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Home > Lifestyle News > Culture News > Article > Parikramas Subir Malik Not too many people know that we hate going into the studio to record

Parikrama's Subir Malik: Not too many people know that we hate going into the studio to record

Updated on: 20 May,2023 01:40 PM IST  |  Mumbai
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Indian rock band Parikrama is as busy as can be playing at different gigs and concerts around the country, and visibly loving performing on stage. In an interview with Mid-day Online, Subir Malik spoke about playing live, evolution of Indian rock music, and how they will finally enter the recording studio to record their song for fans this year

Parikrama's Subir Malik: Not too many people know that we hate going into the studio to record

Since Indian rock band Parikrama didn't like to go into the studio to record, they decided to give their music out for free very early on for people to listen, enjoy and spread the word about them. Photo Courtesy: Independence Rock

For Parikrama, one of India's most iconic rock bands, the feeling of getting on stage trumps all other kinds of experiences. After all, they have been performing for three decades. "In over 3,500 shows that Parikrama has done over 31 and a half years, we have cancelled just this one show in our lives, which happened after Rang Bhavan was shut down. It was because my grandmother expired just one night before the performance," shares Subir Malik, founder of the Delhi-based band. Over the years, they have played at many venues including Rang Bhavan and IIT Madras among others but have had to miss only one performance in all these years and that was at I-Rock.

Unfortunately, the band not too long ago lost lead guitarist and founding member Sonam Sherpa in 2020, whose presence at live performances was a visual treat. Now, with Malik as the organist and synthesiser and Nitin Malik as lead vocalist, they also have guitarist Saurabh Choudhary on guitar, Gaurav Balani on bass guitar and Srijan Mahajan on drums, along with others who accompany them on their concerts they put together nothing short of visual spectacle to continue the legacy. It not only proves their love for music but also for live performances, the experiences of which Mailk narrates as if it happened yesterday. He reminisces, "The first show that got us all-India recognition was at IIT Bombay on December 28 in 1995." It was after this that they played at their first Independence Rock music festival in 1996.  

Interestingly, many bands at the time were only playing covers but close to the turn of the century, there was a change that Malik credits to the late Amit Saigal of Rock Street Journal, who was promoting original English music in India through Great Indian Rock (GIR) festival. There were many other bands then like Rock Machine, 13AD and Krosswindz, that were coming up with original English albums. In fact, the pianist says Parikrama had also started writing their own music from day one but chose to play covers by choice, till Saigal turned the tide. "Even in the first show that we did on September 15, 1991, we played Xerox. In 1992, I remember we wrote another song called 'Gonna Get It'. However, it was because of Amit Saigal that we went into the studio for the first time in 1995, and recorded a song called 'Till I Am No One Again', which was released on the Great Indian Rock audio tape, which is a collector's item today because it was an audio cassette in 1995."

Rise of original songs
A lot has changed over 30 years and for the better, not only because of attendees but also certainly because of the internet. Having seen the change firsthand, Malik says, "Today, the audience does not only expect you to do originals but they also accept it." It is as open as them listening to a song for the first time and enjoying it just like they would listen to 'Highway to Hell' by ACDC, adds Malik, who reveals he started Parikrama out of the selfish motive of wanting to play rock chords like Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, ACDC and Iron Maiden. However, it's not like the band doesn't love playing their originals even now. Given the nature of their popularity, they also look at the kind of crowd they are catering to, which is mostly private shows, and not music festivals, where they have hardcore fans.

He explains, "There are not too many people who know that we hate going into the studio to record. So, we came up with the idea that we wanted to give out all our music for free." While in 1997, they did try a module where they wanted to actually sell a song for Rs 10 but the lack of facilities or the fact that it would take too much effort, means that it never worked out. It is also the reason why they decided to let people access their songs for free and then call them to play a concert. So, out of the 100-200 originals, many of which they don't even play anymore, Malik says he is surprised that the youngsters even know their music and sing along because 90-99 per cent of their music was never recorded and would have probably been played at concerts and that's where their fans have heard it or through a video recording of any of their shows.

