When an old school band gets social
With their release of an official video after almost 18 years, Parikrama talks of social media, YouTube, and being an old-school band in a millennial world
We had forgotten the password of our YouTube account!" laughs Subir Malik, keyboardist for Delhi-based band, Parikrama, which has now been rocking for 28 years. Why they needed the password was because the band, one of India's most legendary, was ready to release an official video for their song, Tears of the Wizard, which was originally written in 2007. The song is a tribute to Lord Of The Rings hero Gandalf the Grey. "There have been videos of us playing live, and things we have done for different platforms. But this is our first official video after But It Rained, which released in 2001," says the 49-year-old. It's also the first time the band has been on YouTube and now on Instagram as well, promoting and talking about their music. Made up of Subir, his brother Nitin, 47, on lead vocals, Sonam Sherpa, 48, and Saurabh Chaudhry, 39, on guitars, Gaurav Balani, 31, on bass and Srijan Mahajan, 32, on drums, the band—formed in 1991 when all were students at Delhi University—had its first hit in But It Rained, which was shot in Spiti Valley. "We did that in 2000, when no one was even shooting there. This time around, we went to Mechuka in Arunachal Pradesh, and the government of Arunachal has funded the video. This is a first for an English indie band," says Subir.
The band, which has been inspired by Pink Floyd and The Doors, has been churning out music for almost three decades, all of which is available for free downloads. In 2007, thanks to Iron Maiden (who was blown away by their level of rock/metal talent), they got to play at the Download Festival in the UK.
For a band that released a song online in 1994, and then made a website in 1997, the band is late to the social media party. And though Malik says that sharing what they ate or where they went on Instagram is not the band's style, he admits that the market has changed and this could be the only way to reach out to an audience that isn't listening to them. "We always gave out live recordings of our songs out for free. But to be heard, you need audio/visual content. That's how the younger people will get to know of us," he says, adding, "On Instagram, I don't even know how to use the 'swipe up' function. But if we could shoot videos the hard way in Spiti and Mechuka, then we can figure out Instagram!"
For Nitin, like the rest of the band, the objective is clear—to increase their visibility to people who have never been to their concerts on a platform that's not only limited to India. "We have to adapt to Instagram, because it's the future. It's fun exploring, especially as we are not tech savvy. So, I call the other guys at night asking what to post, what hashtags to put. Half of the times I put wrong uploads, and then have to delete and start over again," he says. It's also a way to be relevant, says Saurabh Chaudhry, who is one of the rare members to be comfortable using social media. "It's a piece of cake! And it's convenient as well."
However, the band has decided that they are back to beating the millennials at their own game. "If someone tells me I am 50, I say, see me on stage, I can dance like four teenagers!" laughs Subir. The plan is to release consistent songs, which they are now recording at the studio, and videos as well. "We have many unheard of originals, which we want to put out there," he says, to which Nitin adds, "what we want is to keep the quality consistent. But you will find us around now." They still have a lot of old-school in them, and that's why they refused when well-wishers suggested that they invest in fake followers and likes. As Subir sums it up, "They said it would look good if our video has 1 lakh views in the first hour. But I knew that even if three people watched it, I would be okay. But the video has done better than we thought—it has almost 57k views on YouTube, 1 lakh 25 thousand on VH1 and around 5k shares on Instagram. We followed our gut, and it has served us well."
No. of views on the YouTube video
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