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Meet Indiaís Old Time Favourite Bands

Over the time, we have seen a lot of old bands splitting up, saying farewell to each other or quitting. Somewhere between their world of music and real life, they grow apart. But here are two bands from the nineties that took the internet and music world by storm and are still plumbing the depths of music. They have played thousands of gigs as a band, countless records, and rocking the stage for over many years. These men from different rock bands of the nineties are the secret superstars of Indie-pop and rock music!

PARIKRAMA

Parikrama is one of the oldest Rock Bands in our country. They have been on stage for more than three thousand times and thatís not all. Their hard work, passion and love for Rock music is the sole answer to their success as a band. Turning 29 this year, Parikrama is the story of the nineties band that is playing gigs more than anybody else in our country. They have played all kind of gigs and rarely refused a show. Here is how they started their journey and whatís their story.

Here is a tête-à-tête with Parikrama, Subir- founder, who manages it and holds it together…
Back to the beginning

This band started way back it 1981. Proudly, I can say that we never formed Parikrama as a ‘profession’ and it is still not a part of our profession. And that is the main reason for whatever have done and are doing till now. We made a rule that our bread and butter should come from the other sources not from the band. We formed it out of passion. And that is the reason we completed 28 years of our band. We have sorted few things. My main source of income is my investment company and my art company likewise Gaurav Balani (bass), he does his own studio work or he plays with other singers. Similarly Lakshay, he is doing his own work, Sonam runs Parikrama School of Music. So ultimately, the pressure is not on Parikrama. Nobody can question that in the future. We donít tell each other you canít play in other band or something. We never want to blame our band if anything happens.

Formation

The reason why Parikrama was formed to play music we have grown listening to. Like Pink Floyd, Purple, AC/DC, Iron Maiden, those were the bands we used to listen and had their posters on our walls. We never wanted to compromise with it, and that is what market demanded

First meeting

It was in 1990, November. I was part of a band in Kirori Mal College. There was a sports festival at IIT Kanpur and three bands were performing there. One of the bands was performing for the first time. They were amateurs. But they were playing my kind of music. So I approached them after the show to form a band. Then I got Nitin and Chintan on board and on 17th of June during Kirori Mal college auditions we met Sonam Sherpa. Thatís the day we celebrate our birthday, because it was the special day when we formed our band

First gig as a band

It was 15th of September 1991, in Father Agnel School in Delhi. It was a professional concert and there were four bands that were making their debut and one professional band. So we performed there for the first time.

Any insecurity

We never felt insecure from other genres of music. We know we have to accept it if a time comes up like this. See, today the younger kids do not know much about Parikrama and it is mainly due to us. We could have easily sorted it. We had a policy and we never came up with online recordings and albums released, even as singles. But we are changing it now. We are recording our songs and we have just shot a huge video. It will be released in June or July 2019.

Rules as band members

We made ground rules for each other that this band will never be a source of income for anybody. But it turns to be a hobby that pays us well. Thatís a separate thing. It wouldnít be a primary source of income. The other thing is our commitment and punctuality. Either today whether itís a function, event or our performance, we will come half an hour before but we wouldnít come 2 minutes late. Thatís a strict rule we all follow. Another major rule we formed way back before that no alcohol before the show. We merely drink. Living Rock n Roll life is not sex, drums and rock n roll. That was something in the 70s.

Memories

There are millions of memories. I still remember a show in Karnal way back in 1992. Back then nobody knew much about rock and roll. I remember Chintan from our band went on stage to talk about us and he said all nonsense. We were laughing out back stage.

Free music

We did it in 1997. What we did back then people are doing now. The intention was different. The only medium to listen to music was CDs and audio tapes. The CDs used to price 500 bucks. When we realised that the percentage of people speaking in English was negligible in our country and those who listen to rock music were almost zero. So, to sell our music at that time was stupid and we decided to give it away for free. If people will like it they will download it. We have seen many ups and downs of Rock and Roll and I know it will never die. It will be there. Itís a matter of time when it comes back.

Future plans

Its “Rock and Roll” for life.

