For a band that has been part of the musical landscape of Chennai for over a decade, Grey Shack has barely had any contenders to take their spot of being the city’s only hard rock outfit, heavily influenced by rock legends such as The Who, Led Zeppelin,and AC/DC.
Besides, Grey Shack also carries the honour of being India’s only rock group to have performed at the European Bike Week as the official band for Harely Davidson Motorcycles. Now, with the departure of their first vocalist and one of the founding members of the band, Rohan Sen, this band of four is now all set for a season of change — be it from recruiting Prashanth Oliver, their new vocalist, to the release of their second album Alchemy, which is a much louder, heavier departure from their previous sound from their debut album Step Outside.
Grey Shack now consists of Vikram Vivekanand on guitars, Prashanth Oliver on vocals, Conrad Simmons on bass and Ramkumar Kanakarajan on drums. We spoke to Vikram who is the only founding member remaining in the band since its inception in 2007 about the current line-up, and their bold new sound.
- How would you describe the sound on the new album and how that's different from the older material?
The new material was all written with Ramkumar Kanakarajan on drums. He joined the band at a time when were still playing our older material. We had a few shows that we were committed to, and we played those shows, and eventually, we started writing new material with Ram. Our songs up until then were that of a happy rock and roll band talking about fleeting college romances, bike rides and what not. Ram brought in a new element of heavy to the band and the energy was something else! We decided that it was time to change the band's musical direction, and we started writing the songs that ended up on Alchemy with a new perspective. Lyrically, Rohan wrote stuff that was personal to him, as well as writing about stuff that is wrong with the world today. Although we wrote these songs over the course of 2015 and 2016, these songs still hold relevance today. The new sound is edgier and heavier, with all the members of the band being on top of their game, musically and technically.
- How is it having a new vocalist? How has that changed things for Grey Shack?
It's a new perspective and energy for sure. Ollie is a fantastic frontman, and it's great having him around, hanging out and jamming with him. It helps that he's been associated with the band right from the time we formed. In fact, it was he who gave us the name Grey Shack. I don't know yet how things have changed for Grey Shack, and we'd be able to tell you more once we start writing songs with him.
- Why the name Alchemy?
The band has gone through several transformations, over the years since 2007. The album title was in fact suggested to us by our friend Aadithyan Mohan, who did our album artwork. We're no stranger to line up changes. Every person who's been involved with the band has brought in something special to the table. If you have followed our music, you can hear a definite change in the band's sound. All the members have gotten better at what they do, and the songs have taken different meanings. And in some sort of cosmic turn of events, Rohan leaving the band, which was something none of us saw coming, contributed to that transformation as well. We won't say that we wanted this to happen, but we didn't want to stop. We owed it to ourselves, and the audiences to release this album, which we feel is our best work yet. And that's why we named the album Alchemy.
- What's the band's tour schedule like?
We recently had a gig in Chennai last month. We have a show lined up on the 24th of February now, at Primal, in Bangalore. We're currently working on playing in Hyderabad and Mumbai as well in the next two months.
To listen to Grey Shack and follow their music, you can find links to their album: