More famously known as the drummer from the alternative rock band Zero, this multi talented singer-songwriter lives, breathes, eats, sleeps music, Literally!
Siddharth to Sidd Coutto, from the little boy to the indie rocker.
Can you remember your first stint with music?
I’ve heard a recording of me singing ‘down by the riverside’ from when I was 2. My dad used to sing and play guitar so I used to put my ear to the body of the guitar and strike the strings. Mum says it fascinated me. My folks gave me an ukelele (that I thought was a little guitar) and I used to pretty much just strike the strings. I can also remember playing percussion on anything (tables, stools, ghatams, bongos) during these huge sing-song sessions at parties where everybody would sing-along and dad would play for hours on end.
I was forced into learning the guitar when I was 7. It lasted just 6 months. I hated it. Playing the F chord gave me more pain than anything I could imagine at that point.
I was forced (again) to learn the piano when I was 10. This lasted a year and amazingly I can’t remember a single thing. I can’t read music and I can’t find a note on a keyboard without searching for it.
Music really wasn’t something important to me till I was 14. I started buying tapes (because I liked the plastic cases and wanted a collection of them) and soon enough I was tripping on Mr.Big, Guns ‘N Roses, Stone Temple Pilots and all the early ‘90s music. Hearing Pearl Jam’s Ten is what inspired me to pick up the guitar again and (attempt to) ROCK.
Two years later I was in my first band (a metal band called The Entity in Bangalore).
Who are your earliest influences?
The music I heard when I was a kid influenced me a lot in ways I didn’t comprehend at the point. There was Simon and Garfunkel, Rodgers and Hammerstein, the Beatles, and a whole bunch of artistes whose names I don’t even remember. Dad singing harmony when we were at church I’d say was my biggest influence from my early days. By the time I wanted to be a musician, the concept and execution of harmonies was already ingrained in my head.
If you could somehow visit any musical period or see any artists,
where would you go first?
1970’s America. Pretty much everybody making contemporary music now has been influenced by artistes from that era, whether they know it or not. From the hard rock legends of Zeppelin to the soulful melodies of Paul Simon, aaah I could get lost there forever.
What can a young artist today gain from listening to these musicians
you’ve just mentioned?
Music touches everyone in a different way. Everything musical that I know has come from listening to great music and watching some fantastic musicians. Whatever you get into your head can come back out in interesting new ways.
Tell me a little about your musical background and the challenges of
coming up with your own solo-album “Sunny Side-up”
Listening to music has been my education. Watching talented people has been my education. I’ve kind of taught myself to play a whole bunch of instruments. It’s fun for me.
Making the solo album was actually quite easy. Whatever came out naturally, I used. We (co-producer Hans Dalal and I) kept it simple.
A word to describe how your music makes you feel?
Top favourite moments in your career as a musician:
Playing independence rock for the first time in 1999 (with Zero).
Winning IIT Mumbai’s livewire competition in 2000, best band and best drummer to boot (with Zero)
Making the first Helga’s Fun Castle album in 5 days.
Performing at SPA, New Delhi with Helga’s Fun Castle
The Channel [V] Launch pad gig to 35,000 people (Zero and Helga’s Fun Castle)
Smashing an electric guitar into an amplifier in a film (Neerav Ghosh’s Soundtrack)
Finishing my solo album.
Being able to make music on a phone.
Things you hold most precious to you (Other than your instruments of course..)
My family. My friends. And all my Apple products.
Have you worked with bollywood musicians/composers? Songs you have worked on?
I’ve worked with Vishal-Shekhar, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, Salim-Suleiman, Sneha Khanwalkar, Clinton Cerejo, Hitesh Sonik, Jatin Lalit and Ankur Tewari. I’ve done everything from singing, to producing on ad jingles and/or film songs. Most recent was a song I sang on the Ra.One soundtrack called ‘Right by your side’.
You compose, sing, you are a drummer, you play the guitar. Which of
them is the real you?
Well, it’s all me. I’m a songwriter first. But I’ve accrued all these skills and they all have their place in me now. I enjoy all my roles in different ways.
Zero, Tough on Tobacco, Alien Chutney, 3GAG and so many more. How
do you manage being in so many bands?
It’s easy, no single band plays that much. I spend most of my time writing songs for myself/ToT and some of my time on commercial work. Very little time is actually spent on gigs and rehearsals.
Tell me about your NH7 experience this year as compared to the first year
NH7 was fabulous both years. There were more people and more walking this year, but other than that, the overall spirit of the festival remained the same. I want to be at NH7 every single year for the rest of my life.
If not a musician then … (Sidd, don’t say i wouldn’t exist blah blah)
I’d probably be a cynical copywriter at an ad agency grumbling about how I can make music better than some of the schmucks out there, but I’d have been wrong.
The best things in life come absolutely FREE.
Written by: Leilah Zeenat Hazarika
Photos by: Roycin D’souza