When Prog catches up with Uddipan Sarmah, singer-guitarist with aswekeepsearching, he’s busy spreading the word about the band’s new album, Zia. A hands-on marketing push has seen him travel to 16 cities across his native India, organising listening sessions for an increasingly devoted fanbase. As one of the very few bands operating at the post-rock edge of prog, aswekeepsearching are somewhat unique in their homeland. “Post-rock is still a very new genre for India,” he explains. “The same goes for prog. Skyharbor are the only prog band that’s doing good here. But being influenced by post-rock music has definitely helped us to connect with a niche genre. People have started accepting us because we’re different.”
Formed in Ahmedabad in 2013, aswekeepsearching take their cues from the likes of God Is An Astronaut, Explosions In The Sky and 65daysofstatic, but imbue their rolling soundscapes with tablas, Indian modal shifts and smatterings of Hindi lyrics. All of which makes for a fascinating musical dialogue between East and West. “We listen to a lot of metal, modern progressive music like TesseracT, some hip-hop and other things,” says Sarmah. “We’ve always been influenced by Western music – even the names of our songs are in English – but we like to stay close to our roots. Writing and singing in Hindi [has given] the band its USP.”
Zia is their second album, following on from 2015’s Khwaab. Derived from the Arabic word for ‘light’, Zia is, says Sarmah, “about our lives, our struggles as a band and the things that inspire us. It applies to lots of things, but we wanted to give it a name that was very common to us, because we always search for light. It’s the brighter side of life that we’re looking for.”
The band’s struggles have involved finding gigs outside of Ahmedabad (in the dry state of Gujarat, where there are next to no live venues) by knocking on doors from city to city. It’s been an arduous slog, yet aswekeepsearching are now established as firm festival favourites at home. “Our prime market is definitely India,” Sarmah adds. “At the same time, we’re signed to a Russian label, Flowers Blossom In The Space, and we’re looking into international tours at the moment. We’d dearly love to play in the UK.”
For more, visit the website: www.aswekeepsearching.in.