By Aditya Thakur:
Rock music in India has been synonymous with metal and metal heads have become the image of rockers. But all that rocks is not metal. And if non metal rock has been rare in India, Hindi rock bands have been even rarer. There have been bands like Indian Ocean and Euphoria that have carried the Hindi rock flame for a long time but now more and more bands are coming up with good original Hindi rock music. Here are a few upcoming bands that are a testament that rock is more than just loud drums, shrieking guitars and growling vocals and that Hindi rock can exist as a separate entity and not just as a younger brother of Bollywood.
Aks is one such band that makes a strong point for melodic rock in Hindi without going too Bollywood. Aks means reflection of the soul and along with being the name of the band, it is their philosophy towards music as well. All the band members are individual artists who came together in 2011 in Bengaluru to form Aks. Xavier Vishal Kichingia on lead guitars and Raveesh Tirkey on bass are the heart of the band. Joel Dubba’s vocals are pleasant and soulful. Dheerendra Doss is skilful on the drums and along with Abhilash Lakra on acoustics forms the rest of the band. They don’t really fall under any specific genre but are most definitely rock, both in their sound and attitude. They came out with “Kisse Aise Bhi Hain” on Independence Day 2011 and it was an instant hit on Reverbnation. They have released 5 more singles since then and each one is an interesting journey in its own. The latest release “Paisaa” has a punch of a riff and interesting direct lyrics that comment on our society’s dirty love affair with money. The originality and creativity comes from the soul and justifies their name. Aks is definitely a band to watch out for as it has huge potential to be one of the leading rock bands of India. Do check them out on Reverbnation here.
Divine Raaga is another great band from Bengaluru. Their music is very soothing and reflects the sense of connection every band member feels with the divine, which is also the reason behind the name of the band. The band came together in 2009. Their sound varies from sufiana to Indian classical with a mix of rock. “Banjara” is a soulful song with very good vocals by Buddha with a slight touch of Indian classical in his voice and beautiful lyrics by ABC. The bass by Bernard is excellent and forms the centre of the band’s sound. Neel and Ashraf on guitars and Mrinal on drums along with Kishore on keys form the rest of the band. “Apna Tendulkar” is a must listen for every Sachin fan, by which of course, I mean every Indian. Check them out at their website here.
Another band Indo Gypsies formed in 2011 in Mumbai consists of a versatile vocalist Saurabh, Nayan on guitar, Mahant on Bass, Durgesh on keyboards who along with Nayan and Mahant formed an instrumental band “Farol Trio” in 2010 which laid the foundation for Indo Gypsies. Sanchit on drums, Ameya on Percussions and Sukrut on tabla form the percussion trio of the band and provide the unique sound of the band. They sing both in Hindi and English and the fusion music with English vocals forms a very unique sound for the band. Their song “I’m Sending India to School” won the “Responsible Youth Talent” award in January 2012 presented by Rotaract. It’s a wonderful song that mixes Hindi and English lyrics wonderfully along with some refreshing guitars and a spirited beat. “Zidd Dhariyo” is a nice fusion song but sounds a lot like Indian Ocean who clearly have been a strong influence on the band. “I Owe You” uses Indian beats along with western guitars and vocals to form a nice fusion. “Soldier’s Love” is also another good fusion song. Check them out on Reverbnation here.
Arjun: The Band is an ensemble that brings pure classic rock to Hindi music. Brainchild of lead guitarist and vocalist Arjun Singh Rawal, this band was founded in 2010 in Delhi and includes Aman Sagar on rhythm guitar and backing vocals, Ankit Vedic on bass and Varun Arora on drums. The genres that influence their sound are classic rock, hard rock and rock n roll. The guitars are very skilful and Arjun has all the classic rock guitar tricks in his bag. The creativity of the band is obvious from there songs such as the one titled “K.L.P.D” which is a total fun song with a fast tempo and a catchy riff. You can download their music at Soundcloud here. Some of the songs are available for free download while others you can listen and share from the site itself. They are also equally at ease with English songs and “Bright Eyes” is a lovely romantic song. “Silsila” is a very good acoustic song with wonderful guitars and beautiful lyrics. “Desh Raag” is a good anthem with excellent guitars. “Daastaan”, “Phir Kya Hua”, “Mere Sapno Ke Shehar Mein” and many more are worth listening as well.
Daksh is a bollywood, soft rock band from Delhi. Founded by lead vocalist Kavish Mishra in 2007, Daksh has been around the college fest scene and won some major rock competitions over the last 5 years. They started with their album “Wo Yaadein” and recently their song “Din Dooba” featured in the 2012 movie “Kuch Spice to make it Meetha”. Other than Kavish, the band consists of Rishab on violin and vocals, Kartick on rhythm guitar and vocals, Mohit on lead guitar and vocals, Neeraj on drums, Gaurav on tabla and Partha on bass. The band doesn’t like classifying their sound but calls it as fusion of Indian classical and Western music. Catch them on Reverbnation here. Although there is only one original number in the form of “Din Dooba”, the other bollywood covers are pretty decent as well. The original is a good melody with some neat guitar work in the solo. The vocals do leave you wanting for something more though. The band might be more Bollywood than rock for some but it is definitely worth checking out.
These are just 5 examples of good rock bands coming up in India. There are hundreds of other bands, covering genres from blues to grunge to punk to fusion and everything in between. The rock scene has improved over the years and hopefully, we’ll be able to support more and more bands and get some good music that is not commercialised by Bollywood.