Skrat is back with a heavier sound in their fourth album, ‘Bison’
Every Skrat fan knows that ever since 2015, when the band first started playing some of its new material live, this is the day we’ve all been waiting for: the release of their fourth studio album, ‘Bison.’ When it comes to the enthusiasm of their fans, Skrat has always been miles apart from most other acts in the indie scene. While that’s partly thanks to the consistency of their distinct sound, and partly due to the hooks and riffs that get stuck in your head as much as any overplayed song on radio would, they also have another thing going for them: the fact that Skrat is such an amazing live experience, every single time. And the songs on ‘Bison’ are only going to make that experience 10 times better.
But frontman and guitarist Sriram TT, bassist Jhanu Chanthar, and drummer Tapass Naresh are all involved in various different projects, which brings us to the question…don’t they ever get tired? The very first line Sriram tells me at the beginning of our conversation answers this: (screaming) “I’m just about to die. As soon as this album launches, I’m going into hibernation.”
‘Bison’ was released earlier today at midnight. Stream it on the Skrat website.
‘Bison’ was named even before the songs were written
Although you can listen to any song from ‘Bison’ and immediately tell that it’s from Skrat, the songs are evidently darker and more theatrical than the ones on ‘The Queen.’ ‘Bison’ was named and its storyline was mapped out even before the songs were written. “You CANNOT have a soft album called ‘Bison’. It’s a freaking Fortuner-sized vehicle. Plus, there’s Jhanu. The way he approaches music is very different, and this is the first thing we wrote together, from scratch. So [the character of] Bison has really leaked into our songs, the way the sound is, and even the way we play. He [Jhanu] has bought a black-colored bass, which is unheard of, for Jhanu. I thought it’d be like orange, or bright pink.”
Thankfully, instead of abrupt changes in direction like most bands, Skrat has had a smooth transition throughout its last three albums. ‘The Queen’ didn’t completely alienate fans of ‘Bring Out The Big Guns’; there were still light-hearted bops like Choke Broke and Love Rider. In contrast, the closest ‘Bison’ comes to anything light-hearted is the band’s signature groovy riffs on songs like Raptor and Red Ox Hide. “There is no happiness, love and all in ‘Bison.’ Only darkness, destruction and pain,” Sriram says. It would suffice to say that both in a musical and lyrical sense, each album sets the stage for the next one.
Most of Skrat’s lyrics revolve around characters
“I don’t like writing preachy songs. This is right, this is wrong, whoever does these things are bad people, these are good people, I don’t like you, you don’t like me; fuck that. Even in songs like Samurai [Badass], the whole point was to put everything I wanted to say into that character,” Sriram says. In ‘The Queen,’ the songs were based on the desecration of the human race, drawing parallels to real-life scenarios in songs like Machete and Revolution.
‘Bison’ is about the aftermath, the story of what happens when the Queen is dead or in exile and the whole population is in chaos. The effects trickle down all the way to a little place called Vineyard, and awaken General Bison from his deep slumber. In the form of General Bison and his army (including Raptor, Chaos and Yipikaye), the Skratverse has a fail-safe for the human race which we, in our real world, aren’t fortunate enough to have. “Bison is the villain the world needs. He sort of comes, spanks the humans a little bit, says ‘Find your place, mortal,’ and goes back to sleep.”
Skrat didn’t expect The Queen to be a crowd favorite
When asked about his penchant for writing catchy hooks, Sriram confesses that he isn’t even sure what the crowd would find catchy half the time. “I had no idea that people would like The Queen. I knew everyone would like Stomp and Machete, but I thought The Queen would be like a B-side song that everyone would come to later. We didn’t expect the title track to be a hit. In this album, Bison is the last song, and it’s quite a dark song.”
What comes next
Although Skrat does plan their course as a band, they’re very closed off when it comes to telling people what they’re going to do. “As soon as you announce something, you know it has to happen. But what if it doesn’t? The Loverider Experience wasn’t planned out. We didn’t tell people about it until we started riding,” Sriram says. Even the band wasn’t sure about whether it was going to happen until they realized none of them had booked tickets anywhere. It’d been a spontaneous idea to take a group with them, and the Loverider Experience was born.
There is one thing Sriram’s told us though, and it’s maybe the most important. Fans in Bangalore, sit tight. Following the release of ‘Bison,’ Skrat’s first gig is set to be on October 15th at the Humming Tree.