Rock Music In India: Breaking Through At Last?

IndiaRocks031.jpg As most SepiaMutiny readers know by now, I work for MTV Iggy. And I don’t mean to keep pimping that stuff over here, but whenever something that might interest you comes up, it seems a shame to not share it. A new special feature just went up on the rock music scene in India, with interviews, live performance footage, music videos, slideshows, and more. Arjun S. Ravi, the editor of a Mumbai-based site that tracks the Indian rock scene, contributed fascinating article on the highs and lows of being a rock music fan in India:

The easiest way to sneak alcohol into Rang Bhavan was to hide it under a girl’s jacket. The notoriously long queues of people waiting impatiently to enter Mumbai’s legendary open air theatre were predominantly male, which meant that the security guards at the gate would only frisk guys. A girl, depending on her stature and the size of the jacket, could slip in anywhere between four to eight cans of Kingfisher beer. Inebriation was as crucial to the Rang Bhavan experience as the Metallica-inspired, ’90s metal cover bands.

[snip]

In India, rock is a much maligned genre, mostly because it is totally misunderstood. India’s Bollywood-loving masses generally accept and believe the particularly damaging stereotype that rock music is overrun by dudes with knee-length hair screaming into microphones and groaning like cats being tortured by pitchforks. And until the late ’90s, Indian rockers did very little to change that impression.

He goes on to trace the changes (fan attitudes, new kinds of venues, advent of the internet, bands stopped noodling around) that contribute to the fact that Indian rock bands were recently invited to the Glastonbury Festival in the UK, and SXSW in Austin, TX. It’s long(ish) but you can read it in full here. The full special feature is here.

An video introduction to some of the bands (Jalebee Cartel, Shor Bazaar, Them Clones, etc.) is after the jump.

So bands aren’t just playing cover songs anymore, they’re writing their own music and singing in whatever language they please. Do they still sound derivative? Why does India like metal so much? Will this affect the rich musical tradition in India or does it mean there’s more space for all kinds of music? Not exactly epistemological questions, but they are still unanswered and I’m opening the floor to your thoughts.

And please think your comment over before you criticize. The sepia intern will be moderating this closely and a thoughtful discussion will be appreciated.

45 thoughts on “Rock Music In India: Breaking Through At Last?

  1. Why the implicit assumption (“at last”) that India is following the West, just a little bit late. What’s next, inevitably, for India–sexual revolution, then political correctness and gay marriage?

  2. Have you read the article? Watched the video? Done anything more than bang away at your keyboard the moment you saw the title? WTF. The “at last” is that the scene is moving forward. The rest is your implicit assumption. What does this have to do with “following the West, just a little bit late”??

  3. This is VERY exciting. I’ll be moving to Bengaluru next month and am hoping to go to a few shows there. I believe Placebo is playing there in February. I think there is going to be a lot of bands doing the same old thing and then a few that will really be innovative and good…just like the U.S. However, in the clip one of the guys said that India may not be totally ready for “English” music. I don’t think that they necessarily have to sing in English for the rock to sound good…many Indian bands sing in Hindi, etc. and still sound great. Or do they mean “English music” aka “Western rock”? Not sure…but either way all these bands look like they’re having a lot of fun. Also, I think a lot of American bands might find it cost effective to start touring in India in the next few years.

  4. depends on what you consider ‘metal’ to be–Slayer and Metallica or Meshuggah/Between The Buried and Me/Opeth/Emperor/Mastodon?

    There are carnatic musicians who have played with Swedish metal musicians (Mathias Aeklund and the Hammerfall drummer recorded an album with Selvaganesh and Johan Hellborg) and meshed very well. I’m not sure if that’s because the carnatic musicians were exposed to Slayer/Metallica-style stuff first instead of Atheist/Cynic but it seems like it could have been a factor.

    if you go to last.fm and do simple searches for “indian metal’ much of what you’ll find is very derivative–but of crap metalcore bands that think blast beats are sufficient (which is very much a current fad.)

