Tag Archives: Mr. Big

Album Review: Evolve by Indus Creed

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Original Indian rock has had quite a chequered history. Several acts have made bright starts only to sputter out into oblivion a few years later. Several acts have appeared promising but have faded away before anything substantial materialized. But then there are some other acts that have persevered through a fair share of ups and downs, and found their niche in terms of their sound, presence and appeal.

And then there’s Indus Creed.

Quite easily the big daddy of the rock music scene in India, the band that released Rock n’ Roll Renegade (As Rock Machine, in 1989), when this writer was barely out of the diaper stage, hit big time with its appearances on big music channels, an acclaimed video for ‘Pretty Child’ and a rather kitschy one for ‘Top of the Rock’. A couple of albums and some collectors’ edition tapes later, the band decided to call it quits with its members going their own way. Along the way, partial avatars of the band sprung up here and there, with Alms for Shanti (check out ‘Kashmakash’) being the most notable.

And thus, it was with much glee that the news of Indus Creed’s revival after a decade and a half of exile was welcomed whole-heartedly. A year and something of playing at venues around the country, the band announced the release of their comeback album Evolve.  And it does not disappoint. Well, not entirely. Straight out of the CD cover (with excellent artwork, although some sleeve-work would have been nice), one gets the feeling that this is not the Indus Creed of yore.

‘Fireflies’ starts things off in style. Layered with tones that wouldn’t be entirely out of place in the 80s and 90s, the song has an evocative feel around it. The song really kicks in on the chorus along with the bass and some nice harmonies on the vocals. With a couple of teaser solos on the keyboard and guitar, the song definitely sets the mood for the album to follow. Uday Benegal’s voice sounds fuller than its 90s avatar. Another thing that is immediately apparent is the quality of production— the mixing and mastering is terrific.

The album then moves to its second track, ‘Dissolve’. The distorted guitar kicking in after arpeggiated intro, sits in the mix very comfortably, yet adds a significant power to the song. The odd rhythm (10-beat cycle?), is very reminiscent of Porcupine Tree, almost Sound of Muzak like. Lyrically, this song is the strongest in the entire album. The chorus kicks in with a bang, and is easily my favourite section of the album. It also fits in very nicely with the album cover.

Mahesh Tinaikar’s guitar solo rises nicely above the rest of the instruments after the second chorus. The spoken-word section doesn’t really stick it for me, although the evolving soundscapes are nice. The almost vocal only third chorus and the throwback to the intro are nicely pulled off. The longest song at 7:38, it is great to see a somewhat different, slightly heavier side to Indus Creed’s music. A definite evolution from the Rock Machine sound! A big thumbs up to Rushad Mistry’s basswork and Jai Row Kavi on the drums as well.

‘The Money’ follows next, and it’s a bit of a letdown. With its marching beat style intro, electronic influences et al, the song does not quite stick it. After the strong opening in a couple of songs, the song doesn’t quite keep the mood. The excellent guitar solo towards the end does nothing to change that sentiment. The theme of the song lyrically also does not seem as strong as some of the other tracks on the album.

‘Take it Harder’ follows and normal service is resumed with a hard hitting song, with excellent soundscape building on the intro courtesy Zubin Balaporia. The song is excellently written, and Uday Benegal’s vocals really shine through on this one. Well structured, with stellar guitar work, the solo oozes feel and the soundscapes added towards the end of the solo only add to the charm. Jay Row Kavi’s drumming is almost meditative in places. This song is a close second behind ‘Dissolve’ in terms of favourites from the album for me.

Another longish song follows in ‘No Disgrace’. There’s a bit of a throwback to the likes of Extreme and Mr. Big, the song has its own highs and lows. The band, as a whole, shines through nicely as a unit, but the song isn’t as memorable as some of the other tracks. The progressive bent of mind is again very apparent, with some Rush-like keyboard tones, one can almost imagine Geddy Lee coming in with a couple of lines just before the guitar solo. The song highlights the individual skills of the band quite nicely though.

