Ajay Mathur represents a glorious cross section between the annals of rock music both classic and modern alike. With a wealthy and expanding discography already in the public domain, eyes turn to Mathur’s latest project: single ‘Anytime At All (The Aftermath Of Silence)’ and we had the chance to chat with the man himself to dive deeper…
RR: What to you is the best rock album of all time and why?
Oh, that’s a very hard question. There are several rock albums that I consider exceptional and influential. Some of them are ‘Axis Bold as Love’ by Jimi Hendrix, ‘Dark Side of The Moon’ by Pink Floyd, ‘In the Court of The Crimson King’ by King Crimson, ‘The Soft Parade’ by The Doors, ‘Led Zeppelin III’ or Queen’s ‘A Night at the Opera’. If I have to choose my favorite album of all time, it would be The Beatles’ ‘White Album’. The White Album is full of gems. It’s down to earth compared to the psychedelic spiced Sgt. Pepper and it gets heavy as hell, when these guys decide to rock it. The White Album also has a personal context for me. It is said that most of the songs on the White Album were written in Rishikesh, India when The Beatles were there at the Ashram practicing meditation. That’s where I met them as a 14-year-old kid. That encounter possibly sparked my interest in learning to play guitar and make my own music. Before that encounter, I was interested only in drawing and painting.
RR: How did you first discover rock music?
Even though I grew up in a family of musicians and artists and was exposed to Indian classical and Bollywood music, somehow, I gravitated towards pop, blues and rock and roll that was occasionally played on radio shows in India. Maybe it was also a little bit of rebellion against the Indian music of the grown-ups. I grew up with an older cousin and I was fascinated by the way he and his college friends got together on our terrace and sang songs by The Beach Boys and The Beatles. To me it was magic. It was my cousin who then showed me my first three chords so I could play ‘Sloop John B’. That got me started playing the guitar and singing. The rest is history.
RR: How would you describe the current state of rock/alternative music?
Rock and alternative music is thriving as an art form, but unfortunately it doesn’t get the exposure it deserves in the mainstream media and the record industry. Nevertheless, rock and alternative musicians are creative and resilient. They are here to stay.
RR: Who is your current favourite rock/alternative artist and why?
War on Drugs, especially their album ‘A Deeper Understanding’, Greta Van Fleet, Garbage and Dave Grohl’s Foo Fighters are my current favorites. They all rock, have a unique sound and a distinctive style of song-writing. I also think Alice Cooper’s ‘Detroit Stories’ is phenomenal. Alice Cooper at 73 is as indestructible as ever.
RR: Do you see the genre evolving in any particular way at the moment? For good or for bad?
The genre evolves all the time, reinventing itself. In my opinion, that’s not a bad thing at all.
RR: What was it like working with Austin Asvanonda on the single?
Working with Austin is a great pleasure. He not only mixed the single, but I also worked with him on the whole album ‘Talking Loud’ which should be released in Spring 2022. Austin is a pro. Even at his young age – he is 24 – Austin has a remarkable level of patience and dedication to creating great soundscapes and mixes. He has the gear and the ear and was even able to decipher my abstract and at times cryptic sound suggestions. On the single, I also got to work with the British sound magician and remixer Philip Larsen which was a really uplifting experience.
RR: How did it feel to win The Akademia award for best pop rock song?
It felt great! Winning an award is always a great moment when you know that your work has been well received and acknowledged by a jury and people well outside of your circle of friends and fans. It’s a boost to your self-confidence and confirms that what you’re doing is good.
RR: Do you think the landscape of rock music would look any different if Lennon was still with us?
I wish I knew the answer to that. I know that John Lennon was a creative force and at the time he died, he was still in his best form. Just listen to ‘Double Fantasy’, the album released shortly before his death, and the fantastic song material on the album. I’m sure that John Lennon would still be a major artist and acting as a voice for his many social causes if he were still with us.
Anytime At All (The Aftermath Of Silence) is out now and available everywhere!
Follow Ajay down below: