It’s not particularly easy to find a single word that encapsulates all the styles and sounds that the F16s music might be bucketed under. Indie? Alternative? Punk? Dance? Hipster? It’s easier to just pull the curtains back and witness them as is–Chennai-based Alternative Dance musicians whose sounds have a way of getting stuck in your head. Formed in 2012, they’ve already enjoyed performances at Magnetic Fields, the Hornbill Festival, every edition of NH7 Weekender, and ZimaFest, to name a few, since their inception and now the five-piece band is here with their debut album release, Triggerpunkte.
“We knew each other through college and the competition circuit that existed at that time. Josh, Shashank, Vikram and his brother VIraj were in a band called Bishop’s Got Papes in Madras Christian College, Harshan was in a prog. band called Totem. A bike accident put Josh out of commission for a while, and he and Shashank wrote songs just to be occupied. the 5 of them came together to write songs that would ultimately end up on their first EP ‘Kaleidoscope,’” The F16s share with Homegrown. “Due to certain differences, Viraj left the band in the middle of recording that EP, and the band were without a second guitar player. Abhinav was already in two bands at the time, Adam & the Fish-eyed Poets and The Shakey Rays, which both sort of imploded at around the same time. Harshan got in touch with him, and well, jump-cut to present day and you have The F16s,” they add as they prepare for the release of their debut album which drops today. The name of the band, as they explain, was “one of those things that was tossed around by a mutual friend and it just sort of stuck.”
“We’d like to think that what we play is Alternative Dance music. On our days, we’d like to believe we’re in a rock ’n’ roll band, but it varies. We kept flip-flopping between the two, and we probably still do,” they say. Inspired by the likes of The Strokes, LCD Soundsystem and The Horrors, it’s their city Chennai that they also consider influential for it’s easy-going melancholic lull that drove them to creating their own excitement. “We all have the same amount of distaste for the town. Okay maybe that’s a little harsh. Not a lot happens in town, be it gigs or just shit to do in general. So when you’re stuck in a boring metropolis, the easiest thing to do is to go down a music rabbit hole where hours of YouTubing and basic online ‘fuckery’ can yield results by just spending enough time, which we have plenty of,” shares the band.
‘Triggerpunkte,’ their debut full-length album is their third musical release following their 2013 EP called Kaleidoscope and Nobody’s Gonna Wait, a two-piece record created during their trip to Brooklyn, New York, in 2014. “The band’s been lucky enough to play all over this fine country, even in places we’d never been before, like the Northeast and Rajasthan. Additionally, we travelled to Brooklyn after we won Converse Rubber Tracks in Mumbai in 2014, and that just opened us up to the larger world of music-making,” they muse. A lot has happened for The F16s over their short but immensely fruitful musical career, right from their first EP to Triggerpunkte. “Creatively though, there are songs that come to fruition when we jam together, there are also some songs that develop from being a demo on a laptop. Don’t think that stuff will change, it’s always better when things aren’t forced,” the band shares. “Things have changed: we’ve grown older as people, and with that comes things that are just part and parcel of being around. Some of us have moved out of town for work, because shit just happens. That hasn’t affected how we make music. Well, not yet.”
A German word used to describe the various trigger points on the human body, Triggerpunkte — “In all honesty, this name was intended for some other lovers album name, but life doesn’t usually pan out the way you want it to. So we took it” — is an album that’s long been in the works, the band shares, with most of the recording work already being done in August and September of 2015. “There are songs on it [Triggerpunkte album] that have existed for much longer than some of the others. We still felt the need to put them out and give them the treatment they deserve, which is why we spent extra time, re-recorded parts, found the right people to mix them and so on. A couple of songs, like Moon Child and Summer in My Lungs hark back to how we were writing songs a couple of years ago; others, like Cannibal Life II, Plastik Like Skin and Digital Dead are closer to present day,” they explain about the albums creation and composition.
If you currently look at Bollywood pop-music in the country, lyrics aren’t given as much attention and importance as they should be anymore with focus being directed towards catchy tunes instead. For The F16s, with a pretty fluid writing process as they explain, all the meat comes from the instrumentation, although lyrics are given their due diligence, but that generally comes after having created a solid base of sounds, beats and rhythms. With the release of their debut album today, the band is as nervous as they are pumped up and excited. “An ideal response would be a comically, blown-out-of-proportion dance party. Indians are a beacon of modesty and humility (LOL), so there may be some time before that happens. Our music isn’t quite the Avicii knock-off that everyone seems to want.” But the future looks bright as ever for The F16s, with an ever growing fan base (including us at Homegrown) and several planned releases for 2017, we’re eagerly awaiting their upcoming work. Meanwhile, we’ll make do with the calming and easy going sound of ‘Luna Zep,’ the psychedelic track ‘Digital Dead’ and the good vibes of ‘Moon Child.’
Follow all their shenanigans on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. The F16s will be touring India and performing at The Humming Tree, Bangalore, on August 31, Hard Rock Cafe, Mumbai, on September 8, High Spirits Cafe, in Pune, on September 9, Heat Cup Coffee, Hyderabad, on September 11, with more dates to be announced soon.
Listen to Triggerpunkte by The F16s below