‘Come Around’ kicks off with a nice acoustic guitar intro. Dripping with nostalgia, the song is lyrically a throwback to a time gone by. The song is balladish at times, and is the mellowest of the album in terms of its structure as well as tone and it definitely keeps the mood nostalgic. The production value shines through brilliantly on this track. Uday Benegal’s vocals drive the song and are almost reminiscent of the ‘Pretty Child’ days.

‘Bulletproof’ is a hard hitting out-and-out rocker. The song is of a different vintage from the rest of the album, and is, most definitely, one for the stage. This one would, no doubt, be something to get a crowd going at a nice venue blaring out from the PA. The band sounds nice and tight, with the bass and drum section really coming across in a great fashion.

‘Goodbye’ winds things down for Evolve. The song has a happy nostalgic air about it. While Indus Creed would have us believe that ‘the dream was struck by reality’ and that the bigger dream would have a bigger fall, a resurrection of sorts could be just as big if not bigger. In some ways, it is an appropriate track to close out the album, shutting the door on one chapter while opening another to a possibly more exciting one.

In conclusion, the album does feel a little short and leaves me wanting for more. There are several moments on the album where Indus Creed shows us just why they were so revered back in the day, while at the same time, there are frustratingly ordinary moments as well.

All said and done, Uday Benegal, Mahesh Tinaikar, Zubin Balaporia, Rushad Mistry and Jai Row Kavi have put together an eminently enjoyable album. A special mention to Tim Palmer and company for the mixing and the production. Evolve sounds just as good on hi-fi speakers, headphones and on the car stereo. Another special mention to Zorran Mendonsa for shaping Evolve’s guitar sound, which is phenomenal!

Here’s hoping that this is just the beginning of a new chapter for Indus Creed. Audiences in India are more mature, appreciative and informed these days and exciting times surely lie ahead.

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Galeej Gurus at Hard Rock Cafe, Hyderabad

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Galeej Gurus

Named as one of India’s “hottest bands” according to Rolling Stones in 2010, the opening act for bands like Mr. Big, Deep Purple, Bryan Adams;  and having played in Dubai Dessert Rock Festival alongside bands like Velvet Revolver, Korn, Killswitch Engage, As I Lay Dying, Galeej Gurus is a force to reckon with. Their growing fan club in Hyderabad couldn’t wait to listen to them yet again and could barelty contain their excitement. Formed in the year 2000, the Galeej Gurus have been in the music scene for over a decade with over 500 gigs in their kitty. Their line-up includes Nathan Harris on vocals, Naveen Thomas on the guitars, Ananth Menon on guitars and vocals, Matthew Harris on the bass and Kishan Balaji on the drums.

Galeej Gurus at Hard Rock Cafe, Hyderabad

As a band, their influences are Led Zeppelin, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Eric Clapton, Steve Vai and Deep Purple. However individually, Nathan’s influences include Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Guns n Roses, Robbie Williams, Prince etc., while Ananth tips towards blues and rock and roll. Matthew draws his inspiration from modern guitar funk and rock, for Naveen Thomas, who is considered the “most technically proficient” musician in the band, it is more of progressive influences like Dream Theater, Pain of Salvation, Tool, Killswitch Engage etc. , and Kishan is inspired by “freestyle improvisation” and jazz. A blend of their individuality is the essence of their band. Galeej Gurus’ music, according to them, is a bit of Alternative, Funk, Blues-Rock, Progressive and Grunge put together; whereas critics classify them as Indie Rock.

