The Bombay Royale on being the world's first 'retro, electro, 80s Bollywood band'
It’s often tough to get a band to tell you what their album is about.
Sometimes it’s because the stories are so personal that they don’t want to divulge the true meanings behind the songs inspired by them.
Sometimes it’s because the artist wants the audience to make of their work what they will, without interference from whoever wrote it.
Sometimes it’s because the songs don’t mean much at all.
This is not a problem when talking to Melbourne 11-piece band The Bombay Royale about their new album Run Kitty Run.
Because no one else was doing it, it got a lot of attention quite quickly.Parvyn Kaur Singh
“It's a futuristic landscape,” vocalist Shourov Bhattacharya – aka The Tiger – tells Double J’s Myf Warhurst. “The apocalypse has come and gone, but we're still around.
“All the characters are now moving through this landscape and trying to find their way to escape somehow.
"As often happens in these situations, people betray one another, you don't know who to trust. There are bandits and assassins around, but there's also true love, which somehow finds a way.
“But you're trying to get to that space port, you're trying to get onto that rocket that's going to get off the planet, that's going to get you into space.”
As with the band’s 2014 album The Island of Dr Electrico, the album is a soundtrack for a non-existent film, which makes for a wondrous listening experience as you imagine how the action would unfold on screen.
“We tried to encapsulate it as much as we could in our latest film clip,” vocalist Parvyn Kaur Singh – aka The Mysterious Woman – says.
“Barren landscapes, space, violence. There's some sort of Star Wars kind of laser fingers thing that happens. There's a weird game that's being played. But everyone's trying to get out and escape from this situation that they're stuck in.”
The band’s narrative ideas are pretty wild, but so is their music. Their intriguing melange of psych, soul, funk, surf, Bollywood and electro sounds like no one else, which has led them to find a very particular niche.
“It's not like there's another five retro/electro/80s Bollywood bands lining up behind us,” Bhattacharya laughs.
The focus was initially on classic Bollywood songs, but their sound has evolved as the band began to write their own music.
“Andy Williamson, who is the skipper of our band, he was the one who had a great collection of vintage Bollywood vinyl,” Kaur Singh says. “He saw that there was no one else who was doing this music live, so that's how we started - covering all that 60s and 70s Bollywood stuff.
“Because no one else was doing it, it got a lot of attention quite quickly. From then we started writing the music and, over the last three albums, it's just kind of gone bigger and crazier and in our own direction from that starting point.”
This ability to cross genres has liberated the band and made for a deeply rewarding creative experience, both vocalists say.
“I think that's part of what's so exciting being part of this group,” Kaur Singh says. “We have no limitations in what we can do, because we're writing the book of this style of music.
“We're gonna have to think of a new name for it. That's the thing with art, when you're doing things that are new, that's what makes it really exciting and really attractive for people to listen to and come and watch. It's hard to segment it into an actual genre.”
“That's what makes it fun,” Bhattacharya says. “That's the only thing I really care about; the originality, the creativity of creating something totally new. When that happens with the band - because we write together - it's a really great feeling.”
The band return to Europe this month to play a series of festivals. While their warped brand of cross-cultural funk has won over audiences in many countries, there’s one market the band really want to crack.
“It would be great to take this music to India and to get it on to an actual Bollywood film,” Kaur Singh says. “That would be amazing. And it's something that we want to do in the future.”