  5. Nayagan/muralimannered, What happened to your blog? Long time, no updates. . . . Do you believe that they’re going to let the Tamils out of the camps in Sri Lanka? I cert. hope so! See today’s atimes.com

  6. This is really interesting because I feel like this scene has been trying to break through for so long, but as one of them said, the power and “monetary muscle” backs the Bollywood culture instead. I would see articles in India Today about bands like Rock Machine or whatever when I was like 10 years old, or about the Bangalore pub scene in the 90s or the big Vedic Metal movement about 10 years ago, but invariably mainstream India was not ready for it on a widespread level and it would die down. It seemed like there was some promotion of Indian and Pakistani bands on MTV India in the early 90s but then MTV was taken over by filmy music and Bhangra. To be completely fair though, there were good bands in those days, and there was also major suckage going on. Some were awesome and original, especially the fusion-y stuff. Some of them were guys with long hair and torn clothes that were actually just playing cheesy Ad-Cont and claiming that they were trying to be the next Freddie Mercury (confused?). These bands do sound promising. It’s hard to be completely without influence and non-derivative of something. Even most Western rock lately is derivative of something 15 or 20 years ago when the musicians were growing up. One advantage of there being no money backing rock marketing is that these groups seem more open to a number of influences. When I was growing up (in the US), the grunge fans would be different from the metal fans who would be different from the goths and shoegazers and Britpoppers, and the fans would pretty much avoid each other’s music because of how the “scenes” were exploited by marketing forces. For my husband (a rock-loving DBD) there was no hypocrisy in appreciating Iron Maiden, The Cure and Dave Matthews all at the same time, along with Jagjit Singh and Junoon. So I think there might be potential for more innovative sounds coming from India as these musicians may have grown up more “open-minded”. And maybe the success of “Rock On” as one of the top movies of 2008 (even though most of the music is laughably more poppy Bollywood and less serious rock) is an acknowledgment from the mainstream that rock does exist in India. Finally.

  7. “Just imagine Incubus…” No I can’t, I won’t. It’s great to see so many desi bands ditch the cover version route, but that alone is not enough. This constant sniping at Bollywood is hilarious too. Filmi music is India’s rock. If they want to compete, they need to up their game (I like what little I’ve heard of Indian Ocean). Nayagan, Melechesh are currently my favorite hybrid metallers. It would be nice to see a desi spin of the nonwack kind.

  8. I followed the Indian rock circuit during my college years (not so long ago) and eventually gave up.There was this expectation of delayed gratification, a long overdue check that I was never actually able to cash. There appeared to be an abundance of talent but, at the risk of over generalizing, a persistent lack of depth. I grew tired of kids from Chennai putting on American accents while singing and of the quest of most bands to prove their so called rock-authenticity (for lack of a better phrase). Very few bands actually wrote stuff they felt strongly about and even fewer produced non-derivative works. The Indian rock scene is riddled with unexplainable eccentricities, like an obsession with Iron Maiden and Pink Floyd, symbols of a fakey type of musical nostalgia. I don’t believe its a case of bands unable to breakthrough, rather a case of the Indian rock being unable to grow out of its adolescent phase. I have seen the evolution of Junkyard Groove from a small time band slaving away in the college circuit to their success in Dubai and the subsequent record deal. Talent will survive, but only when it deserves to.

  9. like an obsession with Iron Maiden and Pink Floyd,

    & weed… Yes, There is huge fan following for rock (mainly the college kids). Most of the colleges have one day in their college fest dedicated to rock, our college had one. The music was alright, the girls never came & most of the guys were smoking or half drunk (& headbanging). Somehow i feel we relate better to hip-hop since it is much more near to Bollywood music (atleast the beats).

  10. When it all comes down, it’s all about the benjamins. (or the gandhis…) There’s plenty of little-known rock bands in India trying to make it big, lots of serious metal acts that have the possibility to make it big … if only they had the resources to record something good in a real studio with the hottest tech, instead of in noisy “home studios” in a rented flat with carpets on the walls. The money goes to film music. That’s the Industry, it’s huge, and it cannibalizes everything else.

    That, like everything else in India though, is changing as well. You’ve got some bands that have really made it big – Indian Ocean and Parikrama have done international tours, Pentagram and Jalebee Cartel and such are gathering a big following in the cities, and there’s a lot of smaller-time bands that could explode onto the scene at any time (Dark Project and Advaita, I’m looking at you.) Problem is though, that it’s mostly the cities where people are into rock, and it’s a small percentage of the population anyway. Film music is going to sell in Bareilly as well as Bangalore, but metal? Maybe not so much.

