Towards Life!

Musical Musings (An interview by Ro)

At some point in the past few days, I was party to an interview. No, I wasn’t the one who was interviewed. Neither was I the interviewer. Well, I was just the audience. The only rock journalist IIT Bombay has ever seen, Ro, interviewed Golu, the ex-bassist of FFF, bassist 40 Hz and not-so-popular solo artist. Now, what is fun in that? Nothing really… Then why do I post this? Jeez, stop asking such questions and just read on!

Ro: “Oi guys...tell me one thing... Do you know which band actually started the standard arrangement of rock music, i.e. , the whole idea of having a rhythm riff on one guitar with bass vocals and drums and then having 1/2/3 lead pieces in between the songs? In fact, at the moment I can’t think of any other arrangement! Maybe you guys should come up with something new...people have been playing the same style forever and its time for a change ;)”

I am Jack’s Idle Brain.

Golu: “FFF has already created the trend of forgetting lyrics, screwing up guitar strings, losing drumsticks, taking nbd in a corner and balding in youth....what more do you want than that????”

Ro: “Yes, but that’s an answer to something like "Ozzy ate a bat on stage, Morrison simulated masturbation on stage, Subbu was left out on stage...what have u guys done?" what about the music Dheeraj?...the music????

I am Jack’s Truth of Life.

Golu: “Shame on you...what do you mean what you guys have done. We at least affected the music scene in IIT:
1. Now, every bloody group trying RATM is singing “killing in the name of” at AD. (Yes, this is verified info)
2. As far as I remember, we are the first people to play a medley at acoustic dusk (well, Chamad people played between “twist and shout” and “la bamba”…but that’s not counted). And now this year there are 3 medleys being played!

On top of that, you don’t have to go do hero stuff by being the first to use ten thousand cymbals or 15 stringed guitars or double necked bass... just play what you like and it will contribute in its own... that is the problem why you bloody budding rock journalists will just be budding through out.

As Frank Zappa said - Rock journalists are people who can’t write, interviewing people who can’t speak, for people who can’t read.”

Ro: “Aargh! Now u r thinking like viral...saying things, which are totally unrelated and out of context and missing the point totally! (Sorry viral!) I only mentioned that it is high time someone changes the musical arrangement in rock songs and it might as well be FFF! If the goals and dreams that you have set for FFF cannot break through the standards set by others (others who are no doubt legends) and are merely restricted to globally-used by locally-new acts...then I am a little disappointed. No doubt, FFF has changed the music scene in IIT...but frankly, the FFF that I know of has much more talent that you apparently perceive Dheeraj. I am truly saddened to learn that of all the people in the band you are saying this!

No shame on me Dheeraj...shame on you! As a the next cover photo of FFF on Rolling Stones your face will be replaced by the face of Britney Spears and word will be spread that you secretly worship John Mayer!

And Puhhhhleeeez.....rock journalists are cool!!!!”

I am Jack’s Shrinking Groin. (Another truth of Life!)

Golu: “That’s it. Initially I was sure you had a small you-know-what. Now, I am sure it has dropped off...You have become a chick who likes pink color and paints her toenails on the weekends.

Well, if you are saddened to know that I am the person in the band saying this, its because I have finally realized there is no use jumping around like *censored* (initially it was "Choots") and trying to act cool. Look at Knopfler and his son. Look at Floyd. Look at Clapton. Of course, you will also find examples of people jumping about. Anyway, the point is basically that I am finally maturing into a true musician. Unfortunately Ro, as Narendranadh would say, “You are far behind amma”. Or, as Viral said, “Stop drumming about on your bed and get a real kit.” Then you will soon realize that you don’t have to change any *Censored* (initially it was "fucking") pattern! Just enjoy what you do.

As the great seer Anthony said, “You change the key from C to D, you see to us, its just a minor thing”.

And, rock journalists are the saddest people in life. Ok not all, but you definitely are!”

I am Jack’s Hard drive. I remember everything. Because, when great people talk, you just shut up and listen!

Fuel For Fantasy... What else!!

When you are a little kid, you are a little bit of everything. Growing up is the process of giving those things up. One by One. I guess we all have one thing we regret giving up. One thing we really miss. That we gave up because we were too lazy or we couldn’t just stick it up or because we were afraid!

