I was roped into the arms of the indie-rock band The Throws (then called Lovely) when I had first seen them perform a few years ago at the South Asian art festival Artwallah. I had been impressed by the chill post-punk polished sound and crushworthy lyrics. The band’s CD quickly became a regular rotation as I cruised the streets of Los Angeles that year.
After taking some time off, I was excited to hear that The Throws are back to making sweet music together again. I had the chance to sit down (virtually) with Adit Rao, lead singer of The Throws to talk about fears, hopes, and dreams. Instead of dropping a CD, the band is going release singles online, one at a time and for free. You can listen to the first song of the series, “Invitation” by using the player below, and you can read my conversation with Adit Rao just below that.
Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview for Sepia Mutiny. Iâ€™ve been following you for the past few years, back when the band used to be called Lovely. It seems like youâ€™ve been quiet for a bitâ€¦ What has been going on with The Throws?
The Throws kinda disappeared for a minute, life stepped in and took the reins for a bit. We went back into the woodshed– writing, recording, and stuff. But recently, there’s been some rumblings; we’re jones-ing to do some touring, and get the new record out.
The Throws have recently released a single called Invitation. Why did you choose to release one song via internet verses putting together an album and pressing hard copies? Do you see the future of digital music moving away from concept albums and towards this downloading one song format?
Well, it’s just easier to get people to try one song, before they think about a whole record. There’s so much music out there. So this is our way of getting more people to listen and (hopefully) talk about what we’re doing. We’ll give away a one song at a time, and then when we put out the record maybe there’ll be some actual anticipation. I don’t know that albums will go away completely, but I suspect that only the diehard fans will buy full albums. Do I personally need Rihanna’s *whole* album? No. But I’m sure her core audience would disagree with me.
Invitation was written for a friend of mine who was going through a rough patch. He had lost hope. So, I just wanted to remind him of where he came from, and that he still had places to go. Ironically, it became a reminder to myself as well.
As far as the “evolution”â€¦ we musicians like to think our latest stuff is our best even if others don’t see it that way. So I don’t want to overstate things. But I’m happy with the newer stuff. Sonically and creatively we’re moving away from a normal guitar-oriented approach. We’ve been playing around with drum loops and synth; it’s been fun to approach something familiar in an unfamiliar way.
I heard that your song made an appearance on the movie Kissing Cousins – How did you get connected with that project? Do you have any other movies that your album will be making an appearance on?
So far, we’ve had better luck with TV than film. ‘One Tree Hill’, ‘Smallville’ that sort of stuffâ€¦ so ‘Kissing Cousins’ was a random bit of good luck. Amyn [director] has been a fan of the band for a while, as we are of his work. They were looking for a break-up song that was fun and upbeat; we had one that seemed to fit pretty well.
How do you think your music is different than the rest of the indie-rock music out there? What sets you apart?
Oh, I dunno. I think we all draw from the same well. But maybe The Throws go for a slightly more anthemic sound than a lot of indie bands. It’s easier to be ironic or funny at a random club on a Tuesday night, with 43 people in the audience– as opposed to being sentimental or hopeful.
But we go there anyway, mostly because a lot of the music we enjoy has that dreamy quality about it. Sometimes it feels risky to put yourself out there like thatâ€¦ it can be easily construed as grandiose. But we do it honestly, so hopefully that comes across.
How do you think your identity as being a South Asian American has influenced your music? I know you were raised in Ohio â€“ was there a large South Asian community their?
I guess there was a big enough community in Columbus, OH. But the Indian influence for me was more in the values which were instilled at home– achievement, success, focus. I’ve probably always approached music that way. Not always a good thing. Creative work can lose something when it’s “professionalized”. But given my upbringing, it’s hard to not bring those values to the table (at least part of the time).
Does traditional Indian music ever weave itâ€™s way into your songs?
Well, I’ve always loved Indian musicâ€¦ the Hindustani stuff (Asha, Lata, Mukesh, Kishore Kumar, Mohd. Rafi) and also the Karnatik stuff my dad listened to. But it was always separate somehow. I never wanted to do the fusion thingâ€¦ I figured I’d leave that to Talvin Singh and Nitin Sawhney. But I think we can all agree that the sitar break in ‘Strawberry Fields’ pretty much kicks-assâ€¦ so maybe it’s time.
What are your musical influences?
Standard stuff really– Beatles, Radiohead, U2, Soundgarden, Jeff Buckley, Neil Finn, a fair amount of gangsta rap, Princeâ€¦ anything that gave me an escape. Music was always a form of fantasy for me. There are newer artists I enjoy these days, but I tend to think of influences as the ones who shaped me during the formative years.
If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be?
I think the answer would be “everyone”. Obviously working with your heroes is every artist’s dream, but I might be more interested to collaborate with people who are not directly involved in the type of music I writeâ€¦ Beck, Dangermouse, Imogen Heap, Ben Gibbard, Jeff Tweedy. Really, anyone that’ll have me!
When did you first learn to play guitar? What was your first band? What kind of music did you play?
Started playing guitar in 6th grade. I had an 83-year-old teacher who taught me classical guitarâ€¦ but then I got a $100 electric guitar and started a band with my best friend Eric. We played bad covers of guitar-rock bands. But we managed to win the school talent show, thanks to a light show which included two red bulbs and a fog machine. I think Eric has it on video.
I remember you said your father was an academic. Do you feel like there was a lot of pressure to follow a certain path and that the musical path is unconventional? Did you struggle with your family around the pursuit of music as a career?
OF COURSE! Both my parents were scientists, so they had a hard time with all this. I mean most parents wouldâ€¦ much less south Indian parents! The simple answer is that I waged a war of attrition. And as I remained committed to my goals, and as the music earned some recognition and some money, they came to accept it as a better alternative than working at Mack-Donald’s. These days they’re pretty supportive.
Describe the moment where you knew that playing music was your destiny.
My “cool” uncle took me to see Pink Floydâ€¦when I was like 7 or 8. I went home and spent the next 3 years begging my mom for a guitar. When I finally got one, I was bummed at how hard it was! But then one day I learned a Beastie Boys song by ear, and was forever hooked.
What are the top three CDs in rotation in your ipod at this moment?
Current favorites are Santogold (Santogold), In Rainbows (Radiohead), Sketches of Spain (Miles), Oracular Spectacular (MGMT), Only by the Night (Kings of Leon), Veckatimest (Grizzly Bear) and this cheesy Bollywood mix my cousin sent from Mumbai. Any recommendations? I’m always looking for new stuffâ€¦
Where can people hear your music live?
Lately I’ve been doing more stuff on the east coast. It’s a fresh change after playing around the southwest. I also also did some acoustic stuff in San Francisco in June. As we get nearer to the record release– more shows with the band around SoCal.
Do you have music people can buy? Where can people get more?
‘Invitation’ is available at iTunes, Amazon, etc. But we’d prefer folks to download the song (free) and use the widget to spread the word. If every Sepia reader would ‘Share’ it on Facebook, Twitter it, and email the link to 10 friends… that would be the best payment we could ever ask for! More music will be coming down the pipe. Thanks Mutineers!
Thanks Adit, for taking the time out talk to the Mutiny. To follow The Throws and to follow when their next single will be dropped, please visit The Throws right here!