Galeej Gurus at Hard Rock Cafe, Hyderabad

Their set list for the day was a mix of their compositions and covers. The band opened with their own composition ‘Believe in Tomorrow’, to warm up the crowd. Picking up pace, their OCs ‘She’s Mine’, ‘Play On’, Jet’s ‘Cold Hard B*tch’ got the crowd pumped up.  Ananth’s bluesy voice was perfect for the cover of Eric Clapton’s ‘Before You Accuse Me’. ‘Blind’, ‘Make some Noise’,’ Dark Hungry Eyes’ were the rest of their OCs for the first half of the evening. By the second half of the gig, the crowd grew bigger and the energy grew higher. This second set included 3 Doors Down’s ‘Loser’ along with Maroon 5’s ‘Move like Jagger’ and another composition ‘Flyaway’. The crowd sang along during Foo Fighter’s ‘Rope’ and King’s of Leon’s ‘Use Somebody’, while the band continued on with their other compositions ‘Breathe’ and ‘Physiological Breakdown’. The finale was a medley of three rock legends – Led Zeppelin’s ‘Whole lotta love’, Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Purple Haze’ and Lenny Kravitz’s ‘Are you gonna go my way’ leading to ‘Full meals’  by The Wayside. They threw in a few amazing guitar and bass solos and pulled in Baba – Native Tongue’s  frontman and a good friend of the band for one of the numbers, which added to the overall flavour.

Galeej Gurus at Hard Rock Cafe, Hyderabad

Every composition of theirs has a bit of Alternative and Progressive while most of them were groovy. Nathan’s versatile vocals, Naveen Thomas and Ananth’s skills on the guitar, crazy bass riffs by Matthew and Kishan’s tight drumming put together, makes a perfectly wrapped package of good music.

The sound was decent with very few glitches and there were quite a good number of people for a weekday evening. As the front man, Nathan knew how to keep the crowd engaged throughout the gig.  The energy of the entire band was so contagious, they crowd couldn’t contain themselves. Everyone was high on music (also on booze, but mostly music) till the end.

Galeej Gurus at Hard Rock Cafe, Hyderabad

Galeej Gurus claim that they are “a bunch of crazy ass rockers who don’t understand the meaning of ‘keep it quiet!’” and they sure kept their word! After a week of rain and traffic jams, an evening with Galeej Gurus at Hard Rock Café was the perfect way to unwind.

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Bhoomi, Caesar’s Palace and TAAQ at the Bengaluru Habba 2012

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First things first – What a venue! The open air amphitheater with the UB City tower looming majestically in the background, and its big bright blue horse logo looking down upon us was quite an amazing sight! And what’s more – for a city perpetually stuck in traffic jams, its habba started dot on time.

The line-up on this particular evening comprised of metal aficionados Bhoomi, the multi-genre, Bangalore based Caesar’s Palace and Bangalore rockers Thermal and a Quarter who made a surprise entry later. All three of them, veterans of the Bangalore rock scene, took to the stage with the promise of a great Saturday evening and they sure lived up to it.

Bhoomi, Caesar's Palace and TAAQ at the Bengaluru Habba 2012

First up was Bhoomi, one of Bangalore’s oldest and best metal acts. They started the evening with their renditions of rock classics like AC/DC’s ‘Highway to Hell’ and Pink Floyd’s ‘Another Brick in the Wall’, and smoothly drifted into Deep Purple land with Jason Zachariah belting out the keyboard solo to Deep Purple’s ‘Highway Star’ and then Tony Das belting out the guitar solo from ‘Burn’, both playing them absolutely perfectly. Though I’m a fan of bands covering songs their own way rather than playing it exactly like it is, I have to admit that Bhoomi’s version of ‘Another Brick in the Wall’ did seem a tad out of place and unnecessarily heavy. Tony Das sang the next song ‘Burn it Down’, a very bluesy number with some great guitar licks. This was followed by another cover, Mr. Big’s ‘Daddy, Brother, Lover, Little Boy’.

