Rock culture has quite few takers in India. But there is a selective fan-following of Rock Music. Right from the 90’s when MTV beamed the international music scenario into our living rooms, Indians have been exposed to some extremely popular pop, jazz and western classics.
Even in the 70’s many of the popular bollywood hits numbers have their tunes music derived from top-rated billboards charted songs. But that is whole another topic of discussion. Though not many, India has got some good Rock bands, who have maintained their passion and devotion to music. In recent times, many rock bands are springing up and they do show strikes of originality and the karisma to make it BIG…
The Early Days of Indian Rock Culture
The beginning of Rock culture in India started during the 60’s and 70’s. The only source of western music for India were through radios like AIR and Radio Ceylon, but that too only in Metropolitan cities.
Gramophone Company of India and Polydor, the German Label, began distributing rock music records from US and Britain. Those days, Cassette companies like T-series also started selling pirated compilations of popular music in the West. That time, few contemporary Indian rock bands were also coming into making. The initial rock bands were ‘MotherJane’, ‘Indus Creed’, ‘Pentagram’, ‘Parikrama’ being the most famous.
Formed in 1984, known as the ‘Rock Machine’, this is the very first rock band from India. When they started back in the 80’s, their songs were heavily influenced by international rock bands like Def Leppard, Deep Purple, Bon Jovi, Whitesnake and others. Based on these exposure, their first album was ‘Rock and Roll Renegade’ in 1988.
The band members were Mahesh Tinaikar (lead guitar), Mark Selwyn (bass), Uday Benegal (vocals), Jayesh Gandhi (rhythm and lead guitar), Mark Menezes (drums) and Zubin Balaporia (keyboard). This line up toured the length and breadth of India (and the USSR and Middle East) for 6 years. In 1992 Mark Menezes left to be replaced by Bobby Duggal. In 1995 Bobby left and was replaced by Adrian Fernandes.
In their second album,’The Second Coming’ in 1990, a change in their style of music was noticed. They introduced fusion with Indian instruments like the ‘tabla’. Then onwards, the band adapted a new style with a more global and modern image. In 1993, they changed their name to ‘Indus Creed’. Their third album titled after their band name was promoted extensively on MTV and even got them a hit single (“Trapped”). However, the band split up in the late 90’s. Uday Benegal and Jayesh Gandhi have come together to form ‘Alms for Shanti’.
This is only rock band from India whose songs have been played in the international rock circuit. Their music was played across radio stations in Mexico, Japan and America.
Motherjane is a Cochin-based progressive-rock band from Kerala which was formed in 1996. The band went on to make an explosive debut wowing their peers within a week of their formation. The band consists of Suraj (Vocalist), Baiju (lead guitarist), John (Drummer), Clyde (Bass Guitarist) and Deepu (Rhythm Guitarist).
Motherjane, (the band’s guardian angel-named in homage to the bands belief that music is by far the best and purest drug in the world) was making her presence felt and her sons heard! Motherjane has two original compilations – ‘Insane biography’ released in 2001- 02. The song ‘Mind street’ was noted world wide for its high quality lyrics and wild performances on stage by the band.
‘Insane biography’ is awarded as the best Indian rock album in the year 2002-2003. DNA network rates Motherjane as one of the top 3 live acts in India.
Among the notable rock bands, that came up during the 80’s and 90’s, ‘Parikrama’ is the Last Man Standing. Officially formed in 1991, this band has maintained its original style and plays only english songs. The band often fuses Indian classical music instruments like mridangam, tabla and flute with conventional instruments like guitar, drums and keyboards.
They have been inspired and influenced by the likes of Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Jimi Hendrix, Allman Brothers and The Doors. The band members are Nitin Malik (lead vocals), Sonam Sherpa (lead guitars), Saurabh Choudhary (guitar), Subir Malik (keyboard, synthesizers), Chintan Kalra (bass guitar, backing vocals) and Srijan Mahajan (drums),
Their first hit single was ‘Till I’m No One Again’, released in 1995. Their biggest hit, “But it rained”, was released next year 1996. This song was dedicated to the kidnappings that had occurred in the Kashmir Valley, during that period. A Parikrama original “Rhythm and Blues” was created in course of their jam session with Usha Uthup.
Being a complete English-based band, they aren’t too popular among music label companies. So, they promote their music through free downloads and concerts. Currently a number of recordings are available as free MP3 downloads on the bands official site.
Agnee, initially know as ‘Agni’ in the 90’s, is a contemporary rock band. Their first hit ‘Wind Dance with Fire’, was a landmark album in Indian Rock Music History when it was released in 1993 and their other album ‘Mrityunjaya’ was released in 1995.
The new Agnee was formed during 2006 and after approaching a couple of big record labels, the band was signed on by Sony BMG. Agnee is one of the few lucky rock bands to actually get signed on by a big music label. The members of the band are Mohan (lead vocals, percussion and guitar), Koko (lead guitarist and backing vocalist) and Arijit (bass and lead vocals). Agnee is the first Indian rock band to have seen a huge celebrated main stream release. MusicTheir debut album titled Agnee was launched on May 15, 2007, and soon they became ‘the new face of Indi-Rock’.