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Grapes of rock

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From a pilgrim town, to an industrial hub, and then wine capital of the country, Nashik has worn several titles, and it's on its way to working up a new handle - progenitor of home-made rock.

Observers credit it to the changing demographic of the city, populated as it is by a large number of youth whose music preferences veer towards rock and heavy metal. "Youngsters have developed a liking for the music, " confirms Reena Soni, music lover and communications skills lecturer.

This is no recent attraction. Early bird bands like Rock Machine jammed here in the nineties. But it took another decade for a group like Stubborn Brains to be officially named the first rock band of the city. Though that adventure lasted two years they disbanded and members moved to different cities to join other bands - Stubborn Brains set the scene for Nashik's rock affair, by handing out hope to aspiring musicians that they too could summon an audience in this conservative hometown of Dadasaheb Phalke, first citizen of Indian cinema.

Interestingly, it was also Nashik's vintners who, in a roundabout way, gave its local music-makers heart. As the city gained prominence for its vineyards and wine festivals, music became the mainstay of these mini jamborees, and local bands that were new in the making clung to the hope that they too would have their day at events like Sula Fest and York Fest. But while acclaimed musicians from Delhi, Bombay or Bangalore were often the main draw at these dos, Nashik's locals continued to wait on the sides. "These bands too are part of our local culture, but they're never considered for events like the Nashik Festival, " protests Soni.

That may soon change, now that Nashik's rockers are making national news. This year, the youngest of lot, Diabolic Lords, made it to the spotlight when they bagged top honours at IIM-Ahmedabad's annual cultural festival Chaos 2012. They were also featured in Metal Magazine India, where they were ranked 16th among heavy metal bands in India.

Even as Diabolic Lords lorded it over a campus music competition, Nashik's other indie offering, Veda, took Pune by storm after it won the Uninor Rock The Stage 2012 play-offs. Veda, which is a decade old, has also been short-listed for the second season of MTV India's reality show, Rock On. Also on the circuit is Mrutyunjay, the band that went south to test its mettle at the Fort Rock gig in Kochi.

"We started by playing at college festivals in the city, " says Arun Kurup, vocalist with Mrutyunjay. "Now, we want to promote metal music among college students. " It's the college crowd that makes the audience in Nashik. "I like the music played by Diabolic Lords and Mrutyunjay. But not too many gigs happen in the city, and for good music, we have to go to Pune or Mumbai, " says Nikitesh Puro, an undergraduate and die-hard heavy metal fan.

When concerts do take place, they pack a decent crowd. On March 31, when Diabolic Lords and Mrutyunjay took to the stage at Black Out, a local gig, there were nearly 400 people tapping the beat with them. It was here too that two new local bands, Sense of Humour and Blood Rose, were unveiled. But local enthusiasm notwithstanding, Nashik doesn't offer its young musicians the support and infrastructure it needs to thrive. "Organising a concert in Nashik is tough. We have to invest our own money, " gripes Akash Watekar, base guitarist, Diabolic Lords. For better prospects, bands have to hotfoot it 200 km to Mumbai and Pune. "We perform almost every weekend in Pune and get paid well, " Ajinkya Patale, manager of Veda says.

In fact, their popularity may soon spread farther. Diabolic Lords, for example, has been invited by an event organiser to Dubai, and two bands, Venezuela-based Overheads, and British group Demento Phobia, have sought out a collaboration. The others are trying to cut albums. We are focusing on recording our compositions and hope to release our first album soon, " says vocalist and guitarist Yogeshwar Lagad of Trigamya, an alternative rock band formed in 2007 that plays metal and rock with a classical base.

If the winds continue to be favourable for these Nashik groups, the next round of foot-stomping won't be at a vineyard, but at a rock concert.

BAND WAGON


VEDA

It was the love for music that brought three simple college boys together to form Veda in August 2002. An indie-rock band inspired by bands like Junoon, only one of the original member remains but the one thing that remains constant is a deep passion for music that refuses to let up. "Rock was the only genre when we started in 2002. We wanted to Indianise it, so we decided on Indie-Rock music, " says Ajinkya Patale.

Members:


Shrikanth Nair (rhythm and vocals), Nishant Hajare (percussion), Unnikrishnan (drums), Krishnaprasad Iyer (lead), Monesh Jacob (bass) and Sam Das (rhythm and leads)

Want To Rock With:


Indian Ocean and Swarathma

TRIGAMYA


Trigamya means to be interested in three things - tri or three, gamya or interested. Bound by myths and stubbornness, the play metal and rock with a classical base and their compositions have a flavour of Indian folk.

Members:


Yogeshwar (vocalist and guitarist), Prasad (base guitarist), Omkar (lead guitarist), Shreekumar (rhythm guitarist) and Kunal (drummer)

Current Focus:


Recording original compositions, hoping to cut their first album soon

MRUTYUNJAY


Metal scene in the city changed with arrival of Mrutyunjay. They are known for their catchy songs with crushing riffs, mesmerising chord progressions, and powerful grunt vocals. "Since school days we had heard bands like Metallica and developed an interest in metal music, " says Arun Kurup.

Members:


Arun Kurup (vocals), Pratik Kamal (guitarist), Monesh Jacob (lead guitarist), Swapnil Patil (lead guitarist), Sreenu Madhavan (drums) and Dilip Poojari (bass)

Want To Rock With:


Metallica and Demonic Resurrection

DIABOLIC LORDS


It was the band that put Nashik on the international map with its heavy metal. "Mrutyunjay gave us the confidence that a Metal band can survive. Indian bands such as Demonic Resurrection, Bhayanak Maut and Kryptos and international bands such as Metallica, Slayer and Pantera pulled us towards this genre of music, " says Akash Watekar.

Members:


Lokesh Patil (vocalist), Tushar Joshi (lead and rhythm guitarist), Shankul Chauhan (lead and rhythm guitarist), Akash Watekar (base guitarist) and Ritvik Gavai (sticks)

Current Focus:


To raise capital for an international tour

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