There have been numerous occasions in my formative years as a musician (no, that doesn’t mean that I am an accomplished musician now, but well, I have FFF!) when all that I wanted was to give it up. My first (and the last!) music teacher (a very blunt man!) was no delight, either. He never thought I had talent. I never thought I had talent. It seemed like every one around me was just always better. Then there was this summer of 2000. All of a sudden, I started to play. It was like… I could do no wrong. And then, I had made my decision! I would sacrifice (my academics!), endure humiliation (playing “nothing else matters” to a bunch of straight-laced Tamilians, was not what you could call, fun!), and just try to play things right. After about six years trying to ruffle some strings and waiting for those arbitrary set of notes to make sense, I realize that music is not about competition, it is not about who’s better, or who’s worse. It is about music. And that’s it!

Music and I were as far apart as can be, for the first 18 years of my existence. I was this hopelessly confused child, trying to find out where I would fit in. I wanted to be a star; I wanted freedom, maturity and status. It was, like, I wanted to live to keep my friends jealous. And I guess music didn’t fit into this scheme of things. My only brush with anything musical was the tv-to-cassette recording equipment I had purchased, with my pocket money, more out of curiosity than for the love of music. Obviously, the recording stopped soon after I had recorded my first album – The first countdown show on Doordarshan!

Miracles occur when you least expect. For me, getting into IIT Bombay was one of those. Call it chance. Call it error. But I entrusted myself with the responsibility of learning the guitar. Rising up before me was a new era. An era of freedom. An era of adventure. An era of fun. An era of bad (extremely bad!) timing. An era of bruised fingers. An era of broken strings. And above all, an era of music!

For the first two years, nothing I played was artfully done. No song was played to completion. No song sounded even remotely similar to the original. There was no direction. No inspiration. My second year at IIT ended with me getting a distortion pedal (thanks to Sidey!). As I plugged it in and started playing, I realized the responsibility of being a musician. Music didn’t mean you play a guitar like a drum kit. Or vice versa. It is exploring the frontiers of uncharted regions you never knew existed. It is a quest for something more meaningful... Much much more meaningful!

Somewhere in the midst of my seeking out to some very forgettable fellow musicians (some very enthusiastic sardars, and some dopey eyed RB’s!), there was a chance meeting with this guy (let’s call him Sidney, for some very obvious reasons!). Now, he could play Creed’s “What If”! I couldn’t. He had a guitar that shone like lightning. I had a guitar that was broken at precisely three places. He looked shy. I was anything but shy. Let’s face it. It looked like I had reached a dead end. Then… he played stuff. I played stuff. It took me about 45 seconds to figure out that this guy was a much better musician than I was and I realized that it is much easier when you have nothing at stake. If you can call that one hour a jam, then that was it. And that what was I wanted!

Close in heels with my tryst with Sidney, I had the chance to meet this trio, Viral (a nickname obtained by removing the unnecessary alphabets from his original name), Zubin (I never knew why this fellow didn’t get a nickname that stuck!) and a guy called Golu (again, for some very obvious reasons) on a fateful night. The bassist, Golu, is one of those guys who is pretty desperate looking for someone to play with (or to play for!), without anyone ever knowing that he were desperate. No, he didn’t need charity. He just needed the tabs! Viral on the other hand, had a simple life; the grass was green, the sky was blue, the good guys were good, the bad guys bad and the chicks, they were great! If it wasn’t for the unrelenting assault from Golu, he would have ensconced safely in some boy (or girl!) band with aplomb. The awesome vocalist IIT Bombay ever saw, Zubin, believed in giving each song everything he had. Sure, maybe the output was sometimes lopsided and maybe there were better singers, but for him – it was perfection. He believed in giving every song his own feel, and if the world was after him, he hired an auto straight to Goregaon. Looking back, it made as much sense as anything that night. It felt like I had paid my dues. We didn’t really accomplish anything that night. Nothing of real importance anyway. But through the years that lay ahead… there would be a thousand other nights, just like that one. Stupid, ridiculous… and glorious.

The fact that these four guys were total strangers to me five years ago, is something I won’t regret forgetting. Within a week of our practice for my first acoustic dusk (Sidney the sweetie that he is, played the synth, which I feel was the biggest mistake we, as a band, ever made!) I watched our band gel together. I realized something about these strangers that was pure. These were strangers I hardly knew. Strangers who were just like me. We were all sharing the same feelings. The same fears, the same loneliness. We were just starting out, and there was only one direction to go. So we went – together.

Technically, this is where I should write about what happened to FFF since the first acoustic dusk. But, there are no words when it comes to speaking about what FFF has done to me, musically and otherwise! ( I know it is cliched, but it works for me!) Every time I want to write some thing about these incredible guys, I just end up watching all our pics and all our videos, yet again! Maybe someday I will gather myself to actually write what I feel... Maybe I will!