I was surprised when some posts from CEPT came in that implied there are Categories (A,B,C,D) of bands in India. I’ve heard this “categorization of bands” term being sheepishly used here and there, but could never find out more about it. Is there a group or body that decides, publishes and maintains this categorization of Indian Bands?
The CEPT guys seem to know about it and know exactly how to give different treatment based on which category a band belongs to. And just to be truly Indian, (and to uphold our inherent classist nature) if you happen to be a “C” category band then the norm will be – “don’t pay the band, or make them beg real hard for it, given them bad sound, threaten them, discriminate” Basically pretty much what’s done to any minority in this country. What bullshit I say! We can’t let this happen in the Rock Music scene.
Real rock bands in India are a precious minority. I’m talking of real bands, i.e. bands that mean what they sing about, and have fun, and are not in it only for the categorizations, ratings, font size, radio, video, mobile publicity etc etc. I’m talking of Bands that do it cos they trip on music. In our 11 years we have experienced and been through various supposed categorizations. We’ve played to audience of 4 people to 40,000 people. We’ve seen great bands break-up, some shitty bands become real BIG, some old folks re-forming and brand new kids… green and getting into the scene.
So i do understand that some sort of classification is required at a certain level but its not difficult to give equal basic respectful treatment to all. Sometimes I feel its done intentionally to clearly peg you as some lower class. It’s that same dignity of labor issue we struggle with so much in this country. You just can’t show respect to anyone who is lower down in the system, not because you cant, you apparently shouldn’t, sadly that’s the culture.
This is not about how much money you get or don’t get for a gig, its about respect and dignity in what one does. In India, asking someone for what was originally promised means you are showing bad attitude. It’s such a shame. Take shit or else you are labeled an arrogant person, or you are labeled as having a Bad Attitude. Somehow its not a very appealing thing for us to do. This “taking shit” business.
In 1997/98 when we decided we will play only original music, we got loads of flack from event organizers, college unions etc saying that we have too much arrogance and attitude blah blah blah. At that point we lost so many big gigs from the most reputed and high ranking colleges in the country simply because we only wanted to play originals and wouldn’t play a set of covers they demanded. Today all that has changed and we all know how cool it is to be original and have a distinct sound that you can call your own.
Now when we speak out against bands being taken for granted, “surprise surprise” what happens? we are given the same “Bad attitude” crap, blah blah. Some clients pay well, on the other hand a few have run away without paying us, like the CEPT College Ahmedabad Students Union/Organizing Committee 2008. Ok so college kids screw up at times… But there are some grown-ups who are part of this illustrious list of organizers who promptly and consistently disappear when it comes to payment time. While I am happy that there are fewer of these types around these days, this blog post is for those who are still around alive and kicking.
For example, there’s this self-styled boss of a music management outfit that isn’t satisfied with the noise levels that Indian rock is producing – he wants it louder, much louder. He, along with this other cool founding father of all Indian rock festivals Big-Daddy-Mumbai-Music-Boss (no, not Bappi Lahari..that’s different) took more than 4 months to pay us a piddly 10K for the opening act we did for Jethro Tull in Bangalore. It wasn’t about not having the 10K to give us. It was purely about one thing, and that is to see how much we beg for it… it’s all about “Kissing Ass”. The prospect of a true counter culture, where Bands get paid upfront is not looking very good today, but my eternal optimism and positive attitude drives me to believe that at least 10 years down the line it won’t be a “BAD” thing for a band to ask for its dues, however small or big the amount may be. And I’m glad that today we have Blogs and forums where we can honestly express and put down facts.
The inherent freedom-of-expression and irreverence that ROCK MUSIC is all about, is probably the reason some organizers think they can take rock bands for granted. I think this freedom of expression needs to be the reason why nobody messes with Rock Bands. We know how to tell it like it is, and maybe write a song or two about it.
I wonder who categorizes BANDs in India. And the A B C thing reminds me of something, Check this out… this was reported in the News some time back about how the English alphabet was being taught in text books in some parts of the country,
A for Seb
B for Munda
C for Billi
D for Kutta
So yeh A B C D category band kya hai bhaiyya..kisne kiya yeh catergoreezation
Suddenly Rock in India has supposedly become BIG, and there’s arguably a high potential to make big bucks in India through this irreverent western Rock Culture. Suddenly we see Bollywood stars, event guys, AD guys, Mallu’s, Gujju bhai’s, Narendra Modi (oops ), almost everyone scampering to be a part of the Rock scene. It’s like the Y2K business opportunity that came up almost 10 years back.
Talking of Y2K reminds me – Millenium is back! Aaaawesomeeee dude. More Power to them! Now can we have Rock Machine, Juravi, Lucid Dreams and MD’s (Old Bangalore band) and W.A.R.D.E.N reform please? I do miss the real indian rock stars of the past.
Anyways back to categorizations and treatments administered onto Indian Bands today. It’s like we have some disease and will be given treatment accordingly. Category C band must be “Constipated” and category H must have Herpes, …..HERPEES !!! take them to the herpes ward immediately … Category H band plays only in the Herpes Ward …….. send them to the Herpes ward right now, no more festivals for them… and that’s an order … from the Mogambo’s of Indian Rock….