Songs of inspiration, straight from the street

Tribal punk band Tarik puts an ear to the ground in Shillong before releasing album next week

By Andrew W. Lyngdoh in Shilong
  • Published 22.12.15
The cover of Khanatang parking lot bad ki mawbynna dewbilat

Shillong, Dec. 21: If only these streets could talk, what would they say? What stories would these buildings and bylanes tell? Have you ever asked yourself this question? Well, a band from Shillong has done exactly that and tried to decipher the sights, sounds and spirit of Meghlaya's capital.

After four years of labour, Tarik, a tribal punk band, is on the verge of releasing its debut album inspired by the streets of Shillong.

Khanatang parking lot bad ki mawbynna dewbilat (Folktales from the parking lot and foreign monoliths) will be released on December 30 at Savio Hall, Laitumkhrah, here.

The nine tracks featured in the album were recorded with a DIY (do it yourself) philosophy and mixed and mastered by Blue Monk Studios Inc. in Calcutta.

Established in 2011, Tarik aka Date features Wanphrang Diengdoh aka Wan, also a documentary filmmaker, and Valte Chongthu (Balu).

The musical content of the Indie punk band from Shillong is an eccentric blend of punk and radical themes with a Khasi twist.

"Inspired by conversations overheard in shared taxis, dingy parking lots and shady bars in Shillong, Tarik composed the nine tracks on their debut album over the course of four years," Diengdoh told reporters here today.

According to him, these are the places where one understands the culture of a place.

The result, he said, was a "gritty melee of thought-provoking melodies" sung in English and Khasi, with catchy bass tunes and heart-pounding Khasi beats.

To promote the album, Tarik has been touring the country since November. The band has played in Bangalore, New Delhi, Gurgaon and Guwahati. They will continue their tour in January and visit Calcutta, Mumbai, Chennai and Pune.

For the countrywide tour, Munich-based Nikolaus Gerold (Klaus) is accompanying Diengdoh and Chongthu on percussions.

"Basically, we were inspired by Khasi singer U.N. Sun, who has around 40 albums to his credit, the streets of Shillong, which have their own stories to tell, and the Sex Pistols," Diengdoh said.

The message the band wants to convey through its album is uncomplicated: you do not have to be rich to be happy.

"While our riffs are catchy, the lyrics are far from sugar-coated. Strongly rooted in a DIY philosophy, we are proud of our uncompromisingly honest approach to music because it best captures the spirit of the space they come from," Diengdoh said.

While descriptions by "mainstream media" have ranged from grotesque, gutsy, rare gems, vulgar and edgy, to ridiculously profound, Diengdoh said Tarik goes largely unaccredited, quite happily, for "pioneering" the advocacy of radical politics in the "largely derivative" music scene of Shillong.