They finally went into their originals, starting with ‘Inside Story’, a song about the press today and its obsession with the personal lives and affairs of celebrities. It had some great harmonies between Tony and Jason and ended with a really cool guitar-hero solo from the former. Next they played ‘Uncultured’, a song about riots with some really powerful vocals. It had a great vibe and had me replaying “Come help us fight…War without reason” in my head even after they finished. Their last song was ‘The Game’, a song about playing music live (I loved how Sujay bonded with the audience by explaining each song before playing it. Tony thought the better alternative was to chug some beer before each song. I loved that too!) The final track had a great riff, fierce drumming from Kishan Balaji and very eerie vocal harmonies, a powerful song to end their performance.

The band announced their new album set to release later this year, which is being produced by Neil Kernon, of Queensryche and Nevermore fame. When asked if this is the next big step for Indian bands i.e., to have internationally produced and marketed albums, frontman Sujay replies, “Definitely. It’s already happening. Not only international producers, but there are also many Indian producers with very good technical skills. In a few years, the Indian rock scene will be self-sufficient and we won’t have to look to the west for everything.”

Bhoomi, Caesar's Palace and TAAQ at the Bengaluru Habba 2012

Next up were Caesar’s Palace   a rock/funk/blues/soul/jazz/disco/phew! band from Bangalore. They played a very groovy, almost dance-y set of songs. They started with a cover of RHCP’s ‘Readymade’ and soon went into originals starting with ‘3 hour love affair’. The bassist Kenneth Wilson’s getup with his hood and shades (at 8:00 in the night) looked exponentially less pretentious with each note he played as he got them grooves going. ‘Stare’ had some funny lyrics about the cliche` of thinking deeper. Unni, the frontman then announced that they were going to cover Bappi Lahiri and frankly, I was disappointed to know that it was a joke. This is one band that could actually pull it off! They did come close to it though as they played a very 80s disco style original called ‘Get Your Mojo On’. By this time, Kishan Balaji had begun to look like some medieval war hero (read madman) behind his drums. He and Jason Zachariah had battled and conquered every style from heavy metal to funk and now even disco, both of them having played for both Bhoomi and Caesar’s palace.

They continued their brand of funk with a sense of humour with ‘Wol Chod’, which had some cool slap bass and screeching wah. ‘Dreams’ had a groove that got the entire amphitheater swinging their heads from side to side and had some interesting guitar and bass harmonies. The song ended with a great keyboard solo. They then went into a very well done medley of Michael Jackson’s ‘Smooth Criminal’ and ‘Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough’ followed by Tenacious D’s ‘Tribute’ that ended with the outro of ‘Stairway to Heaven’ which Unni pulled off perfectly. It was great to see how open minded they are to different genres of music, and not just open minded, but also technically proficient enough to pull off all these varied styles.

Bhoomi, Caesar's Palace and TAAQ at the Bengaluru Habba 2012

The highlight of their performance was ‘I Don’t Need No Doctor’ by Ray Charles, done in a modern John Mayer style. It ended with a jugalbandi of sorts between the guitar and keys. Jason then played a beautiful piano solo that quietly blended into ‘Swim’, a lovely ballad. They ended with ‘Bittersweet Mind’, a typical 12-bar blues song but with some exciting odd-time signature twists to it.

The night was already going on a high when Unni announced that Thermal and a Quarter was going to take to the stage next and caught everyone by surprise. Thermal and a Quarter or TAAQ , as they are popularly known, consists of Bruce Lee Mani on vocals/guitar, Rajeev Rajagopal on drums and Prakash K.N on bass who happen to be Bangalore’s favourite power trio. This was proven by the fact that despite the fact that it was getting late and terribly cold in the open air amphitheater, the audience didn’t seem to want to be anywhere else.

Bhoomi, Caesar's Palace and TAAQ at the Bengaluru Habba 2012

The trio kick-started their set with ‘Can you fly’, a typical TAAQ song with jazzy guitar playing, great vocals and a powerful rhythm section. Their second song was ‘Meter Mele One and a Half’, about the auto-rickshaw drivers in Bangalore. As Bruce Lee Mani sang about the woes of the average Bangalorean, I couldn’t help thinking that the band’s music IS indeed the sound of urban Bangalore. They do sound like UB City at night, like the traffic jams, like Masala Dosas, like an auto-rickshaw’s faulty meter, like Cubbon Park, IT parks and all things Bangalorean.

