Known for their hummable tunes, live wire performances and deeply-rooted Indian sound, Agnee is enormously popular as well as critically acclaimed with their rock songs encouraged by Kabir’s poetry and Carnatic classical music. Talking about Agnee and who will not talk about Aahatein, Sadho re, Shaam Tanha and Keh Lene Do among others. The band also happens to be the first Indian band to release their music online for free post releasing the debut album on Sony BMG back in 2007. Agnee involved with their fans through the exceptional initiative “Create with Agnee”. It is the only band in India to combine and compose for Bollywood such as Shala, Dil Dosti Etc, Aalaap and The Avengers. One of the few popular Indian rock outfits to gain fame in the mainstream as well as the independent music space. Agnee has won prestigious awards from MTV Video Music Award, GIMA Award to Spikes Asia Award. The band has also been featured on MTV Unplugged.
Music Plus caught up with Agnee’s lead guitarist Kaustubh Dhavale (aka Koco) to talk about their music, journey and much more.
How was Agnee formed?
Mohan and I met initially at a friend’s wedding in 2003 and kept bumping into each other at jam sessions. We were a part of a Pune based fusion band called Shankara for a few shows and then finally decided to form our own rock band in 2006 and recorded a demo. One month later we had a record deal from Sony BMG but hadn’t yet thought of a name for the band. After many deliberations, we spoke to the older band members of ‘Agni’ of which I was a part of earlier and decided to go with the name ‘AGNEE’.
What was the original line up of Agnee?
Mohan, Arijit Dutta, and myself as composers, JD and Lindsay came in as session’s musicians to record on our first album in 2007. However, the first gig that we ever played as AGNEE was with Varun Venkit on drums, Raja on keys and Rushad Mistry on bass. Over a period of time the lineup kept changing and as of today, Mohan and I are the two members of the band who have remained consistent throughout all the lineup changes. Currently, we are a four-piece band, with Varun Venkit on drums, Chirayu Vedekar on bass while Mohan on vocals and I am on lead guitar.
Tell us about the band’s debut gig.
That was the launch of our album in Mumbai on 15th May 2007, which was a huge press event at Hotel Sea Princess, Juhu organized by Sony BMG. It had in attendance, a lot of celebrity artists and musicians, who gave us rave reviews and an overwhelming response. We are grateful for all the love and appreciation we have received from that day onwards.
What has been your most memorable show?
In the past 11 years, we have played hundreds of shows and every single show has some memory attached to it. Having said that, the first show we played to an audience of over 15,000 people in Gujarat, barely a year or so after our launch took us by surprise. When the entire audience sang along, that was the moment for us.
Unknown facts about Agnee.
Well, there is a lot that we speak about in our interviews and chats, but I am not sure if people know that Mohan is a Mridangam player and not a trained classical singer. I have endorsed a prestigious international brand of guitars in India for a period of 5 years. We have scored for the title track for The Avengers India release in the year 2012.
How do you look back on Agnee’s journey?
It only feels like yesterday since our launch. I wish there was a dramatic story to tell about our struggles, but we have been very lucky right from the beginning. Our music has been well received; we got a great head start because of the mainstream release, with several videos airing on television. And, before we knew it we were being called to perform as the headlining act from acorss the country.
Would you like to experiment with your music such as getting a DJ to perform alongside?
We have always loved to collaborate with other artists and have done that many times in the past on various commissioned projects, be it for films or television. Even in our live shows, we love to have guest artists, but none of which have been a DJ so far. But if an opportunity presents itself in the future, we will not hesitate, especially with artists like Skrillex or David Guetta.