For most of us, the journey of Indian rock music either started through the mega hit film ‘Rock On!!’ or through the growing popularity of Indian Ocean. Even though many amazing Indian bands did exist and still do, they never made it to the forefront of the Indian music scene. But this did not lead to people giving up on their passion and stop making music. It just meant they had to try a little harder. Slowly and steadily, the popularity of Indie Rock music started increasing. This led to some truly divine musical compositions.
Many bands came up during this time, and one of them, and personally the best band in India as of now, is ‘Anand Bhaskar Collective.’ I had the glorious opportunity to have a very simple interview with the mastermind behind the band. Anand Bhaskar, the man himself. He is the founder and the lead singer of the band. He is a genius composer, having scored titles for advertising campaigns. His most recent success came with the entire soundtrack for Mirzapur 2.
Anand Bhaskar Collective is an Indian fusion rock band. Their original sound is unique compared to most Indian indie musicians – infusing classical vocals with heavy guitar, thumping drums, and violin that I personally have no adjective to describe by. If the music composition itself does not mesmerise you, the lyrical genius of every song will blow you away. All the songs that they have released till now are in Hindi, but it is far away from anything we hear in films.
As of 2020, Anand Bhaskar Collective has 2 albums and a Single. ‘Samsara’, their first album came out in 2014. Followed by ‘Excuse me’ in 2017 and ‘Main Hoon Zameen’ in 2020. In this interview, Mr. Anand Bhaskar talks to us about his experiences, his journey, and some words of wisdom:
1. How did you get in touch with the rest of the bandmates?
It was mostly during the production of Samsara, our debut album that the first line up came together. Since then, we have gone through 2 line-up changes. The first line up came together through word of mouth. After that, the line-up changed twice, and the latest member to join the band is our guitar player Hrishi Giridhar.
2. You and the band have set new standards for Indian Rock. What was it that drove you towards the dream of making a rock band?
Any rock musician makes a rock band because they love rock music and have grown up on it. I remember being introduced to rock music when I was 15 years old, and that form of music spoke to me like no other genre could. I dabbled with a few bands and sang a lot of originals and covers in English till one day I realised that we're in India, and rock music expressed in the language of the masses has stronger potential than songs written in English that cater to a very niche crowd. Having been trained in Indian Classical vocals, it enabled me to marry influences from both styles of music. The result is what you hear on Anand Bhaskar Collective's music.
3. What would you say is your favourite song out of all the songs you have released? And why?
Honestly speaking this is not an easy choice to make. But if I must make a choice then I would say it would be 'Radhe'. I feel like it is a song I was not musically capable of making and I always feel like I was somehow able to write a song that was musically out of my league. I had not written a song that tells a story before 'Radhe' and that is why I feel that it will qualify as one of my favourite compositions. A composition that rivals that is our upcoming song 'Jaadoogari'. Personally, I feel Jaadoogari is the best song we have ever written.
4. What inspired you to write the song “Chewtiya”?
I used to work in an ad agency where I met the creative powerhouse, and my mentor Anand Karir. He was working on a campaign that called out people who spat in public with utter disregard for those around them. The word 'Chewtiya' was coined by him and it was an adjective described for people who CHEW Gutkha and spit in public.
5. How was your journey from the beginning of your music career and where do you hope to see yourself and the band in the future?
My journey in music began with singing for ads (something that I truly enjoy to this date and will always do). It was a bit rough in the beginning because I only had my album as a demo of my singing. However, when I started to secure more and more prestigious advertising campaigns under my belt, I started getting more work in the same industry. The transition from being a playback singer to becoming a music composer was very natural. Initially I used to depend on music producers to bring my vision to life, which was not a great idea (something I learned the hard way). I had always wanted to learn music production, but the thought of investing the amount of emotional and physical bandwidth required to be even decently good at music production, was a gargantuan mental challenge that I had to overcome. Eventually, I did overcome that mental block and started putting in the hours required to know how to be a hands-on music producer. In the future, I see myself composing music for feature films, touring the world with my band and also releasing some solo music outside the confines of my commercial work and my band.
6. When you were growing up, who would you say were your idols?
Oh, there were (and still are) so many. Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains, Alter Bridge, Creed, Metallica, Iron Maiden, Slipknot, Godsmack, Michael Jackson, Sting, Bon Jovi, Porcupine Tree etc.
7. Where do you think the Indian rock scene is heading to?
There are more and more rock bands coming out with fresh music every other day; and that, I believe, is a great sign for Indian Rock artists. I also feel that there should be emphasis on rock music in regional languages, because the non-rock audience thinks rock music is 'noisy'. This was a perception we got to change when we played in front of audiences from smaller towns. Members of the audience would come to us and say, "We had assumed that you guys will be super unbearable to listen to, but we never realised that rock music could sound so good with Hindi lyrics". I feel like a lot of programmers used to be obsessed with artists that make music in English, and that is not okay. If prominent artiste programmers explore more regional independent music and program them for festivals and other properties, it will do a whole lot of good for independent music in general. However, that mindset is now changing. We see bands like The Local Train, Parvaaz, Thaikkudam Bridge etc. making a mark in our country as well as internationally and that is a sign of change. The more we sing in the language of the masses, the better it is for independent music to bypass Film music and reach out to a listener that has never tried listening to independent music before.