An interesting musical cocktail: Shriram Alluri

When indie singer, songwriter and composer Shriram Alluri played the guitar to entertain his two-year-old nephew in November last year, little did he know that one thing would lead to another and he would land a gig with Glen Matlock, the bassist and member from the original line-up of the UK punk rock band the Sex Pistols, who’s now a singer songwriter. Alluri tells us, “I was practising for my show at the Transmusicales in France and my sister asked me to play for her son. I was tired and not too keen, so I played an acoustic version of the Sex Pistols’ Anarchy in the UK to scare him away.” On the contrary, the tot started dancing. This encouraged Alluri to cover the song in Telugu and English. “It was received well and my then manager Stephen Budd tweeted a link to Glen, who shared the song,” he adds. Thereafter, the Pistols’ bassist produced a demo Alluri wrote. That resulted in their collaborative single Don’t Lose Touch. “It was natural for me to ask him to come play with me in India. Glen hasn’t performed here before and was keen to do so,” the musician says about the impending gig.

Alluri is performing in Mumbai for the first time along with his band that comprises international artistes such as saxophonist Domenico Mamone (who has played with Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Tom Jones), bassist Roberto Dragonetti (for Nic Cester of Jet), drummer Davide Arzuffi and keyboardist Pietro Ubaldi. The show is also his maiden gig with Glen. “So, it will make for an interesting musical cocktail,” says the artiste. The set will have a mix of his Telugu and English tracks with his Italian band, followed by the Brit rockstar’s brief solo set and finally all the musician taking the stage. “We finish with playing Don’t Lose Touch, which was recorded with Muse’s Producer Tommaso Colliva. There will be a few covers to make sure everyone is zoned in with what is happening on stage,” Alluri says.

Alluri, who splits his time between India, the UK and Italy, started as an English artiste but moved on to writing in Telugu and had a digital release of his second album, Tales of This Telugu Man, on August 3. Three tracks on this record are in his mother tongue. “The album was a natural process in my songwriting. Only after I released some of these Telugu songs did I get more opportunities to play abroad,” he says when asked if he had apprehensions about works in his native language being received well internationally. “Going to gigs is part of the weekly culture in the West, so the experience of listening to Rock N’ Roll in a different language is familiar enough and yet different for them. And, rhythm and melody take over at a certain point and language isn’t all that important,” he explains.
As the musician has started work on his third album, he has also written and recorded demos for nine songs, some of which he will play at the gig on August 10 at Hard Rock Cafe in Worli.

Quick Five with the Sex Pistols bassist Glen Matlock

1972, London saw the formation of a band which would change Rock and Roll for ever. The Sex Pistols, as they called themselves, ignited a Punk Rock revolution throughout the UK which later capsized the world. Among the founding members of the band was bassist, Glen Matlock, who would go on to become a pioneer. He is credited as the co-author of 10 of the 12 songs on ‘Never mind the bollocks, here’s the Sex Pistols’ album.

Ever since leaving the band in early 1977, Glen went on to collaborate with heavyweights like Iggy Pop and Vicious White Kids and London Cowboys among others. Later he formed the band Glen Matlock and the Mavericks before rejoining the Sex Pistols for their reunion tours post 1996.

Currently in Mumbai, for a gig at the Hard Rock Café on the 10th August where he has collaborated with the amazing Telegu rock star Alluri, Glen spoke to Music Plus about his new album ‘Good to Go’ and more.

Tell us about your new album ‘Good to Go’.
It’s a collection of songs over the past few years. It’s got a fantastic selection of artists. The main drummer is Slim Jim Phantom from the Stray Cats. The main guitarist is Earl Slick, it’s got Chris Bedding on one track and Neil Axe on the others. It’s got a slightly different swing to it than Punk Rock music.

Which tracks should the fans look forward to in particular?
There is one track ‘Keep on Pushing’ and also there is one big blues style track called ‘Cooking You’. Then there is ‘Sexy Beast’ where Earl has played a sexy solo.

