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Striking a chord with the Kickkats band

Lilly Wu
Kickkat members and juniors Sriman Ratnapu, Jayadev Ghanta, Vineeth Yenduri and Jonathan Bruennert and sophomore Bruhath Batla performed at the Valkyries show in January. Not pictured: juniors Daniel Wan and Aryan Patnaik.

Arising from a common love for music, seven students banded together in a blend of guitar, bass strings and syncopated drum beats, overlaid with rich melodies. Over the past year, the student band Kickkats has performed at various locations, ranging from the Oakmont Senior Center to ASB’s recent Coffeehouse Talent Show. 

The group currently consists of seven members who all contribute in unique ways: guitarist Sriman Ratnapu, vocalist and guitarist Jayadev Ghanta, guitarist Aryan Patnaik, pianist and vocalist Daniel Wan, trumpeter Vineeth Yenduri, bassist Jonathan Bruennert and drummer Bruhath Batla. Of these, all the members are juniors except for Batla, who is a sophomore.

The concept of forming a band had always lingered in Ratnapu’s mind, starting with their unofficial cameo at ASB’s Coffeehouse Talent Show in February 2023, where Ratnapu, Ghanta and Batla presented a cover of “Riptide” by Vance Joy. Later that summer, they also had a small performance with some of the current band members at the Oakland Zoo for Ratnapu’s summer internship. 

“We all had a common goal and wanted to perform at more places,” Ghanta said. “So then we decided, ‘Why don’t we just keep going together?’”

Ratnapu, along with Ghanta and Batla, soon began searching for more members to join the band, hoping to perform a wider variety of songs with a larger group. From the initial trio, they quickly expanded to the current 7-member band. 

“Sriman asked me if I wanted to join since I performed with him and Bruennert in Music Genesis for our final project,” Wan said. “I’ve always wanted to be in a band and was excited about the idea. As a band member, I mainly play the piano accompaniment and sing.”

After finding band members, they worked on brainstorming a name for the band, and as ideas escaped them, Yenduri proposed “Punt Cats,” after his dislike for cats. Eventually, the band latched onto the inside joke and settled on the catchy stage name of Kickkats, which was influenced by Ghanta’s unrelated love for the popular chocolate wafer Kit Kat. 

Kickkats officially made their first appearance at the Oakmont Senior Center on Oct. 21, 2023, playing “505” and “Do I Wanna Know?” by the Arctic Monkeys, which they posted on their Instagram @kickkats_official. While they had wished that certain aspects of the performance had been better, it still marked a memorable start to their band journey. 

With Christmas festivities coming to a head, Kickkats met at Ratnapu’s garage to rehearse a cover of the Christmas classic “Feliz Navidad” by José Feliciano, which is when Kickkats really started to come to fruition. 

“Some of the initial obstacles were band member attendance and trying to coordinate everyone’s availability,” Patnaik said. “But we were able to work around that by having only a few rehearsals before each performance. We’re also glad to have Sriman’s garage as a place to rehearse since it’s fully equipped with a drum set, piano and microphones.”

The diversity of Kickkats, however, posed a challenge for band members trying to learn unique individual parts. As the sole trumpet player, Yenduri needed to remain focused on his own parts while being mindful of the general intensity of trumpet sounds over other instruments. Some members also sought to expand their musical knowledge by taking on new challenges.

“I began to learn the bass for Kickkats, starting with learning the bass notes on the piano before shifting them over to the bass,” Bruennert said. “I’ve been practicing for five months now and watched tutorials online to learn the fundamentals.”

Following a handful of performances outside of school, Kickkats soon found the opportunity to perform together at the Valkyries show in January — their first school performance with most of the members — displaying their unique renditions of “Burn the House Down” by AJR and “I Ain’t Worried” by OneRepublic. 

“Kickkats had asked me for some advice on potential places or venues where they could play, and they invited me to watch their performances, including the one at the Valkyries show,” science teacher Issac Pallone said. 

Although they had a shift in audience compared to other outside performances, the band members quickly adjusted as they all had some form of experience in orchestra and band. Being together for practices and performances so often also strengthened bonds between the members.

Their most recent success occurred at the ASB’s Coffeehouse Talent Show on March 1, where Kickkats showcased “Seven Nation Army” by The White Stripes and “There’s Nothing Holding Me Back” by Shawn Mendes. Despite lacking a drummer during the early stages of their rehearsals, they were able to find a student to help fill the role for the night. Senior Nimay Shankar joined Kickkats as a drummer for the two songs as the cafeteria filled with students nodding their heads and tapping along to the energetic beats.

“Their music style wasn’t something I expected, but I recognized the songs they played and thought they did a great job,” Pallone said.

For now, Kickkats plans to focus on producing original music, adding variety to their usual music covers. While Ratnapu and Wan aren’t sure when they plan to release new songs, they remain optimistic in hopes of creating something uniquely Kickkats. The group also hopes to continue their outside performances and is considering one at Santana Row in the future if they have the opportunity. 

“In the end, we just hope to have fun by creating music as a group and sharing it with the wider community,” Yenduri said.

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About the Contributors
Qianzi Loo, Web Editor
(she/her) Qianzi is a junior and Web Editor for the Epic. Outside of journalism, she loves to read memoirs, take too many nature photos with her Nikon, and tune in to her never-ending Spotify playlists. At school, she's also involved in FBLA and Martial Arts Club!
Lilly Wu, Opinion Editor
(she/her) Lilly is a junior and the opinion editor for the Epic. Some of her hobbies include dancing, watching cdrama and going to amusement parks.

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