After making their stash of funny money, the greasy-palmed triumvirate of Thermal And A Quarter have retired to their own private island. It’s a lavish life that many would envy, but for the ennui. They want to be entertained. So go ahead and make the most kickass music video for Kickbackistan, the song that made them filthy rich. And you could too if your video wins the 2 lakhs on offer for the Kick Out Corruption Music Video Competition. Go on, shoot!
TAAQ and Swarathma turn it on at the JD Rock Awards at Hard Rock Cafe, Bangalore on October 21.
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.
For some people it was a lonely Valentine’s Day. And this goes out especially to them.
When we played in Pune last year we decided we weren’t going back without cake and cookies from the famous German Bakery. Enjoying them in Bangalore the next day, we didn’t foresee having to reflect on that simple pleasure like this.
Terror could have struck then as it did on the night of February 13, 2010. But we lived to write this. And we shall make the most of the life and joy granted to us.
It is somewhat edifying that we were able to reach out to Pune on February 14. Opus Pune webcast the One Small Love concert live to its patrons.
Thank you for turning up (and turning down your other Valentine’s Day engagements) and for your support and encouragement right through this initiative.
Foremost, our thanks go to the fabulous folks at Trumpit and Opus – Carlton, Shonali, Priyanka, Venkat, Adrian and all the staff whose names fail us but whose smiling faces fill our minds when we recollect that lovely evening. Thank you for event support, your gracious hospitality and for making our artists and guests feel at home at Opus in the Creek, such a tranquil setting with its giant Buddha and tippling fish.
Thank you Konarak Reddy, Gerard Machado, Ravichandra Kulur, Alwyn Fernandes, Gaurav Vaz and Karan Joseph for your soul-stirring performances. A special thanks to Vasu, Varun, Jishnu, Montry, Pavan and Sanjeev, the awesome musicians of Swarathma, for playing a pulse-quickening show. In a market where live performances can hardly pay the bills, these wonderful people unquestioningly played for love.
For making the One Small Love concert a resounding success we thank Niranjan, the man at the soundboard whose admirable patience with the tantrums of rock stars is legend.
Thanks to Saswati Chakravarty, C K Meena, Prakash Belawadi and Harish Bijoor for articulating their special messages to our audience because rock stars (with the notable exception of Gaurav Vaz) are so pathetic at making speeches.
For his time-saving and completely impromptu comic interlude, a whopper of a thank-you goes out to our friendly neighbourhood Bollywood star-in-the-making Rajeev Ravindranathan.
Thanks to Merwyn Rodrigues of JumpMedia, Dubai, who accepted a brief that few designers would, and delivered a poster and profile image for our Facebook page in just a few hours.
We thank Smita and the very talented and even-tempered folks at Kieon for online support and web design.
Thanks to Kartik Iyer, Praveen Das and the beautiful minds at Happy Creative Services for dreaming up the original One Small Love music video. Special thanks also to Ashvin Naidu of Avakkai Films.
Thank you, PG Santhosh and his colleagues at MIPL-GraphicsAllAround, for the One Small Love giveaway stickers and for the big yellow smiley that graced the stage throughout the show.
Thank you, Gaurav Manchanda, for being Ayrton Senna to our guests when the cab guys ditched us at the eleventh hour.
We thank Dean Umesh PN, professors Srijayanth and Ananth and research fellow Bindu of the TAAQ Roadie Institute of Technology (RIT) for running the show like a smoothie, and especially for committing themselves to the odious task of filming people drawing smileys under hot lights.
We are immensely grateful to Facebook and WordPress for their fabulous (and free) online products, which make social messaging and online publishing look ridiculously easy. Ten years ago, we would have struggled to drum up opt-in support for an event like this. This year, we didn’t phone a single journalist.
In the same breath, we thank Facebook evangelists such as Martin D’Souza for spreading the message of One Small Love to their networks. Thanks also to the 1,300+ fans of the One Small Love page for your endorsement of this movement. You have a lot to look forward to.
