Kochi-based Thaikkudam Bridge are back in Chennai, this weekend!

A fun, freewheeling chat with Ashok Nelson, Vian Fernandes and Mithun Raju of Thaikkudam Bridge ahead of their performance in Chennai on July 2 at Phoenix Marketcity.
Thaikkudam Bridge
Thaikkudam Bridge

With tracks like One and Navarasam to their credit, this band has made quite some noise in what was a rather sleepy local indie music scene. Nine vocalists and six instrumentalists once met at an apartment near an inconspicuous bridge, Thykoodam, soon to be misspelled as Thaikkudam. Nearly eight years later, they have become one of the most sought-after indie rock bands in India. The band’s lead guitarist Mithun Raju, rhythm guitarist and sound engineer Ashok Nelson, and vocalist and bass guitarist Vian Fernandes talked to us about their upcoming concert in Chennai, the pandemic years, and their upcoming projects. Excerpts: 

How is it performing in Chennai after such a long time?
Chennai always has a special spot in our hearts. All of us in the band have roots in Chennai. I did my audio engineering here. Later, I juggled between working as an assistant engineer in a studio and as a session guitarist in Chennai. Govind, Vipin, Christin, Hemanth and Rajan (band members) — all of us met in Chennai. The crowd is always fantastic. They appreciate music — I think it’s got to do with the fact that every household has someone learning music in one form or the other. Chennai has a very cosmopolitan crowd and yet, there is a vast audience for Carnatic, Hindustani, film, independent and all kinds of music. We’ve always connected with the Chennai audience. 

How much has the post-pandemic world changed for you? 
We rested for a long time, so now the approach is completely different. It’s a new start to Thaikkudam Bridge and for the entire music scene. So each time we go up on stage, the excitement is more. We’re more serious about what we want to do and our plans for the future. We’re excited about every gig and are enjoying ourselves with every show. 

How hard was the pandemic on the band? What kept you going?
As performing artistes it was very difficult for us. There were no shows. Vian started taking classes, and some of us were occupied with other activities. I was more into session recordings and was doing a lot of online recordings. As a band, we did advertisements and worked for some brands. We also worked on a lot of cover songs and short videos. But the lack of shows did hit us because we depend upon the shows to keep this going.

You’ve been on the scene for a long time, now. How much has the local band culture changed since you first started?
Many more bands have become a part of the indie scene. Bands get more opportunities and platforms to showcase their talent. Now, there are so many performances happening all across, so many bands on the scene. It’s only going to continue to grow. So, yes, the local scene is amazing. I hope and pray that it continues to be so. 
Ashok: I’d like to add something. Two days ago we played at a festival called Indiegaga. There was a time in Kerala when the indie scene was a fraction of what it is now — no one would turn up. But the tickets for both the Indiegaga festivals — in Cochin and Trivandram — were sold out. I don’t think that has happened before. This shows the growth of independent music. Of course, social media has played a very big role. If it wasn’t for YouTube or Facebook, I don’t think the Thaikkudam bridge would exist.
Mithun: We were fortunate to become popular, household names. That didn’t quite actually happen before Thaikkudam Bridge, to be honest. The mass crowd was more familiar with solo artistes like Stephen Devassy or Balabhaskar. As Ashok said, only people who followed independent music knew a Mother Jane or Avial, and other such bands. Thaikkudam Bridge was a shot in the arm for the independent music scene in Kerala!
Vian: Yeah, true. After the Indiegaga show, I got a message from someone who said that he was very happy that we played Aarachar. It was one of the songs that his band had performed for a college competition and they won first place. So, for him, watching Aarachar live was a totally different experience. Such things mean a lot — it shows us that Thaikkudam Bridge has played an important role in the growth of the local music scene.

The band has members from all across India, from so many musical genres and from so many cultures, how does that translate into the music you make and how does it affect the team dynamics?
Everyone in the band respects all genres of music. Everyone appreciates the hard work a musician puts into a song. I think that respect corresponds with the way we choose music for each artiste. People associate music with lifestyle. Music is a form of art. Art is a representation of your thoughts and the way that you approach life. When it comes to Thaikkudam Bridge, it’s also one of the unique features because it kind of is like a school for you. 
Vian: Generally, if a band is there, their focus is on a particular genre and all the compositions are in the same flow, but that’s not the case with Thaikkudam Bridge. We have so much variety — if there is a person who does not like to listen to heavy songs, they can definitely go listen to all the other ones. Melodies, heavy tracks, technical stuff to classical — everything is mixed and presented. 

So, among you, who is the most nervous before a performance? 
Mithun: I think it is one of our sound engineers. Rajan has to be the most nervous guy (laughs).
Vian: Maybe, yeah actually. Rajan, I agree (laughs).

Who is the most confident?
Mithun Raju, Govind, all of them are confident, Anish (drummer) too. Three guys are very confident. 
Ashok: Amith Bal (vocalist and sound engineer)  is the most confident person (laughs)

What is the most memorable moment for you as a band?
There are quite a few actually. But I think one has to be the tribute to Ilaiyaraja on his 1,000th movie release — it was just very special. It was dramatic. Then we got the opportunity to play at the Summer Fest in Wisconsin, Milwaukee. We became the first band from India to perform at the festival — a big milestone for us. Also, in the previous album, we were fortunate enough to work with many stalwarts — both Indian and international. The AR Rahman tribute too was memorable. 

What can the audience expect, what are you going to play for us in Chennai? 
Everything! Whatever is there, we will play everything. The show is happening after a long time, we are super excited and will put 200 per cent energy into the show. The Chennai crowd and we share a beautiful relationship. We have a lot of new songs that we have not performed in Chennai until now. 

Let us in on secrets, any upcoming projects, or collaborations? 
We have one song from a backyard session that we are going to release in a couple of weeks, it will be a music video. Then, we are working on another project, which I cannot tell you about. It might be an original from our side.

The band will be performing in Chennai at Phoenix Marketcity on July 2, Saturday.
The show starts at 7 pm. Tickets are INR 499 for one (early bird offer on BookMyShow).


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