This is not the first time Rishi Dhir has spent on the road with The Black Angels.
Dhir’s band, Elephant Stone, is the opener for the current leg of the TBA tour, which takes both bands right up to participation in the Angels-hosted Austin Psych Fest.
But Dhir toured extensively with The Black Angels last year during a down period for his own band. Indeed, Dhir has known and sat in on occasion with TBA for about a decade.
“They are really building a community of people making this music, good music,” Dhir told The Beat. “We’re lucky to be a part of it.”
This is not to say Elephant Stone hasn’t been busy. In fact, the quartet has a brand-new record out, a self-titled release, the band’s second.
“Our first record (2009’s The Seven Seas) was more of a solo project,” Dhir said.
“I had left my old band and was writing a lot of songs,” he said.
“I had a clear idea of what I wanted them to sound like, and I was bringing in this sort of revolving door of friends to help record stuff.
“Once (guitarist) Gab (Lambert) joined in 2010, Elephant Stone really started growing,” Dhir said.
“This record was more about four musicians in a room playing live. It was important for us. It was a different experience, but in a good way.”
Elephant Stone finds Dhir using less sitar and other Indian instrumentation than on the previous record, although he did teach himself to play the dilruba, another Indian stringed instrument but bowed, not unlike a cello.
“I didn’t know anybody who played it, and I wanted it on the record, so I bought one and taught myself.
“It’s not the best ever, but it sounds good with a lot of reverb on it,” Dhir joked.
He’s been playing the sitar since about 2000, studying seriously and actively looking for ways to use it in his writing.
“It has to serve the song, but I’m always trying to incorporate it,” Dhir said.
“I’ve always been surrounded by Indian music. I grew up with the music of Bollywood. My parents would watch those movies all the time.
“But I also listened to bands like, obviously, The Beatles, who are my favorite. I’m not doing anything new, but there aren’t many bands doing it now, so hopefully we’re doing it in a way that doesn’t sound like any other band.”