The jangly and glamorous Bottled Up are a freaked-up, art-pop smoothie stirred to a hormonal froth by frontman Nikhil Rao. He has a few key obsessions that make their way into his music, some of whom you might have heard of, including a few obscure indie musicians like Alan Vega and Television (the band).
He also draws influences from things that can be found around the average American home, like television (the appliance), as well as the distant sounds of Italian disco and the entire ’80s. Yes, as in the entire decade. Except for Regan’s haircut. Rao has standards, after all.
Rao describes himself as “the dude-who’s-seen-it-all-meets-dude-about-town … a man informed first by the sort of journeying one’s got to do when faced with the darknesses of addiction and a twisty adolescence in and out of religious cults.” Mysterious dude Roa is not, but he’s certainly lived the life of one.
To help you get to know Rao and his band better, New Noise are premiering the latest song from his forthcoming album, Crystal. Check out the stream for “Luxury” below:
Crystal will be out on October 16 via Chicago’s greatest garage rock label Maximum Pelt Records. Bottled up are co-led by Colin Kelly and joined by Michael Mastrangelo and Beth Cannon on dueling guitars and supplanted by Rao’s wunderkid brother, Rohit, on acid-jazz-does-punk drums.
In their own words, Bottled Up, “conjure the sort of psycho-potpurri-spirit that’s only given to the sort of band that’s able to conjure a vision of the things they love, the mountains they’ve overcome, and mutate it all into something you can dance to.”
On their new song, Rao offered the following insights:
“Instrumentally, ‘Luxury’ is a deconstructed punk song, polyrhythmic and kinetic. I want the demented arrangement distressing the listener to match the message of the song.
“When I was visiting India many years ago, there was this moment I experienced where a child crawled towards me begging for money (he was missing many parts of his body). I was a kid as well and couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I gave him all the money I had on me. Then, a swarm of kids showed up asking for more. My dad pulled me away, telling me that I needed to ignore them, that the parents amputate parts of their bodies to guilt the bystander into donating more money.
Lyrically, this track is about the plight of the homeless and how people tend to ignore them for convenience sake. It’s less about the economic problem and more about how fucked up it is that we can even ignore the suffering of another human being.
“From a young age, we are conditioned to “just not look” at so many things, as ignoring the problems creates the illusion of wealth and prosperity. Fuck that bullshit; it makes my blood boil. This song emerged as a screaming expression of that moment and many more like it.”