Interview: Dhruva Krishna

It seems like Dhruva Krishna is everywhere. The man literally lives, breathes, eats and sleeps around his music schedule. We say down with Dhruva early on a Tuesday morning to talk shop about his involvement in the Pittsburgh music scene.

FS: How’d you get started playing music?

Dhruva Krishna: I started playing music when i was really young. I started classical piano when I was six which was a classic case of Asian parents wanting their kid to play classical music. I hated for a long time but I started getting into in when I started playing ragtime - Joplin and 1920’s entertainer music. I started liking music then but I really started getting into it when I started playing drums. That was my first love and really my only love in life. That was in 4th grade. From there I picked up guitar around 8th grade. Having the guitar, drums, piano combo is really useful because you hit all of the bases of playing in a band.  I can noodle on bass and I recently picked up the banjo. I keep going from there. All the people I look up to musically were multi-instrumentalists so I figured I should as well. That has also given me a lot f opportunities to play in different bands because I can finagle my way into anything I want.

FS: What projects do you have going on right now?

DK: There’s about 3. There’s Eastend Mile which is definitely my biggest commitment and I play drums for that. I joined Eastend earlier this year in January. That’s the most serious project I have going. I have The Family Band which is my personal thing. That came out of my commitment to Eastend Mile because I wasn’t playing guitar as much. Eastend is very rigid and strategic as a band. We practice twice a week, we’re very nitty gritty about getting everything right. The Family Band is the opposite. We’re based on the premise that it’s just about having fun. Not that Eastend isn’t, but The Family Band is all about playing fun songs. It’s mostly covers with some of my original stuff thrown in there. The main people behind that are me and Shane McLaughlin who also plays in Bergman. It’s very Allman Brothers, southern rock style. The idea is also that we change members every time we play. Shane is almost the only consistent member with me. For the show coming up we have three guys who will be the backing band. That changes the game because even though we might play the same set each show, the different band members can really change the feel of the tracks. 

My third commitment right now is Manic Soul which is my project with Shane. That’s a very old school blues shred trio like Jimi Hendrix and Jeff Beck. All about that live crazy sloppy blues music. That came about recently, but we’ve played a few shows already. That’s mostly Shane’s baby and I play drums. Then next semester I’m starting a solo alum. It’s been a while so I wanted to get back and explore some country and bluegrass stuff.

FS: How do you have time for all these projects on top of school?

DK: I think time management is interesting. When you find what you love, I think you just find time to make it happen. At least nowadays all of my activities have something to do with music. AB Music gets me on the other side of the equation since i’m booking and organizing music. In terms of playing shows, you have a schedule and you just work your way towards that goal. Usually I book shows and then schedule rehearsals around that. Eastend practices regularly though, so we’re always ready. Family Band is the opposite and Manic Soul is in the early stages of figuring out how we want to work. Also my basement is soundproof so practices are easy when I just have to walk 5 minutes downstairs to practice.

FS: What about drums makes you like them best?

DK: It’s not that I don’t love guitar. But when you talk about yourself as a musician, at east for me, I say “I am a drummer.” I don’t qualify myself as a multi-instrumentalist. I’m just a drummer. I also think I come off as a drummer. I’m pretty ridiculous and goony. I’m all over the place and that’s what being a drummer is sort of about for me. The guys I look up to like Keith Moon and those crazy old drummers who are bombastic people who just played their hearts out until they died at like 35. They did what they had to do until they couldn’t. I love drums because they’re the most peaceful thing ever. When I’m playing drums I’m trying to find order in chaos. It’s bringing rhythm to something that didn’t have it originally. Drums unify the band and it’s something that brings pure structure to the song. It links everyone together. If you don’t have a good drummer the music falls apart. Having the responsibility of creating that structure is something that I really love. 

FS: Was there a pivotal moment that made you decide to do music?

DK: The first one was when my sister gave me Revolver. I was listening to Fall Out Boy and thinking it was amazing so my sister told me I was a fool and gave me Revolver. That blew my mind because the album was so old but so modern sounding and amazing. That was one of the first things that got me invested in music. I grew up a bit because it had me playing music that wasn’t simple. Also I used to watch Palladia and those channels that had classic rock music videos like crazy. I binge watched that stuff. It was such a contrast to high school band which was very ordered and regular. Then I’d watch these videos of crazy dudes go insane and burn their guitars. Keith Moon drunk as shit throwing stuff and I realized that’s what I want to do. During the years when I was 10-16 that was incredible pivotal. I also love Dr. Dog and Pet Sounds but the biggest things were watching my heroes play and also getting Revolver.

FS: Have you played any shows in the past that stand out?

DK: The Thrival Kickoff show was awesome. That was just a great time. We had a lot of energy. I was solidly drunk but just having a fun time, but that’s what it’s all about. It wasn’t the most technical performance but we were having a great time and the audience could see that, which made it awesome. Recently we opened for a band called The Aristocrats. It was weird opening for them because I used to watch their videos to learn my instruments. They were some my early heroes. I got to hang out with them and talk with them but not like an interview, just sort of like musician to musician. That was a big boy moment when I realized how real my music was getting. They absolutely loved us which was weird because I was revering them like gods and they didn’t know how to take it. This last weekend Memphis Hill had a release party which was awesome because the community of my friends that play music were all together and we all jam together and love each other. I’ve played so many shows with those guys and its was awesome get the squad together. The guys from Beauty Slap came and watched, so it was a great time.