I was delighted to hear Thermal and a Quarter (Taaq) playing as we stepped in for the Food and Culture festival at the spacious Bandodkar grounds, Campal last month. Thermal and a Quarter is a Bangalore-based Indie-rock band which make their own music. By that I mean they compose their own songs with the help of song writers, set the song to music and sing them – regardless whether the audience warms to them or not. I like that. It’s very poetic.
I had met Bruce Lee Mani, the lead vocalist of Taaq, in Delhi where they had performed about a decade ago. Bruce formed Taaq with Rajeev Rajagopal (Drums) and Leslie Charles (Bass guitarist and backing vocals) 20 years back in 1996. Just five years later they ‘opened’ at Brigade Road for Deep Purple in 2001.
The Bangaloreans had a nice easy twang about them when I first met them and I came away after buying their CD Plan B (2005). Bruce was singing ‘Chainese Item’ at Campal—it was from the same album and was about eating Chinese food in Bangalore. How would that gel with Goan audiences, I wondered. ‘Was that music!?’ was one of the discussion points on the way home. Why are we set in our own time warp of wanting to hear the same old songs over and over again? This cripples creativity. Perhaps that is why we have so few song-writers in Goa.
In a recent interview Bruce spoke about how their tour Fringe 2013, gave them a perspective about ‘how artistes around the world engage in work that is non-mainstream or non-commercial, find a way, find meaning, and continue to grow and better themselves at every turn—while being confounded by ill-educated audiences, unfeeling sponsors, passing fads and suchlike.’ (As told to Kingshuk Niyogy, LiveMint, 2015). Bemoaning the lack of appreciation for original music, Rajeev in the same interview says, ‘Our first album had the hit song (smiles) Potatoe Junkie, urging audiences to get over their soap-opera addictions and get their asses down to live gigs.’
Listening to live gigs was something I did very seriously in Delhi, at Café Morrison, at South Extension, Part II. Named after rock legend Jim Morrison, the pub used to feature upcoming bands live amid youth swirling smoke and ordering their drinks. The more staid Turquoise Cottage (now at Saket) used to feature Goan bands like Black Slade and the long-haired Anthony Braganza for the more mature crowd. At the Kingfisher Pub rock fests we saw Soulmate, the blues rock band from Shillong, Meghalaya. Arijit Sen took me to Pecos pub on Rest House Road, off Brigade Road, when I was in Bangalore in 2005 which had some great house music (rock and reggae) and great food – and of course the chilled mugs of beer!
When the work got to you, and you needed a break, you turned to your Plan B i.e. an alternative plan of action. After all, there was always music to rock you!
thermalandaquarter.com; published in Gomantak Times Weekender, St.Inez, Goa on Sunday, 1 May 2016. Pix courtesy taaq website.