We have had many managers and we love and respect all of them. But no one merits a bigger ovation than Divya Joseph, who deserves a lifetime royalty from Adidas for living the slogan ‘Impossible is Nothing’. The list of things she deserves to be thanked for cannot be accommodated here, so let just it be said that she was the smile on the face of One Small Love.
Thanks to Velu Shankar, a long-time friend, philosopher and guide of Thermal And A Quarter, for his advice and encouragement.
One Small Love begins at home. Our families deserve our utmost love and gratitude for their support and suffering in the face of our absences, late nights and many missed dinners. Since this suffering, and our solicitations for support, are not about to stop in the near future, we thank you in advance.
The show must go on, no matter what threats loom up to stop us. And we will do everything in our power as musicians and artists to fight violence and hate with messages of love, tolerance and freedom. To paraphrase Harry Belafonte: “You can cage the singer but not the song.”
The concert is only the beginning. In the future that is about to unfold, One Small Love will reach out to the world in many ways and touch many lives.
Let’s draw the line each day.
Swarathma, Indias hottest new band (they swept the JD Rock Awards), is also a multicultural ensemble with members who hail from across the country.
Vasu Dixit and Varun Murali invoke Sant Kabir in one of their songs to explain that nothing has changed in the last five hundred years when it comes to womens empowerment. On the one hand we tout the power of freedom and yet, on the other, the same people misuse freedom for their own interests.
Join them and other artists, musicians and concerned citizens at ‘One Small Love – Bangalore for Mangalore’ on Feb 14 in Bangalore to celebrate the spirit of freedom. If you are not in Bangalore, join us on Facebook.
Draw the line. Spread the love.
Last year, February 14 was Violentine’s Day.
With the world in turmoil and India licking the wounds of 26/11, the last thing we needed was for churches to be desecrated and women to be attacked in pubs and on the streets of our cities.
Thermal And A Quarter responded to this climate of hate and suspicion with One Small Love, a song that persuaded you to perform a small act of kindness to make a difference in a tired world. The music video, broadcast on YouTube, continues to be very popular.
This year, One Small Love is echoed by the collective voice of Bangalore’s concerned citizens.
On February 14, 2010, join us for ‘One Small Love – Bangalore for Mangalore’, a convention of concerned and like-minded Bangaloreans, to celebrate the spirit of freedom and tolerance with free speech, food and music.
The event will see performances by Konarak Reddy, Allwyn Fernandes, Gaurav Vaz, Ravi Kulur, Gerard Machado, Karan Joseph, Swarathma and Thermal And A Quarter.
‘One Small Love – Bangalore for Mangalore’ begins at 7 pm at Opus in the Creek, Brookefields, Bangalore, on February 14, 2010. Entry is free. Come in peace.
If you are not in Bangalore, show your solidarity by becoming a fan of the ‘One Small Love’ Facebook page.
Draw the line. Spread the love.
And watch this space for updates over the week.
Special thanks to Merwyn Rodrigues for the poster. And, eternally, to the incredible folks at Happy for dreaming up the music video that started it all.
Despite my own leanings, I cannot take seriously any article on the Indian rock music scene that dwells in the era of imitative cover performances, or performances of so-called originals that are so totally “inspired” by popular covers that they are no different from them at all. That stuff is so ten years ago. Maybe twenty. Without any vintage value whatsoever.
The “fascinating article” (by Arjun S Ravi on MTV Iggy) that Cicatrix speaks of in Sepia Mutiny reads like ‘The Best of RSJ (1992-1999), with Notable Exceptions’. It’s all been documented before with elan and sincerity by Amit Saigal. Today, it’s dated. Because it casually ignores a significant slice of Indian rock history — the independent music scene in Bangalore, which was where the really surprising stuff started to emerge from the mothballed closet in the late 1990s. In businesspeak, this era was when Indian rock music sought to “differentiate” itself. Not through marketing strategy (a la Parikrama et al which still have nothing to offer the discerning music fan) but through inventiveness, performance and startling creative energy. Ergo, I am not sure if Ravi’s omission stems from ignorance (which is unforgivable) or from personal bias (which is charlatan).
