By Shelly Mahajan:
“Pop music often tells you everything is OK, while rock music tells you that it’s not OK, but you can change it.”
â€• Bono, On the Move
As a kid, I grew up listening to a very few, eclectic mix of bands like Euphoria, Silk route and Junoon. Palash Sen’s Euphoria was the first and most successful bands in India that introduced distinctive “Hindi rock” music using traditional Indian instruments. Silk route was another popular Indian band that gave us ‘Dooba Dooba’ and ‘Boondein’. Sufi rock band Junoon from Pakistan created a huge sensation in 1990s and became one of the most popular bands in the world.
Today, this list runs into many pages as India’s rock culture is mushrooming at an unexpected pace. India’s rock following has grown larger than ever and is steadily creating a mark at the international stage. Here’s a compilation of ten all-time favourite Indian rock bands for all rock aficionados out there!
***Drum roll please***
Indian Ocean: They are the pioneers of fusion rock music in India. India’s rock scene is incomplete without them. You will soon hear them in the song ‘Hum bole the’ from the upcoming Prakash Jha film ‘Satyagraha’.
Current line up features Rahul Ram (bass guitar and vocals), Nikhil Rao (guitars), Amit Khilam (drums, percussion and vocals), Himanshu Joshi (vocals), Tuheen Chakravarty (table and Indian percussions).
Parikrama: One of India’s most prolific and oldest rock bands. They have jagged up over 3000 shows. They will be featuring in Fox Traveller’s new show ‘Sound Trek’ this August along with bands Indus Creed, Avial and Soulmate.
Nitin Malik (lead vocalist), Sonam Sherpa (lead guitars), Saurabh Choudary (guitars), Subir Malik (organist), Gaurav Balani (bass guitar) and Srijan Mahajan (drums)
Indus Creed: Initially called Rock Machine, IC is a trailblazer of contemporary rock music. The band was a big winner at the Jack Daniel’s Rock Awards this year.
Uday Benegal and Mahesh Tinaikar (vocals and guitars), Zubin Balaporia (keyboards and vocals), Jai Row Kavi (drums) and Rushad Mistry (bass and vocals)
Raghu Dixit Project: We have all seen him performing at various college fests. Dixit is a star performer who has given Indian folk music a new face. His most popular songs include ‘Mysore se aayi’, ‘Hey Bhagwan’, ‘Gudugudiya’ and ‘Khidki’.
Raghu Dixit (vocals and acoustic guitar), Gaurav Vaz (Bass guitar), Wilfred Demoz (drums), Bryden Lewis (guitars) and Parth Chandiramani (flute).
Swarathma: Founded in 2002, Swarathma is based in Bangalore and is India’s leading folk-rock band. They have recently brought out their second studio album titled Topiwalleh.
Vasu Dixit (vocals and rhythm guitar), Pavan Kumar (percussion and backing vocals), Varun Murali (lead guitar), Sanjeev Nayak (violin) and Jishnu Dasgupta (bass guitar and backing vocals).
Avial: The band is named after the famous south Indian dish, Avial. It is the first alternative Malayali Rock band that plays a mix of native Malayalam folklore with alternative rock flair. You can catch them at Striker pub (Vasant Kunj) today for free.
Tony John (vocals), Rex Vijayan (guitars and synth), Binny Isaac (bass) and Mithun Puthanveetil (drums).
Therman and a quarter (TAAQ): TAAQ is a popular indie rock band. They describe their music as ‘Bangalore rock’. Highlight: They opened for Guns N’ Roses at their first ever concert in India.
Bruce Lee Mani (guitars and vocals), Rajeev Rajagopal (drums) and Leslie Charles (bass and backing vocals)
Soulmate: Soulmate is India’s first ever blues rock band from Shillong. Active since 2003, they have released two albums, Shillong and Moving on.
Rudy Wallang (guitar, vocals and songwriter) and Tipriti Kharbangar (vocals, guitar and songwriter)
Them Clones: The name is to suggest that their stage personalities are clones of their selves. Inspired by the world of rock n’ roll, their music defies simplification. They recently performed at a fund raising event for Uttarakhand in Gurgaon.
Prithwish Dev (vocals), Surojit Dev (drums) and Joseph Lalhmachhuana (guitars).
Peter Cat recording company: This Delhi-based band takes its name from a restaurant in Kolkata, Peter Cat. Interestingly, their first few gigs in India were at weddings. They describe their music as ranging from “cabaret folk”, “gypsy punk” to just “orchestral”.
Rohan Kulshreshtha (bass), Suryakant Sawhney (vocals and guitars), Anindya Shanker (guitars, keys and harmonium) and Karan Singh (drums)
PS: The above order of names doesn’t signify any numbering in terms of music rating, preference or popularity.