Posted On 22 Nov 2017
Underground Authority (UA) is the only formidable rap-rock outfit from India. They believe in making music to express and not impress. Being one of India’s most popular bands, UA strives to speak up for the commoner through their art , highlighting their problems and issues and hopes to inspire every individual to stand up for themselves and for a better tomorrow.
Their newest single is called “Boatman.” It is about the Rohingya genocide in Myanmar. When asked what made them write a song about this controversy, the members of Underground Authority said they have always been very vocal about issues disturbing us as individuals.
“Whether it’s our live concerts or our social media platforms through which we communicate with fans regularly, as an artist, we have never kept silent. The killing of any human being is a crime, and when it’s done systematically for any reason, it becomes a genocide that needs to be stopped. We don’t know how much difference our songs can make to today’s society, but we shall always speak up for what is right. Musicians must use their voices for the betterment of the society,” declares the members of the band.
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Learn more about Underground Authority in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! Where does this interview find the band today? Is there music playing in the background? What music do you all like to listen to when you are relaxing or answering interview questions?
Well, to put forth and speak, since the inception of this band in itself, we all have been collectively pursuing our passion for music or rather in other words, call it our eternally unquenchable wanderlust to explore the ever vast universe we call music and as much as we devote most of our time and attention to it, we also believe that it is of prime importance, to take breaks/time outs to have our ears reset and so that we could, come back with a fresh set of ideas, every now and then to help us conquer monotony in all its entirety.
And as we’re typing it out, there plays, a variety of songs in the background; some known and some majorly unknown but then again, that is how it is everywhere, be it when we were touring or just hanging out, most of us are always, keen and open to new music from all across the globe and the fact that we always love to share it amongst ourselves.
Recently, we all have been sound trippin’ on musical genres, that experiment with ambience and positive mood. Call it, a relaxation session or something equivalent, but it certainly, helps us heal, sonically.
Artists, like Muramasa, Made in heights, Jain, Bipul Chettri, Stromae, Kendrick Lamar to name a few, are the ones who’ve been up on our playlists, for some time.
How does 2017 so far compare to last year? How differently did you all approach this year then you did 2016?
Every year, we look back on all and everything we tried to accomplish and where, we landed up in the end or how well we faired, as a unit / as a brand, probably if not trying to dig skeletons from the past on the occasions, where we went wrong. Fortunately, for us that our graph has always been steadily on the rise and on the good side since, 2010.
But having said that, we did face newer setbacks with every new year, we stepped on to and out of which, some were financial, some were logistical shortcomings and some market visibility issues and all of which we think are very normal in occurrence be it with a business or may it even be like a band like us.
Circa twenty-sixteen, on that note was quite memorable for us and we did add a few feathers to our cap of glory, be it us sharing the festival roster along with the likes of ‘Prog-rock-icon’ Steven Wilson and all time ‘Hip Hop’ legend DJ Premier at Bacardi NH7 Weekender (2016, Shillong and Pune) or us releasing, our second studio endeavor (EP), ‘Propaगेंडा,’ for which, we toured our country extensively, promoting it and were thrilled by the response, so much that we’re enthralled, that it was named the ‘Numero uno,’ (EP/release) of the year, by Rolling Stone, India. Also, to mention twenty-sixteen, had us have our first international performance, in Thimphu, Bhutan, where to our expectations, we were thrilled to have found about a thriving fan base of ours, there, who have been ardently, have been keeping a track of what we have been taking out, for quite some time.
Keeping all that in mind, we approached twenty-seventeen, tactfully by constantly, trying to reach out to our audience, be it through new material (music videos or equivalent) or through interactive channeling ( FB Live sessions, tutorials etc) and wanted to invest this year completely, onto building a new sound for ourselves for which, we rehearsed and spent countless months, in the basement ideating in the process. In other words, we had this year mostly to us, in preparing the sound for our next studio endeavor but not with us disappearing, all of sudden and by being still active as far as our touring schedule is concerned.
Can you recall the moment you all realized that you could really make music together and be this band? Why do you think your name truly represents this group and the music that you create? Where did your name come from in the first place?
All of us individually, have been active in the underground music scene of our country, prior to the formation of the band, indeed and to add to it, we were engaged in a healthy competition amongst ourselves, as three of our members, which includes our drummer, guitarist and bassist were from a band, titled ‘Weaponshop’ and our front-man, was in a separate band, named ‘Banned.’
While in the early years, (2007-2009) both these bands were doing pretty well, winning national competitions throughout the country and earning their way to fame, individually. But what had us join forces, was that we, throughout the years, have been harboring a thought of ‘what would it be, if we played together as a band?’ and each of us, even on the fact of being a rival, had a high regard for each other as a musician and that is what, had us into experimenting a line up, by naming it ‘Sky-dive’ and putting it to a test right away and which to our surprise, turned out to be a win-win situation for us, all.
A year later, considering the success of what we shared, we decided collectively and agreed upon the fact, that we certainly have a chance of making it big in the future, if we’re together as a unit and that discussion fruitfully ended, with us naming us ourselves, ‘Underground Authority.’
In India, the rock music scene exists and rests, on band competitions mostly and which therefore serves, as the only way to come up as a band, through merit and nothing else and with us having, won a huge-list of acclaimed and esteemed competitions, in our time, be it with the acts we have been associated with (Weaponshop or Banned) or Skydive (which is what we called ourselves, before we named ourselves ‘Underground Authority’) it is evident, that our compositions and our act, were worthy of the attention it was getting and that, it was time for us to rise into something big.
