With the upcoming release of Skeletons, the first single from their second EP, we at MouthLondon caught up with & The Centurions drummer, Vish, to discuss song-writing, gigging, relationships and Nando’s.
Debjani: How do you, as a band, go about writing songs? Tell me about the creative process.
Vish: Often we come to each other with a riff. Someone will then say “Oh that sounds cool”, and once we have found something that all of us like we go about the lyrical process. Mazen [our vocalist/guitarist] mainly writes the lyrics but I often chip in ideas that he takes on board and interprets into his own lyrics. It’s a very organic process. Most of the time the writing takes place in our rehearsal space in London. It’s hot, sweaty and often quite intense but what comes out of it is beautiful. When we jam and find something works we get really into it and often realise that it’s a song worth keeping.
Debjani: You guys formed the band in Bahrain. Has your collective move to England changed the band’s dynamic?
Vish: It really hasn’t changed it much: we all are the same people, just in a different place. It’s kinda like a camel moving from the desert to Shoreditch. It’s not used to it but at the same time it’s excited ’cos it’s something it’s not used to. It’s new. It’s an escape.
Debjani: Interesting simile. Do you find a difference between your Bahraini and your English audiences?
Vish: Audiences in Bahrain would mostly be like a big bunch of friends just getting way too into it. On one hand that’s pretty awesome but on the other we wanted something new. The excitement of playing to a new crowd is indescribable. When you get to the second chorus of a song that is unknown, alien and strange to everyone, yet they start singing back the lyrics, it’s just amazing.
Debjani: You’re all still studying. How do you cope, creatively and practically, being at different universities?
Vish: When you do something that you enjoy (as cheesy as that sounds) you don’t really care. You find a way around it; you make the most of it.
Debjani: I loved Animalism, but listening to the new EP the sound was somehow more confident. Would you say that you guys have grown as a band in the past year?
Vish: Without a question. The old EP was almost us finding our ground. We found five songs that we were happy with but then again we didn’t really know exactly what we wanted. The new EP is a representation of everything that has happened in the past year. Our changes in relationships towards people, our growth, our outlook on everything in general. We also got to know each other better and as a result things got a lot more honest. If something didn’t work… We told each other. We just became more comfortable with what we are doing. We smashed it.
Debjani: How would you describe the difference between your first EP, Animalism, and your new EP?
Vish: As I said before, Animalism was more of an introduction and just finding out what people liked. We were young, wanting to put together a series of songs that we really enjoyed; but without a central theme or style, there was a serious range of dynamic all the way from ambient dark tunes to pop songs. The new EP is more of a representation of what we are today. The whole change from then to now has been quite natural.
Debjani: Do you have a favourite track off the new EP? If so, what makes it so special for you?
Vish: The guys are going to kill me for this but it has to be the third track from the EP: Common Thoughts. It has a certain feel to it that just makes it haunting. It reminds me of something that you could listen to at a house party but still get shivers from when you listen to it in your bedroom alone. It means a lot to me and I love playing it.
Debjani: So far, what has been the highlight of the band’s career?
Vish: That’s a super tough one. It has to be between playing with Citizens! in Canterbury in front of an awesome crowd in a small venue, and playing in Cheltenham with an audience of only girls in some sort of old theatre. The stage was massive and so was the crowd. We were treated really well.
Another highlight is just random people from countries all around the world saying that they like our music. We get messages from people in Germany, people in Chile and from Mexico saying they love our stuff. It’s cool how in the modern day, you are appreciated everywhere no matter what the culture. It’s everywhere. It’s like Nando’s.
Debjani: Subway, Nando’s… You guys are living the dream! Finally, what can we expect from & The Centurions in the future?
Vish: To collaborate with Beyoncé! Nah, not really. But we want to release our new EP and we want the world to know about it. We want to do what we love doing most, and that is just giving everyone a fucking good time by playing shows that make you go home and think ‘What the hell just happened?!’