The Unplugged Project – Interview

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Delhi Band ‘The Unplugged Project’ is all things happy music and are known for their weird cool medleys and mash-ups as for their original numbers.

Till date the band has staged over 800 gigs across the globe and has ensured the audience is engaged while they have fun as well. They tell us more in this exclusive conversation.

Tell us something about your band and its members?

Aditya: We are a 5-member band which was formed by Manish and I back in late 2014. I sing and play the guitar, as does Manish. Ashwani Verma on drums, Vipin Sharma on Bass & Vocals and Elton Fernandes on the saxophone

How did you all come together?

Aditya: It all started around four years ago over a Karaoke session. Manish was hosting a Karaoke night at a pub in GK-2. I had just walked in and decided to sing a song, as it just seemed so much fun. He sang a couple of songs after as well and there was immediate respect and admiration for each other’s singing abilities and a couple of beers later, we were making plans to jam (since we both lived in GK-2 a were literally a stone’s throw away). I was already working on a solo project with Universal Music India and was wrapping up my solo album and playing live with my band The AJ Project. Soon enough, we started playing a lot of acoustic-duo gigs. Ashwani and I have been friends for about 20 years or so. He was and still is, in my books the best drummer in the country.  For me it was always a dream to play in a band with Ash and while we were all playing separately with other ensembles (I was with The AJ Project, Antariksh, Bandish and Ashwani was with Euphoria and myriad other acts), we always got together to play a couple of gigs here and there.

Manish: I was already playing with Ayushmann Khurrana and as mentioned earlier, Adi and I started doing a lot of duo sets and over a certain course of time we started getting queries for bigger gigs. We knew we needed to expand the band and there was only one drummer who fitted the bill – Ashwani Verma. We played as a trio set for about a year and steadily enough the scale of the shows started getting bigger and that is when we invited Vipin Sharma on Bass, Elton Fernandes on the Saxophone to join the band.

What kind of music do you play and what makes your band unique?

Ashwani: Music is not what we do, it is who we are. We do not have a dress code or a sacred philosophy. We play anything that flows with the moment. Our songs are part of our experiences and picked not because they are hip today.

Aditya: We got together because we wanted to play and jam on songs that we grew up listening, which was very acoustic oriented. We’ve always felt that a great song is the one that can be sung only on an acoustic guitar and that’s what we strive to achieve with our music as well.

Manish: So it is literally everything from Elvis, The Beatles & Ed Sheeran to AC/DC, Led Zeppelin to Maroon 5 and RD Burman, Kishore Kumar to an Arijit Singh. A good song is a good song.

Who or what inspires you?

Ashwani: Our influences inspire us a lot. I pretty much love all sorts of music but am a huge Dave Weckl fan. Of course, growing up learning the art of playing the drums you just HAD to follow guys like John Bonham, Neil Peart, Keith Moon and all. I love Jazz, Rock, Pop, EDM, Bollywood everything.

Aditya: I am a hardcore Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Pearl Jam fan, to an extent I started copying Robert Plant’s vocals in my initial rock n roll years. But I am a sucker for Bryan Adams too. I do not think anyone has more melodies on four chords than he does.

Manish: Frankly, everything does. Our music is usually based on something that we feel or have been through. Be it the writing or compositions, it all stems from reality, I absolutely loved the guitar Gods – Clapton, Mark Knopfler, Don Felder, Prince and the likes. I am a huge Country fan too. Give me The Eagles or Marc Cohn any given day. Amongst Indian artists, I admire Bobby Cash a lot. However, the one common thing that we all share is our love for R.D. Burman and Kishore Kumar; in fact the entire retro music era as it had some absolute gems.

Are bands replacing DJ’s at weddings and if so why?

Manish: That is a very subjective thing. Music per se is DJs & bands can definitely co-exist simply because they’re two very different artists. What a band does, a DJ can’t and vice versa. More often than not, wedding functions have both rocking it hard.

Tell us more about your single Faasle

Manish: I had this melody in my head that I had been working on. It had a really cool country vibe to it. So I recorded the verse-chorus chord progression & melody on my phone and shared it with the guys. We have this WhatsApp group with the entire band where we keep bouncing ideas off each other. That was the inception of our first original song.

Aditya: I fell in love with his melody instantly and had an idea about the lyrics and remember calling him a half hour later with the lyrics. But somehow the meter just did not go into that chorus. So I built on it with a different chorus melody and we used Manish’s chorus as a bridge instead. While Manish was thinking more country, I heard a very pop sounding track. It is kind of like, everyone comes up with different pieces and funnily enough they all fit together.

How do you prepare for your gigs?

Aditya: We used to rehearse a lot. But our USP has been our spontaneity. However, before every big gig, we do plan a jam which ends up becoming a chai-session over a lot of chatting. But we pull up our socks when we need to.

What are your future plans and what other songs are in the pipeline?

Manish: We want to play bigger venues to bigger crowds. We want to make and perform our own music at shows because there is no bigger high than hearing the crowd sing your songs with you. We also want to do more gigs internationally and eventually give music and sing for Bollywood.

Aditya: Lots of concerts both in India and international; a few more original songs; hopefully put out a lot of content for our YouTube channel, but basically become better musicians and just keep growing.

This story first appeared in Sakal Times dated 29th June 2019 here:

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