|Sumit Bhattacharya performs with Summit Attempt at La Dolce Vita. Picture by Sayan Dutta
A former member of Calcutta-based jam-rockers Easy Riders and Latin jazz band Orient Express, guitarist-composer Sumit Bhattacharya is back in the fray with Summit Attempt. Essentially a platform to showcase Sumits songwriting, the four-piece — with Sumit on guitars and vocals, Mainak Bumpy Nagchowdhury on bass, Sayantan Sengupta on guitars and Dwaipayan Doi Saha on drums, percussion and vocals — just released its debut album, Blue Bugyal, independently and has seen a steadily growing fanbase since its inception in 2007, thanks to its uplifting live gigs. Sumit, who has made Mumbai his home since 2002, opens up in a chat with t2 about his inspirations, original music in India and music that heals...
Tell us a little about how Summit Attempt came about. What about the name?
Im obsessed with the mountains; I trek whenever I can. I was sitting in a meadow at 12,000ft when I realised I just had to get back to playing music. It was one of those flashes — I knew I had to have Doi on drums, Bumpy on bass. The name was automatic as well. Music is like the mountains — you can only attempt to get there. Whether or not you will be allowed in is up to a higher energy.
One-fourth of the band in Mumbai, the rest in Calcutta. How difficult is it to make this band happen?
Very. We have more songs than the number of days we have practised together! Maybe its happening only because we have nothing to lose, and because we have grown up musically together.
How would you like to define your sound?
Digital hippie jam band fusion. Hows that for anything goes!
What was it like hooking up with a bunch of friends that go back more than a decade, especially keyboardist TL Mazumdar and flautist Kallol Das?
Like serendipity. TL, Kallolda, me, Doi, Bumpy and even Sayantan used to play for Orient Express till around 2000. Then I went off to make a living in Mumbai. Kallolda was always on my mind for the songs. I bumped into TL online last year; he played on the songs from Germany.
Any plans of working with mentors Amyt and Monojit Datta in the near future?
That would be a dream indeed.
Some of the songs on Blue Bugyal go back a long way, as embryonic riffs or even full-fledged tunes, to your days as guitarist with the Calcutta band Easy Riders. Was the process of reinterpreting these an easy one?
It was as if they never went away. I am thankful that the music has been more loyal to me than I have been to it.
Within a span of about 10 months, you guys have had a few shows in Calcutta, have seen a rise in downloads and are clearly set for bigger things in the coming year. Whats next?
Shows in Mumbai in January and March, followed by the second album. Thats the plan, fingers crossed. Blue Bugyal is available now on Amazon.com and iTunes. Rolling Stone India just reviewed a song of ours, Changes. On our website www.summitattempt.in, we get visitors from across the world downloading our songs everyday, catching our live videos.
Do you think original music, especially original English-language music, is coming of age in India?
There is more information, yes. But as long as we keep asking for Pink Floyd at every gig, it will never come of age.
Who are your favourite Indian original acts?
Favourites would be Pink Noise, Thermal and a Quarter, HFT. But there are quite a few guys doing good stuff.
Can music play a much more significant role in bringing about change?
Conflict has always produced great music. And music has always lifted man beyond his condition. Maybe we will actually start listening to music again as soul food. Im trying to be an optimist amidst the madness.
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