Prime Edition

Young rockers thrive on new tunes and virtual fame
NIDHI GUPTA  13th Nov 2011

Guillotine opened for Metallica in Bangalore recently

ome winter and Delhi is abuzz with music festivals. The city's new crop of school and college bands are busy showcasing their talent to the world and exploring ideas and rhythms beyond Bollywood. What, then, decides who makes it big and what makes them click?

Guillotine, the band that opened for Metallica in Bangalore recently, is a five-year-old school-time collaboration that has been really active in the circuit for the last two years. "Despite the fiasco, the Metallica gig was the biggest moment of our lives, individually and as a band," says lead vocalist Karan Nambiar. The best way to get recognised is by playing at competitions and not focussing on gigs, he adds. But their recent success has not come without obstacles. "There is obviously a lot of family opposition to the idea of music being a full-time career, but it only helps one to grow as a person and as a musician," he says.

Indian metal bands are under-appreciated, because for most people, “good rock still comes from white people”, says Siddharth Kumar, guitarist for Vendetta. But even with a lot of obstacles, this is a great time to be part of the underground rock scene in India as it is filled with talent, he adds.

Prateek Suri, drummer for the two-year old Hindi progressive metal band Nigambodh, says, it is easier to get noticed these days if you have something good, thanks to the Internet. "Facebook, MySpace, SoundCloud, ReverbNation have helped us promote our music. We've been invited to play in cities like Kanpur and Patna and we've had security guards telling us we're doing a fabulous job," he jokes. Singing in Hindi has clicked for the band, they've played all over the country and won a lot of competitions, including Channel V Launchpad.Image 2nd

Siddharth Kumar, a second-year engineering student, who plays the guitar for college bands Vendetta and Arcane Reception, is less optimistic. Being new on the platform and the only band in Delhi which plays industrial metal, he found the going tough. The band has performed at 11 gigs in two months (mostly at college fests), and is shortlisted to play at IIT Bombay's Mood Indigo and IIT Delhi's Blitzkrieg. "But since we are playing music that is new and non-commercial, it is hard to make money out of it. In the past year, we've barely had two paid gigs and that too happened through contacts," he says.

Shikhar Sharma, a marine engineering student and bass guitarist for his college band Chemical Refuge in Pune, feels that if you want to pursue music professionally, you will have to play to your audience. The year old progressive metal band will be participating in Mood Indigo this year. However, Sharma doesn't see music as his mainstay. "Most of India's rock scene is underground and niche. There isn't a large audience for the kind of music we play, even here in Pune," he explains.

For Kumar too, the response from listeners is rather lukewarm. "The music scene in Delhi is dominated by soft rock, blues, hip-hop and not to mention, Bollywood," he says. There isn't much encouragement from the industry either. Nambiar agrees with him, saying, "Big corporations are not willing to put money in unconventional music. They only look for what sells." Kumar also feels that Indian metal bands are under-appreciated, because for most people, "good rock still comes from white people".

But while the struggle is unavoidable, this is a great time to be a part of the underground rock scene, because it is electrified with new talent, feels Nambiar.

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