Sorry about the earlier announcement. The Firangi Paani has been moved from Bandra to Andheri. Still, you can make October 19, a Tuesday night like no other. Dump your boss (and his wife) for a stash of funny money.
Back in the day when we had a heavier prog-rock sound dominated by Bruce Eddie Shredder on lead guitar, Rajeev with the Alice in Chains cap on drums and the elemental Mr Sunil Chandienne on bass, we used to play this absolute crowd-immobilizer called Late O’Clock. We started performing it around 1997-8 and essayed it live as late as 2005.
If you haven’t ever heard of it, take a listen to this unreleased studio session from the taarchives.
The legend (for those who like to keep a tidy catalogue):
Late O’Clock (Instrumental)
Recorded 1997-98 @ Ebi Studios, Banaswadi, Bangalore
Personnel: Bruce Lee Mani: Guitar | Sunil Chandy: Bass | Rajeev Rajagopal: Drums | Bryan Richard: Rhythm Guitar
Yes, yes, we’re feeling generous. So, head to our ReverbNation page and download it. Just one thing — please don’t heckle us for lyrics.
Even our most articulate culture commentators tolerate Indian rock music with exasperated indulgence, treating it as the fetish of cultural misfits who overstay in the waiting room between adolescence and oblivion. Having documented an independent rock band for nearly 15 years, I try to set the record straight on that immaculate misconception (thanks to a new friend for that phrase!).
Just as in Mumbai/Bombay (which languishes in its own cultural Truman Show) and Delhi (which appropriates culture as if its only representatives are those that camp in the capital), in Bangalore the underground pop/rock/jazz music movement began in nightclubs (like Boscos and Three Aces) where musicians were paid to perform covers of contemporary hits. When an overactive excise department (in collusion with the moral police) forced these joints to close shop, musicians were left with no stage.
The Music Strip (a brainchild of the late Sunbeam Motha) revived the movement somewhat in the early 1980s, launching bands like Human Bondage. Motha followed it up in the late 1990s with the Night Of the Long Guitar (where I watched the Sarjapur Blues Band for the first time) someplace in the backwoods of Bannerghatta. I was there — quite stoned as was customary then — so I don’t remember the coordinates.
That music movement preserved the exuberance of the Sixties and Seventies and distilled it into an expression of its own making. Refining that expression and beveling its edges into something rich and strange took time. Along the way, initiatives like Freedom Jam gave city bands a soapbox for their voice. But the money still wasn’t there. Organizers of college cultural festivals, which offered the best opportunity to draw crowds, favoured cover bands — mostly from Mumbai and Delhi. Local bands had it rough. The meagre prize money at semi-pro band competitions hosted by collegiate festivals such as Autumn Muse (St John’s Medical College) and Vibrations (Indian Institute of Science) offered incentive for new bands to strut their stuff. Even here, original music wasn’t the highlight. Crowds wanted Bon Jovi or Iron Maiden or Metallica, depending on how high they were, or how low they cared to stoop.
On April 1, 2001, Deep Purple performed in Bangalore. It was the first big appearance of a major Western rock band in Bangalore (Aside: When Roger Waters stopped by on his 2001 “In The Flesh” tour, one of the TAAQ boys got a chance to shake hands with guitarist Snowy White who asked him: “Deep Purple? Were they any good?”). For the first time, a local band — Thermal And A Quarter — was given a chance to open for the British legends. They played a complete set of originals that night, despite shortchanged sound, dimmed lights and no fee.
Two years earlier (in July 1999), TAAQ — then three years old — organized the Potatoe Junkie Concert at the amphitheatre behind Ravindra Kalakshetra. The gate collection went to a charity for soldiers martyred at Kargil. In November that year, the band organized Floodaid, a fundraiser for flood-affected villagers in Orissa. These events marked the first times that an independent band made money playing its own music at a completely self-organized gig.
Thermal And A Quarter’s music, to those who came in late, is a commentary on the angst of being Bangalorean in a city racked by change. And change — we know — is never completely desirable despite its inevitability.
My piece on the band’s music, published in today’s Mint Lounge, traces TAAQ’s relevance and rootedness to Bangalore’s cultural milieu, and argues that independent rock music can actually represent the sound of a city, if only one cares to listen.
A thousand or so 30-something Bangaloreans might remember the date 24 July 1999. That day, Taaq performed at the Potatoe Junkie concert and hauled the city’s underground rock music movement to the surface. The theme song—its title inspired by former US vice-president Dan Quayle’s infamous spelling howler—sneered at the city’s growing obsession with cable television. The band played a 2-hour set consisting mostly of original songs and, after breaking even, donated Rs 15,000 to a relief fund for the families of soldiers martyred during the Kargil war.