The name ‘Underground Authority,’ is self explanatory but yes, to us, it’s the remembrance and our days of struggle, which had us form a bond in music which till this day, thrives by every single gig or every time we make a song and it takes back, to that very memory lane and how, we’re rivals before and now, literally a band of brothers.
I always like to ask artists how their hometown has been an influence on the kind of music they make and really what kind of a band they are today. So how do you think your hometown in India has affected you all and the music that you create? What is the music scene like in India these days? Have you seen it evolve a lot in the past few years?
On that matter, we’re fortunate enough to have our roots and that we hail from the city joy, Calcutta which has always been tagged as the cultural capital of India, for its diversifying approach to everything and the laidback lifestyle, here has helped us all into giving time, to music as well as balancing our studies, back when we’re studying.
Also, to mention, the whole circuit here is so unique and that, there is no dearth of talent on whichever field of art one might presume, is the reason that when it came to music, our scene had artists and still has, from varied genres that would leave an ardent and unbiased lover of music, in awe.
At a band competition back in the day, we often had to face against, bands where each and every one of them, specialized in a different genre and none of them attempted at the same sound, which even made the competitions tougher and to which, you could probably make it out, that even our audience, here had their ears open to all genres and never restricted their liking, strictly to any single one which fueled so many artists and gave them room to experiment, with newer forms.
The primary influence of our city on us, can be evidently seen in our motto and that we have always preferred to make music to express and not impress and that we owe it, really to the experience, of being a band from Calcutta and we believe, that no matter where we go or wherever we might end up in, we would still have a piece of our beloved city of joy, right in there in our hearts.
After having toured extensively throughout the lengths and breaths, of the Indian sub-continent in the span of seven years, as a band, we’ve been flabbergasted, by a lot of artists that we have come across and that we seen for ourselves and it’s very visible, that the underground music scene is on the come up and that it has all the potential and quality to break into the mainstream or probably, even challenge the present trends.
We ourselves are the well wishers, of all such independent artists and we hope that, their struggle gets them to the places which they deserve and that they get noticed.
What was the inspiration for your single “Sundays At The Park”? When do you hope to release more new music? How different or similar will this track be to your other forthcoming music?
With ‘Sunday’s at the park,’ we stuck to our roots on making music, which is simple and yet which gets the job on getting the expression delivered. It’s a feel-good-song and it’s about how we should in every twist and turn, of life not ever forget to be happy.
And as we said, earlier, we spent most of twenty-sixteen, into preparing and experimenting aptly for the sound of our next releases and henceforth, one can expect that the year up ahead, will surely have more releases from us if not a couple of albums to say the least, to which we are looking very positive towards.
Sonically, it’s always a challenge, to be making songs which do not sound the same and yet have your signature touch. So, that’s something we always strive for and hope that our listener’s do feel the same way about it.
How do you all go about writing a song? Do you all work together or take turns constructing it?
A song always starts with a hook, which can be a riff or a vocal melody. The idea comes from one of us but we develop it together.
Lyrically, we try to focus on things that affect us and the people we know. We believe that music has the power to educate, inspire and instill change and we try to make the most of it. We grew up, holding on to songs and what they stood for and we hope and want our music to have the same impact on our listeners.
Do you have any upcoming shows planned? Where can people see you perform next?
We do have a host of performances planned for this year and the next. It would be really helpful for people to follow us on social media, like Facebook to be updated about our gigs.
Where do you think you are all happiest- on stage performing, in the studio recording new music or elsewhere?
All of those places come with their own thrill and excitement which are unique in their own way. It is very difficult to choose. However, it is very moving when you hear your audience singing your songs and relating to them.
We are living in a crazy and at times rough world right now so I am curious how you think being in this band gives you the most joy in life today? Do you think that new music being created today is going to reflect these hard times?
Yes, we are definitely in this because music has always been our light at the end of the tunnel and we believe that music has the power to not only reflect but also have a positive impact on the situations that we are living in. Yes, times have been crazy and rough and will continue to be so, however a good song can change that, even if it is momentarily. Hope is what everybody survives on and for us and the world, music is hope. It is one of the reasons why we dare to dream and it is also something that unites all of us.
Who are some of your favorite artists? Is there anyone that you would still love to work with in the future? What would be a dream collaboration for this band?
Oh! There are so many. The four of us have been influenced by very different artists and it is the reason why we sound like ourselves. The playlists in our cars are always unpredictable, nobody can guess what the next song is going to jump to. A few artists that had an immense influence on us would be, Linkin Park, Flobots, Rage Against the Machine, Matisyahu, Slipknot, Eminem, Bob Dylan, Porcupine Tree, Steve Vai, KRS-ONE, Cypress Hill, NWA, Megadeth, Metallica, Guns n Roses, Alterbridge, Steven Wilson, Disturbed, Major Laser and the list goes on. A collaboration with any of these artists would mean a dream come true.
What do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people continue to take away from your songs?
A reason to believe, a reason to get inspired to follow their dreams and passion, A reason to feel happy and not alone. Our tag line, Inspire Lead Revolutionize is what our music is all about and we want it to be a part of the lives of our listeners as well.
What advice would you give to a band just getting started? Or even to someone young that is thinking of becoming a musician one day?
It is not easy, it is very difficult and you will get de-motivated, you will be told you are not good enough, you will be shown through statistics and logic how the journey you are embarking on would lead to nothing but failure and disappointment. But, if you love what you do, if you find music to be the reason to wake up, go ahead and take a plunge and you will shut them up. If you believe in your music, your music will make them believe in you.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about the band or your music?
We would like to thank everyone who has listened and liked our music, they are the reason why we are of any significance. We appreciate the support and promise to come out with more music. Inspire Lead Revolutionize.