INTERVIEW WITH GIRISH AND THE CHRONICLES FRONTMAN GIRISH PRADHAN
Date: April 2, 2020
Photos: Prabal Deep Photography (fifth photo)
ROCK N’ ROLL MUSIC HAS TRULY BECOME AN INTERNATIONAL PHENOMENON. BACK IN THE ’80S, MOST OF THE BANDS SEEMED TO EMANATE FROM THE ENGLISH SPEAKING COUNTRIES BUT NOW YOU CAN FIND SOME GREAT ROCK N’ ROLL BANDS IN JUST ABOUT EVERY COUNTRY IN THE WORLD. INDIA BASED GIRISH AND THE CHRONICLES WILL BE RELEASING THEIR SOPHOMORE ALBUM ‘ROCK THE HIGHWAY’ VIA LIONS PRIDE MUSIC ON APRIL 27, 2020. ONE LISTEN TO GIRISH AND THE CHRONICLES’ LATEST SINGLE “ROCK ‘N’ ROLL IS HERE TO STAY” AND I KNEW THAT I HAD TO CONTACT THE BAND’S FRONTMAN GIRISH PRADHAN TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THIS AMAZING GROUP ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD.
Sleaze Roxx: First off, I have to tell you. I think you’ve got a great voice and I put you up there with Animal Drive’s Dino Jelusick as having one of the finest younger voices for rock n’ roll. When and how did you start singing, and how did you get so good?
Girish Pradhan: [It] really means a lot to me! Thanks. I must have been about 13 when I first heard The Eagles and I knew I badly wanted to learn the guitar. While learning to play guitar, I also started humming to the tunes and discovered that I could sing a bit. Soon, I was addicted to singing and I would spend hours trying to sound like some of the bands I had started listening to. A year or so went by and one of my friends started bringing cassettes of Iron Maiden, Bon Jovi, Guns N’ Roses, Aerosmith and I still remember the shock I got on hearing the vocals. I totally started looking at Bruce Dickinson as my idol at the time, but I used to love the completely different style that Steven Tyler, Jon Bon Jovi, Axl Rose, Sebastian Bach and the likes would deliver.
I would record myself on a little walkman I had, for hours and hours, with my younger brother, Yogesh — who’s now our bassist and music producer — reviewing me on the sidelines. My mom being an Indian classical, folk trained singer herself, would correct me all the time [laughs]. I think it was the obsession to hit those high notes and get the singing tones as close as possible to my rock heroes was what shaped my voice. Soon my dad, being a very encouraging guy, actually took me to the gigs of the local bands at that time and they let me sing with them a couple of times. I started gaining a lot of experience and soon, learning different styles of rock singing unconsciously, became the only priority in my life at a point of time. I guess it’s all about the practice and dedication. Like any musician, I screw up, but that always encourages me to work hard and become better.
Sleaze Roxx: Girish And The Chronicles’ song “Rock ‘N’ Roll Is Here To Stay” has an obvious message. Why did you feel the need to state that message?
Girish Pradhan: It’s simply what we feel. It’s a mix of emotions that musicians like us feel a lot of times. For example, “But I need to hear them roaring guitars, to find my peace of mind…. Just let me be.” This is completely true. I can hardly listen to songs without heavy guitars and solos involved in them and it’s pointless for anyone to tell me otherwise. “It’s not like I wanna be a star” points out to the fact that people expect you to go and try out those “Idol” platforms, just because you might have good singing capabilities. People often fail to realize that most of the rock / metal musicians out there do this by choice. It’s not like they don’t have the brains or skills to create other forms of music. It’s simply what we have chosen. Being the underdogs only makes the feeling stronger. We live on the edge knowing that we may fall, but that would never stop us from doing what what we love.
Girish and The Chronicles‘ “Rock ‘N’ Roll Is Here To Stay” video:
“Rock ‘N’ Roll Is Here To Stay” is the first single from #GirishAndTheChronicles off the latest album #RockTheHighway | Released on the 27th of April 2020 …
Sleaze Roxx: I note that the title track for your upcoming new album ‘Rock The Highway’ was released back on December 31, 2018. I would have thought that the album would be coming out soon after that. Was that planned that way or were there any delays in getting your upcoming album written, recorded and ready for release?
