Twenty-somethings Sashi Mouli and Vishwam Agarwal of Vellore Institute of Techmology (VIT) have seen more line-up changes in their band Debarred than the number of songs they have composed so far. But that didn’t deter them from finding replacements and keep their experimental hardrock band going.
At the hub of nascent bands in Tamil Nadu – VIT which sees more bands mushrooming by the day than any other college in the State does, rhythm guitarist Sashi and lyricist, lead-guitarist Vishwam formed Debarred in 2012.
In what he describes as one of the happiest moments of his life, Debarred won the second place at SRM University’s cultural fest, Milan, this year. “We composed a song just a night before the competition. We practised all night and went on stage. It clicked.”
At Christian Medical College’s cultural fest, Pegasus, the band came second. Vishwam Agarwal won the Best Guitarist title. He recalls the judges saying, “You’ve got spunk!”
Their songs Pain, Revenge, SwatKats and the metal version of AR Rahman’s Humma have been crowd pleasers and continue to be so. “Pain is about this person who is fed up with life. The song is about whether he wants to change or commit suicide. The feel is not definable,” he says.
The other band members include Madhav Rajagopal (keys), Binoy Thomas (vocals), Atul Arora (drummer) and the boisterous bassist Shubhankar Nikhil.
Asked about the quirky name Debarred he says, “If you have attendance lower than 75 per cent, you’re debarred here. So yeah, we used to playfully tell each other “You’re debarred!” and that’s how we zeroed in on the name.” Asked if his band members’ attendance has plunged below the minimum he says, “Hell yeah! To 20 and 30 per cent, but I managed.”
Unlike conventional ways of composing songs, Sashi says, “We first choose the melody, then the riffs, get the feel and then Vishwam writes the suitable lyrics. It’s all in reverse.”
Asked what lies ahead, he says, “Well, we use to play the pro-rock band Slain’s song More than Conquerers, a little later we opened for them. We’ve come a long way. Next, we will be competing at St. John’s Medical College, Bangalore and NIT-Trichy this September.”
“Shubhankar is easily the most fun person of our band, most energetic on stage and always makes us laugh,” he says, fondly of his bassist. “Too hyper to be caught on camera,” reads their Facebook page.