    I was able to work with Nirvikalpa, a one-man band into pure, baroque-influenced metal while I was in India. We soon realized our musical styles diverged drastically, but no one can say he’s not one hell of a guitarist. There’s a ton of talent out there waiting to be discovered. What I saw while I was there bodes well for the future of Indian ‘indie rock’ … let’s see where it all goes. I can’t wait :D

  11. The few Indians I know who are very into rock seem to be into what I would call “Classic Rock” (Don’t know if I use the right terminology, not really so good with that in music)

    But is all, as someone said stuff like Pink Floyd and Metallica (I can’t even spell that right, aren’t I super hip?)… I mean there are certainly people in the U.S. who still listen to that, but I wonder why that seems to be so appealing to the Indians rock types rather than.. ahem… anything newer? It’s a bit perplexing to me.

    When I think of rock in India I often think of “Rock On!” which of course, as the Bollywood-ized version of Rock is all cute and wholesome with some lyrics and pleasant music that make it enjoyable but it doesn’t really mean much.. I kind of think of the kind of rock I listen to these days (Indie) as more of a type of bizarre modern poetry put to a variety of emotionally intense musical …er.. stuff (for lack of a better describing word). Rock On! is sort of an empty shell version of that… (so is a lot of modern rock in general too, of course).

    Anyways, blah, blah blah. It’s 2 am and I am probably not making any sense… I just can’t wait for Indians who like rock to be inspired to infuse it with their own influences and style, rather than just doing the “rock thing”. Any bands people want to share in this category (the first, not the latter) please do!

  12. From what I understand, the whole topic revolves around the Interpretation of Rock Music in India. In that case, there is no definitive saying how it is going to go. The way we listen to Rock Music or treat rock music is totally like how the westerners (cliched and noted) do. I am not telling that it must be forced or unforced.. But somehow, the influence reflects in the way we treat rock music.

    To elaborate my point, believe it or not.. I actually headbang for carnatic music..!! It is just a feeling of doing what you want to when you feel like.. And yeah, if India moves along those lines, rather than our traditional music getting into a stereotypical, learn-by-rote model; a zillion variations of our own music might evolve creating genres of its own.. Half the carnatic singers I know, talk in false American accents and more than half, actually do not understand what the bloody hell they are singing. How different is this from normal treatment that we mete out to a rock band.?

    At the end of the day, it all just seems too contradictory. Rock music is obviously highly misunderstood (according to hard core rock enthu-pattanis) and traditional music is more or less in a high degree of extinction. All that I can decide is that, music is highly volatile. And as I said above; It is a feeling of listening what you want to, the way you want to.

  13. The truth about rock music is that it represents more than just music-that-sounds-good to baby boomers. To them it was the anthem of revolution and progress. To them. That generation runs the world right now and so we are all brainwashed into thinking that rock music is timeless. It is not. Listen to baby boomers talk about The Beatles and you would think they are the epitome of what music should be, yet people from the current generation can barely tolerate the stuff. The hype surrounding rock music for the past 30 years has been all marketing money and corporatocracy. Rock music will never mean the same thing to India (or any other country for that matter) as it means to America, the tradition just doesnt exist. What can truly exist, however, is a level of music appreciation in the same way that one can appreciate classical or jazz. It is not possible to appreciate art when it is packaged and marketed to you, as the previous generation has done with Rock to the rest of the world. I suspect that once the current generation firmly is in control of the world and is pulling all the strings, the generation that comes after wont give a shit about Rock Music. Dont get me wrong, Im not against music or music appreciation, I simply feel that much of the hype around Rock Music is due to corporate Baby Boomers making a buck. I do appreciate Rock for what it is but sadly do not see anything taking its place in the cultural-zombie-state that seems to have taken its place.

  14. Of course! India gets into it when the genre is all but dead in the west, though rock has always been popular among drug-addled, anglophone Mumbaikars.

    What in the world is MTV iggy? Does it cover neo-classical Hindustani artists like Debashsish Bhattacharya? IMO, thats the ecutting edge of Indian music at the moment.

  15. “I simply feel that much of the hype around Rock Music is due to corporate Baby Boomers making a buck”

    well put.

    I think Michael Stipe actually said the same thing in regards to Beatles music being forced down his throat and being unable to relate.

  16. @ Anon: Fear not. Internet distribution and the rapidly dropping costs of music production is going to cut the recording industry out of the game. Once it becomes just about the artists and listeners profit margins drop like bricks and music will become all about the music again.

    Or at least that’s my utopian vision.

