Where was the last time you happily tortured your vocal chords with a version of Californication belted out by an Indian band? If you happen to be in Kolkata, it is least likely that you could have been anywhere except Someplace Else. Or else at some ambitious college fest. And when was the last time you cared to remember, in between your beers, the new band that was on stage? The apologies can wait as though the Indian rock scene is a shade better in the other metros, it is still hardly competition for the techno bhangra or remixing that have India under their thumbs. But this is not to say, that music is missing from the scene. “There are a lot of promising new bands around. The problem is providing them a platform,” says Anuj Gupta, a 20-year-old from Mumbai, who works with the music label Counter Culture.
But the likes of Gupta, who has now teamed up with Sandeep Mittal and Praveen Wycliff, both in their early thirties, have seen to it that the virtual space is tuned in to the music close to their hearts. So, we have www. gigpad com a snazzy virtual haven for Indian rock lovers. From news to views, sharp editorial bytes to album reviews, random articles to event updates, the site is an engaging one for Indian rock enthusiasts. Sandeep Mittal, now an entrepreneur, got together with IIMC batch-mate Praveen Wycliff in 2000, to start the site as a college project. “It was a passion we nurtured and at that time, Indian rock bands were hardly the toast of the music scene. That’s how it all started,” says Mittal.
Randhir Dange, a 37-year-old web designer at Pune, was handling a classic rock band Strange Brew, when he decided to put together www. drummingworld .com. “It was a young band I was managing in 2001. And at the jamming sessions I came across similar talented people who were struggling to get known,” says Dange. Hence, his site started with basically archiving photos of young bands playing, and then went on to turn into a discussion forum. Dange also organises free workshops for musicians.
While individuals, it seems, have taken up the cudgels to see to it, that the Indian English rock survives the onslaught of boy bands and Himesh Reshamiyas, online magazines, or e-versions of popular magazines like Rock Street Journal seem poised for a providing a fillip to the Indian rock music scene.
While www. rsjonline.com is a full-on version of the magazine with updates, articles and information about gigs, www. themusicmagazine. com is divided between Indian popular music and its rock counterparts. Like is Anurag Jain’s site www. workshoplive. com. “I was fascinated with Indian fusion in the world music genre. I started downloading whatever I could lay my hands on and posted them on my site. It gradually turned into a bi-directorial process where I started receiving SMSes and feedback from bands and artists,” says Jain, an IIM-B pass-out and an entrepreneur.
The sites, apart from providing facts and news have given Indian rock, what it lacks the most —visibility. Be it in the form of album reviews or pictures of gigs, bands get seen as opposed to popular media where they get blotted out by Bollywood razzmatazz. “I am trying to get my website converted into a database oriented one, which would enable people to upload their own stuff without going by me. Of course, I will monitor every upload,” says Dange. Gigpad too is planning to revive the free uploading facility. “It is extremely expensive and takes up a lot of bandwidth,” says Mittal. “There are several new bands these days who are play interesting originals apart form covers,” says Lionnel Mascarenhas, a musician when he is not testing software at a MNC in Mumbai. Mascarenhas designed www. musicballroom.com to ‘create a platform for Indian rock’. The site has links to genres apart from rock, but the focus remains on English music. “If you want to some instrument also , the site helps you,” says Mascarenhas.
And now from upgrading technology to tie-ups (Gigpad is contemplating a tie-up with a radio station), the virtual space, is ready to rock. We are waiting!