Is Strike Three on your playlist yet?

You can hear the influences; but they haven't copied - Ashwyn Fonseca

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Brent Tauro, keyboardist for Strike Three, and I met at an unrelated rehearsal. Later, we were talking about the lack of promotion on the indie music scene in India, and Brent said, "Hey, Strike Three's EP, Esssentia, is available on major streaming platforms." I told him I'd give it a listen. I did. And came away...
 
Impressed!
 
The music is international, the songs are material I imagine other bands would cover. Four songs on Essentia, yet each is memorable and unique, leaving me with a flavor of Strike Three's cross-genre potential. That's probably because the 6 class mates (wait, that's not entirely accurate, but hey! it sounds cool) from St. Andrew's college, Bandra, Mumbai, have varied influences - and it shows in perfect harmony on each track. 
For Tonight, the hard-hitting opening track is a perfect song for any rock aficionado's 'driving-on-an-open-highway' playlist. Step on the gas, turn up the volume, and hit play! The song is brimming with catchy riffs, interesting rests, and a melodic guitar solos that do not detract from the vibe. No senseless shredding here, and I was pleased at the restraint. 
Coming up next, Perfect Foolish Woman, is diametrically opposite. A lounge song, which leads in with the bare essentials, and builds in musical layers, could be the credit soundtrack to a cool oomph-oozing movie.
What's Keeping You Here took me to the time when Poets of the Fall featured on my playlist. A little tweaking here and there, and it could be an arena anthem, with a thousand or more gently-swaying candles - or lit mobile phone screens.
One Last Shot, the band's parting track, is intended, I assume, as a ballad. I wondered if keeping it acoustic would have added more to it. Strike Three, there's an idea for an alternate take. 
Produced and mixed by Brent, Essentia is a serious effort, refreshing, and intriguing, the tip of Strike Three's iceberg of talent. Rock music has reason to celebrate these rising stars.
Keep your music flowing, Strike Three!

 

Vocals - Craig Fernandes | Guitars - Shannon Ponnoth, Oswin Tellis | Bass - Izil Rodrigues
Drums - Vimog Barboza | Keys, Backing Vocals -Brent Tauro
 

Craig maintains an interest in rap/ hip-hop, despite having a Trinity certificate in Western Classical in German, French and Italian -  a strange combination for sure. When the monotony of college festivals got to him, Craig found his groove with Strike Three. "I enjoy the varied experiences of each gig. The band's aim is always to make good music; fingers crossed for a chart-topper, soon!"  His influences range from Freddie Mercury to Tupac, to the late Chester Bennington.

Izil's parents introduced him to music. Like a a model Catholic boy - a regular fixture at Sunday mass choir. Izil's previous band exposed him to progressive/jazz/space/psychedelic music. Musically flexible - on almost every genre there is - he cites Victor Wooten, Marcus Miller, and bands like Karnivool, Bonobo, Snarky Puppy as his influences.

Oswin plays video games for a living. (tell us how to do that, Oswin!) But more than anything in the world, he loves music and guitars. Inspired by Guns N' Roses' Slash, he now finds his sweet spot in John Mayer's guitar technique. "I love playing with my band; they are brothers to me!" he says with palpable emotion.

At 13, Shannon's parents insisted he pick up the guitar, while he was leaning toward the keys. In retrospect, listening to his folks was one of the best decisions he made. (Don't we all know that?) It was love at first sight with the guitar. Over the years, his music has evolved through pop, progressive rock, blues... and these influences are evident in his playing today. Names that stand out as his biggest influences are John Mayer, Nuno Bettencourt and Mark Tremonti.

Brent, an up-and-coming keyboardist,  is at home in gospel music and R&B. He has played antiSOCIAL, The Stables, The Little Door, Hard Rock Cafe, G5A Foundation of Contemporary Culture. His influences range from Snarky Puppy to John Mayer, while he imbibes pop, rock, funk, reggae and jazz genres.

Vimog loves Snarky Puppy. He is motivated by Larnell Lewis and Steve Jordan. Vimog has venues like The Finch, HRC, The Habitat under his belt.

Q. How did Essentia come about?

The concept took root with our second single, Perfect Foolish Woman. Our bass player at the time, Jeremy Fernand, suggested a collection of songs that would proclaim our sound to the world. Moreover, the songs we had penned had an underlying theme and flow.
PS: One Last Shot is dedicated to the memory of Jeremy Fernand, may his soul rest in peace.

Q. I noticed attention to the lyrics. Who wrote the songs? How did you'll collaborate?

Craig writes the lyrics. He’s the man when it comes to it. We were working out Perfect Foolish Woman and needed a bridge. Craig had it down in 5 minutes. Made it to the record too.  Now, if only our city's bridges could be released to the public that fast. (all laugh)

Q. And the music arrangements? Get into the details, okay? You guys have fans eager to know, musicians eager to emulate.

Our songwriting process begins with Shannon bringing an idea to the jam room. From there we carve out a couple of sections, making it sound cohesive, to tell a story. This is all before Craig listens to the arrangement and writes the lyrics.

Q. Anything special that came about during the production of Esssentia among you, that you weren't aware of before?

Recording an EP is an incredible learning experience. There are so many aspects to being an artist that we tend to neglect when we’re covering songs on stage. I'm proud of the work we’ve put in. It took longer than expected, but none of that matters anymore. It’s out there and we love it!

Q. How did you resolve disagreements? It's important because the little things have caused bands to split in the past.

I agree (no pun intended). But yes, disagreements are tough to crack. Everybody has a slightly different vision that wants to take the band a certain direction. It’s a balancing act. We talk things through, and if it’s still an issue, the majority wins.

Q. How long did it take to produce Esssentia?

12 months, give or take. Yeah, too long. (laughs)

Q. What's in store for the world from Strike Three? Personally, I'd like to hear an arena track from you.

Right now, we just enjoy playing our music and would like to keep that vibe going, irrespective of the venue. It’s a fun project at the end of the day. And yes, an arena track sounds dope!

 

That's a wrap, guys! I'm gonna mention, here, that you can be contacted at strikethreemusic@gmail.com