They continued in the same spirit with some “tapang-blues” with ‘If Them’ and ‘For the Cat’ which got few audience members even doing some tapang moves in the front row, as Bruce himself cheered them on! Quite impressive on the part of the dancers I’d say, considering the fact that ‘For the Cat’ had many time meter changes.

Their next song ‘Birthday’  was dedicated to Rajeev’s mother as it was the eve of her birthday. And apparently it’s no ordinary birthday song. As Bruce explained, “It’s about wanting my birthday to be a space and not a time. Very deep…very deep!” This was followed by one of my personal favourites – TAAQ’s rendition of ‘Hey Jude’. It amazed me to see how they could take a classic as popular as ‘Hey Jude’, turn it upside down and change it around completely and still maintain the feel of the original. TAAQ’s version of the song has to be heard to be believed! Their last song ‘Chainese Item’ sounded like the theme song to a spy movie where everyone’s running behind a plate of chow mein, for some reason. Or maybe the ridiculously cold breeze was finally getting to me!

Thermal and a Quarter were undoubtedly the heroes of the evening, captivating the audience with their distinct sound and energetic performance. Overall, a great gig and a perfect Saturday evening, all three bands providing three different versions of that rock and roll sound we all love.

The moral of the story at the Habba’s rock fest seemed to be that rock fests no longer mean copying the west. As the three veterans showed us, rock music in Bangalore today is more about ourselves and all the things that affect us in our lives. It’s more personal and easy to relate to than ever. I think it’s this quality of the music that made it so enjoyable and is making an increasing number of people turn up for concerts like these.

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Where’s all the new music going?

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It’s 2011. Yes, over a decade since the big Y2K thing that was meant to represent the future. It’s a beautiful year and technology in all directions is doing bigger leaps everyday – Bangalore may even get decent 3G and a rail system 50ft above the ground!

So why is it then, that at almost every pub and restaurant, every new band is doing covers, and our beloved radio station, is completely obsessed with the 60s – 80s? Yes it was an awesome time for music; it was a revolution. But we’ve grown since then. Our lives are different, our pains, our joys, all stem from an understanding of what has passed and from a hope for a less bleak future.

Yet, walk into most any bar, and you’ll hear Mr. Big, Deep Purple, Bob Marley, The Beatles, Dylan, The Stones, and maybe, if they’re adventurous they may encroach on the nineties with some Aerosmith or Chili Peppers. Don’t get me wrong. I do love these bands dearly and am a giant fan of the era, but it is still the past. It’s before our time and therefore not written for us. It talks beautifully of universal things like love and philosophy, but is received more as a story handed down than a representation of where we are. It’s art after all, and art is nothing without context.

So, where is this rant headed? It’s not a stretch to reason that this stuff is played so much because it’s recognizable and people want to hear it. At the same time, big money is putting their weight behind easy-to-digest pop that most everyone hates, but accepts as an inescapable result of commercialism. This means we have a generation of people that seemingly have no one expressing their emotions, being led by a past of hardship that isn’t theirs, ironically often singing about individuality and empowerment: fighting a forgotten war with no opposition.

It’s the adult version of teenage angst. Sadly, you’ll see this spread past just music. It’s a much larger scale problem. It means we don’t actually know what we want; we’re disaffected but don’t really know why. And as a result, support or oppose things like Anna Hazare’s dictatorship proposition without weighing final outcomes. We’re a middle-class who listen to Lennon cry for peace, love and freedom, but will back a totalitarian regime if it’s packaged tidily and pushes the right buttons. We’re not invested in the world around us, because we don’t relate to it directly. It’s not just music. Think of your top 10 painters; your top 10 (non-Hollywood) movies; comic characters, recipes, clothing styles, authors, how many are from the last 5 years?