Girish Pradhan: Yes, it was planned, in a way. “Rock The Highway” was just a single at first, introducing our fans to a new kind of sound, different from what we were doing before it. We were planing to release a full album by December ’19. However, it was also at that time that Lions Pride [Music] offered us an album release under their name. Of course, they had many bands and were on a schedule. Anyway, both the parties finally decided on the 27th of April, 2020. It was good for us. We got an ample amount of time to practice, record and refine the songs.
Girish and The Chronicles‘ “Rock The Highway” video:
Title Track | New album | “Rock The Highway”| Released on 27th of April, 2020| Lion’s Pride Music |#RockTheHighway #girishandthechronicles #LionsPrideMusicLi…
Sleaze Roxx: What was the idea behind the cover for your upcoming new album?
Girish Pradhan: We were sure from the beginning that we wanted the band to be seen on the cover this time. While designing, we realised that it would be cool to introduce bits of stuff that represented the place we grew up in, the state of Sikkim. The font, the dragon heads are all a part of it, beautifully illustrated by our friend, Yangdol Namgyal.
Sleaze Roxx: Why were you guys so adamant that you wanted to be on the front cover of the album this time? Were you not happy with the cover for your debut album?
Girish Pradhan: I’m not really sure actually. We just wanted to be on the cover this time I guess and we all agreed to it. Whatever fan base that we have recognizes us and relates us with the rock n’ roll side of the scene out here. We’re almost like the face of it out here right now. Also, our focus has always been more on performing live and touring, so a picture of the band on the cover felt good. We did the first album cover ourselves. We love it for what it was too.
Sleaze Roxx: From what I can tell, you and [guitarist] Suraz [Karki / Sun] started the band back in 2006 but the group is kind of named after you with the band name Girish And The Chronicles? Why did you guys decide to have you at the forefront and how did you come up with “The Chronicles”?
Girish Pradhan: It was at around 2006. I dropped out from engineering and decided to take a musical path. I had met Suraz during a college music fest, where we had both witnessed each other performing. We met up and started talking about a band. [My brother] Yogesh had left town for his studies, so we teamed up with one of his old bandmates and Nagen — our current drummer. We started doing small gigs in and out of the town. This didn’t last for too long though. I soon decided to travel and explore. I was in Delhi for a few months and then I headed to Kathmandu in Nepal, where I stayed for a year, doing small gigs around town. The good thing was that my YouTube channel started doing quite well and I started gaining quite a lot of attention as a vocalist. Long story short, I came back to India and my brother was home too for a vacation, and we started recording a song named “Angel.” It was mid-2009. We finished the song and I sent it to a few local magazines and music festivals.
People had started looking at me as a solo artist, due to my channel name and the single release. The rest of the guys were in another band at this time. Soon, Yogesh left to complete his studies in sound engineering. I started performing alone at the Cafe and the poster outside showed “Girish Unplugged” or something like that. Soon, Nagen and our former bassist, reconnected with me and we started a band once again. I simply renamed the poster as, “and The Chronicles.” It was the name of a short lived band that I had formed in Nepal. Suraz was still comitted to his ongoing project. I was literally the guitarist and the vocalist of the band for a while. We started getting lots of invitations after “Angel” and some good responses on YouTube. Just before we headed out for the festivals, Suraz called me up and said he too wanted to join in. We already knew he would come sooner or later! We were just waiting for him. So yeah, that’s how the name stayed, but yes, Girish and The Chronicles is not about me or the vocals at all. It’s a collective effort.
Sleaze Roxx: Speaking of “Angel”, you released a video for a re-recorded version of the ballad earlier this year. Why did you decide to do that rather than release a video for one of the songs on your upcoming album?
Girish Pradhan: Earlier this year, we requested from Universal India that we wanted to take back the control over our entire first album ‘Back On Earth.’ However, this also meant that we were asking them to remove the “Angel” video from YouTube, which they had uploaded on a VEVO account during the time of release, and from all the online platforms such as Spotify, iTunes, etc. Of course, a lot of people wanted the video back, so we decided to upload it on our own channel, with a remixed and remastered version of the song. We will make the old album available again, soon.
Girish and The Chronicles‘ “Angel” video (2020 re-mastered version):
After the video was removed from YouTube, here it is again, for all of our fans and supporters, who have been so kind to us over the years. The first version…
Sleaze Roxx: Girish And The Chronicles appear to have toured in what appears to be some unlikely rock markets like India, Vietnam and Thailand. What is the rock scene like in your part of the world and are there any other countries that you have played?
Girish Pradhan: India is quite diverse that way and there is a small percentage of people, still enough, who are totally into rock and metal. The scene was way bigger in the ’90s and 2000s. There was a time where everyone used to say that India is like “the pilgrimage” country where the rock legends visited in the end. There are big music festivals such as The Bacardi NH7 Weekender, which has hosted some huge acts and we did get lucky at times to open for them too, some of them being Poets of The Fall, Teseract, Destruction and Hoobastank. The Bangalore Open Air is the biggest hard rock / extreme metal festival in India and it has hosted some really great bands. We even toured with Chris Adler, backing him on his tour in India back in November of last year. U2 visited India not so long ago.
There is a market for it, but you could say that the commercial Bollywood industry just overshadows it all and the independent / underground bands face a real tough time. It is one hell of a tough job to survive with a lot of uncertainty surrounding you. And it’s hard for most of the bands to reach the audiences outside the country. As far as places like Vietnam and Thailand are concerned, it was plainly due to our affiliation with the Indian Council for Cultural Relations at that time. We have performed in Dubai [in United Arab Emirates] a couple of times and we were even based in Hong Kong for a year in 2012. We did a successful tour in Nepal last year.
Sleaze Roxx: What was it like playing with Chris Adler? It appears that at least a few Girish and The Chronicles band members including yourself were part of Chris Adler’s backing band throughout his tour in India. If so, how did you land that gig and how did it go?
Girish Pradhan: It was an enormous experience. Yes, it was three of our members consisting of myself, Suraz Sun on the guitar and Yogesh Pradhan on the bass. We were quite nervous at first, but after a couple of jams, we started feeling quite comfortable. There was a lot of discipline involved. After all, we were backing one of the greatest drummers in the world. The best part was that we had insane fun with wild crowds in every venue. There were definitely some unforgettable moments. It was surreal to realize at times that it was Chris Adler slaying it on the drums, while performing.
Sleaze Roxx: What was playing in Dubai like?
Girish Pradhan: Lots of fun, especially the first two shows a couple of years back. The crowd was quite “rock n’ roll.” The Music Room had a good reputation in hosting good rock shows. We were supported by some good bands too.
Sleaze Roxx: I’m curious about your experiences in Hong Kong? I’ve been to Hong Kong but never to India. I imagine that Hong Kong must be quite different from India. What was the rock n’ roll scene like in Hong Kong?
Girish Pradhan: We worked under a contract for a year. This was in 2012. It was an amazing place. It wasn’t about creating albums, touring, etc. This was us, as a band in a big club, performing every night. It was truly a wild experience. There’s no doubt. Being a part of one of the biggest clubs out there, the crowd was wild, especially on weekends and it also depended on the season I guess. Hong Kong is a place where you would find many different kinds of crowds. The rugby season, the Navy, the people working there — it’s hard for me to describe. We saw many different types of crowds. I learnt a great deal from my fellow musicians out there, most of whom were from the Philippines. Such great talents in one place. In fact, before the whole band arrived to the country, I was temporarily a part of one of the bands out there. I was stunned to see how good they were. I knew I would learn a lot. The whole experience had its share of fun and rock n’ roll and it was truly the ‘paradise city’, but it also taught us a lot of things as musicians and performers. We became tighter than ever, playing for almost everyday, for an entire year. That’s what mattered the most I feel. It was like pure training. I left after a year, purely due to what I would find only back home, which was creating, traveling, touring, recording, etc. I guess that was the main difference in the scene for musicians like us.
Sleaze Roxx: How did Girish And The Chronicles end up signing with Lions Pride Music?
Girish Pradhan: We connected over Facebook and soon started talking about a new album release. We had no idea it was going to come our way. We saw it as a good opportunity to spread the music out of India.
Sleaze Roxx: The single “Walking The Line” was released back in May 2018. Why did you decide to include it as a bonus track on your upcoming new album?
Girish Pradhan: We didn’t feel like leaving it out. We did have mixed feelings about it though. We almost left it out actually but both the label and the band decided to keep it in the end.
Sleaze Roxx: What were the mixed feelings with respect to “Walking The Line”?
Girish Pradhan: I guess it has to do with the very different theme it has. It’s unplugged. It has a very differently tuned guitar with percussions and stuff. The song is beautiful no doubt, but I guess we wanted to focus more on heavier songs and power ballads on this album. Songs are like your children. You just can’t leave one of them alone in a corner from the rest.
