Clone Talk with Surojit Dev: Bollywood, Endorsements, Money and More
soundplunge_test catches up with Surojit Dev, the drummer of seasoned alternative rock outfit Them Clones who opens up in his various avatars as a Clone, ad-man, and a musician in India.
soundplunge_test: So straight to it. Them Clones has been around for quite a while now. Tell us, how has the scene changed over the years?
Surojit Dev: When we started out, venues would ask us to only play covers. We used to say “at least let us play our stuff and we’ll also throw in covers”. Now venues smartly ask you to play covers through the form of a tribute show. So that shows a concept where musicians from different bands come together and celebrate that particular night by playing one or two tracks. But there are gigs happening man, and it’s a scene. The regular public is attending the “scene” because it’s actually cool to be a part of that scene. Things have definitely changed for sure. It’s more methodical but we have to work towards making it smoother so that it’s a win-win situation for all of us.
ST: What do you think are the problems that still plague the industry?
SD: The one very rampant issue is that bands are not getting paid. So I think it depends from band to band or management to management in terms of how they handle the situation. Money is definitely an issue. I don’t think I can leave my day job to go full time for Them Clones or any other band. There are only a few bands in India who can actually do that. Those who have been able to do that, I respect them.
ST: How do you think the scene has changed from Bollywood to non- Bollywood, and artists playing their own original music?
SD: Bollywood is here to stay. You can’t just throw them off completely. The scene has evolved quite a bit and tribute nights are a nice way of asking bands to play covers. The scene has changed considerably; there are agencies who handle bands and platforms making it smoother for us guys to actually play better.
ST: Do you think it’s possible to have a major music event without an alcohol brand backing it up?
SD: I won’t say that it’s only the alcohol brands, but I think the stage is too early for any venue host an event without any sponsor. So it could be an alcohol brand or a sportswear brand. It’s a sponsor driven market, we don’t depend on gate money yet. It’s still in a niche stage but I think there are so many artist management firms that draw up entire plans in terms of putting the right bands through. It’s a changing scenario but I think it’s still an early stage to depend on gate money. We really need to depend on sponsorship to have everyone in a win-win situation, be it the bands or the venue.
ST: Is there any advice you would like to young musicians who just starting out?
SD: Just be a unit and do your sh** man! Whatever you want to do, even if it’s a 4/4 groove, just do it well. That’s all I would say.
ST: If you would want a band to cover Them Clones, which band would it be?
SD: I have no clue. No Clue!
ST: Which is your favourite band from the local scene?
SD: There are some interesting acts that have come out. The Urban Early Men, Moonshine, and Peter Cat Recording Company.
ST: What would your dream collaboration be like?
SD: I’m like a Nineties whore man! Like completely. I listen to alternative, a bit of grunge, but I also listen to some new music but this kind of music a little passé for me. It’s just a handful of five maybe six tracks and that’s it. I like Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, STP, RATM, Limp Bizkit, Korn, Arctic Monkeys and Vampire Weekend etc. I do consume a lot of new music, I like the fresh stuff and the fresh approach. When I say fresh I don’t mean electronic, it’s about how we can turn the sound around a bit.
ST: Are there anything funny moments that you’d like to share with us playing with Them Clones?
SD: That actually happens a lot with Joseph, who’s our guitar player. When we were hosting our own festival, which is called the Clone Fest Sound Check Series, there was one particular gig at Cafe Morrison where we were just organising and not playing. So our guitar player lands up with his guitar expecting that we are also going to play. That was funny, definitely.