I’ve heard that certain pipples in this town are calling me just that. Wonder how that started. Sure, I’ve fixed a few guitars, set-em up, adjusted tremolo bridges, stripped/cleaned/adjusted floyd roses, tweaked truss rods, lowered/raised action, soldered/unsoldered connections, replaced pickups, re-wired, replaced parts, restrung, re-set necks, filed down nuts and bridges, cleaned, polished and shined them, but that’s it.
What I’d really like to do someday, is build them. Get into the wood. See the seductive curves of a strat in a dull block of red cedar. Hear the bite and twang of notes jumping from a blank unfinished bird’s-eye maple fretboard. Ah. that would be something.
I’ll be willing to answer a few questions about guitar maintenance/customizing, etc if you have them. Can’t promise much though.
Can you play Hotel Carlifonia? (note distinct Mallu accent). I can’t remember the number of times I’ve been asked that question. But as a kid growing up in some obscure village (Ambalamugal to be precise) in God’s own Kerala, this song, unknown to me, had already entered my very soul.
My earliest memory of ‘HC’ is of playing air guitar to the lead: This was the late70’s. My dad had got my elder brother an electric guitar and the first song he had to learn was this mother. The entire neighborhood was infected with it as a result of that learning process.
Could The Eagles have ever imagined how far the song would go when they wrote it or how big an entity they were creating? One that would set musicians all over the world in search of that Holy Grail – to nail that solo! It took two of them to write that darn thing alone! And then there’s the song itself. What the heck is it about? (We even tried listening to it backwards on the old spool tape players we had back then!)
Strangely enough we got to play this very song at the Malayalee Thattukada gig last week. (What? TAAQ?? Playing the cover of all covers?)
Well, let me tell you that it was a revelation for me as well. It was a special request by a 15 year old called Mandara, who wanted to sing it. And her dad (an airline pilot btw), who’d seen us play at Zero G and the TULL gig and whose party it was, who’s dream it was to play the drums with a ‘real’ rock band.
So, there we were. On Stage. Playing the first notes of the opening chords…I looked back and there instead of Rajeev I see Captain Nagaraj at the drums, focusing straight ahead like he was doing some mental calculations about wind speed, distance and whatever else passes through a Pilots’ mind before take off.
Now this is not a song we’ve practiced often as a band to say the least, but all of us there had logged in our hours with the song. 15 to 40 being the age span. We played it with David helping Mandara on with the vocal bits and Captain really taking off into the groove. Off stage I could see Rajeev grinning widely and grooving with us. By the time we hit the solo, which Bruce totally nailed, I was flying! Therein, I realized, had come true, a forgotten childhood dream of mine as well – to play with a band that could get this song right!
Under the Covers…
On the way back David and I were talking about the gig and music in general. David’s probably played HC more than all of us with the experience he’s had with playing covers.
Why do we have this thing against playing covers?
One line of thought that nobody takes into account when playing covers is the whole copyrights issue – have you got permission of the rightful owners of the song before playing it for your own profit?!? Can we get sued for playing that song (even the way we did!)?
So, how does an Indian musician with ‘a rich cultural and musical heritage’, speaking and thinking in English play a rocking version of Hotel California (and get a visa to the US `;~)?!?
In Western and Indian Classical music, anything worth composing has already been done. Anyone wishing to prove a point has to first show mastery over what already exists and that it self takes a life time for most of the great performers to achieve. That’s playing covers, the way I see it.
So what can we gain by playing covers? I know Bruce has to get it just so or NO! So learning a song like HC is essential training then for any guitar player? IS there any guitar player out there who’s not heard HC or tried to learn it?
Personally, learning to play this song seems to have given me purpose in life! Playing it over and over, in all sorts of bands and circumstances, through the musical adventure that got me thru school and college. And then some 20 years later, to last week, to answer that question…
Can you play Hotel California?
Ps: There is an actual version of Hotel Keralafonia floating around somewhere. I got it as a fwd once. If anyone has it please to kindly oblige and put it up here. It’s super funny.
for those who came in late, (a la phantom) the thattu kada gig was for Capt. Nagaraj, a commercial pilot, on his 40th birthday. He plays some decent drums, and promised us some real flying time if we let him play with us…
The malayalee Thattu Kada. What a gig. Rojew wanted to play all 46 songs on our list, but we managed to get through just 25. Some very cool jam things happened with the big man Mr. Prakash Sontakke, who just landed up. Good trip. There’s also a very concrete plan to put in some actual flying time.
If I wasn’t playing guitar, that’s what I’d probably be. Way before I can even remember, there’s only one thing I really wanted to do – fly. I knew everything there was to know about those fabulous WWI and WWII aircraft, the first jets, the concorde, the SR-71A, sigh. It was such a consuming passion. I’d sit through every summer break and make scale models of aircraft with last year’s notebook-cardboard. Still got some of these models, albeit a little beat-up after long storage.
