Prisoners of passion
19 November 2010
Indus Creed is not about nostalgia. It’s about making youngsters think from a different perspective, writes Mathures Paul
Youngsters are falling ~ all over again ~ for a band of irreverent, pushing-middle-age guys who tempt young boys with high-decibel growls and indulging girls with charismatic eccentricities befitting cultured rockstars with well-manicured nails, well-groomed crowns and tongues that wag soul-shaking ideas. It’s been a long time since the extremes of rock music have been explored in India... actually it’s been a little over a decade since Uday Benegal decided to shift base to the USA to explore new spaces, find inspiration and feel a lot less claustrophobic. Taking with him were all the chances of seeing one of India’s most popular rock bands in action ~ Indus Creed, better known among fortysomethings as Rock Machine.
Thank God for the small mercies he shows the Indian music scene every other year. Indus Creed is back, stronger, more boisterous and, of course, laced with the same zing that made it big in the 1980s and a large part of the next decade.
Uday Benegal, the band’s unmistakable all-out, bold, well-rounded voice, was found sitting quietly at Someplace Else before Indus Creed’s third performance since the reunite party, tinkering away with a very ordinary video camera, trying to mix scenes from two television sets that were playing a cricket and a football match. A few minutes later he was on stage for sound check. After whiling away a few minutes trying to teach the band a new set of middle-finger signals to communicate with people at the sound mixer, he was ready for the drums to roll.
Though there was a laptop open in front, the music hasn’t changed. If Rock Machine in the 1980s was labelled rebellious, today the repackaged Indus Creed plays classic rock that sustains ageing superstars who once in a while flog themselves round the country to feel alive and keep fans happy.
The band’s line-up in 1984 was certainly an envious one ~ Mahesh Tinaikar on lead guitar, Mark Selwyn on bass, Uday Benegal on vocals, Jayesh Gandhi on rhythm and lead guitars), Mark Menezes (who left in 1992) and Adrian Fernandes on drums and Zubin Balaporia on keyboards. If Rock Machine gave us Rock ’N’ Roll Renegade, Enemy Within and Polivinyl Lady, Indus Creed warmed up to its fans with Pretty Child, Trapped and Book Of Dreams. When Benegal decided to revive the band, he was not without apprehension. He says, “The biggest (dilemma) was whether to use the name or not. The soul of Indus Creed remains the same. We are still a high-energy rock band. Indus Creed is our DNA, our past.”
When Benegal returned to Mumbai in 2008, he started with Mahesh Tinaikar an acoustic-ish band called the Whirling Kalapas, which still exists. One idea led to another, finally leading to the revival of Indus Creed. Benegal is agitated when I mention the music becoming slightly more soothing in the 1990s. “Some say it was softer. It was not. Yes, Pretty Child was on the softer side but the rest of the album was extremely energetic.”
Times have changed and Indus Creed returns at a time when technology plays an important role. “It’s fantastic. I believe that technology can be used as enhancements, to add frills to one’s music and most importantly, in the distribution process. Technology has given us an even playing field.”
Going to a Rolling Stone gig and not expecting them to play Satisfaction or a Rod Stewart concert without Maggie May is like having a good cup of coffee with saccharin. “I know. Some of our songs are like that. But we’ve learnt not to resist it. After all, these are some of the tunes that made Indus Creed big. These songs are part of a generation. We play them at our gigs but do it differently each time... The good thing is that youngsters have come in plenty to our first two gigs, in Mumbai and Pune. Hard Rock Cafe was overflowing.”
Benegal moved to New York because he was feeling “culturally stifled”. “I needed cultural stimulation.” On returning he met his friends Shankar Mahadevan, Ehsaan Noorani and Loy Mendonsa, who are now very popular as Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, the Bollywood-composer trio. And that led to a beautiful song for the Hindi film Wake Up Sid. But that was a one-off effort. More important on his agenda is the film he is directing.
“Indus Creed is not a nostalgia band. No. We are planning an album and present many more original songs,” he rounds off.The new line-up of Indus Creed comprises Uday Benegal, Mahesh Tinaikar and Zubin Balaporia. The two new rocking additions are rock-solid bass wunderkind Rushad Mistry and powerhouse drummer Jai Row Kavi. Someplace Else hosted the third concert of the reunited group.