Lord of the Strings

Mendonsa’s forte,apart from guitar riffs,is fusing genres together into a single track.

Written by Somya Lakhani | Published: May 16, 2013 3:25:33 am

Mumbai-based star guitarist Warren Mendonsa talks about his upcoming album and why Zero won’t reunite

In the late ’90s,when people still refrained from using their real names online,Mumbai-based guitarist Warren Mendonsa called himself “Blackstratblues”. His classic Black Stratocaster guitar was the reason behind it and Blackstratblues is one of Mendonsa’s most popular projects. Now,he is all set to release an 8-track instrumental album under that project,tentatively titled The Universe Has a Strange Sense of Humour ,by July. Mendonsa’s forte,apart from guitar riffs,is fusing genres together into a single track.

Those who have kept track of the indie music scene in the country will be more than familiar with Mendonsa. After all,he was the star guitarist of popular Mumbai band Zero,until 2004 when he moved to New Zealand. “It took me a while to meet new people in New Zealand but I had a lot of ideas,so I began a solo project and put it online. People seemed to like it in India and New Zealand,” he says. Since it was not a live project,Menonsa was surprised when,in 2009,a Mumbai college asked him to perform at their fest. “I did a few more gigs in the country during that visit and realised that it was a viable option to bring Blackstratblues to India. There were more venues and college kids have disposable pocket money,” he says.

The Universe Has a Strange Sense of Humour is the first Blackstratblues album that has been recorded in India as Mendonsa released his earlier two albums — Nights in Shining Karma and The New Album — in New Zealand. The latest album has him collaborating with singers Nikhil D’Souza and Karsh Kale. The album’s Folkish Tree is a rather experimental track that sees Mendonsa’s guitar riffs blend with the sound of the dhol,played by Iqbal Azad. “I grew up in Dadar (Mumbai) and every year during Ganpati celebrations,there used to be this dhol sound. It’s embedded in me and now in the song too,” he says.

Apart from a forthcoming album,Mendonsa will also be performing a 90-minute set at the Escape Festival of Arts and Music on May 26 at Naukuchiatal. “It will be a mix of old songs from my project,a few new ones and our own Blackstratblues version of a classic song,maybe a Beatles number,” he says. Then there is also the third season of MTV@Coke Studio where Mendonsa will be seen in the Salim-Suleiman and Clinton Cerejo episode.

No conversation with Mendonsa is complete without an FAQ: Will we see Zero reunite? The band defined a generation of music lovers with their rock ‘n roll sound,and the band’s breakup in 2004-05 was quite a shock. “Rajeev Talwar,our vocalist,lives in London; my main focus is Blackstratblues; Sidd Coutto,our drummer,is busy with his own band Tough on Tobacco. So,I don’t see us reuniting in the immediate future. But we do perform sometimes at NH7 Weekender,for instance. So there’s no love lost between us boys,” he says.

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