Great albums come from great musicians. But great musicians sometimes need great technicians who can turn a good album into a great one. Arctic Monkeys’s gritty Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not needed producer Jim Abbiss. Coldplay’s moody debut Parachutes needed mixer Michael Brauer. U2’s All That You Can’t Leave Behind – the much-needed end to the band’s affair with electronica – needed Tim Palmer.
A few weeks into recording Indus Creed’s new album, the band members felt they needed Palmer too. The band’s previous albums had been mixed by various sound engineers in the studios they had worked in and the band members had had little or no control. This time, singer Uday Benegal, guitarist Mahesh Tinaikar and keyboardist Zubin Balaporia, decided to approach Palmer. After all, they were producing the album and Palmer had worked on some of their favourite albums by bigticket artists like Pearl Jam (Ten), Tears For Fears (Raoul and The Kings of Spain) and Porcupine Tree (In Absentia). “An email is free,” said Benegal, “so I sent him an email saying we really love your work and we would love it if you worked with us but we are a selffunded indie band from India and we don’t have the kind of budgets you’re used to working with over there and hopefully you like the music enough to want to get involved.” As it turned out, Palmer was interested.
Indus Creed’s newest album is, because of Palmer, big on drums, high on drama and a giant leap from the band’s pop-rock days. The album has visually evocative lyrics written by Benegal, excellent drum riffs by Jai Row Kavi and classic-rock-style synth solos by Balaporia, but the credit for making all of this sound “epic” together goes to Palmer. In an email interview, Palmer told Time Out what he liked about Indus Creed and what he expects from their new album:
Uday said he simply sent you a message from your website, the way I did, asking if you’d work on Indus Creed’s new album. Was that unusual?
Firstly, I was happy that Uday, being an artist from India had heard of me. Getting requests for work via email has become more common year by year. We all know that the internet has had a negative impact on the sales of CDs etc, but there have also been some positive developments, one of which is that I can now easily download the necessary files to mix full albums from artists all over the world... and then mix them in my studio here in Austin, Texas. At the moment I am mixing a live album for a Finnish artist called Tarja Turanen who used to sing in [Finnish symphonic metal band] Nightwish. It was recorded during a show in South America and is now being mixed in 5:1 in my studio here in Texas. That’s progress!
Have you worked with an Indian band before?
The thing about Indus Creed is that although they are actually from India, unless you knew that fact, you would not hear it clearly in the music. They have taken their roots and melded their musical influences from around the world to create their own sound. This is my first project for a band from India.
What was it about IC’s recordings that appealed to you, that helped you decide that you want to work on this band’s music?
I just thought that the band had crafted a great collection of songs. My job really means nothing unless the material is strong. A phrase I often quote to prove my point is, “The best cure for a bad mix is a great song”, and sadly it’s true. If the song is strong, my job becomes way easier to be successful at. Indus Creed have a tremendous depth, both lyrically and melodically in their song writing. Their songs are catchy, but also take you on a journey. Their arrangements have many quirks and some fascinating twists and turns.
In a recent interview, you’ve described them as a “huge prog-rock band”. To older fans, it seems an unlikely description because they were almost poprock before.
Many bands take a few albums to find their stride and finally make the music they want to create. I described the band as Prog Rock or Progressive Rock as it was the best term I could find to explain the music to a stranger. Progressive rock bands push “rock’s technical and compositional boundaries” by going beyond the standard rock or popular verse-chorus-based song structures. On Evolve Indus Creed actually do this. I am not so familiar with the band’s older material, but I know there are enough strong songs on this new album to please fans of most rock genres. One of the albums that I had mixed, that I knew the band were fans of, was an album by a band called Porcupine Tree called In Absentia. It has been one of those albums that did not actually sell that well, but has excited musicians and continues to link me to some great projects. I love it when that happens. I hope that the Indus Creed Evolve project will bring me more projects from India.
Evolve Universal Music, R175
By Aditya Kundalkar on April 27 2012 4.30am