On the sidelines of NXg Rockstar, Guitarist Ed DeGenaro shares some survival tips for upcoming bands in the city.

Ed DeGenaro’s love affair with India began when he visited the country in 2010 as a faculty member at Swarnabhoomi Academy of Music. Since then, Ed has travelled all over the country, performing with his band at various venues and collaborating with talented Indian musicians. The fusion guitarist has been compared with the likes of Scott Henderson, Frank Gambale and Steve Vai. As a musician and engineer, Ed has worked on numerous projects with major labels and musicians like Steve Kimock, Hammerhead, Alcatraz and producers David Rosenthal and Roy Thomas Baker.

At IIT Saarang, the annual cultural festival of IIT-Madras, Ed was one of the judges for NXg Rockstar that saw college bands battle it out for a grand prize. We caught up with Ed on the sidelines of the show.

When asked about Chennai’s independent music scene, he said, “What is there in terms of a scene for bands is fine. But the bad part is that venues do their best to kill it.

I mean how many places are here that pay decently for original music? I can think of maybe just one. I’d really like to see bands getting paid what they’re worth.”

As an independent music artiste, Ed’s experience in the city has been varied. Despite Chennai’s burgeoning music scene, Ed believes that it is hard for bands to get paid decent money. “Unlike Europe or the U.S., I’ve found that the getting paid part is just crazy. I mean negotiating is one thing, but some gigs where bands make less than gas money are atrocious! Having said that, a new resto-bar in the City saw many bands meet and perform there. Friends hung out, folks sat during gigs, everybody had a good time and got paid.”

Acknowledging the talent in the city, Ed has some advice for budding musicians. “Play ‘friend rock’; meaning if your band knows five other bands, make sure you go to each other’s gigs.

Support other bands and have them support you. Add friends of the band there and you’re starting to generate a draw. When that happens, regular folks will hear about the happening gig and also show up. It’s the old ‘if you build it they will come’ concept.”