Is there any possibility of you playing with Tool again?
ALOKE DUTTA: Sure, once they get their shit together! Individually, all four band members are so occupied with their own artistic projects that I hardly see them. But, possibility of sitting with them will never die.
Have you been asked to contribute to their new album?
AD: Not directly.
What was the catalyst in working with Tool on a recording ? Or rather what attracted you to Tool?
AD: Love and respect between Danny and I for our personalities and our music are the main reasons I worked with them. Besides Danny, I adore other three guys’ musical depth, artistic sense, and their ability to articulate their emotion in a sophisticated way.
Since the tabla is more of a delicate acoustic instrument, was the overwhelming noise difficult to deal with playing onstage with Tool?
AD: Modern technology always helps. I remember wearing ear plugs when I played with them on stage a few times a long time ago.
Danny Carey’s drumming has a tribal texture to it. Did he actively study tabla under your guidance or was he more interested in learning some specific idiosyncrasies of the instrument and incorporate that into his technique/sounds ? Or both ?
AD: All of the above. Because, true knowledge does not have a brand name, not even a cultural identity. The divisions we know of are created by politicians not by genuine artists/writers/musicians. I do not teach people how to play my music. I, instead, teach them how to play their OWN music. I try to help them to make connection with their own music god. Once you are in contact with your deeper self, then all different music styles begin to sound like ONE. The state of mind at that level transcendence all the cheap human labels. Danny was already there when he came to me. He came to me only to verify it. (He also helped me the same way as I did to him, he just does not know it!)
In what ways does learning to play the tabla translate to ones overall drumming ability and technique?
AD: Tabla carries the wisdom of all drumming. Ancient Hindu sages provided lots of materials for all drummers to understand the time factor in music. This knowledge is not just essential but vital for all musicians as writing technique barely writes a poem. It is the philosophical understanding of the story helps one to write a meaningful poem not the way writer holds the pen. Tabla training by a true teacher can discipline everybody’s mind, body and emotions.
Are your lessons suitable for musicians of of levels of expertise?
AD: Most certainly. I do not show off. I try to feel the need of a student regardless of their status in the music world, and try to help them accordingly.
Are there any artists that you would like to collaborate with in the future?
AD: Hard to tell, because I am not talented enough to sit with anybody. So, currently, I try to create art all by myself like a poet, a painter or a sculptor who does it alone!
What are your musical influences?
AD: My father, Anadinath Dutta and his spiritual Hindu upbrining. Later, my close friendship with one of the greatest sitar maestro Nikhil Banerjee has a significant influence in the way I think about music.
What are some of your favourite Eastern artists?
AD: Anadinath Dutta, Nikhil Banerjee, Ravi Shankar, Ali Akbar Khan, Amir Khan, Jnanendra Prasad Goswami.
Who are your favourite drummers?
AD: Anadinath Dutta, Keramatullah Khan, Max Roach, Danny Carey.
What music are you currently listening too?
AD: Aloke Dutta’s Spondaic Oblation only to improve next time.
What is your favourite film/video game soundtrack and why ?
AD: I don’t watch film or play video games. But, a bunch of movies have my music on them though!
What is your favourite Indian dish? Do you enjoy cooking, and if so do you have any recipes to share?
AD: Blair Blake’s Chicken Vindaloo. You have to ask him for the recipe. All I know that it is a secret.
What is your favourite Simpsons episode and who is your favorite character?
AD: Again, I do not have a TV, but I have to say Lisa since she once wanted to play some tabla at her school.
Boxers, briefs or commando?
AD: Mostly commando, of course. It is all authentically pure tantric, baby!!!
Thanks very much to Aloke for answering the questions, and I’ll be chasing Blair up for the Chicken Vindaloo recipe!