Getting Toit with The Sylvester TrioWe got toit with these groovy men.

We think good food, good beer and good music make for a great combination, and that’s what the Sunday Simmer Down at Toit is.

As a part of this initiative, we feature bands from around the world, and each of them have a great musical story to tell.

Last Sunday we had The Sylvester Trio sending a rather groovy old vibe here at Toit.
For the uninitiated, the trio comprises of Sylvester Pradeep on guitar and vocals, Snehal Pinto on bass and backing vocals, and Joel Rozario on drums and vocals.
While the band’s been around for almost three years now and they’re about fifty shows old, the members have been doing music, together and otherwise, pretty much since they can remember.

We sat down with the groove setting, harmonies belting boys (to men) and spoke about music, beer and fantasies, amongst other things.

Snehal and I were in a music school together…

What is the most annoying question you get asked as a band?

Sylvester: Nothing is as annoying as the drummer of our band.

Joel (drummer): “Why is the narcissistic person’s name in the name of the band?” That is the question.
He’s not really that important, you see.

But, for real?

Snehal: We’ve never been asked any annoying questions, seriously.

You guys have been doing music with other music acts, and also individually—what made you come together and form the trio?

Sylvester: Snehal and I were in a music school together (Taaqademy) and that’s where we met. We had a a random jam with another friend, Joel wasn’t part of the band at the time.

Snehal: Good times! *laughs*

…we decided to put together a Jimi Hendrix Tribute band, which never ended up happening.

Sylvester: What we jammed just felt fantastic and we decided to put together a Jimi Hendrix Tribute band, which never ended up happening. And we’ve never covered a single Jimi Hendrix song either.

But that was the idea. That was how we gelled together, and it was just perfect. Joel joined in later and the three of us locked and it just happened. We never planned for it.

From left to right—Sylvester, Joel & Snehal. Or, as they say, the couple and Snehal.

How did Joel become a part of it?

Sylvester: The drummer we had earlier left the band, he was part of another band also, and he couldn’t manage both. Joel and I had played together before and we had a great chemistry going. And he said he would be more than happy to play for us. So, it just happened.

The drummer we had earlier left the band…

How many shows old are you guys?

Snehal: Easily fifty plus.

When did this act start gigging, with this line-up?

Snehal: Three years now.

Out of the fifty plus, which have been your favourite shows? 

Sylvester: I think all the ones in BFlat, definitely. Because the crowd is great and they’ve been quite receptive to original music and experimental stuff. So they know exactly what they’re there for and the sound is also really good.

Snehal: It’s a seasoned place, right? Bands always tend to have a nice time in such a place.

Sylvester: We also had a great time playing at the Alliançe Music Festival. Also The Storm Festival, at Coorg, was nice. We have a few memorable ones.

Having done so many shows, if there’s one thing you’d like to change about the live music scene in our country right now, what would it be?

Snehal: Well, we could wish for things. We could wish for cities to be as receptive as Bangalore.
Bangalore is very receptive—there are a lot of venues, you have a lot of opportunities to play. Pay aside, because everyone in the scene will want that, venue-wise we have a lot of venues and there is a lot healthy competition among bands.
It would be nice if this could extend to the rest of the country.

Sylvester: I strongly feel that people should have one standard of music. I’m talking about the quality of events, sound, money—just have one standard for everybody. This is something I’d really like to see.
That way even if you’re a beginner, you understand what is the class of music you’re expected to be.
Right now there is a bit of a hierarchy for the elite big bands that have made it.

I’m talking about the quality of events, sound, money—just have one standard for everybody.

Joel: But I don’t think that’s possible.

Sylvester: It might not be possible, but it’s something that would be really nice where everybody gets the best of sound, everybody gets the best of money. Of course, to what they deserve, but I’m saying the best of what they can.

Joel: We’ve spoken about organisers, and the things that need to change.
I think bands need to get together and form a union of sorts which will help them.
All the things they spoke about, I think if bands have a union of sorts, that will much more doable.

Is that lacking amongst Bangalore bands?

Sylvester: It’s not a union, it’s friends who know each other.

Joel: There’s still loads of other bands out there that will size you up if you go and play at a festival, for example. At a festival, everyone is the same. Like if you get a good slot, good for you. If you get a shit slot, sucks for you.

I’ve seen at festivals abroad that bands help each other, like they get into a cohesive unit. If you look at it in a corporate way, as musicians, other musicians are your colleagues. And if you don’t like your colleagues, that’s where all your trouble starts.
Form a nice, big union, everyone.

I’ve seen at festivals abroad that bands help each other, like they get into a cohesive unit.