  17. “profit margins drop like bricks and music will become all about the music again. “

    Music should become better but don't kid yourself a lot of real artists had one eye on the dollar, you should see some of the riders Led Zeppelin had in the 70s
    
  18. Yeah, it seems like there’s a lot more space to do original stuff now. And i’m esp stoked about desi-language music moving beyond pop and classical. The comments about ‘no market for english music’ made me chuckle though. Firstoff, I’ve only ever heard one Indian band that writes in English and has something genuine to say (Thermal and a Quarter). There have been some others that have nice music (Zero, Menwhopause, etc) but nothing that really gets me going. There just doesn’t seem to be enough confidence to write in an Indian context, in a manner people can relate to. The vast majority of stuff simply doesn’t seem honest. Then they whine about how there’s no support for their music like its our fault. The sense of entitlement is staggering. Write something decent you assholes. It’s also kinda ironic because a lot of these guys (at least the older bands) were very vocal about the ‘sellouts’ that started doing stuff in Hindi. Or even bands like Pentagram that strayed outside the confines of rock. At least that seems to be changing though, and thats probably the best thing to happen over the last decade. I’m convinced thats where the real good stuff is going to come from – mallu acid jazz ftw

  19. “profit margins drop like bricks and music will become all about the music again. ” Music should become better but don’t kid yourself a lot of real artists had one eye on the dollar, you should see some of the riders Led Zeppelin had in the 70s

    One eye on the dollar is no big deal. I don’t fault anyone for having some business acumen. But it’s about what you’re in the business for. Did you get in to make music or did you get in to make a buck? The way the recording industry works guarantees that sales are driven by marketting which jacks costs up dramatically. But part of that means your properties have to be mass-markettable, which generally implies simplistic, repetitive pap that you can blare from every speaker and TV commercial with only the barest consideration for context. There is very little mass-marketted music that one can just sit and listen to that could possibly hold one’s attention for long.

  20. Actually I remember watching some Teja with my mother the last time I visited and they had some rural folk musicians doing a battle-of-the-bands thing. I imagine some of them would feel more or less at home opening for a rock band.

    One adorable 8 year old kid sang a song from the perspective of a family man who is upset about how his wife and kids have all turned into deadbeats ever since he bought them a color TV. HILARIOUS!

  21. I find it weird too that Indian rock fans are so into Slayer/Megadeath/Iron Maiden…..but then again the rest of the population listens to pop music that is really not that “in” in the U.S either. I will never understand the popularity of Bryan Adams over there. Every time I would go to India my cousins would ask me if I had his cd and I told them I don’t even know one song by him! In fact I was just at a wedding in Delhi in MARCH OF 2009!! and the dj played Barbie Girl!!

  22. “I will never understand the popularity of Bryan Adams over there.”

    Oh. I know. A lot of my JNU friends LOOOOVE that kind of early 90s sappy love soft rock stuff…. the same stuff my dad enjoys. tee hee.

  23. I will never understand the popularity of Bryan Adams over there.

    Hey! How can you not love classic lyrics like:

    Everything I dooooo. I dooo it fooor youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu.

  24. PM@19:

    Thanks for the pointer to distortion in general. Is there a pointer that Srinivas is using distortion?

  25. I find it weird too that Indian rock fans are so into Slayer/Megadeath/Iron Maiden…..but then again the rest of the population listens to pop music that is really not that “in” in the U.S either. I will never understand the popularity of Bryan Adams over there. Every time I would go to India my cousins would ask me if I had his cd and I told them I don’t even know one song by him! In fact I was just at a wedding in Delhi in MARCH OF 2009!! and the dj played Barbie Girl!!

    So true! The holy trinity of Indian rock fans is always something like- Bryan Adams, Dire Straits and Pink Floyd. What is up with that? And that seems to be true whether the fans are 20, 30 or 40 something…

    There just doesn’t seem to be enough confidence to write in an Indian context, in a manner people can relate to. The vast majority of stuff simply doesn’t seem honest. Then they whine about how there’s no support for their music like its our fault. The sense of entitlement is staggering

    It’s usually upper-class, convent-educated, Westernized guys who have access to rock music in the first place. Many of them are missing the genuine angst, rebellion, alienation or whatever usually drives rock music in the West. From what I’ve heard or read, most musicians get their inspiration more from “rebelling against Bollywood” than anything else.

