Wednesday, July 22, 2009
The ugly Rockstars
rock star posters
rock street journal
Any high-spirited youth who had grown up with rock music can easily identify with these jargons. They cast their spell as the nuclear tools of a rising rock star. A philandering segment also kiss rock music as an appetite to chill out and might have tried screaming or plucking the strings of a guitar in any chance encounter. And of course there are the insecured aliens that despise rock as “noise” but hang around, mugged up and gossip about it just to belong to a crowd. If he is not into rock, the rest might say he “isn’t cool”.
The early 90’s prove to be a renaissance period. Mtv arrived with their sizzling music videos, cool & stylish VJ’s and the rock stars; they swept us off our feet. Personally it made a major influence in the way I doll up myself, my accessories or the clothes I buy. But more importantly, forming rock bands became a huge trend. (Indigenous rock bands have been there since pre-Danny Mc Gill though). In every colony you hear amateur bands blasting away with their gig sessions.
The neighborhood wars that stream in with such alien disturbance were normal. Schools or college weren’t spared. Functions have guitarist strumming away or somebody screaming. There were myriads of rock festivals and rock contest in the city. A lot of us who doesn’t have a band felt wipe out. Coz it was the most hip and happening youth culture then.
A decade later,
Does this jargons sound very fatherly? Now when I hear about those eccentric ugly band mates that used to drive the city girls to frenzy, they have been wiped out. All the enchanted ugly friends who would rather flunk a class test or miss school for a gig session, they have been wiped out. Small town rock bands carp about their plight that they seldom make money from stage gigs.
Everyone has to scrap for a living. Therefore, the nascent roosters that once stood on rock are either lazing a life of a vagabond or quite a few business savvy souls are engaged in bread winning activities like running a studio, employed in it or open a musical instruments shop. A few musicians would play in somebody’s music album to earn a few bucks worth 14 meals. I met a dashing musician in Dimapur (Nagaland) who married a rich woman. This is smart music sense. No roosters can scream or bang a guitar with an empty stomach. Lou Majaw, the Shillong rock icon preached me this gospel truth by laying his hands in his new born baby, “if you are doing something only for passion, you won’t make any money”. I understand what he predominantly meant. If you nurture an enduring passion for art or sport, support it with a strong business sense.
The big city bands like in Delhi, Mumbai or Bangalore enjoy more liberalized economy. Performing in hotels or music assignments for small screen films or TV serials draw in some extra bucks to pay their beer bills. But these off track benefits are also rare as myriads of seasoned music composers are around.
Making an album, a lot of them who had done it said a local rock album doesn’t sell. If it’s hard for the western bands to make it a success, it’s triple hard for Indian bands.
Firstly - it’s the language barrier.
Secondly - the target listeners. Rock music lovers in India or even Manipur are marginal. Indigenous bands spreading out to American - European soil is unthinkable as they lack originality, technique and mega bucks to market them in a massive scale.
Thirdly - the corporate business of music. No Indian music companies are willing to put in money where they seldom see much returns.
I tried asking the decade old Delhi band Parikrama, one of the most popular Rock band in the country. They said music companies are ready to promote them if they go Hindi. But they prefer sticking to English rock, their passion and depend on gigs in college fest and hotels for the band’s survival. Personally, the band mates run some business of their own for “bread-butter-and beer”. Sonam and his wife Dina run the Parikrama Music School. At least they are living out of music.
Recently Parikrama made a smart move by jamming with Bollywood star Saif Ali Khan. I went for a concert in Mumbai and a lot of my neighboring female audience was there for the actor, consequently building more aura around the rock band.
Eastern Dark, our own Manipuri band made a smart move by going Manipuri. Manipuri rock album would harvest more target listeners than an English album. Their debut album Kangdroom is a nice piece of meat. I met their ugly vocalist in a lavish wedding ceremony blooming with Manipuri hot chicks. But both of us were wearing fake Rayban sunglasses and so I told him, “Dude! If you market the album appropriately, it is going to be the greatest Manipuri Rock album of all time”. Even a music connoisseur like me came across it by chance in a music store. I didn’t know the band even existed or have released an album. What about the common people? Lokesh boasted by showing off his new Motorola mobile phone (bought from Singapore) that they are not worried about money. I also showed off my marketing skills by telling him, why he doesn’t use the strategy of piracy (free music) to earn more listeners and fame for their album. Upcoming European rock bands also use this path to win fans before they are fully established.
In this corporate world, it is not the talented but the smartest & the most talented rock-stars that win original Ray Ban sunglasses & hot chicks.
Ps: the article was originally written for www.e-pao.net, a year back in my posh flat in Mumbai. This is a pirated version.
~ DOREN is a writer / filmmaker who is fulfilling his childhood dreams of making connections with different cultures and races.