The last few big concerts I remember hearing about were Cold Player, Foreigner, Bryan Adams, Led Zepplica, Prodigy, Michael Learns to Rock, Lamb of God, the list goes on. It’s not flattering and we happily joke about India being on the ‘retirement tour’. Nobody new comes down because, when they do, nobody turns up – because nobody’s heard of them, because nobody has been sitting comfy in the sixties, unaware that the world is happy now.

We’ve come to grips with the destructive species that we are, and are fighting to save ourselves, not just say there’s a problem. Go out of your way, find music that speaks to you where you are now; you’ll learn about yourself and believe in the universe more. We can hope you’ll be happier, and maybe honk less and smile more.

Note: Prodigy did do Invaders Must Die, which I adore, in 2009. But the publicity, and the big reason people went was Smack My Bitch Up (The Fat of The Land, 1997). Even then, it was far from packed.

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Freedom Jam (No Bread)

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Freedom Jam is an annual gig held every year on August 15th to commemorate Independence Day. The first edition was way back in 1997 at Ravindra Kalakshetra but the location was shifted to The Club soon after. The legendary all-night concerts at The Club popularized this free gig but sadly its popularity diminished after the live music ban. The 2009 edition recorded one of its lowest ever turnouts thanks to it being held in some far flung location in Hebbal(No Bread). After last year’s damp squib, the organizers decided to change the format around by having genre-specific gigs at various locations. A reasonably good move, I thought, because no self respecting metalhead will want to endure 30 mins of Bhavageethe.

Day 1: I am kicked to see that there is a venue ear-marked for ‘experimental, avant-garde and electronica’ music. I trudge in to the venue – Jaaga and find that there are more musicians on stage than in the crowd. (Crowd – 3, Musicians – 6!) At one point, someone from the neighboring building asks the firaang-in-charge to turn the volume down. They oblige! Aargh. The amps don’t go to 11 here. The music itself was uninteresting – six random musicians jamming with absolutely no direction or purpose. I exit, stage left, not before I helped myself to some free salad.

It was Day 2 and I chose to go to Kyra. I walked in and heard Bourbon Street covering Steely Dan’s ‘Do It Again’. I wouldn’t cover that song again if i were them (Disclaimer: Steely Dan is my favorite band.) They proceeded to cover Phish’s ‘Free‘ and the venerable ‘Tic Tic Tic.’ Blasphemeous. Only Dr Rajkumar can do justice to that song.

Verses were up next and they brought some much needed energy to the proceedings. They have my nomination for ‘Worst Goateed Band’ in Bangalore. It’s nice to see that they had brought a Tam-Bram entourage of 50-somethings along. As the band doled out some heavy melodic metal originals, the entourage nodded in approval. A stray fist pump is seen. They know that the local music scene is in good hands. The keyboardist Sagar impressed with his lightning fast keyboard playing and his vocal skills. The band departed amidst much fanfare and the entourage followed. The average age of the crowd was thus reduced by half.

Prism were up next and I took a power-nap during their sound setup. Prism’s set was equally snooze-worthy. They conveniently omitted a solo on their cover of Mr Big’s ‘Take Cover’. Taking Cover, indeed! The organizers were kind enough to have a stopwatch program running on the screen behind the stage to indicate the time remaining for each band. An ugly pop-up appears, with a surly reminder to buy the full version of the software. I piteh da foo’ who dun pay for da full version.

Prog rockers Distortion Culture were on stage next. They informed the crowd that theirs was a wholly original set and then promptly announced a song called ‘Eleventh Hour’. The metalheads immediately sprung to their feet in protest!  Oh but no need to furrow the brow, it’s just a coincidence that their own comp shares the name with a LoG song. They played another o.c titled ‘Unforseen Truth’ which was superb. The guitarist Vivek put on a good show although he smiles way too much. Jeez son, where’s ya metal face?

