Origins of Rock and Metal Music in India.
Rock music scene in India is extremely small when compared to the film or fusion scenes. Rock in India has its origins in the early 60’s and 70’s when international stars like ‘The Beatles’ visited our country and brought their music with them.
Many prominent artistes collaboration with Indian musicians like ‘Zakir Hussain’ and ‘Pandit Ravi Shankar’ have led to the development of ‘Raga Rock’. This led various radio stations such as BBC and The Voice of America, who played a major part in bringing Western pop, folk and rock music to the masses. Mainstream Rock, also called as ‘Heritage Rock’ is a major radio format used by many commercial radio stations, predominantly in U.S.A , Canada and India.
However Indian Rock bands began to gain prominence only in the late 80’s. It was some where around this time the Rock band ‘Indus Creed’ formerly known as the ‘Rock Machine’ got itself noticed on the International stage. Other bands very quickly followed. With the introduction of ‘Mtv’ in the early 90’s, Indians began to expose themselves to various forms of music mainly ‘Grunge’ and ‘Speed-Metal’.
Cities like Calcutta, Madras, Delhi, Bombay and Bangalore have emerged as major melting pots for rock and metal enthusiasts. Slowly and steadily many rock bands have been emerging ever since. Thanks to entities such as ‘Eastern Fare Music Foundation’ and ‘Dogma Tone Records’ that are very dedicated to promoting and supporting Indian Rock. ‘Eastern Fare Music Foundation’ is a music school and a production house in Bangalore. This started recently in the year 2007. ‘Dogma Tone Records’ is a registered Indian record label formed with the objective of promoting and encouraging Indian Rock.
‘Dogma Tone Records’ has released an album titled ‘ The 1st Mutiny: The Dogmas of Indian Rock’ . This album is a compilation of India’s unknown and yet to be recognized bands. ‘Dogma Tone Records’ is also established in Bangalore.
One of the most famous Rock musicians in the world is the late ‘ Freddie Mercury’ of ‘Queen’ was born in Gujarat, India. He was raised in Panchgani near Bombay. Born ‘Farookh Bomi Bulsara’ to Indian parents in Zanzibar. He was first influenced by the bollywood playback singer ‘Lata Mangeshkar’ along with Western influences like ‘Led Zeppelin’, ‘Jimi Hendrix’, ‘John Lennon’ and also ‘The Beatles’. Other examples include ‘Kim Thayil’ of the group ‘Sound Garden’, ‘Tony Kanal’ of ‘No Doubt’ and ‘Dave Baksh’ of ‘Brown Brigade’.
Sub Genres of Indian Rock.
India has produced many rock bands. The major sub genres are :
- ‘Indian Fusion’ – This is a blend of traditional Indian music with Rock music. This is also termed as ‘Raga Rock’ in the West. The term for Non-Indian bands using Indian instruments and vocals in Rock is nothing but ‘Raga Rock’ .
- ‘Indian Funk’ – Indian Funk is a loose term describing the style of rock and roll which is sometimes blurred into shades of pop and also other genres. Indian Funk can broadly be defined as what ‘Rap-Metal’ is to ‘Heavy-Metal’
- ‘Hard Rock Metal’ – The Indian-Singaporean band ‘Rudra’ with its style of ‘Vedic Metal’ based around Hindu themes has gained fame in South East Asia and it is perhaps the most successful music band in India to fuse metal and traditional music in the vein of Brazil’s ‘Sepultura’, although it doesn’t use the avant-grade instruments like the latter. The definitive album of this genre is ‘The Aryan Crusade’ released in 2001 by ‘Rudra’.
- ‘Raga Rock’ – In the West certain groups such as ‘The Beatles’ travelled to India and incorporated some aspects of Indian music especially classical instruments like sitar into their music. The term for this was ‘Raga Rock’ and the major examples of it are — ‘Paint it Black’ by ‘Rolling Stones’ , ‘The End’ by ‘The Doors’, ‘Across the universe’, ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’ and ‘The Inner Light’ by ‘The Beatles’.
Present Rock Scene in India.
Delhi’s music circuit has seen its share of up’s and down’s, but has held on largely due to local presence of ‘Rock Street Journal’. Delhi being the operational home of this Allahabad based magazine, local bands have benefited by the proximity to India’s first ever rock magazine. ‘The Great Indian Rock’ festival was majorly held in Delhi.
A recent ban on live bands in most places in Bangalore has drastically affected the rock music culture of the city but is slowly recovering with many late night pubs hosting more live bands.
The ‘Independence Rock Festival’ takes place every year at Mumbai. Another rock festival called ‘Rock In India’ started in Bangalore 2008 promises major International acts as headliners with Indian bands playing as opening acts. This festival in 2009 featured ‘Iron Maiden’ as headliners.
One of the most famous Indian rock festivals is the ‘June Rock Out’ organised by the ‘Unwind Centre’ in Adyar, Chennai. There are also other smaller rock/metal festivals happening in Chennai regularly. The ‘Bands Association of Chennai (BAC)’ is an organisation which actively promotes the cause of original music exclusively by the bands from Chennai.
In Kolkata the underground metal bands organise an event called ‘The Pit’ at Tapan Theatre in Kalighat. In 2009, 3 editions of ‘The Pit’ were successfully organised.
Indias Northeast in general and Shillong in particular is regarded as the ‘Rock Capital of India’. This part of India has been a home to major rock musicians and hosts the biggest rock competition called ‘The Hornbill National Rock’ with over $10,000 of prize money. Rick Parashar and Raj Parashar are from North East India who were the major producers for the bands like ‘Pearl Jam’, ‘Bon Jovi’, ‘3 Doors Down’ and ‘Alice in Chains’.
- Indian Ocean
- Mrigya ( The first Indian Band to win the Herald Angel Award at the Edinburgh Festival UK, in 2002 )
Notable Bands from Bangalore
- Raghu Dixit Project
- Thermal and a quarter
Notable Bands from Mumbai
- Para Vayu
- Something Relevant
Notable Bands from Chennai
- Junkyard Groove
- Rainbow Bridge
Notable Bands from Kolkata
Notable Bands from Northeast India and Kerala
- Soulmate ( Shillong )
- Avial ( Kerala )