When Mad Men make music

Ad men Rajeev Raja and Subhash Kamath’s band Wanted Yesterday is an ode to the crazy world of advertising. It also celebrates their music of choice from the 60s and 70s

Q. What prompted two ad men to form a band?
SUBHASH: Well, I grew up in a music-loving household, but didn’t have any formal training. I have learnt by playing with friends and colleagues, and the more you play, the better you become. Some years ago, Rajeev and I were together at an agency and we got a request to perform at an ad industry event. That’s how this band started. After playing a few gigs for our industry friends, we thought ‘why not play for the public too?’ blueFROG gave us our first break and that turned out to be a big success, and there has been no looking back ever since. We’re a group of friends, really, who enjoy performing with each other and trying out new things.

Subhash Kamat (top left) and Rajeev Raja (in red T-shirt) along with the rest of the band
Subhash Kamat (top left) and Rajeev Raja (in red T-shirt) along with the rest of the band

RAJEEV: I grew up in Bangalore in the days when it was a beautiful, unhurried city, which allowed its residents time to pursue theatre, music and the arts in general. I stumbled into music pretty late actually, only when I was in college, but once I discovered the flute there was no looking back. The name Wanted Yesterday was inspired by the impossible deadlines in advertising and the fact that every job was ‘wanted yesterday’. The name also matched the kind of music we were playing; classic rock, blues etc, which was also ‘wanted yesterday’.

Q. Who is your main audience and how do they react to you?
SUBHASH: Our initial audience was obviously our friends from the media & advertising industry. A lot of them continue to come for all our shows. But, over the years, we’ve seen a more diverse bunch of people enjoying our shows — a lot of youngsters and expats too.

RAJEEV: Surprisingly, our main audience isn’t all gray haired. We see a lot of youngsters at our concerts, proving that great music is timeless and is loved by people of all ages.

Q. How is your professional life?
SUBHASH: The ad industry can certainly be hectic! I’ve now spent 30 years in advertising, given it many late nights of hard work. So it doesn’t stress me anymore. Music is a very key part of communication story-telling. It helps if you’re into music. It helps you understand the creative process better and it helps you add value toscripts. I also believe that playing in a band actually helps you become a better team player.

Well, I have spent over two decades in advertising and it was stressful as hell, but enjoyable as hell too. I had no head for figures, so I’m grateful that I could work in an industry that paid me to be creative. Music always helped me, whether it was by raising the standard of music in my work, or by helping me get in touch with a sublime, spiritual side to myself. What was common with both music and advertising was the need to express yourself and connect to an audience at the deepest level.

(Rajeev Raja, 51, is Founder & Soundsmith of BrandMusiq, which works at the convergence of brands and music, by creating sonic identities for brands. Subhash Kamath, 53, is CEO & founding Managing Partner of ad agency BBH)

WHEN: June 17, 9.30 pm onwards
WHERE: blueFROG, Todi Mills and Co, Lower Parel
COST: Rs 350 entry to R1,000 full cover
CALL: 61586158

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