Writing songs, cooking, journalism…The Scarecrows vocalist Kog Ravindran tells Alys Francis what he has been up to for the last few years.
Playing high-energy pop rock, The Scarecrows enjoyed a heady few years amassing fans and headlining at the cream of Melbourne’s music establishments, before calling it a day.
The band’s frontman Kog Ravindran is making a rare return to the stage for a surprise performance at the Indian Executive Club Awards in November. The Indian Sun touched base with him to find out what it was like trying to carve out a place in Australia’s music scene, why The Scarecrows split, and what he’s been up to since.
What was the hardest thing about trying to make it in the music industry?
We rehearsed once a week, every week for three years (we missed two rehearsals) and played a little over hundred gigs in that time. And some days you wake up, you have a show and you just don’t want to play, but you have no other choice.
When I perform, it’s really high energy and it takes a lot out of me and people who came to our shows expected me to give it everything I had and sometimes I’d go up there and fake it. That can be tough, when what you once did for fun becomes work. Luckily now, it’s back to being fun.
Tell us about your most rock star experience.
Ha! I’m not very ‘rock starry’. Don’t get me wrong, very few can prance across a stage as well as me, but I don’t have any rock star stories. I don’t drink before gigs and I’m usually driving, so I’ll usually settle for a gin and tonic afterwards.
What was your favourite venue to play?
I love The Espy in St Kilda. I’d heard about it my whole life and we actually played our first gig there. I remember walking in the first time and quite naively asking ‘Is this The Espy?’ and the bartender looked at me like an idiot. I think we ended up playing around 12 gigs there over three years. I just love that at any one point, you can see a band in the basement, the main bar or The Gershwin Room and we were lucky enough to play all three. I think we might have been the first band to play on the main bar when they changed the carpet on the stage for the first time in years. I love fresh carpet, but then who doesn’t?
So why did The Scarecrows decide to call it quits?
There wasn’t a definite moment where we called it quits. I asked if we could take a break for a couple of months as I was feeling pretty tired and uninspired. And in that time we had off, I realised I didn’t want to go back.
I personally had driven a pretty hectic and at times an unreasonable schedule of rehearsing and gigging for over three years but it didn’t change the fact that I was just tired of the whole lifestyle. And while being a musician has been my dream since I was a kid, I had an honest chat with myself. I realised, that we had done all the work, achieved success and positioned ourselves in the Melbourne music scene to the point where, if we were going to ‘make it’ something would have happened by now. And while we had wildly successful first two years, the last year stagnated both creatively and from a progressing in the industry point of view.
A year can seem like a short time in retrospect, but when you’re rehearsing every week and playing a gig every fortnight with little return financially, you begin to weigh up the cost trying to ‘make it’ has on your personal life. So I decided to walk away. It was tough call to make, but I was relieved when I did, so I know I made the right decision.
Any chance the band will reunite, or you’ll launch a solo career?
I can’t see us getting back together to play live again, I think we’ve all moved on. But it’s been a few years since it wrapped up and only recently have I been able to really reflect on that period of my life, as well as the two years prior to it when Hugh (guitarist) and I were playing cover gigs around Victoria. Now I realise what a special time that was and I really feel lucky that I was able to have such an experience. It does define those first five years of my life after I finished high school. It almost feels like it was another person who did those things. I learnt so much from it.
I’ve been writing a little bit but I’m not very good at finishing songs, I’m GREAT at starting them, but actually organising it all together requires that little bit of work that removes the spark and the inspiration from a song. Nick Cave once said, once I’m finished recording a song and everything that goes along with making it ‘right’, I’m essentially over it. Luckily, all I need is my piano and an empty room and if I can sing and play to myself that’s what makes me really happy. So I have no strong urges or desires to play live again. I love music but I don’t like the local music scene, especially the way musicians are treated. So I’ve said to myself, if people want me to play a gig, I’ll name my price, and if they’re happy to go ahead, I’ll do it, if not, it doesn’t bother me one bit. Because I’m not trying to ‘make it’ I’m not that desperate musician who used to take every gig he could get his hands on.
What are you up to now, and what are you passionate about?
I’m the Media and Communications Officer at the Australia India Institute at the University of Melbourne. I have a degree in Journalism. I’ve been there for 18 months and I’m really enjoying it. I recently moved out of home, so learning to cook has become a bit of an interest. I spent the first four months watching my roommates (who are masterchefs) cook and now I’m starting to do things on my own. My carbonara and spaghetti bolognaise is impressive. Mum taught me how to cook dhal just last week as I was beginning to seriously miss her cooking so that will be my focus for the next fortnight. I don’t have the patience for cooking, but I learnt the key is to start cooking when you’re not hungry. If you cook when you ARE hungry, you rush everything and you’re left with a kilo of porridge that tastes like bananas. My other passion is eating oysters on a Sunday, and since I have my life back I love spending time with my friends.