He’s a prominent figure in the Mumbai music scene. He plays drums, guitar and engineers sound for bands at gigs. Pritesh Prabhune takes us through the recent events at the Chronic Phobia camp, his journey in sound engineering, song writing and a lot more in this interview with Indian Drummer
Pritesh – I’ve been doing great. Really busy with work, mainly handling operations for Bajaao’s live sound department – BAJAAO IT! And of course jamming!!
ID – How are things with Chronic Phobia going?
Pritesh - Chronic Phobia is doing better than ever. Although we’ve had a small set back with our vocalist Jugal quitting the band since he wants to concentrate on his studies. But, we have received more appreciation for our music recently and the support is growing like never before. All I can say is we are having fun!
ID – Jugal left the band a while back; have you found a replacement for him? Sunneith Revankar (Skyharbor, Providence, Bhayanak Maut) recently sang at a gig with you guys and he has been on stage with you guys previously. Will he be seen in a more permanent position in the band?
Pritesh – We would really like to thank Sunny for the support he has shown us for a long time now. He has featured with us at a competition in BITS Goa in 2010 as well when Jugal and Pratika were not available due to exams. We have not found a permanent replacement for Jugal yet. Until we figure out what we want to do, Sunny has offered to help us out.
Pritesh - I recently joined Orion after a big blog-war I had with their former guitarist, who was mindlessly bashing Demonic Resurrection. That all aside, I like Orion’s music, so I gave it a go. We (me and Orion band members) have common influences as well, and these guys had initially asked me to jam with them when their drummer quit. I have always wanted to play in a band like that, with blast-parts and running grooves. Only at that time I was finding it hard to juggle time. But I have got that pretty much figured out. The Architect is off! 2 band members are studying, and 2 are out of the country. So I’m looking for a band to play guitars in!!
ID - How do you manage playing in 3 bands?
Pritesh – Well, I can’t say it’s easy. But I have learned to juggle time, somewhat! My master plan is to play in as many bands as possible. The more I jam, the more I grow.
ID – You also engineer sound for various bands at a number of venues, how did you get into sound engineering?
Pritesh – I started off as a tech with Furtados, and ended up at almost every show in the Mumbai scene. After I quit and joined Bajaao, is when I started to observe Ashu, Akash Sawant, Shezan and Afaque on the console. I have learned only by watching these guys. And Mr. Anupam Roy, Kuber Sharma and other engineers have given me tips that I have worked on. So I owe a lot to these guys. I engineer at B69 and at Hard Rock Café Mumbai.
Pritesh – First of all, the tempo. I still get blasted by band mates for running away with the tempo in songs!! But that has improved as of late. Mainly, what a drummer should do is be clear in the head about what exactly he wants to hear on his monitor. Second of all, for me, I carry a lot of my gear around because that brings me into my comfort zone. So, it all comes down to being comfortable on stage. And, keeping it simple, not improvising out of proportion! That is unless you are a solo superstar!
ID – In the same situation but from the Sound Engineer’s seat, how hard is it to give the artist the sound he’s looking for? Is there a lack of education when it comes to engineering concerts?
Pritesh – I came to know the difference when I started engineering bands. It makes it much easier for the artist when you have a musician on the console. Education does matter, I don’t deny that, but for me experience is the key. And once the band knows you, it just makes it much easier for you to work with them, and vice versa.
Pritesh – From left to right (drummer’s view ) – Cymbals – 14” Sabian B8 Pro hi-hats, 18” Zildjian K Custom Dark Crash, 7” LP Bell near the hi-hats, centre stack of old broken splashes or a 10” splash, 20” K Custom bright ride, 17” Zildjian K Custom Dark Crash, 14” hi-hats (whatever is available at the venue) and 18” Meinl Classics China. Drums – Well I love my kit. I wish I could carry it for every gig I play. It’s a Pearl Vision VBX standard. I use – 22” kick drum, 12” tom-tom, 16” floor tom. Snares I have 3 – Pearl SST steel snare (with the kit, Tama Metal Works Snare (steel alloy) and Mapex Pro Series snare (maple / basswood) – all 14” X 5.5”. I use the Tama for Chronic Phobia and the Mapex for Orion. Not a fan of the Pearl snare that I have. But it’s decent.
ID- Who are your major influences when it comes to drumming?
Pritesh – I have a lot of influences. International drummers – Mario Duplantier (Gojira), Joey Passilas (Incubus), Tomas Haake (Meshuggah), Abe Cunningham (Deftones), the man who got me started into metal – Joey Jordison (Slipknot), Gavin Harrison (Porcupine Tree), Martin Lopez (ex-Opeth), Martin Axenrot (Opeth, Bloodbath), Danny Carey (Tool), Stef Broks (Textures, Exivious), Dave Grohl (Nirvana), John Bonham (Led Zeppelin) and many more… Indian drummers – Rahul Hariharan (Bhayanak Maut), Gino Banks, Jai Row Kavi, Virendra Kaith aka Viru (DR, Scribe, Exhumation, etc), Mayank Sharma (Zygnema, Atmosfear), Shishir Tao (Blakc), Hamza Kazi (1000 bands: P), Vibhas (Eccentric Pendulum), Shubham (Devoid), Manu (Escher’s Knot) and many more! Please don’t hate me if I forgot you!
ID – What’s your daily practice routine like?
Pritesh – This is embarrassing! I only jam, I don’t practise. Due to work and my staying location, I can’t find the time. I wish I could!
ID – Tuning is a major area of discussion when it comes to drumming, how do you go about this?
Pritesh – First, I do a sort of ‘visual tuning, which I learned after observing Will Kennedy when he came to India. And then tweak according to the ear. Lots of engineers hate resonance, but as a drummer and an engineer, I make sure that the drums resonate and ring so that they don’t sound dead!
ID – How’s the song-writing process like with all the bands you’re involved in?
Pritesh – It’s either the guitarist that comes up with a riff, or sometimes, we work from a drum part as a start. One example being Chronic Phobia’s song Paisa De, which started off with the first drum sequence. Both the bands I play in do not follow any particular pattern.
Pritesh – Well, I have just one mindset when I am composing a song – It has to sound good. Orion is more of a guitar driven band. But, where Chronic Phobia is concerned, there are no limitations in a composition. It’s a very open outlook we follow.
ID – How much do you think being a guitarist has helped you as a drummer and vice-versa?
Pritesh – It helps a lot. Knowing the other instrument is a major boon. It makes composing as a band much much easier.
ID – Which have been your most memorable gigs so far?
Pritesh – Chronic Phobia – Blue Frog Metal Night, Music Injection Festival (opening for Orphaned Land), Fresh Blood 3 (B69), Pro-Nite at NM College (opening for Avial), Orion – Metal Night at B69 (along with Albatross)
ID - What goals do you have for yourself and your bands in the near future? Any EP(s) or album(s) in the making?
Pritesh – Both bands have EP’s waiting to happen. Will update as soon as the work starts!!
ID – What are your thoughts on the Indian Drummer initiative?
Pritesh – I am glad that there is a dedicated website for Indian drummers. Please let me know how I can spread the initiative.
ID – This is your space Pritesh; feel free to say anything to your friends, fans, family etc.
Pritesh – I would really like to thank all the people who have helped out. My parents for the support. Sahil Makhija for the tips and critique, Hamza Kazi for teaching me how to count, Anupam Roy for teaching me how to hit a rim-shot!!And all the Indian and international drummers who I have watched live. That is the best drum lesson!!
Thanks a ton for doing the interview Pritesh. We really appreciate it. We wish you the very best with all the projects you’re involved in.