His recent string of hilarious videos as the guitar visionary Mr. Vasant Rao Makadkar are a viral hit. He’s one the best drummers in the country and is a part of bands like Indus Creed, Tough on Tobacco and Shaa’ir + Func. He’s shared the stage with Gino Banks & Vinayak Pol and filled in for Rahul Hariharan of Bhayanak Maut in a number of gigs. Here’s what Jai Row Kavi had to say in his interview with Indian Drummer.
Jai- Hey, things are great man , all done recording the Indus Creed album , we’ve been listening to the final masters and everything sounds great.. we’re all really happy. Waiting to hit the road and play all these new tunes to people everywhere. I’ve been playing with Shaa’ir n Func and Tough on Tobacco, got a few gigs lined up with Karsh Kale, doing a few live and studio sessions here and there.
ID- Firstly, lets talk about the hilarious Vasant Rao Makadkar videos that’ve been going viral over the past few weeks. How did that come up?
Jai- Well, whenever the dudes from Tough on Tobacco get together there is always some level of humour that shows face. Those dudes ( including myself) are retarded . We were actually doing an interview for something on Sidd’s terrace . and were kinda bored in between shots, so I was goofing around with Sidd’s guitar. Johan pulled out his phone and started asking me all these questions.. and Voila!!! Or should I say AIIILA!!!!… Wasant was born. There was’nt a script of anything . its just us goofing around , the response has been great. People are showing it to other people in their offices. Kids watch it on their ipad … Ive been approached by the Shiv sena and MNS to do concerts… not really but you know…
ID- Will we see more of those videos in the months to come?
Jai- Sure.. if we have time and think its funny enough, we’l make some more, maybe feature some peeps
ID- When did you first play the drums? Was there a defining moment that made you take up drumming?
Jai- I started playing drums when I was 16. I had heard of a music school here in bandra and was keen to check it out. A good friend of mine was learning guitar at the time, and I thought It would be cool to be in a band, the drums seemed to get my attention the most. Just looked so damn cool. Even as a kid I’d always watch the drummer if I ever saw a music video or anything like that. I remember watching the Rolling Stones live at Brabourne Stadium sometime around then , and I was just amazed that these dudes were still rocking hard at their age.. and people were loving it. It was a real positive experience for me . I remember calling my mum and saying . ‘ This is what I want to do for the rest of my life’ she was totally supportive , although I just failed my 8th grade a few years ago. But yeah.. the deal was if I got good marks in my 10th grade exams, then I would get a drumset. Until then It was a chair. Pillows and a broken splash. I got my first drumset when I was 18. And immediately started playing with a bunch of bands in Bombay.
Jai- It was truly an overwhelming time in my life and I would highly recommend music school to anyone wanting to better their skills on their instrument. That year changed me in many ways , musically , as a person. I went there when I was just 19, and soaked up all the information I could. I met a lot of great players. Made a lot of friends . There was a vast variety in teachers and their playing styles, so I learnt a little bit from everybody, which really shaped my playing
ID- What was the most important thing that you learnt there?
Jai- To own the drums , at the best of my abilities each and everytime I sit behind a kit. To never forget why I started playing . to treat all gigs equally, no matter what. Not slack on my homework for times when I have to learn new things and stuff like that and a million other things besides the lifetime worth of information that I’m still unravelling.
ID- Did you get to meet any of your idols at MI?
Jai- Most Certainly, I remember the first badass I saw live there.. like 5 days into school Marco Minneman was at MI to do a clinic. And I was just blown away. I had seen all his videos and DVDs but to seem him play LIKE THAT,3 feet away from me was surreal.. Virgil Donati came to meet him. So both of those dudes in one room was enough to make me sit down in amazement. I got to meet Dennis Chambers, who I’ve been a huge fan for many many years. Some of the guys I saw wereDave weckl, Ronald Bruner Jr, Vinnie Colaiuta, Toss Panos. I met John Otto of Limp Bizkit at the NAMM show. He was one of the reasons why I started playing. So I told him that ,and he offered me some Whiskey. Each one of my heroes I met were really nice dudes, humble and sometimes amazed that they were that big in India, ofcourse now with Facebook all over the place , everyone can stay in touch , it’s a great thing.