How was it collaborating with Earl Slick?
When you get to a certain age and are around for long you tend to meet certain people. I have done a few things with Earl quite a long time back. We had a common guy called Jim, who got us together in a way for this album. We decided to record it in America.

How did Sex Pistols change you?
It was the first thing any of us had done properly and it kind of formed us. Its hard to say how it changed us because its all we had ever done. Individually all our lives, no matter what we do, we still are the Sex Pistols.

How was the experience of collaborating with Alluri and what kind of a set can we expect at this Mumbai show of yours?
Its been fun. I haven’t know him for long. Recording with him in Telegu with Italian musicians in Milan was a different experience.
I don’t know yet! I got a sack full of songs, so mostly some solo stuff and then the songs which Alluri, the band and me have worked on. Well, its gonna be Rock Music in the end!

Punk is still a force to be reckoned with: Glen Matlock

Anarchy In The UK should tell you that punk rock band the Sex Pistols were up to no good as far as the establishment was concerned in the mid ’70s in the Queen’s land. They were the curious, scandalous and shocking band that initiated a punk rock revolution in the country and was hailed as one of the most influential groups. Now, one of the original members, bassist Glen Matlock, is all set for his maiden gig in Mumbai today. The artiste quit the band and later featured in bands such as Dead Men Walking, The Face and Rich Kids. Glen, who is the frontman of his project, The Philistines, is collaborating with Indian artiste Shriram Alluri for his show in the city.

About the gig in Mumbai
Impressed by Alluri’s cover of the Sex Pistols’ iconic song Anarchy In The UK, Glen was on board to produce the former’s single Don’t Lose Touch when his manager approached him. “Alluri and I hit it off and established an immediate rapport, so it was a no-brainer to say ‘yes’ when he invited me to perform in Mumbai this month,” Glen says about taking the gig up.

About the pertinence of punk rock today, he says, “It was the voice of dissatisfaction that’s still relevant,” adding that it’s debatable whether it should still subscribe to the same dress code and set of chord changes, which he never particularly subscribed to. “But punk has its merits and coupled with a top tune and a Rock and Roll spirit, is still a force to be reckoned with when it involves a set of lyrics of some consequence,” he explains.

Changing gears
The musician has said that he now sees himself as a singer-songwriter more than being a bassist. About the transition, he says, “Well, I have always composed on a six-string acoustic guitar and traditionally played bass (which I still enjoy) when somebody else is singing. To me, it is always about making the song work, so whatever instrument I play, it is geared to that. Since I’ve always played both (not at the same time), there was no need of a transition, really — just in the public’s perception perhaps.”

Album’s good to go
After he heads back home, Glen has a new album, Good To Go (GTG), coming up. “It features Earl Slick from David Bowie and John Lennon fame on lead guitar. We are currently setting up shows for the fall to promote the record,” he says. GTG has a plethora of influences from the time he started listening to music to now. What’s the one thing that ties it all together? Glen avers, “I think basically most writers borrow or pay homage to stuff they have dug, and guess I am the same. What ties it together is my gift of constructing songs.”

Pistols reunion? Sure
Glen has handled the bass duties for the Sex Pistols on several occasions after his replacement, Sid Vicious, died. The last one was in 2007-8 for the UK and Europe Combine Harvester Tour. The artiste says that he would consider the idea of reuniting with the band for gigs but “it’s all quite long in the tooth now, so don’t lose any sleep worrying whether it will happen or not,” he signs off.

Sex Pistols bassist Glen Matlock: A simple thing done well is my yardstick for making music

The British bassist, who is currently in India, talks about his influences, his upcoming album, and what makes a song endure.