Heavy metal heavyweights Inner Sanctum were on stage next while Distortion Culture were finishing their set. They loaded up two massive Krank(with a K, mind you) amps onto the already impressive sound setup. Precious time was spent on unloading and connecting equipment. Sigh. If only all the bands spent less time practicing arpeggios and more time practicing gear setup! The wait was well worth it though. Sanctum tore the roof down with a heavy-as-hell set. Vocalist Gaurav was all fury on stage as he kicked a JBL monitor down (For those of you keeping score- Gaurav 1 JBL 0). The organizers yielded to the audience’s chants for one more song. One ‘Agent of Chaos‘ later I was deaf in one ear. IS had pwned everyone. I decided to leave for the day and exit, stage right.

Compared to the travesty that was Day 1, Day 2 was satisfying. Freedom Jam still remains an important day in the Bangalore gig calendar and continues to be an excellent platform for lesser known bands to showcase their skills. With some sharper publicity and organization skills, FJ could be bigger and better next year. One small gripe though- the quality of food at Kyra affected vocalist Gaurav Basu to such an extent that he was spotted chewing on the mic wire on numerous occasions. Hopefully next year we’ll have some bread.

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Interview with Slain

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In early 2007, an innovative, refreshing sound made Slain become one of the most sought-after live acts within India, now reputed as the country’s finest in Melodic Progressive Rock. Slain has performed alongside some of the biggest international sensations like Iron Maiden and Mr. Big. WTS got talking to band members Judah Sandhy, Bryden Stephen Lewis, Naresh Nathan, Jared Sandhy, Jonathan and Manek D’Silva and here’s what they had to share…

WTS: You started off in 2007 and have gained a lot of popularity in three years, tell us about the experience so far.

Naresh: April 2007 was when this line up came together and we started off by playing a lot of competitions within Bangalore and outside Bangalore. There have been quite a lot of memorable shows! It was fun nonetheless it was hard because we were a very new band. At that time we even hadn’t fixed on our genre. People started saying ‘You guys are very diverse, you have to fix up on a genre of sorts’. It was only during the first six months of Slain that we decided upon the genre, before that we were very diverse in what we used to play. Watching a lot of the other bands and getting a lot of criticism actually helped the band, because we didn’t take it in the wrong way whatsoever, we still kept at it. We had this desire to get onstage and give something different – like a mix of metal and rock, that’s how Judah puts it. That’s what we did and it’s been good since then. We’ve picked up a lot of pace, and popularity has come its way, so yeah, it’s been good for the past three years!

WTS: How long have you all known each other? 

Manek: Too long! (laughs)

Bryden: Manek and I were band mates for a really long time. I don’t think we had a choice there! We started playing the guitar around the same time. The two of us were in a rival band. That was when Slain was a college band… we were all in college then. We competed and then I got a call from Judah who is the founder of Slain and he just wanted to take it to a whole new level. He started calling random people, all of us and different people from different bands! (laughs)

Manek: You make it sound so romantic! (laughs)

Naresh: In the beginning months he used to call me at least five times a day!

Bryden: (imitating Judah) Will you please play for me? (laughs) Even though we knew each other, I joined a little earlier, Manek came about 7-8 months later. That’s when the Slain guitarist quit. Slain totally had like twenty four members who came to be a part of it (laughs)

WTS: Every band has fallen prey to ego issues at some point or the other. How do you deal with them and stick together?

Naresh: We all use tranquilizer shots! (laughs)

Manek: What we all believe is that a band is more than just a few people coming together to play music. With all the bands that we look up to, there’s some amount of chemistry – them knowing each other is in fact half the reason that we like them, or when they’re on stage the amount of fun they have with each other, the jokes… you can see all that. That’s what inspires us so much, that these people are connected not only through their music but they also know and understand each other. Take a band like Aerosmith who were together for 34 years – when a band sticks together for that long, it just becomes such an inspiration.

