In our ten years, we’ve jammed with a whole variety of instruments – Carnatic percussion, Hindustani slide guitar, Coromandel vocals, et cetera. But in the recent past, we’ve been initiated into a new sax-uality.
In TAAQ’s book, 23-year-old Nate Linkon from the Windy City is nothing short of a prodigy. He is our latest thrilling discovery (though knowing him, he’ll argue the converse is true). But what does an American four years out of his teens but who’s played his brass for 13 years feel about jamming with, of all things, that incongruous entity known (only recently, and begrudgingly) as The Indian Rock Band?
Here’s the spaghetti in Nate’s words:
Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Nate, I’m 23 and hail from the United States. I’ve been living in Bangalore for the last 16 months or so, marketing for an IT company by day, rocking out on my sax with TAAQ by night. After playing in a rock/funk band in Chicago for several years, I had no idea what to expect from the music scene in India. To be honest, I brought my axe along not really sure if I’d play with anyone but my iPod for the 2 years I’d be here. Clearly, I was mistaken.
I started off in Bangalore playing with some heavy metal bands that were pretty good groups, but probably not the best fit for a sax player such as myself. Since then I’ve wandered Bangalore’s desolate live music scene playing with various permutations of the group of 20-or-so musicians I know. It’s been tough to find a group that A) played original music (after all, music is about creation and you can only play Take 5 so many times before creativity goes out the window) and B) rocked while still grooving, a more difficult combination to achieve than some might appreciate.
I was thrilled/shocked when I heard Jethro Tull would be playing in Bangalore, and being a longtime Tull fan (my dad used to play “Thick as a Brick” into my crib, and my first concert EVER was Jethro Tull and Emerson, Lake and Palmer) ran out to get tickets to see them for the fourth time. Not expecting much from the opening band, I was at the back of the field chowin down on a shwarma when I first heard Thermal. A couple things struck me: the music rocked, yet grooved and managed to have a unique sound that exhibited the loads of musical talent these guys obviously possess. I generally have one rule about bands that I play with: if the music doesn’t make me wanna move, I don’t wanna play it.
I remember thinking, “See, now there’s a band I could play with! But alas, they are opening up for one of the rock greatest bands of all time and clearly have no need for this amateur expat. Keep dreaming, Nate…”
So when I met Rajeev and he asked me to stop by for a few rehearsals, I was pretty stoked. What has developed since is nothing short of a great fit. I really dig the TAAQ sound, at times the music sounds as if it were written for a horn section that never showed up. I’ve always enjoyed writing horn parts, and this gives me that opportunity to create something. There are few things more enjoyable than taking a piece of music, and bringing something to it that really takes it to the next level. I’m not saying I’ve done that yet with TAAQ, but we’re getting there.
After a couple gigs (IIT-Delhi and MCC), I’ve been reenergized with the soul of rock n roll. I’d almost forgotten what it’s like to play in front of a completely mad crowd of more than 60 or 70 people. When the crowd at MCC was screaming Bruce’s lyrics and demanding to hear TAAQ songs that didn’t make the set list, I was pretty blown away. Somehow it’s easier to forget the scorching heat of Chennai when the crowd is digging your show as this crowd obviously was.
I’m looking forward to a string of gigs coming up later in October and November. After all, heaven for me is playing in a workin’ rock band.