The name Glen Matlock would carry lots of points in a pub quiz. The question, of course, would be: which member of the Sex Pistols co-wrote and recorded much of their classic (and only studio) album Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols, but left the band before it was released? The British bassist rejoined the band in the 1990s for a series of reunion tours after having played in other groups, including the Rich Kids with Midge Ure and a reunited version of The Faces, and with other punk rock legends such as Iggy Pop and the Damned. Matlock, who is currently in Mumbai for a concert with UK-based singer-songwriter Alluri, spoke to about the relevance of punk today, his favourite band and how he picks collaborators. Edited excerpts from the interview:

You’re the second punk rock legend we’re getting to see in India in a matter of months. Marky Ramone performed at the NH7 Weekender festival in Pune in December…

I like Marky as a guy very much. He’s a good drummer. I liked him when he was the drummer in Richard Hell and the Voidoids and I did play with him once. I think they made the most important punk record ever [Blank Generation] because it influenced me to write Pretty Vacant, but I don’t know that going out pretending you’re the Ramones is quite where I’m at. I’ve always tried to steer clear of going out and pretending that I’m the Sex Pistols. I know people want to hear certain songs but I’ve written many more since then. So there’s a balance that you can strike.

Do you think the fact that you’re playing in India after all these years is a sign that punk now connects with a whole new generation?
It seems to be a thing that just won’t lay down. I’m fortunate that I get to travel all around the world. Recently I played at the DMZ Peace Train concert in Korea at the North-South Korea border. Whether it’s going to change the leader of North Korea’s idea about his weapons programme, I doubt it, but it’s keeping up a little bit of pressure. It’s given a little bit of solidarity to the Korean people. But I went there and played with some Korean guys and they wanted to do a couple of Pistols songs and they played them pretty much just as well as we did. It seems to be a common currency around the world and I was part of that, cool.

My yardstick for doing the music for the Pistols was, and it still is, a simple thing done well. And if you get it right, that’s something that stands the test of time. And I think that people can pick up a guitar and most people seem to identify with not just us but also The Clash and the Buzzcocks and the Ramones.

Is there a sense of irony that you’re going to be playing this revolutionary music in a venue like Hard Rock Café?
I like a hamburger every now and then and when you play at the Hard Rock, you normally get a free one. You know, the purists go “You shouldn’t be doing this, you shouldn’t be doing that”, but [these are] the kind of things that make it work and enable it. If the Hard Rock didn’t put it on, it wouldn’t happen. I recently read an interview with Lou Reed [in which] he said he used to share a loft in New York way back when with this guy who was the original guitarist in the Velvet Underground. He came back one night and he said [to him] “We got a gig, our first gig”. And this guy said, “You mean we have to get there and be there at a certain time and play for people at a certain time?” Lou Reed said, “Yes.” He said, “Man, I’m not doing that.” He was so hardcore that nobody’s heard of him. And Lou Reed got somebody else.

Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols is one of the most influential records of all time. What was the music that shaped you while growing up?
The first records that I ever listened to, that I actually physically put on the record player myself…[was] when I was about six years old [and] my uncle who was ten years older than me – he’d been a bit of a Teddy Boy – gave me his old 78 (RPM) records. They were Gene Vincent, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis, that’s what I put on. Then time went on a little bit and we had these fantastic radio stations that were pirate radio on ships outside of Britain and that coincided with the Kinks and The Who and The Yardbirds and the Stones and the Small Faces coming through it. That’s what got me going. They were like little three-minute slices of life with a great hook and a great vocal delivery. It was exciting.

You’ve been in a lot of bands. Which has been the most fun?
When I got to play with the Faces, my all-time favourite band that I used to stand in front of the mirror when I was 14 and pretend I was in. We didn’t do that many shows, but we headlined the Fuji festival in Japan (in 2011) in front of 50,000 people. That was the most fun thing ever. Through their music, they opened the door to the blues, Staple Singers, Bobby Womack, made me take The Temptations more seriously…that’s all in their music somehow.

