Growing up in the garden city Bengaluru and deriving inspiration from the compromises and contradictions that are thrown upon us each day, Bruce Lee Mani started the Thermal and a Quarter (TAAQ) band in 1996. Being the front man of the band, he is accompanied by Rajeev Rajagopalon (drums) and Leslie Charles (bass, backing vocals). “We are a Bangalore rock band and released the first Indian concept album and the first triple album from Asia,” beams Bruce.
Twenty years as musicians, how have they evolved as a band? “Music has become a part of our heredity and our identity is inclined with this. As musicians we have gone through ups and downs, but I wouldn’t want it any other way,” shares Bruce who was the only Indian guitar player to have won the Rolling Stone magazine’s Guitar Player of the Year Award twice in 2009 and 2012.
Having toured and played in the US, Europe and across Asia, the band is known for its eclectic genre of music. From funk to jazz and rock to blues, they stir it up and serve a musical platter for their audience. “In TAAQ, we are not restricted to anyone genre. You can see bits and pieces of genres of music each of us like, played in our own style,” he says.
Bruce, who as a teen decided that playing the guitar was cooler than cricket, has a careful approach towards playing the guitar. Recollecting a memory that he cherishes till date, he shares, “That was the second year of our band and I remember how we got one of our first big breaks was being featured in the Rock Street journal. The great Indian rock featured 9 to 10 bands around the country and in 1997 we were directed to be part of the great Indian rock where we had to perform in Delhi. It was a big deal.”
Before they started out people did say that it can only be a hobby as it won’t pay the bills. “We had to become good enough for music to become a career,” shares Bruce about their earlier days.
With a total of seven studio albums and the 7th one, No Wall Too High featuring 10 songs on the theme ‘division’ was the product of collaboration with a non-musician. Completing 20 years in October, the trio have plans to celebrate it with a concert, new material or a tour. “Celebrations are definitely on the cards. But, nothing has materialised yet,” he adds.