The rising Chennai, India-based indie rock act The F16s — currently Abhinav Krishnaswamy (guitar), Harshan Radhakrishnan (keys), Joshua Fernandez (vocals, guitar) and Sashank Manohar (bass) — can trace their origins back to 2002 when its founding trio met while attending college. Over the better part of the past decade, the Chennai-based quartet have been busy: their debut EP Kaleidoscope caught the attention of Rolling Stone India, who listed them in their Artists to Watch For feature. 2016’s full-length debut Triggerpunkte was supported with touring across the Indian festival circuit, as well as a six city tour across Singapore, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand. Eventually, The F16s caught the attention of Oxford, MS-based indie label House Arrest, who signed the band and released 2019’s WKND FRNDS EP, an effort that won furhter attention internationally, as well as on this site.
Building upon a growing international profile, the band’s highly-anticipated follow-up to 2019’s WKND FRNDS, Is It Time To Eat The Rich Yet EP is slated for an October 22, 2021 release through House Arrest. Naturally, because of the myriad challenges of the pandemic’s impact in their homeland, their forthcoming EP was completed in a more DIY fashion than their previous released. Much like neighbors, friends, loved ones and countrymen, they experienced and survived some very dark days, but during the EP’s creative process, they oped to write music that was uplifting as a direct reaction to experiencing how a global pandemic needlessly compromised and devastated not only the lives of millions across India, but more personally their own. Through extended periods of economic uncertainty and a corresponding focus to develop and further hone their craft, the EP’s material explores alienation with lyrical wit in fact — “dancing to our doom,” as one band member frames it through pairing bright and sunny sonics with dark and uneasy lyrics. As the band sees it, the EP is essentially a joyful celebration of the human condition — under duress and desperation. And in desperate times, desperate people often find creative ways to make things work as best as they can.
Sonically and aesthetically, the EP reportedly sees the band pushing their sound to the furthest reaches of their influences. During lockdown, the members of The F16s moved in together to hole up and write and record the EP, bringing Harshan Radhakrishnan’s studio with them. They started each day of the EP’s production listening to Frank Sinatra and classic jazz tracks and throughout the day, they would listen to a varied mix of genres from psych rock to post-punk to trap with artists like Vince Staples and The Strokes on repeat. The eclectic listening habits wound up influencing the EP’s eclectic sound and aesthetic.
pop leaning indie rock, it also reflects the fact that we can no long remain oblivious to the social, environmental, economic, and political injustice that plague our world. It shouldn’t be surprising that the members of The F16s saw last year as a year for the “awakening of the oppressed,” especially in their native India, where the pandemic managed to further magnify the stark inequalities between the oppressed poor and working classes and the greed, negligence, incompetence of those in power. And as a result, the dreams of a “swimming pool and a yacht” on WKND FRNDS is completely shattered — and revealed to be vapid and silly.
Is It Time To Eat The Rich’s latest single is the is the swooning “I’m On Holiday.” Centered around twinkling synth arpeggios, shimmering guitars, a steady backbeat, layered multi-part harmonies , “I’m On Holiday” features elements of classic doo-wop, The Beach Boys, 80s synth pop and New Wave and 60s psych pop meshed together in a kaleidoscopic yet accessible fashion — while reminding listeners of their unerring knack for crafting an infectious, razor sharp hooks.
“‘I’m On Holiday’ can be construed as a classic case of denial and delusion behind familiar themes of love and tenderness,” the members of The F16s explain. “The track, like the rest of the EP was perfected during the first wave of the pandemic. In previous releases, WKND FRNDS and Triggerpunkte, the band enlisted outside help for mixing and post-production. The new single and EP had us shifting operations to Josh and Sashank’s place — we set up a makeshift studio to finish it, chopping and changing segments to our hearts content, while Harshan undertook the arduous task of mix engineer. The pandemic, in a way, forced us to work within our means and keep things in-house. It also permeated into our writing, as days passed with the four of us on our phones in different stages of doomscrolling, wondering when the light of respite would show up and bring us back to normalcy.”
Directed by The F16’s Sashank Manohar, the recently released surreal and dream-like lyric video for “I’m On Holiday” features The F16s and Mitra Vivesh. In the background, the band is on a picnic that goes horribly yet comically awry while the stunningly gorgeous Vivesh peacefully sits in the pool of water in the forefront. She’s completely unconcerned with whatever is going on in the background — until one of the band members walks up and grabs her hand.
“Circumstances persuaded us to look within once again while making the video. It began as a minimalist idea that gathered steam within minutes, snowballing into something executable overnight,” the Chennai-based quartet explains in press notes. “Sashank sat in the director’s chair as we sourced our own props and items of importance, while our friend Shantanu Krishnan took the plunge with us as cinematographer. Mitra, the star of the video joined us with zero hesitation, providing the audience with the much needed distraction from our unsightly mugs. The band made up the background, convening for a picnic that goes comically awry, an accurate yet exaggerated reflection of their dynamic. As one (Harshan) proceeds to make mincemeat out of another (Abhinav), a third (Sashank) breaks away from this cycle of antagonism, joining Mitra in the waters to sit serenely, unbothered by the melee.”