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Avial promises fans a mix of favourites as they get ready to play at a mall for the first time

Call them what you will—pioneers, trendsetters or just plain passionate—but Avial would rather be known for their music. The four-member alternative rock band, set up in 2003 and renowned for singing only in Malayalam, is no stranger to the city, but this weekend they are excited to be here. “We’ve been to Chennai before, but this is the first time we will be playing in a mall. So we are eager to see how this goes,” says Tony John, the lead singer who always gets the applause for his signature style—singing in a lungi. Despite criticism that John has been having some trouble with his voice (Rolling Stone magazine commented that he’s been resting his vocals often at recent concerts), the singer says they will be bringing their best sound to town.

How do you see yourselves?
We are very comfortable with each other—we hang out and joke around a lot. We think that really brings the band together. Rex Vijayan is the mastermind—he’s an ace guitarist, composer and producer. Benjamin (bass guitar) and Mithun (drums) are silent boys, but when they are on stage, they bring madness with their instruments. And I bring fabulous stage presence (laughs).

Why the emphasis on social issues with folksy lyrics?
We’ve seen enough social issues while growing up in Kerala. We also grew up listening to bands and artistes who wrote and sang about social issues. But youngsters today don’t know much about folklore. So we decided to revive them. The folksy element also makes our sound more real and relevant, we think. The poetry elevates our music to another level. We feel our songs have made a huge impact—and not just in Kerala. Crowds in Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata sing along to songs like Chekele in our concerts.

You’ve experimented with other instruments.
We are a rock band, so the music is predominantly guitar, bass and drums driven. Once in a while, though, we like to experiment with new instruments—but only when it fits a song. We used a sitar, with effects, in the Karukara intro and played a mandolin in Ayyo. Both were appropriate and elevated the songs.

What can we expect this time?
We’re going to be to playing our old tracks and a lot of crowd favourites. Some of them will be in a different style and format.

Your music repertoire.
We’ve done one full length album, Avial, and about five singles for Malayalam films. We also did one international collaboration, with Italian band A67. We are currently working on some new tracks and once all of them come together, we will announce an album.

What about collaborations?
We haven’t thought of any collaboration lately, but we know there’s so much of young and upcoming talent in the country. We’ve been listening to a lot of new bands and singers nowadays. At the right time and right place, we might just do something.
On Sunday, at Phoenix Market City. Details: 30083008

 

Surya Praphulla Kumar

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