Indie-rock band hopes to remain close to its roots

For L.A. indie-rock quintet Vanaprasta, numbers are everything.

Numbers, as guitarist and vocalist Collin Desha explained, “just sort of wrapped everything together.”

In one instance, as the band’s members drove up to Portland to begin work on their first album, the group found itself with nine people, three in each car.

Fantastic five · The unsigned indie-rock band Vanaprasta, composed of five members, prefers to tour across the country and build its career by interacting with fans rather than spending the majority of its time in a studio. - Photo courtesy of Ben Watson

As the band finished work on what would turn out to be Healthy Geometry, a friend got into a life-threatening bike accident and was told he would never walk again.

Three months later, he walked out of the hospital.

“We didn’t really plan this out,” Desha said with a laugh. “For us, it was all about finding these patterns in life.”

These coincidences — or what some might call small instances of fate — didn’t end there.

The unusual band name popped into Desha’s head as he was listening to a speech by philosopher Alan Watts.

“[Watts] was describing what vanaprasta meant to him,” Desha said. “It’s all about the past and the present coming together to influence the future.”

Feeling inspired by the positive message, the band chose the Hindi word as its name. But they didn’t realize that vanaprasta also means forest-dweller — a strange coincidence, considering that the band recorded the first draft of its album in an Oregon forest.

Healthy Geometry, released last November, exemplifies an elegant hodgepodge of serene rock with songs like “Nineequalsnine” and “Supernumerary.”

“Nineequalsnine” is one of the more personal tracks on the album, written after their friend’s accident.

“We were a song short [on the album]; there were others but they weren’t album quality,” Desha said. “So we decided to go into a space and make a song without using any of the conventional things that we typically go through. ‘Nineequalsnine’ was jammed together in a rehearsal room.”

The production of the track “Nineequalsnine” is definitive of what Vanaprasta is all about: intimacy, connection and the need to create.

“We’re just trying to soak in as many influences as possible,” Desha said. “We’ve never really sought out all the big money; we just want to experiment with different sounds.”

The band’s refreshing choice to focus on the music instead of the superfluous, materialistic goods that a successful music career might bring sets the band a part from the rest.

Vanaprasta revels in its independence, a result of its refusal to accept a record deal until it’s the right one.

“We’re definitely really proud of the fact that we’ve done this all independently,” Desha said. “There are people who have come to us and offered us things, but it didn’t feel right.”

Desha also works at Interscope Records, which he said provides some insight into the crazy world of music production.

“We’ll know when it’s right, and we’re in no rush,” Desha said. “I’m not saying we’re not looking at opportunities; we’re trying to take the path of being independent and building our grassroots.”

Vanaprasta’s attention to touring has led to a strong music-based foundation, one in which its sound can continue to be molded and transformed without the pressures of a record company.

“We like that people will be coming to see us,” Desha said. “They’re coming for the music and not anything else. Vanaprasta was an interesting thing because it’s all about our live shows. We played 200 shows before we even put out a record.”

Vanaprasta will continue to tour throughout 2012, stopping in the Midwest, multiple cities in Texas and a few festivals before attempting to put together its second album.

“The first album is capturing the live experiences,” Desha said. “The next album we want to hone in on the new sound and push ourselves to another level.”


Vanaprasta performs at The Echo Friday.