Sway Along The Beats Of Junkyard Groove
This 4-piece band needs no introduction. They were the first Indian band to perform at the Dubai Desert Rock Festival and also finished in first place beating every other (experienced) band in the competition. Led by Ameeth Thomas on vocals and guitars, it has Naveen Thomas as the lead guitarist, Sajith Satya as the bassist and Shashank Vijay as the drummer.
Started in 2005 with a different line-up in Chennai, Junkyard Groove broke up in early 2011, leaving thousands of fans unhappy. However, the band was back in April 2011 with not only new members but also a different take on music. “Just like we randomly decided to start this band in 2005, the exact same way the three guys decided to walk out due to personal reasons, so there was a momentary pause, but I soon got these new, amazing artists on-board,” recalls Ameeth.
People call them an alternative band, but there aren’t many genres they haven’t tapped into. From alternative to rock to funk, all blended aesthetically with jazz, hip-hop and electronica. “We love jazz, electronica and dubstep and that’s why our name’s Junkyard. I listen to so much music that I’m stuck with different genres and bands with old school guys and Pentagram being my fave.”
With 30 varied songs, they are all set to release their second self-titled album. The band’s first album 11:11 received a great response. Ask Ameeth, the man behind the lyrics, to list his favourite tracks and he quickly responds, “Oh, that’s easy. It’s Folk. In fact, a movie wanted this song but wasn’t paying me enough, so I refused. Another song will be Beautiful Crime because I did the whole song,” he chimes in. What about Speed of Love? “Oh yes, quite a famous track of ours. I don’t like it much, but the girls love it.” Before we move to the next question, he sings a line from the song and changes his opinion – “Actually, I do like it.”
Behind all these melodic yet head-banging songs is the hard work of four creative artists. Naveen Thomas is part of two more bands and divides his time between all three, whereas both Sajith and Shashank are students. In his free time, Ameeth polishes tracks for his DJ friends. “We call Sajith retarded (laughs), but he is too good with music and has the eye to catch every small mistake, while Shashank is a kickass drummer and an extremely chilled out guy. As for Naveen, I’ve been listening to him for a long time as he used to jam with my elder brother,” Ameeth tells us.
For them, music is their passion, so they spend the maximum time creating songs in Ameeth’s studio. “Apart from that, we bond over drinks,” he quickly adds. “We are influenced by different artists and that shows in our songs. Personally, I’m crazy for Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam) and Dave Matthews and I can turn gay for these guys,” he laughs out loud. “With just a guitar, Eddie can fuck up everyone and break down a stage,” he elaborates.
Today with the indie music scene changing and more focus being put on originality, Ameeth believes that his city, Chennai and its surroundings are conducive in the music-making process. “Even auto drivers influence our music.” “However, I would like to state that though independent music is growing, we are still at an infant stage. Thanks to the Internet, things are becoming easier – we upload our songs on YouTube and get several likes within minutes.”
Junkyard Groove has stood steps away from Robert Plant, jabbered with Incubus’ Brandon Boyd and heard The Prodigy live from backstage. From parting ways at the peak to being signed by an international label and then fighting with them for the copyright of their song, their history boasts of ups and downs. Yet today, they strongly helm their position as one of India’s most widely heard bands. Music runs in their blood, but what if they were not musicians? “Lawyer,” he laughs. “I can argue a lot, but couldn’t study much, so gave it up,” he adds.