From 2001 to 2010, the journey so far has been long and rough but that has only gone to make their musical resolution even stronger, band members of AlterEgoz tell Prabalika M. Borah
The members of the Northeast regiment stationed in Golconda Army Cantonment were homesick and were missing the hills, their family and the music they are used to. Then they remembered whom to contact to cheer themselves up. AlterEgoz, the city-based rock band.
In another end of the city in a tiny lane at Chikkadpally is ‘tape loops,' the private studio where the band members of AlterEgoz meet, jam, record and discuss music. But here, instead of cigarette smoke, the place is filled with smoke from aromatic agarbatti. The personal cassette collection has everything from Roja to Thriller. The walls? No, they don't have pictures of rockstars and heavy metal bands, instead from every hook in the wall hangs some musical instrument or the other. One tiny corner of the wall has photographs of the band that capture the moments of music, fun and togetherness.
Armed with their guitars and the vocalist, along with the drummer, the five-member team is all set for an evening of pure music. “I have put together a list of songs for our gig at the Cantonment, hope you guys like it,” tells Vijay to the rest of the gang as they begin tuning their instruments and finally they take off with their music.
What about neighbours in the packed locality. Do they complain about the ‘noise.' “We make sure nobody comes to know what we are doing. The studio where we practice is soundproof, soon we hope to shift to a bigger place. This place belongs to Vivek, this is his personal recording studio and he is good enough to accommodate us,” says Som, the vocalist.
Started in 2001, the band can now boast of having survived the longest in the city “though our band members have changed. Som and me are the longest in the band that could also be because we first got together in 1989 to play in a band,” explains Vijay who claims he is the most talkative of the lot.
But being the senior-most members of the band doesn't mean they are the dadas. “With the coming of the younger members there is a lot of fresh perspective to our music and our performances and that way it has made us a lot more committed,” says Som.
So what helped AlterEgoz survive and continue to be known in the rock circuit and among rock lovers in the city? “I guess it's the undying focus on music and the constant reminder to be a cut above the rest,” says Sanjay.
Sanjay, Varun and Vivek are the newest addition to the group and they call Vijay and Som as anna. “As students we would see them play and loved the way they used different instruments to create their music. AlterEgoz doesn't believe in the set standards and love to experiment and give what the audience wants,” adds Vivek.
Vijay is quick to add, “the creativity now also comes a lot from them. I can very proudly say that since the time they have joined, my playing has improved. They come with fresh ideas and are more clued in to what the music scene is really looking for.” So are the young ones competing with the seniors in how they dress? “Oh, not really, our clothes and accessories are not our identity. All of us are pretty normally dressed,” laughs Som.
What about Som's long hair and Vijay's wig? “Those were passing phases. My dad still has long hair and I had been sporting long hair since school. But with nature's intervention now I had to bid farewell to my long hair and all that is left is a bandana,” says Som. “I tried the wig for about six months a while ago. Soon I realised I was concentrating more on my wig so I put it back where it belonged,” quips Vijay.
Do the younger three feel they are playing with uncles or vice versa? “Never, they are very cool with our ideas, gives us a free hand when it comes to playing and also assists us when we get stuck with some of our own music,” adds Sanjay.
What makes AlteEgoz stand out is the fact that they are all self-taught musicians, “except a couple of classes in Carnatic and Hindustan classical way back in school,” says Som who is also an industrialist. Vijay on the other hand has an advertising agency.
Of the other three, two are engineers and Sanjay has no qualms in saying he is a college dropout. “Studies just didn't like me or I couldn't get along with studies, after my Intermediate I decided to give up because my mind was totally into music,” he says.
Vivek is an engineer who opted out of the job market and instead set up his own little studio and create music. Now they do jingles, score music for corporate ads.
Varun discontinued his engineering and has enrolled in a sound engineering course, “he could be our next Resul Pookutty,” adds Som with a lot of confidence.
So did their alter egos come in the way of their personal life? “I was rejected by some tennis player because I was a ‘musician'” says Vijay and “I was questioned why I play in an ‘orchestra' group,” laughs Som.
“We are too young for marriage,” the three younger lot say even before we ask them anything.