What makes you collaborate with somebody, like Alluri for instance?
If somebody knows what they’re doing, they have some drive, and they’ve got a certain degree of accomplishment on their instrument, they kind of look alright. I think he’s got all of that. I find him interesting. The way I was approached, somebody sent me a video of him doing a version of Anarchy in the UK, which he explained to me he only did to keep his nephew quiet [but his nephew] liked it and was dancing to it.

What’s your new solo material like?
The new album Good To Go is about to come out in the beginning of September. The drummer on most of the songs is a guy called Slim Jim Phantom, who’s from the Stray Cats [and is] an old friend of mine. It’s got a little more of a swing to the rhythm. The guitarist is Earl Slick, who played with [David] Bowie and [John] Lennon. My last album Born Running was a bit more punky. This one, I don’t even play bass on it, I play acoustic guitar. I’m proud of it. There’s even a cover of a Scott Walker ballad called Montague Terrace. It’s funny talking about music because the reason you make music is you do things you can’t necessarily explain in words.

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and English National Opera recently released an album of cover versions of punk classics that you were associated with. Do projects like that prove that the song, more than everything else around it, is ultimately what matters?
I suppose you can’t really divorce one from another but I think any good song can be done in any idiom. One of the best things I ever heard was a ska band with a big brass section doing Black Night by Deep Purple. It was wacky but it worked.

Interview Alluri

IT has been amazing speaking with Alluri…

about his new single, Don’t Lose Touch, and how he came to work with Glen Matlock. He explains how the former Sex Pistol found his work and whether they will work together again; what sort of gigs are coming up – Alluri tells me about a cool Spotify playlist that has come to mind.

I ask when music came into his life and what sort of material might come in the future; how he spends his moments away from music; whether there are any ambitions to fulfil before the end of the year – he talks about his Indian heritage and bringing that into his music.

Hi, Alluri. How are you? How has your week been?
Been good. Thanks for asking. My week has been less busy than the last one. Perhaps some songwriting is in order

For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
I am bloke from Hyderabad in South India who fell in love with Rock ‘n’ Roll music. After my first album, Man of Truth, I had a crisis of identity and ended up recording my second album in Telugu, my native language, which is due to be released in its entirety in August of this year.

Don’t Lose Touch is your new single. What is the tale behind it?
I wrote this song in December 2016 with a friend. I was out of love with songwriting and I had to force myself to write this song. I am happy with what turned out.

Glen Matlock produces the song. How did you come to meet him?! Was it intimidating having a Sex Pistol in the studio?!

I was at home with my niece and nephew in November last year. I was playing the guitar one morning. On stopping my practice, my sister forced me to continue as my nephew had just woken up. I wasn’t too keen on playing so I thought I would scare him away by playing an acoustic version of Anarchy in the U.K. To my surprise, he started dancing instead. So, I decided to cover that for my gig at Transmusicales in Rennes.

A YouTube link to this half-Telugu, half-English cover of the song was sent to him via Twitter by my manager. Glen loved it and retweeted it. After this, he was sent a demo to Don’t Lose Touch which he liked so he ended up producing the song. We recorded it in Milan with Tommaso Colliva who had worked with me on my Telugu album. It was a fun process. It wasn’t intimidating. He was very cordial and easy to work with. In fact, after the first day in the studio, he asked me if he was too bossy. I said: “You are alright, Glen! If anybody can be bossy, you certainly have earned the right to be so”.

Do you two have plans to work together again? What did Matlock bring to your music?
We will be playing a gig in India on 1st August. He is coming over to India for the first time. Should be fun. In regards my music; he got a great bassline and a harder edge to the song by making the most subtle of changes. Perhaps we will record an album together. Who the hell knows!

What plans are there for more material? Are you working on stuff at the moment?
My identity crisis is done so I am back to writing songs in English. I have just finished recording three new songs with producer Adrian Hall in Surrey. These are new songs that I had finished writing in Jan this year. Essentially, I am working towards my third album so there will be some E.P.s on the way before that.