Jai- The Million Paise Question….. April is what I hear. And im pretty sure it will be out then. If not, you are most certainly allowed to take it up with Uday Benegal J
ID- Going by the teaser which sounds fantastic, it looks like a very dynamic record with a lot of different elements in it while retaining the essence of rock music. Did you go into writing this with this vision?
Jai- Most of the song writing was done by Uday, although he would bring his songs/ideas to the rehearsal room and we would work on them collectively. Individually we all had something different to bring to the table due to our various backgrounds and influences. I think the five of us are all into Big Rock riffs, melodic stuff, with Big Chorus’, throw in some funk here and there . Also I think mostly we wanted to have a good time playing them live. But yes Sonically we wanted it to be HUGE and I think we achieved that .
ID- How long did it take to write this album?
Jai- Before we started the new Indus Creed , Uday had a couple of tunes already written, couple of which made it to the album, apart from that I think we wrote on and off for a year.
ID- Did you actively take part in writing and arranging music on the album?
Jai- Yup, I think all of us had our inputs on arrangement, more or less everyone had ideas for everyone, They would give me ideas on drumparts, I would suggest Riffs ,breakdowns, sections etc. Its good to have bandmates that are open to each others Ideas musically.
ID- Recording drums live is a topic that’s been going around for quite a while now, how essential do you think recording drums live is? Any pointers you’d like to give to budding drummers out there that would make their job in the studio easier?
Jai- To be completely honest, It should always be a topic. I think every band with a drummer that plays live drums, should record live drums. Then again there are a lot of things that go into play here. A studio for one, an Engineer who knows your sound, good gear, Money and most importantly a drummer who can cut it. I think there are enough great drummers here in India and I think bands/ bandleaders should have a little more faith in them to let them do it. Ofcourse the drummer HAS TO have his chops down , otherwise he/she is just going to piss the rest of the band off by wasting everyone’s time and money. So I would suggest do whatever gigs you have to do. Save money. Get your shit together . Make sure you have worked out all your parts before hand to a metronome before you go in. Otherwise shit hits the fan , or the AC. Depends on the studio. In the past I’ve had my fair share of disastrous moments in the studio. Though each of them has been a learning experience . Whether its knowing what gear to take, when to play what, or a bunch of other things. For drummers that do sessions in the studio. I can only say learn to say YES all the time, because that’s what your getting paid to do. The Guy that hired you doesn’t really care for your flam drags, that’s not what he hired you for. Sometimes you gotta play things that you would probably hate to play. But hey that’s how you make money so you can go into the studio with your band and show them the flam drags J. I think it’s a fair deal.
ID- What was your kit setup in the studio for this album?
Jai- I used my treasured Pearl Masters kit.
20’/18” Bass drum. . Toms were 10”/8”, 12”/10” ,14”/14”, Floor tom. .16”/14” Floor Tom
10”/6” Pearl Popcorn Picollo Snare Drum (Maple). Dennis Chambers Signature Snare drum
Pearl 2000 series hardware . A whole Bunch of Zildjian Cymbals. Various K Custom Hybrids, A customs. The Oriental Crash of Doom . Varied them according to the song. Like some songs needed big Choppy hi-hats so id swap the 13” K hybrids for my 14” A mastersound hi hats different rides depending on the song. When I listen back to the recordings now, im 100 percent content. The drums sound even better than what I had in mind. Everything has its rightful place as far as the mix goes . Every hit can be heard through the thick wall of guitars, and everything inbetween. A lot of trying and testing happened before I decided what worked for what. I find stuff like that really interesting.
ID- What’s going with the other bands you’re involved with – Shaa’ir and Func and Tough on Tobacco?
Jai- With Shaair n func. Randolph has been writing new songs. So I’m looking forward to that. Hes a real creative guy and I look forward to what he’s put down. It’s a fun challenging gig. With TOT we don’t take ourselves too seriously unfortunately. I recorded 21 songs in 2 days in July 2010. Busted my ass in the studio and nothing has happened since.. Sometimes guitar players can be a little slow I guess. We play live every now and then and that’s where the fun is at.
Jai- We’re drum geeks the three of us. So it was but natural for us to start something together. The Idea with Pulse conversation is to write songs that are drum based. Accompanying us are Sheldon D’silva on Bass and Sangeet Haldipur on keys. Apart from that we do our thing individually. We also trade every now and then. Keeping a form in mind. After working with bands. Where ,Sometimes we obviously have to hold back. This is a great release to bust out all the chops and go all out
ID- You even filled in for Rahul of Bhayanak Maut when he was away for a while. You’ve played a wide range of genres and done it really well. What do you think the key is to pull this off well?
