero, Three Guys and a Girl, HFC, and now ToT, and many more, what memories you cherish the most?
Sidd: I’ve enjoyed each project in so many ways. Helga’s Fun Castle had the most chemistry though. And the most fun gig of my life was at SPA, Delhi.
Ashwin: Your advice to struggling young musicians / artists aspiring to make it big in the independent scene.
Sidd: Being big in the independent scene doesn’t pay. Get a job. Do music because it’s your calling. If you believe in such a thing. And if it is, you don’t need advice from me. Just do what you do.
Ashwin: Sidd Coutto, fill us with wisdom, give us the ‘last famous words’ and a word out to everyone listening to your songs.
Sidd: Be happy… Enjoy life… No one else is going to do it for you.
And get a job. Money is ridiculously important.
March 2009 – SAHIL MAKHIJA ( Demonstealer )
April 2009 – VIDYADHAR BHAVE .
May 2009 – VISHAL J SINGH . (Amogh Symphony)
June 2009 – RJ ASHISH DDAVIDD . ( Indian Underground podcast)
July 2009 – SRIDHAR (Transcend)
October 2009 – UDAY BENEGAL (Indus Creed/Alms for Shanti)