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Skyharbor guitarist and songwriter Keshav gives his opinions on airports and air travel

Skyharbor 2014

In case you haven’t noticed, Indian/British/Canadian progressive metal band Skyharbor have just released their second album, Guiding Lights. You can read what I think about it here and listen to it/buy it from here. Spoiler: It’s really very good, and you should buy it immediately.

Some of you may also be aware that Skyharbor is the name of the surprisingly pleasant airport in Phoenix, Arizona, so when we were given the opportunity to ask guitarist Keshav Dhar a few quick questions, we thought we would dispense with the standard fare and instead ask him for his thoughts on some aviation themed subjects. We like to do things a little differently at The Monolith.

Was Skyharbor actually named after the airport in Phoenix? What attracted you to the name?

Hardly, that airport has been a pain in the ass since the beginning. Damned thing claimed all the skyharbor web domains first. Hahaha! I honestly suck with names (hence why half the debut album track names were video game references), and I thought I’d just do the typical thing and named it as a tribute to two of my favourite artists of all time – Oceansize and Cloudkicker.

Which is your favourite/least favourite airport and why?

Favourite would be Brussels easily, because chocolate. Don’t think this needs much elaboration :)
Least favourite would be Gatwick London, simply because my singular experience with that airport till date was as traumatic as nearly getting sodomised by an Arab when I was 9 (this actually nearly happened for real – please note the word *nearly*). The airport officials interrogated us brutally for what seemed like forever, for some reason they were convinced we had criminal intentions in entering the UK.

How do you prefer to kill time waiting for a flight?

I have the ultimate time killing tool on my laptop. It’s an ancient computer game since the DOS days called Transport Tycoon where you have to build roads and trains and deliver stuff from one city to another and make a fortune in the process. The game never ends, so you can literally play it forever. I have one saved game where I’m worth over £7,000,000,000. Yeah… no life.

Which airline do you prefer to fly with?

I haven’t flown with all that many different airlines to be honest. Strangely enough I’d heard some iffy things about British Airways but the one time I flew with them they were awesome, we had misplaced our boarding passes for a connecting flight and they just upgraded us to business class for no charge. So those guys have all the brownie points. Lufthansa is pretty sweet as well.

Which band member is the worst flier?

I’d like to think we’re all pretty well behaved on flights, thankfully none of us get sick on flights either.

Which five albums best help you through a long flight?

KarnivoolSound Awake
IntronautHabitual Levitations
and anything by Sigur Rós

Do you prefer to read books, watch movies or just sleep through a flight?

As much as I love reading books, I can only read in bed – sitting in an upright chair for hours and reading is a bad idea for my neck. Movies and music pretty much all the way through.

Do you have any tips for people traveling with musical instruments? What do you wish you’d known the first time you did?

Absolutely, if you need to carry your instruments as cabin baggage, this has a high success rate. First – learn to perfect the art of the poker face. Take your carry-on bags with you to the check-in counter and keep your instruments out of sight a good distance away from the counter (have another band member watch over them, and if they ask for him just say he’s gone to the toilet). Most airlines have a little basket of bag tags on the desk and you can pick up dozens of them if you’re discreet. Get your boarding passes, say you’re going to go find the missing band member, take his place watching over the guitars, and send him to the counter to get his boarding pass. Put the extra bag tags on the guitars and waltz over to security check – if anyone asks, the airline approved them to be carried on board. No biggie.

If Skyharbor were getting a private jet, what facilities would you insist on being installed?

Human-sized windows. A kitchen with endless supplies of bacon and steak and similarly flavoured crisps. A sushi bar. Hot tub and shower go without saying. Maybe a water bed? We’re not really drinkers but a nice well-stocked bar would be appreciated. A chocolate vending machine supplied from Brussels. Mmmm, more as I think.

If you could fly anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would you go?

Almost certainly New Zealand. The day we tour there I will be a very pleased man.

Guiding Lights is out now via Basick Records.