The city has seen a small wave of rock music culture swelling in the recent past. Nivedita Ganguly chats with the rock bands of Vizag

Last year when the popular rock band Krosswindz came to perform in the city for the first time, it was a reiteration of the fact that rock music had a very niche following among Vizagites. “When you travel in the North East you come across musicians sitting by the side of the road and playing the guitar,” Vikramjit Tuki Bannerjee of the band had then said.

The city has since seen a small wave of rock music culture swelling in the recent past. The ones who attended the ‘Explode-14’ – a battle of rock bands – at Gurajada Kalakshetram last week would have noticed the rising popularity of rock music among youth. Five rock bands of the city locked horns with each other to vie for the top spot. What was particularly encouraging about the event was the essence of originality in the musical performances of the bands.

The occasion also opened up the platform, for the very first time in the city, to a new composition of Telugu rock music by Kross, a local rock band. While the lyrics were in Telugu, the music was true to the classic rock genre. “The idea is to make more people connect to rock music and get familiar with it through the local language,” says Nirmal Truman, the lead guitarist of Kross, a five-member band. They are currently working on creating eight Telugu rock music compositions that the band plans to release by the end of this year.

This is not the first time that the city is witnessing such a wave of rock music. Back in the 90s, The Tempest was the first rock band in the city that made this genre of music popular. “At that time clubbing and DJ music were yet to take off in the city. There used to be musical events in the city that would draw huge crowds,” recalls Truman. In the late 90s, Vizag saw one of its first major rock shows at Gurajada Kalakshetram where bands from across the country took part. “There was so much craze for rock music at that time that the venue was jam packed and I remember climbing the walls at the venue to catch a glimpse of the performances,” says Truman.

Rock music lovers say that the advent of DJ culture and fusion music has actually pushed rock music off the party music scene. “Throughout the early and mid-2000s, rock remained overshadowed by other forms of music. But the scene has reversed in the past three years. Easy access to Internet and growing popularity of TV music reality shows were the turning points that aided the comeback of the rock music genre,” he adds.

Last year, Vizag’s rock band Echo was the city’s first group to make a presence in the Telugu film industry, when they assisted the music composition for the Telugu flick KISS along with music director Sricharan Pakala. This brought into prominence the rock music talent of the city and spurred the youngsters to come together and strum more music. Now, local bands are playing with forms like punk rock, which is a big sensation among youth for its easy and catchy rhythm. Samuel J. Benaiah, drummer for the rock band group Kairoz says that they play at college fests, corporate events and even hotel parties. “It is a lot of fun to sit, listen and compose music in our jam sessions. Sometimes, the music clicks instantly and at times it takes several months to come out with something catchy,” says the B.Tech graduate. This year, the group opened the inaugural day event of the AU Cultural Fest.

Also, whenever a prominent band like Parikrama or Krosswindz performs in the city, the dreams of local young rock bands get ignited. “It’s a great inspiration to listen to the big names of rock. We have grown up by listening to Guns N’ Roses and Mettalica and are a huge fan of classic rock music,” says B. Joshua of Kross.

Competitions and events apart, Youtube has come as a platform to showcase their music. “When you're playing, you’re creating fiction. It’s really the performance version of telling a story,” the young bands say.