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We will rock you

They are on a high after winning Decibels — XIMB’s rock band competition — and being felicitated at the International Volunteer’s Day by CYSD (Centre for Youth and Social Development) and UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) recently. Formed initially as Asid in 2007, city-based rock band Shabd has come a long way. In conversation with t2, the rockstars, true to their band’s name, mince no words while expressing their desperation for success and, ahem… girls! With over 60 gigs in their kitty, the Shabd boys are a bunch of storytellers communicating through music.

t2: How was Shabd formed?

Shabd: Asid’s (A for Ayushman and Sid for Sidharth) first composition Tere Liye struck a cord with everyone who heard it. It boosted our confidence. Then Jyotir Aditya joined us as the rhythm guitarist, Anshuman as drummer and Rishab as the bassist. As time passed, some old members left and new pitched in. We did some really awful shows initially as we were unaware of the sound requirements and stage set-ups. We played for free for a long time. Bhubaneswar lacked a rock scene back then. Only a handful of bands existed at that time. We got to know more people who were interested in rock music. Also, several rock bands were getting disbanded (sic) because of personal issues. We survived because of our like-mindedness and friendship. Shabd that people know today is not what existed five years ago. It has transformed, mutated and evolved a lot.

t2: Why are the songs only in Hindi?

Shabd: Well, most of them are in Hindi. It’s not like we don’t want to make songs in Odia or English. We have composed English songs but haven’t started performing them. But people connect well with Hindi.

t2: Any plans on bringing out your own audio CD?

Shabd: We have a small home recording system. It’s good for demo CDs but not for releasing the songs. But pretty soon we will be releasing our album titled Kathit and it will have 45 minutes of recording time. It will be a story about a soldier who is going to the war front and he finds his wife dead when he returns because of a terrorist attack. A gamut of emotions is expressed in those songs. We have four original scores and we are working on two more to complete the album.

t2: Was it a deliberate decision to make it an all boys band?

Shabd : We came across a number of girls who wanted to be part of the band. But there are times when we jam at midnight. Moreover, we used to practice in a small room. We were already 6-7 boys stuffed in a room. For a girl it would be bit difficult to adjust.

t2: Jamming at midnight! Nobody complained?

Shabd: Our parents are cooperative and neighbours tolerant. When we practiced for 6-7 hours a day, they eventually became our fans. For those whose parents are not that supportive, they get their quantum of support from the band members.

t2: What is your genre of music? Shabd: It’s basically progressive rock. It is influenced by Vintage Rock, Metal, Jazz, Blues etc. Each member follows a different school of music and all of us bring it to the table.

t2: Your popular songs?

Shabd: Peer Nosho Di Duaa, Nain Tehare, Bechain se. Err…we blurted out almost all of them. We have a small play list and we always perform our compositions. That is what sets us apart.

Even in competitions we play originals. In metal acts, when singers scream, let alone the theme, listeners don’t even catch the groove. Initially we doubted if people would accept our songs but they connected easily with the simple lyrics.

t2: What are your lyrics based on?

Shabd: Mostly on break ups and clinical depression. Sidharth and Anubhav usually pen them. They can express emotions beautifully in words.

t2: Was there a phase where Shabd hit a low?

Shabd: For one-and-half years, Shabd was totally dormant. But that too helped a great deal. We grew as individual musicians as we took up separate projects. We were once duped by a fraud musician, who robbed one of our members of Rs 2 lakh. In lieu of giving us shows and financial support, we fell for his tall claims and ended up fighting among ourselves.

Also, we had great difficulties finding a place for jamming before Junoon Antaragni, IIT Kanpur fest that we eventually won. It’s been a tough road but our journey has just started.

t2: How often do you argue while composing a song? Shabd: We actually never stop but we keep personal benefits aside for the band’s sake.

t2: How is the rock scene in Odisha?

Shabd: It’s improving. Bands and their followers are growing.

When we started only 4-5 bands existed. But one can show that rockstar attitude only when you create good music. People don’t understand what is rock. They don’t follow the music but the culture. Guns n Roses is not about style; it’s about their quality music.

t2: What do you feel about listenership of rock music in Odisha?

Shabd: We have been to shows where people asked ‘Munni badnam tikke bajao’.

The crowd still does not differentiate much between rock band and melody singers.

But things are changing. Odisha film industry wants fresh music. We have been offered to compose music for Odia films and if things work out we would go ahead.

t2: But how will Shabd stay united post college? Shabd: There’s Internet. ‘Sky harbour’ is one such rock band where the members are from different continents. They work on their parts, meet a day before the gig and perform. ‘Sky Harbour’ member Keshav Dhar who judged Decibels, XIMB, said so. Also, it is about sharing responsibility.

t2: Memorable compliments and criticism...

Shabd: Cynical recess who was the joint winners at XIMB were our judge at IIT Bhubaneswar’s Alma Fiesta where we were the runner ups. It was overwhelming, as we have followed their work all these years.

Keshav Dhar told us he expects to see us in major shows in next few years. Suraj Jagan liked our music and so did Shankar Mahadevan. As far as criticism goes, we don’t take it from every Tom, Dick and Harry. Our friends like Swayamsatya Sai, our official photographer, have great taste and knowledge of music. They are our greatest admirers and staunchest critiques. Experts have suggested making our songs little tighter. We are working on it.

t2: Your support system

Shabd: Jagga Bhai, our manager is synonym for jugaad. Go with any problem and he will say ‘Tikke rahija’ and takes out his phone. We are thankful to our college, CET, our principal, music club head and student advisor for getting us a place to jam. We now run a music club named Arpeggio in the college.

t2: What’s the next big thing you are eyeing?

Shabd: Nothing less than ‘I-Rock’, the annual international level rock festival.

t2: Girls drool over rock band members. Reality or Myth?

Shabd: In India, it’s a myth. They come, click pictures and leave without leaving their phone numbers. In fact, this inspires us to create songs on desperation for love. (Laughs)

Members:

Sidharth Sahu: Lead vocalist
Ayushman Dash: Lead guitarist
Anubhav Satpathy: Bassist
Vikrant Sharma: Keyboards
Jyotir Aditya and Biswajit Mishra: Rhythm guitarist
Soumyarajan Dixit: Drummer

Others:

Jagannath Prasad: Manager
Swayamsatya Sai: Photographer