10 Questions for Shivika from Papas Fritas

Drawing and Interview by Coco Roy

1. name: Shivika Asthana
2: Age 37
3: Location Charleston, SC
4. Current band: Papas Fritas
5: Day job: web developer, children’s clothing and accessories/jewelry designer

6: At what age did you start playing drums? Was there a particular
band / drummer that made you want to hurry up and pick up the sticks?
I started playing the drums in college. I was probably around 19. The
story of how I started playing is bizarre. I’ve always enjoyed playing
music but I had never had the opportunity to play the drums until a
bunch of my college friends set up an impromptu space to play in
someone’s basement. I used to play the bass for fun but didn’t start
the drums until Tony and Keith were playing with another friend on the
drums and had a gig lined up but their drummer broke his elbow right
before the show. They were going to cancel but I offered to try and
play and sat down to try and play and learned that I could in fact
play. It sounds unlikely but that’s how it happened.

7: How would you explain your technique?
My technique is very home grown. I attribute my ability to play the drums to classical Indian dance, which I took for abut 15 years growing up. In Indian dance you
have to move your head, your arms, and your feet all in different
rhythms and directions. I think that gave me the coordination to play
the drums naturally. I play what I think the song needs and not a lot
more. It’s pretty minimal.

8. Do you have any pre-show rituals?
I usually have a drink before I play to loosen up a bit but other than that not really.

9: You’ve traveled the world with your band Papas Fritas, where’s the
craziest place you played / most sureal moment on stage?
The craziest place we’ve played for me was probably Tokyo because we were really
young and Tokyo is just amazingly unique in its style, population, and
attitude. There have been a couple of surreal moments. One was our
first big show opening for bands that were hugely popular – we played
at the Avalon in boston with Guided By Voices and Urge Overkill. I
remember not being able to see any faces and being above the audience.
I was shaking and so nervous but it went fine in the end. The other
surreal moment was playing live on this French TV variety show on
which Yoko Ono was a guest. I saw her in the audience bopping to “Way
You Walk”. It was weird.

10. What words of wisdom / encouragement do you have for young women
learning how to play the drums?
I had no idea I could play the drums until I sat down and tried so you just have to try. There’s so much you can do behind the drum set to add to the song and often a female
perspective can really change the way a song sounds. It’s also a lot
of fun…and always wear earplugs!

“Papas Fritas is an American indie-rock band that formed in 1992 and released three studio albums before quietly breaking up around 2001. The band’s name is Spanish for “French fries” but is also a pun on the phrase “Pop has freed us,” which they used as both the name of their music publishing company and their 2003 career retrospective.” [via Wikipedia]

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