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  • Interview by: Vilasini Muralidhar
  • Date: January 8, 2013

Mumbai’s “funny band” Workshop is back in action with their brand new release ‘Made love to the dragon’. Headbangers India catches up with the guys to talk about dragon love, Rihanna, ex-member Riju Dasgupta, and uhm… breasts! Read on for more…

HBI: From “Bhoot Bunglows” to getting laid by a dragon… Workshop certainly doesn’t seem to have lost its funny side! How are you guys doing, and what’s been up!

DS: Am going jolly good. We’ve been busy trying to finish the new album and starting to work on the music videos, blogs, guitar play throughs and other cool stuff that is going to be released. We’re also spending some serious time in the jam pad practicing the new songs for the album launch tour.

HK: Correction “Bhoot Bangla” is how we spell it. So until you hear the song, you can’t be sure whether it’s about a haunted house or the ghost of a dead Bengali (Riju is still alive). And of course we haven’t lost our funny side. We just lost Riju and Raj, our funny testicles. Thank god for prosthetics.

HBI: Seems like you are all set for the release of your second album ‘Made love to the dragon’.Tell us a little about it.

DS: Right off the back of ‘Khooni Murga’ in 2009, we started writing new material and somewhere towards the end of 2010 is when we geared up and hit the studios. We have spent two years in the studio recording this and in between all that we had Riju quitting the band and then we disbanded and then we rebanded and then we got the album done. It’s got 9 songs (10 for those who buy the CD) and I think I was able to incorporate some subtle messages in there as well along with general LOL style lyrics of Workshop. Musically we took a more songwriting approach while Hamza converted all the simple beats into complex polyrhythms that only Android phone users can decipher.

HK: You know, it’s about time we let you in on a little secret. Technically speaking, this is our third album. Our first album was called “Thriller”, released under the pseudonym of “Michael Jackson”. We weren’t given any credit for it though. Pity!

HBI: I also noticed that the band is getting back into gigging quite actively now, so what plans for album promotions/ tours?

DS: In India, being a comedy/rock/metal band it’s not so easy to build a tour as there are limited venues where we can play but we’re pretty much going to play every show that comes our way and get out there and spread the music. We’ve also got 2 music videos planned as well as some guitar play through videos for YouTube and our recording blogs have been popping up since 2011.

HK: We perform safe gigs and always use protection… our yellow hard hats.

HBI: Who in the band came up with the idea of the album title? It’s kinky, but frightening to think that one would have such an imagination!

DS: Well the truth is it would be scary if one did not have such an imagination. The title actually came up in one of our old recording sessions for ‘Khooni Murga’. I was pretending to be an Arab and Riju was playing with a stuffed camel and I was basically writing a spontaneous spoofy power metal track called ‘Made Love To The Camel’ and somewhere dragon also slipped in because power metal is a lot about dungeons and dragons and fairies and princesses and knights and you get the drift. So that is how the idea was born.

HK: Rihanna writes songs about domestic violence cause she was a victim herself. Bob Marley wrote songs about freedom and rights cause his freedom was repressed. Adele writes songs about getting dumped cause she got dumped. Well, Sahil wrote this song cause…

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HBI: The band’s got a new logo, and some very funky artwork too! Any particular observations/ stories that you’d want to share with us about the album cover? (Why is a naked Riju there?)

DS: I already had a vague idea for the cover artwork and I knew the style I wanted. I had seen Basu (Gaurav Basu who designed the artwork) do a Bhayanak Maut caricature and in general I loved his work for Inner Sanctum so I felt he was the right guy to do the job and turns out he was. So we started the work while Riju was still in the band and Gaurav had finished inking the cover. So we decided to give Riju a mask and put him in chaddies since he was no longer in Workshop and made the transformation from Rijunator to Dr.Hex and we inked in Aditya into an empty space by the bed. The artwork also took a very long time just like the album but everything has come full circle now and it is complete.

HK: Riju is there for legal issues. Apparently, music laws in some countries are really warped. We wouldn’t be able to release the album as Workshop in countries like Vanuatu, Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, Tokelau and Comoros, if 75% of the founding members weren’t present on the cover of the second… err… I mean third release. (GK Fact : These 4 countries are amongst the least known countries in the world. Google them!)

HBI: The Workshop identities of the band members are completely opposite to your otherwise serious portrayals! Was there any thought behind this, and about the metal “image” (if that matters to you) being affected?

