"Metal is like beer", says Vishwesh Krishamoorthy suddenly. "Think about it. To enjoy a beer you have to look past the bitterness. To enjoy metal you have to look past the noise".
Vishwesh and Prashant Shah, are two fifths of Scribe - the insanely popular, Mumbai based, DIY (Do it yourself) heavy metal band. They’re discussing the thrill of Scribe's latest achievement - it is the first ever Indian band to be nominated for a MTV Europe music award. The conversation is freewheeling and often spirals off in unexpected directions. Vishwesh would start for instance, by describing his reaction to the news that Scribe had been selected for the nomination (It just didn’t occur to me – I do a lot of voiceover work for VH1 and thought it was something related to that. It took days to make the connection) and suddenly, no one is quite sure how, he’s in the middle of an animated description of how Prashant got flashed after a performance at the Inferno festival in Norway.But this, according to Prashant, is also how Scribe functions as a band. They don't restrict themselves to a framework and are always experimenting. “We just begin somewhere and see where it takes us”, says Prashant. As a result, the music they produce, while undeniably metal, does not adhere to so many of the stereotypes that have to come to be associated with the genre. There is no angst, no blood and no hatred. Instead they sing songs like “I love you pav bhaji” and ‘Etherea” which is about a man brushing his teeth. “That would be an utter blasphemy in metal terms”, says Vishwesh gleefully. ‘We’re shameless, but in the end people also like goofy shit. While metal may be about angst and high entry music, it’s also great to jump around to”.
Apart from Vishwesh and Prashant, who are the vocalist and guitarist respectively, Scribe is made up of Viru (drums), Shrinivas (bass) and Akshay (guitars). Prashant and Akshay also write most of the songs. The band has been together for five years and by all accounts they really “get” each other despite coming on from very different musical backgrounds. In fact they use this to their advantage. Every member brings something different to the plate, and this contributes to the creative process, and the 'experimental' techniques that makes Scribe so unique. “You couldn’t get a better bunch of people to work together”, says Vishwesh of his band. They are some of the finest creative minds in the industry today. They are passionate, dedicated and have above all else, a strong sense of prestige and ethics – the need to do everything right”. Prashant nods emphatically. "Take even one member away and Scribe will not be Scribe", he says.
Scribe is also very rooted in Mumbai – all its band members
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And the best thing about the city, according to the duo, is that it is home to what is possibly the best underground creative arts scene in the country. “This is the true grit of Mumbai. It rejuvenates the city and we’re glad we’re a part of it” says Vishwesh. And that is also why the MTV nomination is so important. It is, in a sense, recognition of the underground scene and the way Scribe works within it. The band says that they do not work for accolades and awards, but this nomination is still special. “We must be doing something right”, they say.
But start them talking about the city and a sense of frustration and disillusionment begins to seep in. Everything it seems is changing. The famously ‘nice’ people of Mumbai are becoming outnumbered by an influx of ‘not so nice’ people who won’t think beyond money and how to make as much of it as possible. The development is haphazard, there is no respect for the architecture, and the infrastructure is shot to pieces. Even Bollywood, which was, according to Vishwesh, something ‘kitsch and inventive” as little as five years ago, has mutated into something trying to be refined but only succeeding in becoming totally horrible. And yet this is not ordinary cribbing. Genuine sadness and frustration is evident in the way they talk. ‘We love this city and all it stood for. But Bombay’s development has become like a fungus. Without direction and totally random”, says Prashant.
“Mumbai has the potential to be the creative nucleus of all of South Asia, but we have let it down”, adds Vishwesh despondently. ‘A city is beyond its people. But we may be destroying something in it”