Getting Toit with Mud RoadA little bit of country, a little bit of Rock 'n' Roll, with a whole lot of soul.
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 Mud Road sending a good old vibe here at Toit.
For the uninitiated, the four member band of Mark Swaroop, Sheridan Brass, Daniel Selvaraj and Joshua Selvaraj, (and more recently Karun Verghese) is only six shows old, although the members have been doing music, together and otherwise, pretty much since they can remember.
We sat down with the Country music loving, harmonies belting boys (to men) and spoke about music, beer and ‘drowning in them women’, among other things.
Photo courtesy: Shawn Menezes
What’s the most annoying question you get asked as a band?
Daniel: Why the name Mud Road?
But also Mud Road is an idea of that side of town, where we grew up
Ok, so, why the name Mud Road?
Mark: The way we came up with this was, basically we were sitting outside Sherri’s house and thinking of a name and it was very literal, because he lives on a mud road.
But also Mud Road is an idea of that side of town, where we grew up, which wasn’t the fanciest part of town but we had a lot of fun growing up.
If you grew up that side of town, you’d walk in and you’d see somebody with a guitar, singing.
Not having amenities was not important to us, but just having a good time singing, the camaraderie—that was the idea behind Mud Road.
But you guys have been singing for a while, together and individually—why did you decide to start a band now?
Mark: Sherri messaged all of us one day and said “Guys, I think we should start something.”
We’d all hang out with each other, and what we’d do is get drunk, go home, pick up the guitar, usually Dan or Josh would pick up the guitar, and we’d sing. Harmonies came easy to us, and that stuff really isn’t something you can put into words.
It made complete sense when he messaged us, and we all said yes.
What made you decide to rally the boys together to start a band?
Sheridan: I don’t know—one day I had a couple of drinks and I was thinking about this. Josh was there, so I spoke to him and asked him if it would make sense if four us did something about this instead of just being known as the four guys who entertain people at the after-parties.
…instead of just being known as the four guys who entertain people at the after-parties.
We could practice, put a set-list together, since we all like the same kind of music, try and see if this would work and all of that. There’s not really too much effort we need to put into it.
We hang out almost every other day, so we thought we might as well see how it goes. And that’s how it started off.
Was Country Music always part of the plan?
Sheridan: All of us grew up on it! Liking it came naturally.
You don’t hear a lot of country music here. That’s one of the things we’re focusing on—it’s not the main thing. As Mud Road we’re trying to be more versatile but yes, we definitely have a soft corner for this genre.
How long have you guys been around?
Daniel: Our first gig was on the 1st of October, 2016. And we’ve done about five after that. So, we’re six gigs old.
Photo courtesy: Bhushan Bagadia
Six gigs is a fair enough number. Do you guys have any pre-show rituals?
Daniel: We usually have about two drinks, and we make sure we pray before each gig.
Mark: And also there’s one phrase, especially during the last week, that Sherri has harped on. We say that as our cheer before we get on stage.
We usually have about two drinks, and we make sure we pray before each gig.
Mark: The latest one is “Chillouuu”.
Of all the shows you’ve played until now, do you have a favourite?
Daniel: Opus, for me. It was like singing at home.
Josh: Opus for me as well, because that night had a lot of great music.
Mark: It was also a great venue, we had people facing us and dancing. It was the first time that happened to us.
Sheridan: I think mine would have to be the first one, at Rewind. Although the sound wasn’t the best and we had a few technical issues, I think a lot of people turned up—people who were waiting to hear us, and the warmth was there with so many familiar faces, people we hadn’t seen in a while.
You’re new as a band, but each of you have been in the music scene for a while now—is there one thing you wish event organisers would fix?
Sheridan: The limit on the alcohol we can consume. *laughs*
What is the good and bad thing about being a band like Mud Road in India right now?
Sheridan: The good thing is no one is doing what we’re doing. But also, people are not exposed to our kind of music too much, so it’s going to take a little bit of time for them to get used to it and for us to breakthrough. There are not too many negatives at the moment. We try not to look at it that way. We’re just working hard at getting better.
The good thing is no one is doing what we’re doing.
Mark: The bad thing is that there is no money. And also, people don’t realise the importance of having a good sound technician. That’s not their job as venue owners, but I think it’s important they look into it. For example, today at Toit , Ashwin was damn good and he knows what he’s doing.
But the problem every musician faces is that they don’t know whether they can make a living out of it.
We’ve been having fun doing it though, so we really don’t care.
When you guys aren’t working with Mud Road, what do you guys do?
Sheridan: I do other gigs as a solo artist, and a couple of other lineups that I’m working with.
Daniel: I’m a chef by profession, Josh and I, with two other friends, own a company called Big J’s. We do catering. That’s what we do apart from Mud Road. And I also sing with The Choral Riff.
Mark: I’m a photographer. I shoot weddings for a living and I’m happy doing that.
Daniel: One of the best photographers in the country.
Josh: Top 3! And as Dan said, him and I run a catering company called Big J’s, and I do some freelance work, hosting karaoke at a few places and singing with some other people as well.
Photo courtesy: Shawn Menezes
Karun is the new addition for this show. How did that happen?
Joshua: First of all, Karun loves the music we listen to and when we thought of adding a lead guitarist, we immediately thought of him. He has the feel that goes with our songs.
But in terms of getting him on board, I think Dan suggested it and since Toit is one of Bangalore’s most popular venues, we want to do a show that was strong both musically and harmony-wise.
Karun (…) has the feel that goes with our songs.
That’s why we thought Karun will be a great addition, and I hope he’s here for the long run.
Mark: Just to add, Karun also grew up with us. So it’s like adding to the family. I’ve known him since he was a couple of months old, his brother is closer to our age. And again, he has feel, which is something that isn’t tangible. He gets it and he sings as well.
Joshua: He also brings a lot of knowledge and technique to the group, which is always good.
Are you a full-time musician, Karun?
Karun: I wish! I’m a Software Engineer. Let’s see, maybe the future holds something.
So, as a fantasy thing, if you guys could play/sing for any band apart from Mud Road, which one would it be?
Sheridan: I’ll probably just carry Chris Stapleton’s equipment around. Also, probably Zac Brown band.
Daniel: Gaither Vocal Band.
Mark: I’m not necessarily a religious person but I agree with Dan—I grew up on Gospel music. Currently for the past four-five years, I’d like to be part of Brandi Carlile’s band.
Joshua: Zac Brown or Coldplay for sure.
Who is the ladies’ man?
Mark: I am. But we all have our own charm I think.
Daniel: We drown in them ladies, to be honest.
Mark: *damage control disclaimer alert* We respect women!
Daniel: Yeah. While we’re drowning in them.
We drown in them ladies, to be honest.
Finally, what’s your best guess at Toit’s name origin?
Joshua: I think it’s Tamilian way of saying tight.
Daniel: I think it’s more Aussie, ‘innit?
Mark: Lots of people think it’s French, but I think it just means tight. Like, drunk like a skunk.
*10 points for a Kudix reference.*