Motherjane members are upbeat after the recent release of their album ‘Maktub’
Harmony. Yes, that’s what it has to be. Rock bands come, rock bands go; but for an act to last beyond their last gig or their last album, it needs harmony. Home-grown (Kochi) rock band Motherjane has plenty of that.
These five people (with modifications) have been part of a rock band for the better part of the last 12 years. Going alphabetically — Baiju (lead guitarist), Clyde Rozario (bass guitarist), Deepu (rhythm guitarist), John Thomas (percussion) and Suraj Mani (frontman, lead vocalist…philosopher) comprise Motherjane.
The genesis of Motherjane or rather the current band is a bit complicated. The band was formed in 1996 as a desperate measure for a college function at St. Albert’s College. Of the original band (which split around 1999), John and Clyde remain. Baiju came in sometime around that time, followed by the band’s voice Suraj and Rex (guitar). The pieces were in place...almost. Although the band has gone through that rigmarole of playing covers in hotels, they made a conscious decision to compose originals. The band found its creative fruition with the release of their first album ‘Insane Biography’ in 2002. Following which Rex left to join another rock band. Then in 2005 came Deepu, formerly of 13 AD and the piece was set.
Anyway so much for history. Cut to the present: the band is on a high after the release of their latest album ‘Maktub’. The response to the album is good, fans have lapped it up. Rightly so. The album is a revelation. It has long been in the making coming almost six years after ‘Insane Biography’, but for the fans it has been well worth the wait.
The sounds are different this time around, “music has changed in the years since our last album. Indian bands have changed, tastes in music have changed. The year 2008 is different,” says Baiju. Baiju is a master of the strings. He has a dedicated fan following. For five people to get along, and five artists at that (temperamental?) to be together (after all it IS a relationship) and make music together takes quite a bit of that harmony. Suraj’s explanation for the delay is the band has been working on the album and now that the members are in that comfort zone with each other they are ready with ‘Maktub’. This album incidentally has a heavy influence of Carnatic music. “Carnatic music is a vast ocean compared to the Western Classical tradition which is limited. We are lucky to have discovered this early in our career,” says Baiju.
This is one thing I have always meant to ask an Indian rock musician. Pop is one thing but rock is an altogether different ball game. “The human mind is capable of holding one thought at a time, and that for us has been music. Maybe that is why none of us really bothered about what was being said or would be said about us or our choice of profession,” says Suraj. These guys are not contract-driven or consumed by record labels; they are music driven. Clyde says, “If you have faith, if you believe in the music everything else will follow…money too,” to which Baiju adds, “I have believed in music passionately, not chased money and my financial needs have always been met.” And not just that they formed a band, they even wrote their own songs. “We did not want to end up as a professional cover band.” Killing any creativity there is. Baiju explains, “Doing covers is fine, as long as you contribute something to your version. There is no point imitating the original. Because then what happens is even the listener looks for an exact copy.”
There is the perception of the lifestyle of the average rocker….drugs, booze and women. “That is exactly what it is …perception. If someone admires Jimi Hendrix or Jim Morrison, it is not for the drugs they did but the music they created. You think anyone in their right mind would aspire to be a junkie?” asks Suraj. John chips in, “And it is not the music industry that has people doing drugs, there are far too many people doing drugs in other businesses.” These guys look like regular guys except there are black and grey in their outfits and of course there is the jewellery.
The band, in its current configuration, has been together for almost four years. They call themselves a band of friends. Clyde has an interesting take on that. “I am a big fan of my band,” he says. He talks of how when he heard John on the drums for the first time, “I became a fan”, then when he heard Baiju’s riffs, “I became a fan”, then when he heard Suraj sing, “I became a fan” and when he heard Deepu, you know what happened. But even as he says that, there is respect. I would add mutual respect, yes that and harmony are what keep this band rocking.SHILPA NAIR ANAND