Separately, I am also quoted by the Times of India‘s Sandhya Soman in her article “Do Indian musicians make a mark abroad?” published today in the paper’s Crest edition.
Cross posted from Bijoy’s blog
Free speech is music to our ears, indeed. Speaking at ‘One Small Love – Bangalore for Mangalore‘ on February 14, Bangalore-based journalist, teacher and author C K Meena got under the skin of Love.
This is a poem about love.
Just listen to me – a poem, she says. Bravely.
Poem, or song? Call it pong, if it stinks.
Better call it comic verse, call it my funny Valentine – my funny Valentine’s Day message to you.
Valentine’s Day, a day for love, we are told.
Only one day? That’s stingy. Really mean. Love should fill all our days.
Trapping it in a 24-hour cage is the enterprise of those who sell the idea of love, the sellers of love who put love in a shiny box and gives it a barcode.
Buy your love perfume, buy her diamonds, rubies and pearls.
Treat your love to a special-offer-fitness-package at a gym so that he or she will lose weight. Ooh, how romantic, how utterly romantic.
On Valentine’s Day, take your love to a film called – you’ll never guess the title – a film called – “Valentine’s Day”.
But don’t take me for a cynic. Don’t mistake me, as we say in this city. All I’m saying is – Love, which is immense, can occupy the tiniest space. A leaf picked up from the ground beneath a certain tree. A piece of coloured paper. A broken string. A doodle. Any little thing that has meaning for two people in love.
No need to hyper-spend in a hypermarket
No need to hype love or fake love or turn it into a slushy mushy cliché.
But today’s Valentine’s Day, right? Oh, go ahead, buy your lover a furry toy monkey, listen to the Carpenters, for god’s sake, without blushing. “It’s the love that I’ve found ever since you’ve been around…” Listen to James Blunt without cringing. “You’re beautiful…”
But seriously, what is this notion, this emotion called love? This passion, this obsession, this confusion called love? This attraction? Creation? Collaboration? Communication? You know, people, you can take almost any noun with a shin sound and make it an aspect of love.
But seriously, what is this emotion called love?
All right, stretch your legs, spread out your mattresses, because if I try to answer that question I’ll keep you up all night.
Staying up all night might not be such a bad thing, if you’re two people in love.
You’ll spend half the night fighting and the other half trying to make up and when you finally do, you’re too tired to make love.
Love is about sex. Although it is not only about sex.
Love is being angry or moody or jealous. And knowing you’re being angry or moody or jealous for no logical reason whatsoever.
Love is a look, a gesture, a shout. A waterfall of laughter. A nice, warm bowl of s-s-s-silence.
Love is selfish. Love, as our autodrivers will tell you – love – is slow poison.
Love is sweetness and forgiveness, and being willing to give up everything you ever own.
And being nasty, and thinking of revenge, and destruction – of yourself and the other.
And feeling such unblemished happiness you think it will last forever.
Which it might. Or might not. Depending.
But let’s get away from the subject of two people in love. Man and woman, woman and woman, man and man, whatever. Millions of books and songs have spoken of it. Poets have tried to grasp its full body and only managed a nibble, a tiny pinch. So let me not try to go there.
There are other kinds of love.
Blood love. Father-mother-sister-brother, let me not go there, either. Simple, yet complicated.
Divine love? Nah, you lot are too young for that. Save the spiritual for the sunset of your life.
There is the love of inanimate objects. No, I’m not being kinky. You love a book, a film, a song. You don’t want to have sex with it but you want to devour it, possess it whole, because it speaks to you, it tells you who you are.
Then there is the love of a fellow human being. A love that comes from knowing that he or she shares your fate, your world. You are sitting side by side in the same boat, the same train, the same seat on the Giant Ferris Wheel of life. You reach out your hand and help a stranger when she is in pain, when she is distressed, because you share the same universe, you are sitting beside her on the Giant Wheel of life.
But there is another kind of “love”, my children, another kind of “love” which sounds like an excuse for hate. Loving your country means hating another. Loving your culture means hating another. Loving your language means hating another.
Strange kind of “love”, which is really hate in disguise.
