Friday, November 20, 2009

Is there Rock in Delhi?

Here is an article I wrote over a decade ago....

Rock in Delhi is certainly dying. Me, being a hardcore rock fan was considered weird by most of my classmates and schoolmates.

Rock is considered uncool and shunned by most people. As rock is mostly sung in English (Except for the new Hind-rock which has come out recently it can't really be called rock, maybe soft-rock but definitely not rock.) and I don't listen to the more popular dance and Hindi music I was given the label of Angrez. (Not to mention that I can't speak Hindi very well.)

Rock is what I call real music. Note-Everyone has their own opinion on what real music is. This is just my opinion. After all, I live for this stuff. Real music, real talent, real emotions. (Unlike most of these boy bands who have all the music and lyrics written by someone else for them.) The music called rock almost always has a meaning. And good rock normally has a deeper meaning than Come on Barbie let's go party. And it normally has more subject matter than what boy bands use i.e. love, sex, baby, girl etc.

Yes, rock does have love songs. On the whole they are very poetic and stirring but rock also talks about heartbreak, tragedy, fear, death, destruction, humour, insanity, pain, euphoria, poetry and philosophy. Most people think that rock is just some guy with a guitar singing his woes. Totally wrong. That guy sitting at the guitar is singing his emotions, not just woes. If he's not singing he is just sitting there playing for the sole reason that his soul feels good when he plays. Rock is the music of power and freedom and in Delhi eccentricity can be included in that list. You might not have noticed but most peace and tribute concerts and charity concerts involve rock bands in the majority. I mean Woodstock was all anti-war and pro-freedom and love, wasn't it?

These days is the time of techno where songs can be made on a whim with the use of computers in a matter of hours and their only purpose is to keep you dancing whereas a rock song takes ages to make. It involves first the concept, then the lyrics and the music writing and then hours on hours of arduous practicing over and over again until you get it just right. Then come the recording. So much more sweat, heart and emotion goes into each song. A true labour of love for music that is. Rock songs have more purpose than to make people dance. Most rock songs aren't meant to be danced to in the first place. And to add to it all, who will remember techno in ten years time? But rock will live on forever.

Ever since the fifties Rock 'n' Roll has been ridiculed, abused and attacked by people who can't understand it and most of all can't handle the constant change that rock keeps going through. When Rock 'n' Roll first came into view people thought it to be an outrage and couldn't understand this revolution in music and deemed the most light hearted song the work of the Devil himself. Not so for the younger generation which welcomed it with open arms.
A lot of children (my own mother was one of them) were banned from listening to rock but slowly their freedom returned and rock grew stronger than ever.

The sixties and seventies brought along the flower children. A tremendously large group of youngsters, revolting against the Vietnam War by having unprotected sex, doing drugs and drinking. Their motto was, in a way, "Peace man, pass the joint." And a lot of them converted to Hinduism for a reason I haven't been able to figure out yet. Something about eternal peace, love and a higher state of consciousness. To that I reply, "Say what?" Hence Woodstock was born with a gathering of thousands to a concert the world would never forget. Rock spun around into a whole new religion. Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Janis Joplin, The Doors and such like changed the world of rock into something spiritual, philosophical and poetic.

Up till today rock has been blamed for anything and everything that happens to this ridiculously silly world. Kids start smoking, blame rock. Kids are free, blame rock. People are eccentric, blame rock. People do drugs, blame rock. People kill other people, blame rock. For example, after the Columbine High School Massacre (where 2 boys came to school one day and started shooting kids before shooting themselves) who was blamed? Why, rock of course. Specifically Heavy Metal band Marilyn Manson and a German Industrial Metal band called Rammstein. They were thought of to be the root cause to the massacre because their music is loud and violent and the culprits listened to them. Think about the guy who went up on stage and killed Dimebag Darrel of Pantera, arguably one of the best metal guitarists of all time. It was the music, right?They probably wouldn't have done this if they listened to opera or something, right? Wrong. They were deranged morons. They would have done it anyway. The truth is half the world, including me, listens to them ( the metal bands, not the killers of course. So do my friends. You don't see us running around pumping people full of lead. Hell, I can barely hit a fellow let alone kill him. Why are they accused? Because they're different, because they rock! Little do most people know but these people have families and kids of their own. All they're doing is expressing their emotions and empathising with other people in the best way they know-making music.

There is also the misconception that all rock associated people are high on drugs most of the time. There are actually a lot of bands that are very much against drugs among other things like pollution, nuclear warfare and war in general. R.E.M, Smashing Pumpkins, Pearl Jam and Rage Against The Machine are some of these bands. The Smashing Pumpkins actually sacked their drummer after he was found to be doing drugs. Pearl Jam, on the other hand, has recently come out with a video called "Do the Evolution" which is about the arrogance and hate the human race harbors for its own kind. It's a very powerful and sarcastic song in a way. The have also contributed to No Boundaries-A tribute to the Kosovar Refugees with two songs. Most of these bands including U2 also contribute greatly to Greenpeace and take an active roll not only in concerts but also in marches etc.

All in all we might be eccentric but we do have a heart. Why don't you go out and buy a rock album. Be it Anthems or be it Pink Floyd. Put it into your deck, put the volume up so that you are surrounded by the sound and listen, really listen. Feel the music, feel the lyrics, feel the emotion.

It worked for me. I hope it does for you.

I do admit, though, that rock has definately grown in Delhi since then. More and more people are getting addicted to this stuff. Concerts and performaces pepper the city these days almost every week. Crazed fans start moshing at the drop of a hat... and yet, this is just the beginning. One has to admit, the crowd is still very immature when it comes to this genre. Don't get me wrong, we all like thrashing about and headbanging but there is a limit to the madness. These days all these guys want to listen to is death metal and new age metal, some of which is good and most of which just ends up making no sense whatsoever after a while. Most of today's bands end up doing covers with much left to be desired in the creative front. However, even this trend is beginning to fade with the advent of original bands making their own music, much of which is still nothing to write home about. But it's a start. It will take time to mature out of the Metallica-Megadeth-Maiden Madness and the Slayer-Sepultura Sickness but I think we are on the right path. The crowds will mature and it will bring forth a new era in Indian music, the era of creativity, originality and recognition of the labour of love in every song.

1 comment:

  1. Can't agree more. But don't know how many bands are going in the right direction. Few bands maybe Them Clones, AVR, Frequency, can't remember others. I think music has to mature in an overall sense and not just rock. Be it electronic, alternative, hindustani/fusion, jazz, blues. That way the audience gets specialized and thus making room for innovation.