In 2001 four college friends from Kandy who were all equally passionate about music, came together with the idea of starting a band. Ten years later, after giving us three incredible EP’s and many memorable live performances, Sri Lanka’s very own pioneer grunge band Paranoid Earthling, are all set to finally record their debut album.
The band, one of the leading rock bands in Sri Lanka, is vocalist and guitarist Mirshad, bassist Asela, and brothers, drummer Shanka and guitarist Dhanushka. The guys, recalling their early years in the band said they were all self-taught, starting out with one box guitar which they had to share between themselves.
“Back then we only had one guitar and we didn’t have a drum set, Mirshad had made a drum set out of x-ray boards. So when we used to practice, it used to be like one would play acoustic, one electric than we’d switch guitars and practice.” Asela said.
With a lot of hard work and dedication, they have successfully put out three EP’s over the years. Their debut EP “Rock n’ Roll is my Anarchy” which has three of their earliest singles; Pull Me Under, 69 and the title track, was sold out in and around Sri Lanka and is still a download favorite among many. All three songs on the debut EP, ‘In Black & White’ from the EP “Playtime Music” and ‘Bringing down the Sun’ have reached No.1 position in the local Rock Charts.
Why has it taken so long to start on the long awaited album? The guys admit a lot of people have asked that question before but front man Mirshad explained that it hasn’t been easy doing the band and getting the music out there, which is the main thing for them to do. So we can expect ten years worth of material to come from the album, which he guaranteed will contain the same much loved, raw, paranoid earthling sound.
The band’s songs are well known for containing rebellious lyrics that have focused on questioning political and cultural issues, Mirshad who writes the lyrics, says he basically writes his own experiences; “It’s what I experience in life and what I see. It’s all the chaos that’s going on around, that would be the political part of it. In general the world, if you take the whole world and not just Sri Lanka, it talks about different incidents”.
As for the message their sending to kids who take refuge in their music, the guys say their essentially talking about freedom and the right to be accepted for whom you are. “Freedom of expression, freedom of thought and freedom to be you and not be judged; If you look at Sri Lanka and certain countries in Asia, it’s a very conservative system that runs around and then if we look at the other side of the world, you have so much freedom. The whole world needs to be free without all theses restraints. It’s changing now I guess with the internet; nowadays you can’t block any sort of information, whatever you want you, just type it and find it.” said Mirshad.
They will be producing the new album on their own, which is one of the reasons they said it’s taking awhile to get done, “It’s harder but your music doesn’t get tapered with and it’s really hard to find a producer here who’d really know our sound because we’ve gone and done work with different producers but we haven’t got that paranoid earthling sound we want; so this time we’re taking it all on ourselves.
Paranoid Earthling have a big fan base in Colombo and Kandy and also have a growing fan base in India where they have performed on many occasions such as the South Asian Band Festival, where they played for an enthusiastic crowd of over twenty thousand rock n’ roll supporters.
They divulged they plan to play abroad more often and maybe even move to India as the music scene is much bigger there. “It’s actually started now, more bands are playing abroad and lots of international bands are coming down here doing concerts. There’s a big connection now with the local rock industry, it connects a lot with other foreign bands.”
The reason why their music has been so successful with a wide range of music lovers, they say, has to do with the fact that it incorporates so many genres; “I guess our music is very accessible out there because it’s got a lot of groove, it’s raw, its grunge. You couldn’t actually say its grunge because our sound has kind of evolved a bit, so we have our own kind of sound. It has psychedelic elements and industrial elements” said Mirshad.
Speaking about their long continuity in the local music scene which has seen many bands come and go over the years, he explained that it’s their passion and focus for the band that keeps them going, “Since I was a small kid, it’s what I’ve always wanted to do, to be a musician and rocker. It’s a mutual feeling for everyone. Doing a band is not easy, you can’t just suddenly go and play in once place here and expect to become a big rock star. You have to work hard on it, you have to live, and you have to go through a lot of things and all that evolves in the music. You have to keep on playing; it’s not an easy job being a rock musician. It’s the passion for the music and the determination and the originality along with being different.”
“We were friends before we started the band, so I think that’s the main reason we are still together now. It was our big plan to do this band and then we started it and touch wood, it’s been ten years now,” He added.
(Report by Lake Argent)