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Pentagram is India’s biggest electronica-rock band for a number of reasons. They have amassed an international fan base, performed around the world and gone where no Indian band has been before. They have been consistently ground-breaking sonically, visually and performance-wise. Their rising popularity and recently released third album is a reassurance that Indian bands have what it takes to rock.

Pentagram released their third album through independent label Counter Culture Records this year. Their new effort is titled It’s Ok. It’s All Good, and soon after its release its songs have become a fixture on the playlists of the ever-growing legion of Pentagram’s fans. The band invited fans to shoot a video for their song Voice and received 991 entries ~ another proof of their popularity. The first lyric on their new album goes “Today is a great day for you and me my friends”. We spoke to the band and they elaborated how this day came about.

The Record: How did Pentagram form?
Vishal: We formed Pentagram to get laid. It is one of the primary reasons for music. It was the ‘Hey, look at me!’ reflex that drives young people, but later of course the band became much more than that. For me, Pentagram has become my identity. When you give something 14-15 years, it becomes a part of you. I remember meeting Randolph in an elevator on the way to an organiser’s house. I got this really aggressive look from him and I gave it back. That evening we ended up jamming together. Shiraz, Clyde and I had this band in our heads and Randolph found us Papal.

TR: What do you consider as your biggest break to date?
Vishal: The real break was finding each other. For a lot of people, it is really hard to keep a band together, but we’ve never had that problem. In our heads Pentagram is a very big band and bigger things are yet to come.
Shiraz: Getting the band together and winning those three competitions. We won rock competitions at IIT Bombay, Kanpur and Delhi within a span of two months.

TR: You were among the first Indian bands to move away from playing covers and towards playing more original music. How did you do it?
Vishal: Anyone with any sense of self-worth would want to put their original music out. Our first ever show was at Esselworld on 31st December 1994. We started with an original song, and ended with an original song. We played only three songs that night so I guess that speaks for itself. Each person in this band is an extreme individual. Everyone has their own mindset. Maybe it was because we could not agree on the type of covers we would play or maybe it was just that we all only agreed on playing original music. It wasn’t a thought out process.
We have played a lot of covers; but whenever a cover has started to define us, we have stopped playing it. I remember in the early days we would cover Alive, but when people started coming to see us do that song we stopped doing it.

TR: What prompted you to change your sound and incorporate electronica?
Randolph: Clyde and I were going to a lot of raves and checking out that kind of music. I would be hanging more with DJs than with rockers. Rock is a statement, and not a sound. We said, instead of guitar solos and riffs, let’s translate it into grooves.

Vishal: We did not have any preconceived, vehement opposition to including electronica. I have a criterion for a song, and that is to make me jump around on stage. That is Rock N Roll. I don’t care if that sound comes from a turntable or a keyboard.

TR: How has the hostility towards you in the form of some fans turning away when you changed your sound made a difference to you?
Vishal: If you think about it, we did not lose any support. The people who had a problem with us were never at our shows to listen to Pentagram. I would rather have five people listen to my songs than 50,000 who come to a gig to watch me play someone else’s songs, go home and forget about it. We also found a lot more fans when we changed our sound.

You can read the rest of our feature on Pentagram in the April 2007 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.


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