What does it mean to love a language or a country? Nothing. Nada. Zilch. You belong to your country because you were born in it, born to it. Your language you acquired after birth but it is part of your muscle, blood and bone. What’s to love about them? They are mere facts. A country is a fact of life. Your mother tongue is a fact of life. What’s to love? Would you say, oh, how I love two-plus-two-equals-four, oh, I am so proud of two-plus-two-equals-four?
Naan yaav bhashe nalli mathaaadbeku antha, yaaaru nan-hattara hel beda, hel baaradu. Samaj mein aaya? Purinjitha? Manasilaayo, maashey? And if I could learn to speak all 22 scheduled languages and all its glorious hundreds of dialects I would speak them all, I would sing them all to you.
My culture is made up of many colours, many faces, many tongues. It has no room for hate of the “other”.
But some crazy people, some lunatics who give the moon a bad name, have been trying to dictate to me what my culture is, what it should be. They have been saying, speak this tongue, wear this colour, hate this face.
How dare they? Nobody can tell me what to speak and whom to love.
The loonies have been saying, we forbid you to love one who belongs to a different colour, who speaks a different tongue. How dare they?
Nobody can tell me what to speak
C K Meena, well known to Bangaloreans for her tart, witty columns on life in their ever-changing cityscape, has written two books of fiction — the semi-autobiographical Black Lentil Doughnuts and the crime thriller Dreams for the Dying.
And suddenly… unexpectedly… just like that… Bangalore gets a world-class performance venue.
Despite being the IT/BT capital of the world for over a decade, all that progress hardly made a whisper of a difference when it came to sound and lights available at any of the performance venues in our city. Progress, if any, was reflected in the pricing of the food and drinks. The only place that has great, world-class sound is apparently the Infy boardroom where Murthy and Nandan jam on their Midas XL8 digital console (known to be the world’s best board). No kidding, they’ve got the works in there, I hear. While we mega rockstar guys have to shut up and play with whatever comes our way. Not to forget the standard pre-gig scenario of haggling with the organizers for that extra sub-woofer or a slightly bigger mixing board or removing a few tables at that pub to make that stage just a tad bigger so that I don’t have a guitar neck going through my ears or have my boom stand up the frontman’s rear.
Finally, here’s a venue where all of that bad stuff is history.
Kyra, with its 30/40 stage + JBL VRX compact line array system with multiple dual 18″ subs powered by QSC amplifiers, processed and managed by a DBX Driverack + VRX delay speakers designed with ‘EASE’ to ensure even quality of sound across the venue. Not to mention the Soundcraft GB 2-24 24 channel mixer + Truss with 36 lighting points handled by a LSC Maxim M dmx lighting console with 48 faders.
Phew…I’ll stop for now, but there’s plenty more. For all the yada yada yada visit the one and only www.acousticcontrol.com, who have done a fantastic job at Kyra.
And the best part is Kyra promises that this is just the beginning… they are just starting off. Some standard teething troubles, etc. happening but lots more stuff is gonna be put in there.
And if you are wondering why yours truly is being so nice to this place, hear this: Finally, man, finally… finally… finally somebody decided to respect the work of the humble drummer and invest in a high end professional acoustic drum set. My eyes flood up as I thank the person whose decision it was to put in a good high-end kit in there. Contrary to what everybody (including my wife) thinks, we drummers do put in a lot of work into our sound, and for time immemorial we have been disregarded when it comes to spending that lil extra on making sure there’s a good kit at the live gig.
Thank you Kyra. Bangalore desperately needs you.
All the very best, and whatever happens the show must go on.
Gig review by Bruce coming soon.
Team TAAQ: Vinay Kewalramani (Sound + Gig Mgmt), OB-Wan and Guzuru (Guitar/Bass/Drum Techs)
Kyra: Navneet, Chris, Shimrei, Anand, Ajit and all the staff
RajeevPhoto courtesy Akhil Gupta
TAAQ was invited to be in the audience (for once!) on the talk show, ‘We the People’ hosted by journalist Barkha Dutt on NDTV. The issue on the dissection table was ‘Culture Wars’, triggered by the recent attacks on women in a Mangalore pub by members a certain right-wing group, and the ensuing protests in Bangalore and across India.
Towards the end of the show, Bruce performed the first verse of One Small Love, our brand new single. The song was used in the show’s end titles, too.
Watch the video here
Thus, One Small Love was launched nationwide, officially. And it’s yours to keep. So, download it off our website now. Go to http://www.thermalandaquarter.com/, click on the ‘Wassup’ icon and fill in your email address. We’ll send you a link from where you can download it.
Go on, spread the love!