    However, I saw some interesting news from BBC a few months ago about John Leckie (Radiohead and Stone Roses producer) discovering 4 new Indian “alternative” bands: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/8053478.stm

  26. @ Anon: Fear not. Internet distribution and the rapidly dropping costs of music production is going to cut the recording industry out of the game. Once it becomes just about the artists and listeners profit margins drop like bricks and music will become all about the music again

    Id like to believe it but it isnt just the notion of money that I see as the issue. I think musicians have been completely un-inspired culturally for the past 20 years give or take. The thing about real inspiration is that it inspires new and interesting genres as well. All we see across the globe is people doing the same old routine over and over again, read rock n roll, punk, grunge, hip hop, whatever… All those genres were created by a combination of orginality + inspiration. Both of which I think is lacking in music everywhere today. Unfortunatley it is much harder to create genres and become inspirational today because while genres like rock n roll were rejected by the mainstream and then slowly cradled to maturity by people that really cared about the music, today it is much more likely that a suit and tie will decide the future of anything up and coming.

  27. Disclaimer: I write for Thermal And A Quarter. But 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 even twenty. Without any vintage value whatsoever.

    The “fascinating article” that you speak of 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 surprising stuff really 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 Arjun S 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 Bombay’s ChakraView. 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 labored. 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 of 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 launched their album to a crowd of wine-sipping and tikka-nibbling celebs at a plush 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 (I wrote about Plush recently here). And I am not even talking about the metal scene (which, being loud enough as it is, deserves an altogether different writeup).

    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 death) 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.

  28. I am a panelist at India’s first independent music conference: Unconvention – Mumbai. Check out: http://unconvention.in/. Been working in the music industry for a few years both in NYC and Mumbai/Delhi and am impressed by how much the scene has grown since I was last here…even as early as April 2009. Much work needs to be done – particularly in terms of “originality”. The bands here definitely have the chops to play and their big dream is to play in Europe and North America. My fellow panelists have been encouraging them to (a)develop the scene in India. Learn from our mistakes, don’t repeat them..and grow a cohesive and sustainable scene in India on DIY basis at first, but with independent label support; (b) make sure the music is not only really good, but original. There is one metal band here that is apparently incorporating certain traditional Indian rhythms and scales into their metal repertoire..hence they stand from not only other metal bands in India but worldwide. They are getting the attention of other European press, labels, agents and festivals because they are differentiating themselves.

    It is certainly in it’s nascent stages but there definitely is alot to be excited about here in India.

  29. Ali,

    i’ve heard demonstealer before and never was really pulled in but I did listen to what is being streamed on Scribe (core’s) myspace and it was definitely a step in a good direction: they’ve been listening to alot of Sikth and employ a good amount of those melodies-in-an-octave and some of the rythmic complexity. But still I wait for a metal band with a mridangam sensibility–where the experience of playing different odd numbers with both hands turns into Djen-style poly orgy. If given a choice between Karaikkudi Mani or Palghat Raghu and a 4/4- metal fest, i’ll always choose the former.

  30. Hey Nagayan: Have you heard of Rudra from Singapore?

    http://www.myspace.com/vedicmetal Death metal with black and thrash influences (self-described Vedic Metal)…they also dip into some traditional Carnatic passages. Their last two albums, Brahmavidya: Transcendental I and Brahmavidya: Primordial I are part of a trilogy and recommended. Blastbeat talas and pentatonic scale shredding.

  31. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s my pleasure and pride to introduce you to J. Rajasekaran, the Mick Jagger of Tamil Nadu. Sekar and his band toured Tamil Nadu in the 70s and 80s playing original Tamil numbers and American rock covers. He was the resident coordinator for the University of Wisconsin-Madison College Year in India program in Madurai for the length of the program from the late 70s until it folded up in 2008. Here’s some stuff he put on YouTube. File this song under socially conscious Tamil rock: http://www.youtube.com/attackpandi#p/u/3/Hm_gIx6zUHQ. Enjoy!

  32. Ladies and gentlemen, it’s my pleasure and pride to introduce you to J. Rajasekaran, the Mick Jagger of Tamil Nadu. Sekar and his band toured Tamil Nadu in the 70s and 80s playing original Tamil numbers and American rock covers. He was the resident coordinator for the University of Wisconsin-Madison College Year in India program in Madurai for the length of the program from the late 70s until it folded up in 2008. Here’s some stuff he put on The YouTube. File that one under socially conscious Tamil rock. Enjoy!