One of them has to be the song ‘But It Rained’ and ‘Xerox’ – the latter of which the Delhi musician says has nothing to do with Xerox but was directly inspired by who Parikrama called "the papas who taught us all", the Mumbai band, Rock Machine. He shares, "The song was inspired by the song 'Top of the Rock' by Rock Machine." It was the band's one such visit to Malik's Kirorimal College in Delhi that left a lasting impression on him. "I was blown and thought I have to have a band like that. The first website that Parikrama made in '95 and '96 from the IIT Bombay servers had clearly written on top "A tribute to Rock Machine, the Papas who taught us all," he reveals another piece of trivia.

Love for rock music and surviving Covid-19
The Delhi band has come a long way since then and even as the world boasts of rock music, India is not far behind, and it is because of bands such as Parikrama and Indus Creed among so many others that have sprouted over the last 50 years that the country can say its rock music is as diverse as its culture. "I think personally rock music has a really great set of dedicated fan following. If you go abroad and see that a set of dedicated fans are of bands that have been playing for 50 years, whether it is The Rolling Stones or it is The Who, or it is Iron Maiden for 40 years, you will still see their stadiums full." This, he says, cannot be visible with other types of genres.

Even though they are rock musicians, who are loved not only in India but around the world, one can't ignore the Covid-19 pandemic and the effect it had on people. While others had a job, many musicians could not play concerts due to the lockdown, and it was no different for Parikrama. However, Malik says, he had told all the members of the band when they started out something very important, and is probably a tip for those who are starting out and think they can survive on music alone. He shares, "Way back in '91, one of the first things that we decided as a band, and because I was playing a lot of bands earlier, so I probably had that vision, so I could sort these things with the band members. I told them from the first day that whatever comes you have to make sure that you are financially safe, or you're financially doing something else -- related to music or whatever, and not dependent on Parikrama and only then we can do English rock and roll. And that was probably the best decision because if we would have been totally dependent on the band, it would have been very difficult probably would have broken after four, five or six years, because we got so many offers to convert to indie pop and start doing Hindi stuff." 
However, that was not what the band was made for and so Malik says Parikrama stuck to their rules and refused every offer. It's not like they didn't get tempted because they could have easily got more money, but they stuck to it. "We, in fact, made half a song and did the song in Hindi also in 95-96 after pressure from a lot of people, who were after us to at least try but said we couldn't do," he adds. It is also the reason why the band wasn't dependent on Parikrama for their income during the pandemic, as they all had their safe, own businesses and now say, "the band is a hobby that pays us well" and helps them work on their own terms as a band. The fact that the pre-pandemic season was good, also helped during those years. 

Why college festivals are important
Parikrama is one of the many successful rock bands to have come out in the last 30 years in India, which started in college. Many of the others started out as college bands in Mumbai, but those who have observed long enough, know how the culture of rock bands playing at college festivals has disappeared due to a variety of reasons. It is also a thought that Malik agrees with. "I help IIT Bombay and a lot of other colleges even today. So, it's been 20-25 years that I've been helping them and IIT Bombay is one of the few who are still doing English rock, even though they don't do it in a bigger way like they used to earlier." It is also the reason why he wants to send a message to those external players who are invested in college fests that if there is no effort taken to get rock bands from the college circuit, how will people know about them? "If Independence Rock thought the same way as others that rock is dead, then how will that work?" 

With the love they have received over the years through messages and emails, and unlike their usual mantra, "We will be working on recording all our songs in 2023," says Malik, adding that these are some of their most popular songs like ‘Open Skies’, ‘Vapourize’ and more that have never been recorded, so that fans can listen to them on the streaming platforms. "We owe it to our fans here and we will be doing it for them surely," he concludes

Also Read: Indian Ocean's Rahul Ram: Unlike 80s and 90s, Indian film industry is becoming more accepting of independent artistes

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