AGNEE

Agnee is one of the most dynamic and widely appreciated music band in India.Both hugely popular and critically acclaimed, Agnee is known for its hummable tunes, live wire performance and deeply- rooted Indian sound – with rock songs inspired of Kabir’s poetry, Vedic and Carnatic classical music. Agnees’s music is collective of individual styles of composing and performing: Koco with Classical Rock, Blues and Indian influences, than with his Carnatic and Hisdustani Classical ascendancy, along with Hrishikeshon drums, Varun on percussions and Chirayu on bass. Here is a conversation with the band Agnee founders…

Musical Journey

KOCO: Well, I guess the choice was already made for me rather than it begin a driven decision. When Mohan and I decided to start AGNEE, it did seem like a risky proposition, as the indie scene in India had begun to die, but not making it was not an option for us. We both believed in our music and what we both brought to the table.. there has been no looking back since.

Mohan: When we decided to form a band, it wasn’t really supposed to be any specific genre (our first album is testament to that, with varying genres in 8 songs we did)… the focus was more on the fact that Koco and I got together and wanted to do something musical together. I had a decent asking career that I could go back to, so for me, the risk was slightly lower in the sense that I had a full back option anyway. Plus, like I told my boss when quitting banking, a good popular musician can make, in one show of 2 hours, what a good banker can make in about 2 months ( I’m being nice to the bankers), so it’s just a matter of getting there.

Favourite Composition

KOCO: That’s a tough one since it’s like having to choose between your own kids. But I can say I’m very proud of ‘Aahatien’ as a composition. Another song I’m proud and fond of is ‘Hello Andheron’ which we composed for the Avengers.

Mohan: Sadaa is one of my favourites as my Mother played violin on it and my sister sang the female version. Also, it was originally composed for the male version to be sung by Pt. Bhimsen Joshi (from the time the first word Sadaa was composed, I just wanted it to be him on the voice) and unfortunately by the time we got down to recording the song, he had passed away and I ended up singing it. What gave me goose bumps (still does) is the fact that a few people who didnít know us saw the song on YouTube within a few hours of its release and wrote comments like ”Don’t know why, but I keep wondering how this song would sound in Pt.Bhimsen Joshi’s voice”…. it’s probably the biggest compliment a composer can get.

Collaboration with Disney for a theme song for the Avengers

KOCO: Walt Disney was looking at a popular Indie band from India to compose a Hindi theme song for the Avengers. They felt that AGNEE’s popularity with the youth would complement the popularity of the movie. When they approached us, the only response was YES! It was an absolute upper!

Mohan: When we asked Abbas Tyrewala to write the lyrics for us, we didn’t know he’d be an enthu cutlet and write the song on the trip from Mumbai to Pune (where our studio was back then). And he wrote a 16 line Mukhda. And it was so good, we didn’t want to change a line. Of course that meant we needed to seriously get to work to keep long mukhda interesting, and that meant various iterations, some serious differences of opinion, 13 versions and finally asking Udayan (Koco’s teenage son) to choose from the two shortlisted versions. And we got the simplest answer possible when Udayan looked at Koco after hearing the first version and said ìBaba, its Avengers. Why are you playing the acoustic?î We chose the second one (although Disney had already approved the first), played it to Disney the next day when they were expecting to hear the final recording of the first one, and they thankfully loved it too.

Some interesting experience

KOCO: There was one instance which was hilarious when we were playing a corporate gig in Kolkata and one elderly lady from the audience asked us to play something new …what she probably meant was she wanted us to play some latest Bollywood hits…so Mohan asked her very politely from stage whether she had heard any of our music….she said no….Mohan then said “then all the music we’re playing is new to you”

Mohan: I remember Nirma institute in Ahmedabad where I saw a sea of people wearing the Nirma tshirt and I wanted to change into one of those tshirts somewhere in the middle of the show. And I suddenly announced without any warning that Koco would take over the mic as I had to take a 2 minute break. Imagine my horror when the first thing Koco thought of saying was ìHow many of the girls in the audience want to marry Mohan?î and my further horror when not one girl said a word but all the guys were screaming out. I don’t remember having changed my t-shirt that fast in my life. When I came back on stage, I remember Koco and the rest of the band laughing their asses off, having fun at my expense.

Favourite bands in our country

KOCO: Black Strat Blues, Soul Mate, Indian Ocean, Parikrama, Pentagram…. also I’ve heard some really interesting bands who’ve played at the gigs we’ve played but can’t remember names of these bands.

Mohan: I’ve heard some of the songs of The Local Train and quite like them, and recently heard Masala Coffee and absolutely loved their performance. And I of course love the bands Koco spoke about.

Future plans for Agnee

KOCO: Keep composing new material and performing till we’re 100 years old!
Mohan: Amen to that!

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