Done some parasailing, but not real flying and this is really exciting…
When the pre-historic TAAQ was getting together we had a good source of angst: Our silly college politics which didn’t allow little boys to play on stage in case we upstage the big boys.
Our erudite venom spitting generator of TAAQ copy, Bijoy was there waxing eloquently and hatefully of all who opposed us and the so called songs of anger ‘I’ll get you in the end’ and ‘Catharsis’ made their appearance.
Looking back over 10 years one can laugh but at that time it’s no laughing matter. But whatever… it made us focus a lot on the music and getting our act together. Couldn’t afford the screw up. Ya TAAQ even in prenatal stage was serious about its music.
And BTW one of our ‘enemies’ is now Rajeev’s boss !
Though Rudy passes himself off as an ordinary guy, with an ordinary life, the conspiracy theories have to make their presence felt.
First. Rudy is not a mal. How come? Well I heard Rajeev say it for one. The other is have you ever ever heard of a mal called Rudy? Mals generally take any 2 sounds and put them together. Now Rudy would fit this criteria beautifully BUT… there is no one else called Rudy. Do you know a mal called Rudy. NO. Even Titichayan’s wife tatama kochamma wouldn’t know a Rudy in her nagaram (which means town. naragam on the other hand means hell which actually are never too far from each other).
Despite this he speaks perfect malayalam. He claims he was born there. But he is not a mal. So… what is he?
Rudy is from Mars
This astonishing theory actually gains credence once you’ve spotted Rudy’s red hair which is never allowed to grow. But he is actually quite vocal about it. Red hair from the red planet. Obviously his wife would rather not have everyone know she’s married a martian so hence the ban on the beard. But Rudy has that longing for his roots in a follicle sense of course. So Rudy landed up from Mars in Kerala. Why? Simbly.
Rudy has some European roots. But that’s too boring. So on to the next theory.
Rudy is actually a vampire. So actually he is about 500 years old and came to the Kerala shores with old Vasco da Gama. Haven’t heard of a Portuguese vampire? Try Rudy. If you ask Rudy ‘Queres beber um pouco sangue?’ He would hesitate a moment. Also check out an unreleased picture of him with his teeth glinting. However one must reiterate that this is a pro vegetarian vampire. What lovely bloody music he makes!
Rudy is John Lennon
John Lennon’s shooting was a silly urban myth. However as the myth started spreading the marketing dudes who were getting tired of Lennon decided they would milk it for all its worth. So with a neat bit of chloroform they parcelled Lennon (Rudy) away for a few months. They got the whole world to cry about him and released him from his house arrest. Obviously no one believed that he was Lennon. He was dead after all.
So Rudy Lennon decided that the next best thing to do was to land up in Kerala. Having visited India before it was a doddle to settle in the land of the mal. A few days of sun got the skin sorted. Learning the language was made simple by the Boney M loving restaurant owner. How? Rudy Lennon would say ‘RA RA Rasputin’ and he would get some appam and stew. And so with the consistent usage of Boney M songs the language issue was solved.
Then came the musical issue… ah well we know how that worked out. He joined some zany band… unknown to most….
“I’ll get you in the end” was a Bruce Lee Mani original — lyrics, I mean. The young and spunky Sunil Chandy added some cool touches to it.
I think the first time it was performed was at Christ College before TAAQ was born — we were just the Christ College band then. It was the mandatory ‘own composition’ — a song that could put us ahead in the sweepstakes. While the metal boys bludgeoned it out, screaming of death and mangled wombs and the untold joys of the crypt, we were singing about pretty Marys and red Ferraris.
I ain’t talkin about no pretty mary
I’m talking about my Red Ferrari
Ironically, pretty Mary (Bindu Mary) came into Bru’s life almost the next year. And she has the original scrap of paper on which the song was written.
Download ‘I’ll get you in the end’ on our website
One of the memories that will be filed away in the old steel-trap (hah!) brain from this concert will be this: turning around and seeing a 50+ dude with a humongous beard, eyes closed, snaggle-teeth fully visible, bellowing lustily along with Ian and the boys on Aqualung and Locomotive Breath. Old rockers never die…
Other memories? Of course, me hearties. Walking up on stage all glam for a change wearing painted-on gold-speckled slink (Rzu’s orange pants, Rojew’s pink-glitter shirt, wow), seeing 4000+ people waiting, all the awful bum notes I played, Jupiter Cafe, Bend the World, Prakash falling asleep during sound check (and the wonderful non-veg sandwich episode), the wife running up to give everyone hugs.. so much more. Mr. Anderson (dare we say it like Mr. Smith?) was quite a guy. Meeting the rest of the band, chatting about basses and accordions and small shops in Cornwall. (Now I can definitely stick up my lil finger at parties!).
‘Twas a good gig, methinks. Only wish we had a better soundcheck, and perhaps that that jam with Mr. Anderson happened. Anyway. Can’t complain, old chaps.