DS: Well here is the funny thing. Metal heads are normal people and when I say normal I mean they go out with friends, laugh, have a good time and are humorous as well. So for us what we do in Workshop is just one side of our personality, the funny side. I did get a lot of flack in the initial days of Workshop from some metal heads who thought comedy had no place in metal but that would never stop me from doing what I do. It’s all died down now and people have accepted the band for what it is. But I never for even 1 second thought that I was too metal to play in Workshop.

HK: Images lie in the eye of the beholder. I’m pretty sure I heard that somewhere. Anyway, we can’t control what people think about us. We just do our thing. It’s like people stereotyping Justin Beiber cause he sings about a baby. Little do people know that at heart, he’s a die-hard black metalhead. When he’s at home he’s got corpse paint on. In fact, if you look closely, he’s got corpse paint on underneath his “pretty boy/girl” make up too. At the age of 4 he was also convicted for burning a miniature church replica. (See image for proof)

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HBI: We might know of your metal influences/ inspirations behind the music, but tell us about the humor inspirations. Where did the funny side come from?

DS: The funny side for me at least is just being myself. I do enjoy funny movies and TV shows and also stand up comics like Russell Peters, George Calin, Dave Chappelle, Chris Rock etc and of course life itself is quite funny so all this inspires my funny side. I’m not sure what Hamza has been eating for his.

HK: I eat what Sahil cooks but I owe my comedicknisms to an engineering subject. I’m an automobile engineer by qualification and in the 7.5th semester, we had a subject called “Theory of getting your ass whooped by your professor and dynamics of laughing about it”. We only had practical applications of that subject. Is it just me or are all my replies full of junk?

HBI: In an interview a while ago, you were asked about “Bunty aur Mallika Sherawat” having a sequel, and you said that you “don’t repeat breasts more than once”. Well, you’ve done it with Munni and Sheila! What do you have to say to that? 

DS: Well Munni and Sheila are not sequels to Bunty Aur Mallika. It’s a completely new set of breasts. However we did a Habbi Mix of Bunty Aur Mllika so we did technically repeat a breast but given that it was more as a humorous thing I guess it is passable. We actually did a part 2 of the song ‘I Came’ which is ‘She Came’ but it’s still very different.

HK: You know, that’s the problem with media today. You can’t get away with saying something cause there’s always some record of it. The only thing that’s common between ‘Bunty and Mallika’ and ‘Munni and Sheila’ is the rhyme scheme. And are you stalking Sahil? Sahil, now’s a good time to get into that metal underwear you got custom tailored from Varsha-chi aayi.

HBI: Ha ha, moving on from metal underwear and getting into something a little more serious now… We all know the state of the country currently, with people fighting continually for female rights. With this in mind, do you ever fear that your views will be misunderstood and taken as something more than just a joke?

DS: If you actually listen to the album and read the lyrics very carefully you will actually find some very strong social messages because I feel very strongly about things like this and anyone who follows me on Facebook knows that. I think our humor has its time and place and people will find it as an outlet rather than something to misunderstand and frankly if someone misunderstands us, fuck them… because it’s only today that they have women up to the plight of women in the country, they have been blind all these years to the women being raped on a daily basis, to all the girls that get groped and eve teased everyday while just travelling in their cities and what about all the poor Dalit women in villages who get gang raped. So I think if anyone has a problem with Workshop they can come and take it up directly with me. I’ll sort them out.

HK: This one’s too serious for me and I generally shy away from voicing my opinions publicly but I agree with Sahil. And yes there are serious social undertones in the new album.

HBI: Phew. So… what else is coming up with the band in the next couple of months? Any other big announcements/ updates that you can tease us about at the moment?

DS: Videos and Gigs. Lots of videos and gigs.

HK: Don’t be a spoilsport Sahil, they want to get teased. V____G___NA. Stop smirking you perverts. That’s Videos, Gigs, aNd A lot of updates. We’ve also successfully managed to make mechanical clones of Devesh. When you offer them a box of chocolates, they say “I don’t want your chocolates…I’ll buy my own”. They’ll be available for sale on Flopkart.com.

HBI: Any words for fans, friends, critics, dragons, Munnis and Sheilas…

DS: Pre-order the new album from Flipkart.com and Cheers & Stay Demonic!

HK: Here’s my word list: Enormity, Conglomerate, Tomfoolery, Effigy and Sacrosanct. These words may be used at will subject to a word count of 7. Royalty will need to be paid post that. I love Workshop interviews.