Bryden: We’ve learnt to keep calm, it shouldn’t affect our music.

Manek: But fights do arise, arguments do arise. We know deep inside that whatever it is, we need to solve it because we’re a band. Even if it’s the worst situation in the world, we’re a 6-piece band, its 6 of us and we need to solve it together. No one else is going to do that for us.

WTS: Do you have fans you keep in touch with?

Bryden: Of course, that’s like a daily thing we maintain.

Judah: At every show, we make sure that we collect email ids from everybody present if they’re interested in sharing their email ids, we add them onto our blogs, we keep in touch with them, we tell them about our shows in the future. Moreover, we make them feel very important.

Bryden: They know us too well, they take us for granted, I’m not kidding. Having personal interaction with the crowd is very good.

Naresh: These guys come to watch you, they come to support you and the least you could do is hang out with them before the show or after a show. We’re not anything greater than them, they’re taking time out to come watch us and support us, without them we wouldn’t be where we are.

Bryden: Yeah we wouldn’t have a platform to play if it weren’t for them. We’d just be a bedroom jam band!

WTS: Are you a Gospel band?

Naresh: The lyrics that we write are all Christian, from the Bible but what we try to do is give something positive.

Judah: All the band members are inspired by our individual influences. We would like to adapt the same things, the same lifestyle – not only living it onstage but also off stage and we like to adapt it in our lyrics. People who don’t come to watch us live, can connect to us through our lines, view our lyrics online and see what the band has to deliver to the fans. We also want them to be inspired by our lifestyle,what we believe in. Its not about religion, we’re just giving a positive message .And the best way that we could do this is not by talking to them directly but through our songs. With a beautiful tune to it as well as some lyrics that suit it.

WTS: Tell us about your debut album Here and Beyond. Have you experimented with something new and exciting? How will it differ from the EP you’ve released in the past?

Judah: For us to progress as a band we definitely need a hard copy of our music to reach out to people. Not only in our country but also the world. Technically the band has decided that the album will be out in our hands by month end and then there’s a lot of groundwork for us to probably market our album. We need to get the right record label, speak to the right people. Practically speaking, it should be out in the month of September. It’s got a fresher sound, it’s very modern, there’s not much of processing in it. It’s heavy. Even the softer songs, which probably a layman would say is the softest among Slain’s songs, technically, even that is made to sound a lot brighter and richer on the CD.

WTS: How was it performing alongside international bands like Iron Maiden and Mr. Big when they were touring in India?

Bryden: Yeah, it was ok! (laughs)

Judah: When we started out in college, they were our inspiration. It’s again a dream come true for us. When we were up there we had to accept the fact that we are rockstars. It’s a prayer which turned out to be a blessing again. Bands that we wished to hear live, we opened for. It was an awesome experience in fact – playing with the bands that we like to listen to!

WTS: What makes Slain different from other metal bands?

Manek: That we still listen to pop. I’m serious. What most people don’t realize about pop is why it’s called pop – it’s because its popular music, anyone can relate to it. Even though we’re playing metal, by playing metal that everyone can relate to we’re playing pop in a way. I think that’s what Slain takes seriously.

Bryden: As a band what makes us different is our sound. I can dare say that we are the only band probably in South India who make power metal, metal and rock in a very cool way and give it out to the crowd. It’s said openly that we’re different that way. You put us in a rock fest we’re different, put us in a metal fest, we’re different. People say that “Oh! You guys are like the icebreakers”. We’re the metal band who smile and play!

Manek: Yeah, and who eat ice cream.

WTS: What’s the ultimate direction for your band?

Naresh: I say we will keep on keeping on! Do what we love to do and hope for the best. Rock music may not pay you as much as what Bollywood music does and if you want to do music full time, you have to do commercial stuff. But I don’t think any of us will get into that no matter what.

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