In the year 1988, India’s first all-original rock album was released by Rock Machine. The band’s name was later changed to Indus Creed in 1993. Since it’s inception, Indus Creed has set benchmarks for the rock scene in India. Aniket Dasgupta interviews the band’s vocalist, Uday Benegal who talks about the band and what makes them who they are.
Aniket Dasgupta: Indus Creed has been one of India’s best-known bands for long. How does it feel to have gotten back together after such a long time? What brought you back together?
Uday Benegal: It feels great to be back with Zubin and Mahesh, the other two guys from the original lineup. It’s also great to have newbies Rushad Mistry and Jai Row Kavi who bring a fabulous new energy to the band. What brought us back together was me having returned to Bombay after nine years in New York and itching to make some slamming rock music again. Who better to do it with than these guys?
AD: This one’s for nostalgia’s sake. How was it playing with Slash in 1996 if I am not mistaken?
UB: It could have been ’96. I don’t remember. It was fun. Slash was really cool. He started out by saying that our (Indus Creed’s) gig and he didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes. We responded by saying that it was just about having a good time. We hit it off really well. The music spoke for itself after that.
AD: Indus Creed pioneered the Indian rock movement. Now that it has grown so much, how does it make you feel?
UB: We prefer to look back less and forward a lot more. So while we’re really happy to have been a part of the growth of rock music in India, we’re just kicked that it’s a far more mature thing today. What we’re most psyched about, though, is the fact that original music by bands here has now become the norm. That’s probably our proudest achievement.
AD: What are your views on the fact that music channels which once promoted original music have now shifted to reality television?
UB: Hey, it’s their money and their business. It’s too bad in some ways…but it is what it is, so we find other ways to get the music out. There are so many options on the internet now, so it ain’t all bad…just different. It’s just a shame that they moved to reality TV, which is really just the fucking bottom of the barrel when it comes to programming.
AD: How does it feel like having someone like Jay Row Kavi on board? I mean, he was a kid when you guys were at your peak.
UB: It’s great having Jai—and Rushad—on board. They’re both really good players and great guys. We all vibe really well. Age isn’t something that matters in what we’re doing. But I give Jai relationship advice every now and then. So he’s benefiting from my years, I guess.
AD: So how different is Indus Creed now from what it was before?
UB: There are differences and there are similarities. The music has naturally evolved—the song-writing, the sound, the influences and more. We’re still a band that believes in playing live…playing hard and tight and with conviction and love for the music. We’re still high on energy and big on melody. The new guys bring new ideas and we’ve added our own acquired experiences. It’s the perfect amalgam.
AD: What do you feel about the Indian rock scene at present?
UB: It’s a very fertile time for rock music in India, but it needs to come together in a more organised fashion. There are plenty of new clubs in the major cities across the country; that gives upcoming, as well as established bands, a great opportunity to play more regularly. No more having to wait for promoters to put up large stages at festivals and the like. The big gigs are there, too, but they take a while to happen, so the indoor music spaces are a boon. The result is that there’s a continual birth of new good bands, some of whom are truly developing their own sound and identity.
But the lack of support from radio or TV is a problem; which can be overcome, mind you. We need people with business smarts to tap into the niche of non-Bollywood popular music to build platforms for music distribution—an Indian iTunes or Spotify, so to speak. It’ll happen…but it might take longer than one’s hoping for.
AD: Who are the musicians you would love to collaborate with?
UB: The musicians I’m working with right now are the ones I’m happiest collaborating with: Zubin Balaporia, Mahesh Tinaikar, Rushad Mistry and Jai Row Kavi. We’re not thinking of collaborations beyond this core at the moment. We’re working very hard on creating our own sound. But there are many great musicians in this world. Those extended collabs will happen when they’re meant to.
AD: Now that you guys are back as a band, what’s next for Indus Creed? When will we get to see your new album?
UB: We’re hunkered down these days, working feverishly on new tunes. We’ve already tracked drums for a couple of songs and should be going into the studio to do another two. If all goes according to plan we should have a 3-4 song EP out in the next month or two and a full-length album but October or November. I’m feeling really psyched about the direction we’re heading in. We’re loving the songs and the energy that everyone’s putting in is amazing. I can’t wait to get these songs recorded and out there. Info will be posted at http://www.facebook.com/IndusCreedNow, http://induscreed.net/ and http://twitter.com/induscreednow.