Do you recall when music came into your life? Were you raised around a lot of musical stimuli?
My father in his youth in the ’80s in India used to be an ardent listener of BBC Worldwide radio. So, by the time I was born, he ended up buying C.D.s of Classical music, John Lennon; Tears for Fears and Elton John. He, in fact, forced me into learning Western classical violin and piano at age four, which I didn’t take to very well.

Having been raised in India; do you take any elements from the music and people into your current music?
Musically, the sense of rhythm, at times, can be influenced by Indian music. Apart from that, the lyrics are written from the perspective of a well-travelled Indian man.

Will there be any live dates coming up? Where can we see you play?
I will be playing a gig in August in Mumbai and Hyderabad to promote my Telugu album. Of course, Glen Matlock is coming over for the Mumbai gig. Apart from this, if things go as planned, there will be gigs later in the year in England and Europe

Do you have any ambitions to fulfil before the end of the year?
To write about thirty more songs and do demos for them. Essentially, focus on songwriting for the third album.

Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
Nothing really comes to mind – played a gig last week in London which Glen Matlock came to. So, watching him bob his head to my half-Telugu, half-English cover of Anarchy in the U.K. was pretty special.

Which three albums mean the most to you, would you say?
I am the proudest of my Telugu album. But, currently, the third album is what means most to me as I am in the process of writing it.

What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Focus on the songwriting.

Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
The music used on this documentary called Wild Wild Country has been a revelation to me. There is a Spotify playlist. I have been listening to that incessantly over the last few months. Great music and great new artists I found there.

Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
Cricket and cooking.

Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music – I will do that
Green Point Reprise by Jim Jones and the Righteous Mind. Came out a couple of months ago. Cheers!

Alluri breaks boundaries

Indian artist Alluri breaks down cultural barriers with his first song in English.
As the famous quote from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow* goes, “music is the universal language of mankind”. Of all the artists we’ve come across in recent memory, few exemplify this quite like Alluri.

Alluri is a musician from Hyderabad, India who’s impossible to categorise, but his music is as grand and euphoric as anything you’d find from Arcade Fire. Just for good measure, he has a touch of Morricone thrown in too. Previously, Alluri has performed his music in the local Telugu language of Hyderabad. But latest track Don’t Lose Touch is Alluri’s first song in English, and it’s a strong indie-rock blast that sets a good precedent.

Alluri debuts new single “Don’t Lose Touch”

Alluri is a musician from Hyderabad, India, who’s impossible to categorize, but his music is as grand and euphoric as anything you’d find from Arcade Fire and has a touch of Morricone too. Other artists Alluri has been influenced by include Lou Reed, David Bowie, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Morrissey, The Mothers, Francobollo, Fat White Family, Courtney Barnett. Today, Alluri is streaming his brand new single “Don”t Lose Touch”, which is now available to stream.

‘Don’t Lose Touch’ was produced by the Sex Pistols very own Glen Matlock after hearing Alluri’s cover of ‘Anarchy in the UK’ at the Trans Musicales Festival in France where he blew everyone away. Live, Alluri is a force to be reckoned with and Glen Matlock recognised his potential and got in touch.

Alluri on the song:

“I wrote this song after I fell out of love with song writing […] so this song is a re-affirmation of my love for song writing and being in touch with what you love doing and never losing touch with your spirit.”
Glen Matlock on the song:

“Out of the blue I was sent a whacked out version of Anarchy in the UK performed by Alluri in an Indian sub continent, that turns out he did to appease his nephew. That reason aside, I dug his version. I was then approached and played a demo of a song of his own he had written called ‘Don’t Lose Touch‘ which was obviously a work in progress, but it was something I felt I could add to and assist in bringing to it’s full potential”

Tallinn Music Weeki maailmamuusika õhtul esineb India indierocki täht Alluri

2.–8. aprillini juba kümnendat korda toimuval muusika- ja linnakultuuri festivalil Tallinn Music Week (TMW) peetakse muuhulgas 7. aprillil Erinevate Tubade Klubis maailmamuusika õhtu. See kontsert toob kokku erinäolisi artiste maailma eri paikadest, sealhulgas India indierocki tõusva tähe Alluri.