Thermal And A Quarter, as those who know their Indian indie scene know, began this revolution by playing entire three-hour sets comprising only originals — as early as 1999. No Indian band, repeat, no Indian band (save some in that fantastic cultural pocket — the Northeast) was doing that then. One other band that did it explosively — and I was witness to their memorable show at Madras Christian College’s Deep Woods in 1996 — was (then not-yet-Mumbai’s) Chakraview (with Dhruv Ghanekar on some serious gizmo-led guitar).
Perhaps Ravi also might want to remember that Laila Rouass-starring black-and-white music video, Colourblind, by the Mumbai band of the same name (the duo of Ram Sampath and Siddharth Achrekar). It was a brilliant new statement (very indie) and added a dimension to Indian rock that did not hitherto exist (or last). Sampath (now a composer for films and famous for his copyright victory over the Roshans for copying the music of Krazzy 4) told me off the record when I interviewed him (about Ram Madhvani’s Let’s Talk for Rediff.com in December 2002) that Colourblind “had not been viable”.
Viability has always been the gradient against which Indian indie rock has laboured. Indus Creed, after showing us the light, disappointed us by disbanding and resurfacing again as Alms for Shanti, with an eponymous album that was released both in English and Hindi (Kashmakash, Free Spirit, 2001). Alms for Shanti, with a name that sounded like it had been coined by an armchair Indologist at the University of Hawaii, plays the club circuit in New York where they have established themselves as export-reject exotics. Although singer Uday Benegal cribbed about the sleaze in the music industry as an aside during an interview with Rediff.com in 2002, he also told me this: “We went West because we were disillusioned with the East. Because the music we were doing at that time had absolutely no place here. Not that we were seeking salvation in the West. We wanted to go ahead with the music we make and look for the audience in the West.”
That’s one way to go, but if you know the audience to be here you have to be loyal to it. It must be remembered that around the same time that Alms for Shanti announced their album to a crowd of wine-sipping and tikka-nibbling celebs at a swank Tardeo lounge bar, a lot of bands that had been either influenced by TAAQ or shared the same struggle emerged from Bangalore — Kryptos, Myndsnare, Galeej Gurus, Zebediah Plush… And I am not even talking in any detail about the metal scene (which, being loud enough as it is, deserves an altogether different celebratory writeup amid a full-flowing headbangathon at Styx).
That TAAQ (still an unsigned band) was not from Bollywood-besotted Mumbai or Hindi-mein-gao-yaar Delhi or still-smoking-the-Sixties Kolkata was really what went against them when they started. Or the fact that their music was a leap year ahead of the public imagination — I mean, how many Benadryl-swillers orgasming in the moshpit had actually heard of (let alone heard) Steely Dan and Pat Metheny, or even imagined that they could influence an Indian band’s sound? The few critics of this counterculture — jealous jilted lovers of it mostly — judged the music by a myopic yardstick: the done-to-death genres of metal and dinosaur rock.
With Jupiter Cafe (2002), TAAQ’s second album, Bangalore shot into the limelight. It continued with Plan B (2004), the first album from India to be distributed with a custom Creative Commons-like license. These, inarguably, were milestones in Indian rock. Indie media (Indiecision, Split, RadioVerve… hell, even the un-indie Rolling Stone) acknowledged and celebrated them. MTV, which has always fed off the now happily moribund record industry (recently resuscitated by MJ’s passing) and now mooches off Bollywood to survive in the subcontinent, has no authority to comment on the indie scene. In the two fitful decades of Indian rock, MTV has neither recognised nor supported the indie movement. And to pay lip service to it now, with a limp biscuit such as this, is both embarrassing and shameful.
As the man who named his daughter Moon Unit said: “In the fight between you and the world, back the world.”
Part of this rant was originally posted as a comment on the muchly admired Sepia Mutiny
Photo: TAAQ from the back by SlickThief
Cross-posted from here