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The Schleyers started as a 5-piece pretty far out on the left wing punk band, from the island of Lidingö (pop. 40,000), outside Stockholm, Sweden. Called 'Boogie Island', well, after all, The MC5 partied here, with local drug addicts in the early 70s. Singing in Swedish, fronted by a female singer, career highlight so far was the Syndicalist Union's Annual May 1 Bash, in 1981(?), opening for Swedish punk legends Ebba Grön... ..Later trimmed down as a 4-piece 60s style punk/garage/r'n'b/rock/swamp style band, they gigged on the Stockholm garage scene between 1982-1986, along with bands like with bands like ..The Nomads.., ..The Bottle Ups.., ..Shoutless.., The Primitives... ..Members were: Pelle Ekström, bass & vocals, Pelle Kruse, guitar & vocals, Micke Markie, guitar and Anders Weston, drums... ..The Schleyers are said to have had mean and ugly-looking hangers on. Long-haired, dirty, hard-drinking, and drug-taking. That may very well have been the case, but we're sure, underneath, they were all sweethearts. These hangers on, managed to get both themselves, and also the band, banned from several clubs and youth centres on their native island... ..The band split up, as Markie left, the remaining three continued as The Schleyers, with Henrik Wikström (ex. Big Pats, who later moved to San Francisco, where he formed legendary psychobilly band Hellbillys) on guitar. This line-up did one live gig, at Tre Backar in Stockholm, before Kruse left... ..Kruse joined Shoutless, and then Dirty Old Men (with Tony Carlsson from The Nomads), and later the Beatles tribute band Group 66... ..Ekström and Weston, reunited with Markie, tried again as The Schleyers with Joakim Tärnström (original guitar player of The Nomads) on guitar, before he joined The Nomads a second time, this time as a bass player... ..Ekström and Weston started a new unnamed band with Henrik Wikström. When they advertized for a singer, ..Mikael Herrström.. (later Fire Engines, now solo artist), answered the ad, dropping the famous quote: 'I'd rather live in celibacy for the rest of my life, than not sing with you guys!' This band was shortlived however, as Wikström moved to California to start ..Hellbillys..... ..Weston and Kruse then played, along with Zeke from Pushtwangers on bass, on Herrström's first demo sessions, resulting in some songs. Some of these, in other versions (with Kruse in the band), turned up on Fire Engine's first 7" 'Haterud Zone', one of the greatest Swedish singles ever, co-written by Herrström and Wikström... ..Ekström was for a few years in a pub rock/r'n'b/style band called Jackaroos, along with Lasse Gustavsson, bass player from Shoutless. They released a great mini-LP on the Pet Sounds label. He now plays with Rolling Stones' tribute band Sticky Fingers. Markie gigs excessively with various blues bands in the Stockholm area... ..Sadly, The Schleyers never made it to vinyl (pretty close however, Greg Shaw, of Bomp Records, was very interested)... They released a classic 5-song cassette, now long out-of print. Produced by Jan Oldaeus (of ..Rost.., Mosquitoes, Jerry Williams), and featuring Oldaeus on keyboards and ..Bonne Löfman.. (Teneriffa Cowboys, Jerry Williams) on harmonica...
First Published: 16:08 IST(9/3/2013) Enthusiasts who closely followed the Mumbai rock scene in the late ’80s and early ’90s would remember guitarist Ravi Iyer from his metal band Witchhammer. As part of the outfit, the bandana-sporting, leather-jacket-wearing 20-something played at major festivals, living it up in the city that was
home to some of the earliest metal acts in the country. With his newest project, VRavi Guitar Fusion, the musician has come full circle. In fact, fans who know him for his rock music might even be surprised to see him in a new avatar now.
Raga to rock and back “Although I was formally trained in the tabla as a kid, I lost interest in it while growing up. Back then, playing Indian instruments wasn’t considered hep. I was heavily influenced by the disco era and was inspired by (guitarist) Ritchie Blackmore,” says Iyer, who gave up performing with his band in 1993 to pursue a corporate career. “For five years, I worked at an ad agency. I don’t know why!” says Iyer. It was in 1997 when he went for the I-Rock concert at the city’s erstwhile music mecca, Rang Bhawan, that Iyer realised music was his calling. Soon, he got back on the stage with his newly formed band, Vayu. A few years down the line, he founded another outfit, Para Vayu, that broadened the sound of the former act. And now, with VRavi Fusion, the artiste is going back to his roots.
“Our compositions are based on Indian ragas and we like to keep the sound earthy. We are essentially a trio and the core line-up comprises guitar, tabla and bass. That gives us enough room to add another melody instrument or percussions whenever we want to,” says Iyer, who has teamed up with bassist Crosby Fernandes and tabla player Rupak Dhamankar for the same.
Instrumental challenge Wanting to experiment with ragas and his western arrangements, Iyer shares his early challenge. “When I play the ragas on guitar, the instrument is tuned according to the Indian classical system. Many times I’ve wanted to play western chords but have been unable to do it. So I wanted an instrument on which I could play both,” he says. Since no such instrument existed, Iyer decided to get one specially made. His unique double-necked guitar — that consolidates both Indian classical and western sonics — is a handcrafted and customised piece, created by city-based guitar luthier Sunil Shinde. Needless to say, the instrument and its distinctive tone has given the band its USP. “I wanted to play the guitar but not sound like it,” explains Iyer.
V Ravi Guitar Fusion Project recently released their debut album, titled Bends. The name, in a way, identifies where the band stands - in the intriguing, democratic and vast sonic scape that lies between Indian classical and western music. An experimental offering featuring nine tracks, the album was recorded live during the band’s concerts at Blue Frog in 2011 and 2012. Besides the trio, it features Clio Karabelias from Greece (harp), Jake Bloch from the US (drums), Sridar Parthasarathy (mridangam), Rahul Phophali (tabla), Pelle Kruse (blues harp) and Sonu Sangameswaran (bass).