India Hyderabadi linnast pärit Shriram Alluri loomingus kohtuvad Arcade Fire väärilised eufoorilised meloodiad ja spagetivesternide heliribadele omane vunk. Lapsena klassikalise klaveri- ja viiulimängu koolituse läbinud Alluri muusikaline eneseleidmine toimus teismeeas koos The Smithsi, Joy Divisioni ja Dovesi lugudest innustunud kitarrimängu õpingutega. Nüüd jagab ta oma aega India, Ühendkuningriigi ja Itaalia vahel ning loob Briti vintage indiest mõjutatud muusikat oma kodulinna kohalikus telugu keeles. Muusikaspetsialistide hinnangul on Alluri muusika ühtagu tuttavlik ja algupärane ning seda on pea võimatu paigutada rangesse žanrilisse lahtrisse.

Alluri debüütalbum „Man Of Truth“ (2015) pälvis kiitust nii muusiku kodumaal Indias kui ka üleilma muusipressis. Käesoleval aastal ilmub Briti sõltumatu plaadimärgi Killing Moon alt tema teine täispikk album, mille valmimisel on võtmerolli mänginud Grammy nominendist produtsent Tommasso Colliva (The Jesus and Mary Chain, Muse, Franz Ferdinand) ja italo-funki bändi Calibro 35 liige Massimo Martelotta.

Märtsi esimeses pooles ilmus albumi eelmaitse-singel telugukeelne „Naa To Vastava (A Trip)“. „„Naato Vastaava“ on lugu armastusest ja poliitikast,“ selgitab Alluri. „Kirjutasin selle kunagi ammu, kui mu maailmavaade oli veel üsna naiivne. „Kindlasti tasub vaadata loo lüürikavideot, milles on minu kodukoha argielu päris põnevalt kujutatud.“

Peagi ilmuva uue albumi kohta ütleb Alluri Postimehes ilmunud värskes intervjuus järgmist:

„Pärast esikplaadi valmimist tundsin, et ma ei saa inglise keeles kirjutatud lugusid oma pere ja sõpradega tõeliselt jagada. Tundsin, et pean lugusid telugu keeles kirjutama, et tugevdada oma identiteeti, mille olin unarusse jätnud. Kõik albumi lood sündisid plahvatusliku hooga.“

Sütitava kontsertesinejana on Alluri üles astunud nii Inglismaal Cambridge´i folgifestivalil kui ka Prantsusmaal Trans Musicales festivalil. Viimasel esitatas ta ka Sex Pistolsi „Anarchy in the UK“ töötlust, mille salvestust jagas Twitteris ka Pistolsi bassimees Glen Matlock isiklikult. Nüüdseks on Matlock ja Alluri plaani võtnud lausa ühise singli salvestamise.

Alluri india-rocki kuuleb 7. aprillil algusega kell 23.40 TMW maailmamuusika õhtul Erinevate Tubade Klubis. Nimele kohaselt toob maailmamuusika lava artiste kokku igast ilma otsast – lisaks Indiale Portugalist ja Israelist, ent ka siitsamast Läänemere kallastelt. Kogeda saab nii Balkani muusikat kui ka afrobiiti ning malestrateegiate ja eksootiliste rütmide põrkumisest sündinud elektroonikat.

TMW 2018 maailmamuusika kontserdiõhtu piletid hinnaga 12 eurot on müügil Piletilevis, kohapeal saab osta pileteid hinnaga 15 eurot.

Kontserdile tagab pääsu ka TMW 2018 festivalipass, konverentsi ja festivali ühispass ning toetajapass. TMW passid on müügil veebipoes.