  33. “There is very little mass-marketted music that one can just sit and listen to that could possibly hold one’s attention for long.”

    Yoga point taken, though early Foo FIghters had something to they still do a bit

  34. He was the resident coordinator for the University of Wisconsin-Madison College Year in India program in Madurai for the length of the program from the late 70s until it folded up in 2008

    That is a pity. It seemed to be a very beloved study abroad program among those who took advantage of it.

  35. All right, here’s my deal: rock music is terrible. It never sounds good, always lacks any hint of refinement, and demonstrates the starkness of urban society at large. For (and this is for all you rock afficionados), you need to see the roots of this genre. It was born out of the despondent post-war era in Europe and North America, whose citizens had quite truly lost a sense of direction. The wild, unrestricted tones are a clear reflection of the human nature of the people who create them. My question is, what on earth does this have to do with india? Our music should be calm and peaceful (as classical music has always been) reflecting our 3000 year heritage of peace and greatness. And all this from a 17 year old college student in Berkeley!

  36. Glaring exclusion – TAAQ – 13 yrs old, 4 albums released(independent mind you!), only Indian rock band to be featured on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered, supported Jethro Tull & Deep Purple on tour, WorldSpace Award for ‘Outstanding Contribution to Indian Rock’ in 2007, toured Glasgow, London, etc to ultra- receptive audiences.

    Other honorable mentions(or lack of it) – Ministry of Blues, Bhoomi and Moksha.

  37. I know this is an old post, but here’s a great website for tracking desi indie developments

    http://www.indiecision.com

    Also, check out The Supersonics-they sound kind of weezer-ish, with The Strokes and other miscellaneous indie bands thrown in. The guy’s put-on baritione does get annoying though, but the composition’s solid, and only somewhat derivative.

  38. Hello from DogmaTone Records!!!

    As part of our efforts to promote Rock Music in India, we are looking for Non-English Rock Bands from across India. Any rock band there is, who primarily create music in any Indian language please contact us. We are open to any Indian language- Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam, Punjabi (yeah :D you heard that right), Marathi,etc., ANY INDIAN LANGUAGE!!!!

    Guess it’s high time Rock Music is evangelized (:P), preached & popularized in India! And damn the naysayers!

    Yes, by Rock Music we do mean all forms / sub-genres of the same, like – Metal (Doom, Black, Death, Thrash), Grunge, Soft, Punk, Hard, Pop, Hair, etc., etc., etc.,

    The idea is that we will be that as a follow up to our first release – “The First Mutiny – Dogmas of Indian Rock”, we are planning to come with another compilation album featuring Non-English Language tracks by artists/bands from across India. And of course this album will be unique & one of its kind and will have a great potential in taking ROCK to the masses. CONTACT US!!!

  39. Hello from DogmaTone Records!!!

    As part of our efforts to promote Rock Music in India, we are looking for Non-English Rock Bands from across India. Any rock band there is, who primarily create music in any Indian language please contact us. We are open to any Indian language- Hindi, Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam, Punjabi (yeah :D you heard that right), Marathi,etc., ANY INDIAN LANGUAGE!!!!

    Guess it’s high time Rock Music is evangelized (:P), preached & popularized in India! And damn the naysayers!

    Yes, by Rock Music we do mean all forms / sub-genres of the same, like – Metal (Doom, Black, Death, Thrash), Grunge, Soft, Punk, Hard, Pop, Hair, etc., etc., etc.,

    The idea is that we will be that as a follow up to our first release – “The First Mutiny – Dogmas of Indian Rock”, we are planning to come with another compilation album featuring Non-English Language tracks by artists/bands from across India. And of course this album will be unique & one of its kind and will have a great potential in taking ROCK to the masses. CONTACT US!!!

  40. I was in India earlier this year and I too found the popularity of Bryan Adams amusing. He was playing to sold out high priced concerts. That beats playing to Walmart or some corporate retreat in the west. Then again, who am I to bitch considering pop music taste in the US has gone to hell too. The state of mainstream rock in the US is at an all time low.

    Out of curiosity, is there any kind of punk movement or retro punk movement in the Indian rock scene? My indian cousins tend to not give a damn about the punk songs in my collection, not even the pop oriented stuff from the Ramones or the Clash. I find the asian and middle eastern rock bands more into metal or classic rock or some variation of boring-ass prog rock. Then again, I am no expert on that scene and it is just soe random observations on my part.