In the summer of 2000, a bedroom in south Delhi’s RK Puram was resonating with some fascinating drum loops and guitar riffs. The neighbours complained and four boys trying to make some music and a life were kicked out. “There was no soundproofing and a bedroom was hardly a jam pad. Somehow we managed for a while, until the neighbours really got sick of us,” says Prithwish Dev, who lived in that house with brother Surojit.
The search for a new jam pad led them to other neighbourhoods, where they belted out close-fitting covers of popular rock and grunge classics, followed by the release of some interesting original singles. Soon they were touring the college circuit, won almost every competition that came their way, got the heads banging and became famous with an unusual moniker – Them Clones – a word play on how they look at themselves on stage. But what really swung it for Surojit Dev on the drums, Prithwish Dev on vocals, Joseph Lalhmachhuana and Gucci Singh on guitars and Clarence Gonsalves on the bass was the ‘alternate’ part of things in their music. It soon led them to a rock ‘n’ roll direction and a heavier sound for the next 10 years and of course their debut album love.hate.heroes, which was received rapturously. The band, which is considered one of the finest in the country, turned 15 yesterday.
“We actually feel old now,” says Surojit. The songwriting has been exemplary, lyrics have been interesting and ambitious, and the grooves have only gotten better. This, despite various line-up changes, the untimely demise of Gonsalves and taxing day jobs. Without Joseph, and with Akshay Raheja on keys and lowends — who joined the band in 2013, after Gaurav Balani of Parikrama and Nikhil Rufus Raj of Indigo Children took turns as bassists — the sound is different and lighter, but luckily for the band that hasn’t weaned their fans away. “Over a year after Clarence, we were in no mood for a permanent bassist. What he did as a bassist in this band was magical. The holistic approach that he brought to the table can’t be replicated by any other artiste. What Akshay brings is unique in its own way,” says Prithwish.
Raheja, who comes from an electronica background and joined the band in 2013, was doubtful if things would work out. “We straightaway entered a studio and began recording. It wasn’t the conventional approach, where musicians first jam together. The idea worked,” says Raheja.
The band now plans to release an album. “We are difficult on ourselves. We have been working on some things. We want to give people songs that we first want to hear ourselves. But yes, there should be an album by the end of this year,” says Raheja. The band is in talks with Miti Adhikari (sound recordist for Pearl Jam and Foo Fighters) to produce this one.