Each song has a story that strings together the whole plot. Chennai-based hard rock band Skrat believes in interconnecting their songs in concept albums to create a unique Skrat Universe, or Skratverse, as they call it, with unique characters, villains and heroes. T.T. Sriram, lead singer of Skrat, believes that experiencing a live gig should be just as good as listening to a story through music.
That’s how their latest album Bison happened. Since their inception in 2006, this garage rock band with a happy, groovy sound has evolved into heavier riffs, edgier guitar work and darker lyrics. “We put all what we have into characters with a storyline. All our albums have many characters that are interlinked and connected to each other,” explains Sriram, when we catch him for a chat before a gig in Coorg.
The front man of the band explains that their latest album Bison is a concept album about the story of an amoral character General Bison, who, along with his army, is neutralising a troubled population. The ten-track album has General Bison as the central comic character, who sets out to “cleanse the world”.
“In our pursuit to tell the story of General Bison, we steer clear of explaining the plot separately while performing on stage. The story is in the lyrics of the songs. The biggest influences for the music are bands like Queens of the Stone Age, the Foo Fighters, the Hives and the Vines among other bands. Most of rock-n-roll bands today tend to get preachy with their lyrics. We try and put all that angst in our characters and let them tell their story instead,” says Sriram.
The three-member team with Sriram on vocals, Tapass Naresh on drums and Jhanu Chanthar on bass are currently on an all-India tour since their album got released last September. Though they’ve now played music together for over 11 years, with their band becoming one of the most popular indie rock outfits in the country, they still like to joke about the origins of their name.
“Skrat comes from the cartoon character in The Ice Age who is constantly chasing an acorn. We just used the name at random since we didn’t think that the band would go anywhere. Now, we’ve been playing for over a decade, but the name has stuck,” says Sriram, adding, “I’ve known Tapass since kindergarten and Jhanu was a man I looked up to as a senior musician when we were just coming up. It’s been an amazing journey creating music with them.”
Sriram also admits that his habit of hyper-imagination from childhood, and the eccentricity of the trio is what helped him buoy up the characters in the Skrat universe for Bison. “We all sit together and come up with the songs. Sometimes, I bring the lyrics or an idea to start and sometimes it’s the other way round. But the songs are a product of the combination of all our eccentricities,’’ he smiles.