Jai- BM was one of the most positive things to happen to me at that time. I didn’t have too many gigs, and I was going through a bit of a negative phase. So it was a great release and it felt so good to play metal after many years. It was a massive challenge as Rahul had played some slick parts , and it was scary but I’m really glad I did it. Gino actually convinced me . I wasn’t sure if I could. He said , get your shit together and do it .
One more reason to thank him I guess. I think its important for me, to be on my toes all the time. I love listening to all kinds of music, it just pretty much boils down to that. And I love a good challenge. I love being the Metal guy, the Funk guy, the Pop guy. Anything that’s good quite honestly. As I type this interview to you’ve ive been listening to John Scofield’s loud jazz , Textures and bjork. Its fun to have Itunes on random. When I started playing drums I used to love playing to some of my favourite music on CDs man . I would play for hours to Metallica, the Chili Peppers, Incubus. ‘The Key’ if there is any, is open your ears and TO LISTEN ,to know what to play when . Also remember you have to have change your headspace depending on the gig. I cant go into a pop gig , trying to play Metal chops everywhere. Hence I gotta know what is required when . I guess that’s something you acquire only if you listen to everything.
Jai- Having good Technique is something any drummer can’t really bypass. That’s what I feel. A lot of dudes keep bragging about how its alright to ditch working your technique. I don’t really understand how that works. If you have good technique you’le have the ability to play whatever is in your mind. All the great drummers around the world have spent a considerable amount of time working their technique. It only helps with Things like Consistency . A solid Rimshot for example. Ghost notes, dynamics. If you have good technique you can play with those things so much more. Good Technique will also help you from hurting yourself. These are things to keep in mind I guess. I think its great to learn and study rudiments and techniques as long as you find a place to apply them. I’d get really frustrated if I had to only sit with a pad for a week. So I guess the idea would be to apply whatever you learn on the practice pad, on the drums. And make it interesting and musical.. Practice rudiments around the kit. Paradiddles sound so hip with just a kick snare and hi – hat.. Metal music calls for good technique. You have to have good chops to play that stuff. Otherwise it just sounds sloppy
ID- I first saw you play at the Deccan Rock gig in Bangalore alongside Textures and Amon Amarth. How was that gig for you?
Jai- Textures is most certainly one of my favourite bands. So it was sweet to see them and meet them. They were really nice dudes. I got to hang with Stef, we spoke about Techniques and exercises. I asked him so many questions about his flawless work with textures, and he was kind enough to answer all of them patiently. Textures put on an excellent gig, and I left that night liking them so much more.
ID- What advice would you give to musicians who want take up music as a profession? How hard is it to survive in this industry?
Jai- Its definitely a hard business, but you gotta do what to gotta do to get by . I really have no complaints. I get to play drums everyday. The real money gigs may not always be the most self satisfying gigs. But they put food on your plate and give you the ability to pursue whatever else you want to. I guess all you have to do is find the balance.
ID- What keeps you busy in your free time when you’re not drumming?
Jai- Watching Movies and TV shows, Riding ( and maintaining ) my Enfield, listening to music, hanging with my friends.
ID- What’s in store for you for the rest of the year?
Jai- The Indus Creed Album launch Tour for starters. That’s going to keep my busy for a bit, I’ll be playing with Karsh kale whose got a few gigs launching his album ‘Cinema’ . It’s always fun to be in a band with him. Hes a great drummer and I always learn something from him. I’ll also be gigging with Shaair n func, Tough on Tobacco, Shefali Alvares. Apart from that , doing sessions for whoever needs a drummer
Your take on Contemporary Progressive Neoclassical music (Haha!)- Chops
Stef Broks is - Fantastic Drummer and A Huge inspiration
Cowbells are - Beeeeeefy
Favourite Drummer from India – Gino banks
Favourite drum accessory- Stick holder. Gotta have it
Thanks a lot for taking the time to do this interview. Indian Drummer is really happy to have you on our site. We wish you the very best for all your endeavours and we look forward to talk again soon.
Thanks dudes, keep up the great work at Indiandrummer. It’s great to have a home for drummers in India.