Bluestackface is the trio giving Blues music a new face in India

Bluestackface is the trio giving Blues music a new face in India

FPJ got a case of the Blues with music trio Bluestackface, which has two major city gigs lined up in April

Kasmin FernandesUpdated: Saturday, April 08, 2023, 11:46 AM IST
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You ever notice how there are so few Blues bands in India, you can count them on the fingers of one hand? It's a real head-scratcher. India has a rich musical tradition with all sorts of colourful sounds and rhythms, but for some reason, the Blues just isn't one of them.

Maybe it's a cultural thing. Maybe the Indians just don't have the same connection to the Blues as folks in America or Europe. But I find that hard to believe. After all, the Blues is universal. It speaks to the human condition, no matter where you come from. The Blues isn't just a genre of music; it's a way of life. There is hope in a new generation of Indian Blues musicians, spreading their message of hope and resilience to the world.

Leading the pack is Bluestackface from Mumbai. It started off as a solo project of guitarist and vocalist Rohan Shirsolkar. He was joined by bassist Jatin Jitendrakumar and drummer Evan S (who happen to be cousins). Jatin and Rohan used to be bandmates in a prog-rock band. They were in the top three finalists of the 2020 Mahindra Blues Band Hunt, where they caught the attention of illustrious music directors Ehsaan Noorani and Loy Mendonsa (from Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy). A year later, they released their debut EP called 'Both Sides'.

They have two major gigs coming up in April 2023: United We Groove (UWG) on April 8th at The Stables and Thursday Night Live on April 27th at Veranda. Life has come full circle because Bluestackface played their debut gig at UWG vol. 5. While UWG has multi-genre acts and a diverse audience, Veranda hosts indie artists every Thursday where they play a longer set.

Check out their new single It Takes Time:

“We are considered too Blues for a rock line-up and too Rock for a Blues bill which makes our sound really different and that gives us the confidence that we are pretty original, quips frontman Rohan, adding, “The crowd responses have been really positive so far.” He gravitated towards the Blues naturally. There were a lot of metal bands, but very few Blues acts in the local scene which inspired him to start this project.

When you meet the trio, they are far from “blue”. In fact, their easy banter lubricates the conversation and an hour goes by in minutes. Rohan has just streaked his hair bright blue, and goes on to explain the title in his own peculiar way: “The name of this project is Bluestackface because we play the Blues and when you really feel the music you tend to make faces while playing it, so Blues is always stacked with making faces.”

Rohan is an old soul who prefers analogue sounds over digital. He says, “I'm more into organic stuff, so even if I use analogue and digital sounds, the source of the sound is from a real instrument. With Bluestackface we use our primary instruments to make the sounds and we have never used backing tracks.”

Watch the single You Left Me First from Bluestackface:

Their influences are varied, with Rage Against The Machine being the common factor. Evan's drumming is influenced by a lot of Funk grooves, Old Skool Hip-Hop and Jazz. His favourite musicians are Louis Cole, De La Soul and Fearless Flyers. Jatin sticks to progressive metal and other groove metal genres. “I like music that has complex grooves irrespective of the genre. Lamb of God, Tool and Avial are my top three,” says Jatin who's a sound engineer by day. Rohan cites Cream, Alter Bridge and Aristocrats as his influences.

These varied influences spill into their sound. Don't expect your standard classic Blues from them. They have a unique take on the genre. It's Blues with a hint of metal here, progressive rock there, jazz in parts and pop rock in some places. Says Evan, “Fans have told us that just the three of us on stage sound heavier than a metal band.”

They will be playing eight original tracks at United We Groove. The boys from Bluestackface are keen on playing at their style of Blues at festivals like Crossroads, Mahindra Blues, NH7 Weekender, Ziro and Hornbill. Ask them what their biggest dream is though, and they proclaim, “To be in the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame.”

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