A lot has changed since we last visited guitarist Warren Mendonsa’s Mumbai home two years ago to talk about his 2019 Blackstratblues album When It’s Time. Of course, the pandemic has changed most people’s lives, but for Mendonsa and his family, that change happened to be a move to Auckland, New Zealand last June. He says, “We had been planning on going to New Zealand in 2020 in any case for the last two or three years, even before the pandemic happened.” Mendonsa adds, “I wanted to get here by the time my daughter has to go to kindergarten.”
However, this is not Mendonsa’s first foray in moving to New Zealand. Kiwi land is in fact the birthplace of Blackstratblues when the guitarist moved there in 2004 before releasing the project’s first two albums: Nights in Shining Karma (2007) and The New Album (2009). Upon his return to India in 2011, Mendonsa released three more records; The Universe Has a Strange Sense of Humour (2015), The Last Analog Generation (2017), and the aforementioned When It’s Time while also forming a formidable live act alongside drummer Jai Row Kavi, keyboardist Beven Fonseca, and bassist Adi Mistry.
Now Mendonsa is ready with his sixth Blackstratblues album entitled Hindsight Is 2020. While all his previous records have included eight tracks, the new LP clocks in at just under an hour and includes 16 songs. Although some tracks are almost like little vignettes, ask Mendonsa why he decided to break that pattern of releasing eight songs per album? He says, “ Well, I guess when you go through experiences like moving hemispheres in the middle of a pandemic you’ve got to express it a little more and channel that.”
If you’ve caught Mendonsa raising his eyebrows before kicking off his Instagram live sessions or even sampled some of his IGTV content over the last couple of years, you might have heard snippets of what’s on the new album. The guitarist says, “The good thing I guess about those IGTV videos, all the good ideas, I was able to turn them into full-fledged songs.” Even though the musician began writing the record in late 2019, it wasn’t until he was fully set up at his home studio in Auckland that things moved in full swing. With his guitars now nicely lined up neatly at an arm’s length away from him, he jokes about how in Mumbai his guitars would be in separate corners of the house. He says, “If I wanted a particular guitar, I had to first find out where it was, pull it out of its case, change the strings, and by the time all of that is done your idea is kind of gone [laughs].” He adds, “So now I was actually able to channel a lot of those spontaneous ideas and record very quickly.”
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