Girish and The Chronicles‘ “Walking The Line” video:
Girish and The Chronicles, “Walking the line”, single release and bonus track on Rock The Highway CD, Released on 27 April 2020, by Lion’s Pride Music. Order…
Sleaze Roxx: [Laughs] I understand that former Dio and Bang Tango guitarist Rowan Robertson plays on one of the songs off the new album. How did you get involved with Rowan and how did you go about choosing which song that he should be featured on?
Girish Pradhan: Someone named Herman Singh had commented on one of our YouTube videos that he had introduced some of our stuff to Rowan. That sounded nice, but little did I know that Rowan and I would actually connect online and eventually end up collaborating. It was very kind of him. We considered many songs at first but we felt like our song “The Rebel” would be great. It’s a fast tempo energetic heavy metal song and it would, in a way, represent that side of him. He’s a legend and we’re glad that we got to do this!
Sleaze Roxx: What’s the writing process like in Girish And The Chronicles?
Girish Pradhan: It mostly starts with one of us coming up with a riff on the guitars and then we build on it. Sometimes we just leave entire songs up to the individual band members, when they’re onto something. At such times, it’s best not to interfere with what one is creating. We often listen to a completed song together and decide on introducing breaks, or add bridges, cutting down parts, etc. I write the lyrics on the go at times, while recording my vocals and leave them to the guys whenever I get stuck somewhere. Other times, we just write stuff while touring. Most of them are based out of the experiences we go through.
Sleaze Roxx: Girish And The Chronicles’ debut album ‘Back On Earth’ came out back in 2014. Why has there been such a long gap between ‘Back On Earth’ and ‘Rock The Highway’?
Girish Pradhan: We were actually in the process of recording a new album with a very different sound. We ended up recording about eight tracks with most of them without vocals, but it was something very progressive and experimental in nature. Also, the kind of stuff we wanted to add to the music and video would have taken a lot of time and travelling as well. So we decided to keep it on hold and perhaps introduce it with a different project name later in the future. We did go through a lot of hurdles too. We released “Endless Road”, “Walking The Line” and “Rock The Highway” in between, to make sure we were giving something to the audience.
Sleaze Roxx: Are there any concerns of releasing the new album in the midst of what is likely to be a continuing COVID-19 pandemic?
Girish Pradhan: It’s really sad what everyone is going through. These are tough times. It also means we won’t be touring anytime soon, but we had promised our fans that we would make it available no matter what. It had been far too long on top of that. It doesn’t really feel like how it should, but on the positive side, it’s good that the people will have one more thing to do and feel good with some more music in their play lists and collections.
Sleaze Roxx: What are the rest of your plans for 2020?
Girish Pradhan: We will be releasing some more videos from the album and hopefully tour to support the record whenever it’s possible. We really hope the music reaches hard rock / heavy metal fans all over the world and that we can actually start touring abroad, in the near future.
Sleaze Roxx: Last question for you — what are your top three albums of all-time and why?
Girish Pradhan: That is really a tough one. I guess I’ll just stick to what affected me the most while growing up and changed my life forever keeping in mind that we did not have access to a lot of bands’ music out there in my hometown. The Eagles’ ‘Hell Freezes Over’ was the first life changing album for me. From the genius musical depths of “New York Minute” to the hard hitting “Get Over It”, it has everything that one needs to know while starting a journey into the world of rock. Outstanding musicianship! The first thing that came to my mind was actually Iron Maiden’s ‘The Number of The Beast’ because of the sheer energy of the album. It has outstanding vocals and it’s just so fresh even today. The album has inspired some of the greatest bands out there. It totally defined what I wanted to get into.
OK, I might be cheating a bit on this one but ‘Nativity In Black’ and ‘Nativity In Black II’ were game changers for me as well, featuring some of my favourite bands and musicians belting out some good old [Black] Sabbath. It reintroduced Black Sabbath and the bands involved in the album to a lot of new comers. I really don’t think I can come up with a list of just three favorites though. Megadeth, Pantera, Ratt, Guns N’ Roses, Steel Panther…. Ah! Too many! In terms of Steel Panther, I got introduced to them very late, but they totally inspired me to work on a new album.
Girish and The Chronicles‘ “Endless Road” video:
Presenting the soundtrack for every trail, the anthem for wanderlust, your love song to the open road.’The Endless Road’ feat. Girish and the Chronicles – on…