Bangalore has witnessed some of the world’s most legendary bands take centre stage. The city also has the reputation of being open to various genres of music even though the music loving city witnesses the birth and death of many bands each year. City Express questions some of the original bands in the city on what it takes to be different and not
get lost in the crowd.
“Some are whacky, eye catchy and original, others are simply trying too hard to be different. Many others start on a great note and get lost in the crowd. To be original, you need to play to your strengths,” says a music lover who has been active in the Bangalore music scene for over two decades. Question any music lover from the city about the bands that stand out in the crowd, pat comes the reply — Live Banned, Sulk Station, Schizophonic and even a Kannada Death Metal Band — Dwesha. We caught up with three ‘original’ bands to find out what keeps them going.
“We have all played a lot of different sounds and that’s our strength. We understand and know what we are good at and so understand each of our musical sensibilities. At the end of the day it is all about making the sound that you want to make,” said Arjun Chandran, from the three-piece band Schizophonic. “There is not much original music happening in the city. We didn’t start out with a purpose to get somewhere. We had been jamming at a friends’ place and we started sharing stuff and what emerged was mostly a reaction to each other’s musical sensibilities. We liked what came out of it and when people heard it online and liked it, we knew whatever we were doing was working. Since we did only what we were best at, there was no fear of backlash,” agrees Rahul Giri from SulkStation.Born out of an accidental jam at a friends’ place, Sulk Station identifies itself as a melodramatic pop band, and gathers influences from trip-hop/post-dubstep and Hindustani music. Meanwhile, Live Banned is a concept that emerged when Indian regional cinema met 80’s Rock, had a beer with Punk music and shook a leg with Disco, chilled out with Reggae and headbanged to metal. “Live Banned is a concept. Live Banned is about entertainment. It is for the people, by the people and of the people mixing humour that is sometimes intelligent and at other times atrocious with bold, flamboyant and high energy performances influenced by South Indian music, Bollywood, Disco, Pop, Rock and Metal. The band restructures and twists popular music across genres and languages that appeals to everyone, from the man on the street to an audience from the corporate world,” explains lead vocalist Amrit Rao. Schizophonic on the other hand, is everything from deep, dark Dub delays and Hip Hop turn-tablism, to jazz piano and blues guitar - and this sound runs through an electronic core. What eventually emerges is a sound that is unique and original and surely strikes a chord with lovers of innovation.
One thing that all the three bands agree with is that more than making a commercial mark, it was about coming up with music that they strongly believe in. Sure, there will be criticisms when something new is tried out, and harsh reviews too, but what has kept these bands together in the present commercially driven scene is the sheer love for what they do.
“You need to have the drive to do something new and different and what you are good at to start with. Once that is established, you need to have the right equipment and technology that brings out your sound just like you wanted it,” says Arjun Chandran from Schizophonic.
While Rahul Giri from Sulk Station believes that focusing on those reviews that mattered kept them away from negativity. “When we clicked with the people who mattered, whom we look up to, we tried to focus only on that. The rest of the negativity just faded away. We are now planning to release out album at the end of this month,” he says. When it comes to the audiences, there is a huge crowd of music lovers in the city who appreciate the innovative radical music emerging, albeit at a slower pace. “I just love the concept of Sulk Station because they stand out. You cannot put a tag on their music and put it in an already established box. They are new, different, original and feel like a breath of fresh air,” says Gokul, a music lover. For those who get an adrenalin rush out of entertaining acts, Live Banned has impressed them. “They are whacky and lively and stand up to their name. It is full paisa wasool to watch them on stage as there is not one boring moment all through their performance,” says Kritika, a student.
For all new bands in the process of conception, the only advice these bands offer is to keep it original and not try to join the bandwagon. “Your originality matter more than anything else if you are trying to carve a niche,” signs off Rao.