You’re not going to see eye-to-eye on a lot of things because of different kinds of music, different levels of maturity, different styles of playing—lots of things will come in between, but if there is a common understanding that we’re here for this job and this is what we all do and this is why we need to work together, then it’ll be a lot better.

Sylvester: I’d love for it to be that way!

Snehal: There used to be a nice movement in the late 90s and mid-2000s, where a couple of bands used to band together and have a festival. It was called the Rain Seed Festival, with Thermal And A Quarter, and they would invite other bands and have this night-long fest. It would start at 8 in the night, somewhere far-out on Kanakapura road, and go on till 8 am.

People like Zebediah Plush, Galeej Gurus—the old time bands,  would come together and finance it themselves, and maybe get one or two sponsors. That’s something that’s lacking now.

Why do you think that faded away?

Snehal: One reason is probably because we are pampered with so many venues that will probably pay much better. But those movements, like the Rain Seed Festival, used to bring about so much awareness. People could come for these things, watch bands, and have a different experience.

Joel: It’s definitely do-able and will give audiences a different way to look at the bands.

And it is changing with people like Suraj Mani and his OO Heaven venue.

Snehal: And it is changing with people like Suraj Mani and his OO Heaven venue. There are some venues coming up exclusively for music. Not that we mind playing at pubs—we love playing at pubs but sometimes it would be nice to have a stage where people come to watch just for the music.
When you’re playing and you see people digging into their food—you feel hungry!

Coming back to the band itself, how come you guys decided to stop at a trio and not add more members?

Joel: Couldn’t count further.

Snehal: Car got too heavy.

Sylvester: No, but seriously, I think logistically speaking it is the most efficient number. But it was not a factor in deciding. But it became a factor over time.

Snehal: Honestly, for me, it was. I’ve been a part of bands with more members and coordinating it is just chaotic.

…it’s really hard to get a full sound just being a trio…it helps us get better at what we’re doing.

Sylvester: But it’s a great thing because it really helps push us more, because it’s really hard to get a full sound just being a trio and we want to experiment a lot more. So, it helps us get better at what we’re doing.
It’s worked out really well for us, and we’d like to keep it that way. But it was not a conscious decision.

Joel: Basically, Sylvester couldn’t find another guitarist who’d agree to work with him!

Sylvester: Not true! *laughs*

You guys have heard about Fantasy Football Leagues, right? If you had to apply the same concept to a Fantasy Band, who would you pick to be in your ultimate fantasy band?

Snehal: We know the answers! But I think Sylvester and I are definitely going to have one thing in common.

Sylvester: This is too much! Oh god. It’s like a buffet.

Snehal: I’ll go first! Victor Wooten on bass, Bruce Lee Mani on guitar and vocals and composition, no doubt about it, and I think that’s enough. Denise Chambers on drums. That would be my fantasy band.

Sylvester: I was going to choose Bruce Lee too but Snehal’s taken him.
I think Guthrie Govan on guitars, Mike Portnoy on drums, and Abe Laboriel or Nathan East on bass.

I think Guthrie Govan on guitars, Mike Portnoy on drums, and Abe Laboriel or Nathan East on bass.

Joel: Drummer will be Carter Beauford, Dave Matthews on vocals, and Tim Reynolds on guitar.

Snehal: Why don’t you just say Dave Matthews Band?

Joel: Why don’t you just say Thermal And A Quarter?
But also Gerald Jemmott on bass and weirdly, because I’m going through a phase right now, I want Ray Charles on keys.

Well done with the fantasy band fantasising. On a more real note, who is the diva in the band?

*Snehal and Joel point at Sylvester*

Unanimous then. And who is the ladies man?

Sylvester: I think Joel. He’s married, I know, but the ladies love him.

Do you have any pre-gig rituals?

Joel: Yes! Keep alcohol away from Sylvester!

Snehal: But no, no rituals as such. These two pinch each other in unmentionable parts, but that’s about it. And that’s also every other day.

What are you guys excited about in the immediate future with the band?

Sylvester: We’re working on an album. And we’re really excited about it because we’re experimenting a lot.

I think it’s very difficult to explain what kind of music it is, but one thing we can say is that it is very personal and it’s about a lot of things that we relate to.

Yes! Keep alcohol away from Sylvester!

It’s something I’m very proud of our band, that whenever we write music, we make sure that it’s quite well thought out.

Finally, want to wager a guess about the much-debated pronunciation and origins of ‘Toit’?

Sylvester: I think it’s Toit. I didn’t even realise it could be another term.

Joel: I think it’s ’twa’ like the French pronunciation.

Snehal: It’s tight! Like, pronunciation is ‘toy-it’ only, but it’s the drunk way of saying getting ‘tight’.