Home Coming :: Rock Music, Memories and Heavy Water
Anthony Chirom, Ringo Pebam and Rowland Soibam *
"Johnny was a schoolboy when he heard his first Beatle song,- Shooting Star (Bad Company)
'Love me do,' I think it was. From there it didn't take him long.
Got himself a guitar, used to play every night,
Now he's in a rock 'n' roll outfit,
And everything's all right, don't you know?"
Rock concerts are often associated with certain kinds of behavior. Head banging, dancing, shouting, singing along with the band. Fortunately or unfortunately, when rock bands of Manipur origin hit the stage, there are no ostentatious displays which otherwise are common in other parts of the world. Some very successful rock bands have avoided gratuitous flash in favour of understated performances focusing on the music itself.
When the bands perform a good lead solo or a song, we play air guitar and head bang. Overwhelming of power surge letting your hair over the head banging. You still know that your neck will get sprain and your throat will sore. Who cares under the hypnotic enthusiasm adrenaline on music?
Like rock music in general, rock concerts have become an emblematic of Manipur's urban and semi- urban youth culture. Such concerts have been crucial to the formation of youth identity in the Manipur.
The phenomenon becomes even more well entrenched during the time of social unrests and has continued to represent elements of society frequently seen as "rebellious," especially against the social and familial strictures. And not to mention the wrath of ever protective parents.
Parents/ elders consider the "Rocker" as a low life or junkie. Tying pony tail, wearing torn jeans and growing goatee were never missed frisking by Charlie (cops). Sometimes people consider as junkie/pusher or the real junkies will ask for piece of stuff. We were considered outsiders even in our own house. Even today rock music is called sick/gross and this music is only for stereotyped people.
As urban raised school kids or a wannabe rock stars, we used to bunk classes to get a chance to be in the front, shouting and chanting after seeing the rockers put themselves on the line; their training and magnetism overcoming the technical difficulties and engage with the audience's emotions.
What was performed, how did it sound and how the band members feel about the performance and the occasion—these are elements that exist only for a fleeting moment and can never be repeated. As an audience responds to the excitement of such moments, feelings are exchanged between the stage and hall and all those that occupy these spaces.
These feelings have a real impact on the performance. After the Rock show, the music lingered on infusing us with the euphoric feeling - walking on the rainbow and humming the songs, after witnessing a live show.
Coming home late after tuition, on the excuse that classes got extended, when actually we went for the concerts at Ranch and MFDC grounds with bicycle and 'leirik- khau'. The 'leirik- khau' often bulging out with the cassettes stuffed in to be shared with friends in school. Befriending friends who had big brothers who had wide range of audio cassette collection and guitar/ music magazine.
As far as we understand one of the Pioneer Rock Bands of Manipur "MAGNETOS" started it all. Hard/ heavy rock or pure metal bands like Cannibals, Phoenix, Dark Krusaders, Post Mark and many other bands... created the rock scenes of Manipur. They were/ are the guys who inspired our generation!! Hadn't it been for them, we won't have been writing this very write- up.
We are sure many of us have had experienced the magic which rock music has put in all of us. Some are nostalgic, singing from the last bench of your classroom with one banging the desk to sheer wood pieces and filling the room with noise yet a subtle melody.
Fill the room with the noise - be it 'Breaking the Law" or some Maiden fans shouting "666 – number of the Beast "or "Am I Evil?". Selling old newspapers lying idle at home to buy the guitar strings, playing the audio cassettes till they are worn out, with constant play- rewind button to find the lead solos, to write down the lyrics.
Borrowing electric guitars and drum kits from elders when the D Day of the shows arrived. We replicated the sound of the original lead solo or guitar riff with palm muting (palm trick) without proper gadgets. There are these images and voices from the past to enliven our memories.
As aptly put by Meghanath Ngangom, lead guitarist of Heavy Water
"For us guys who always dreamt about playing someday on stage (not becoming famous..never really thought of that when we were young)..it was a childhood dream. Getting soaked in the rain on a bicycle with a guitar borrowed from a friend and learning to tune it for the first time ... I am sure most of us would have had this dream. And now that we have the resources we are all so busy with work that there is hardly any time to live the dream."Meghanath Ngangom was part of 'The Young Ones' the band whose concert posters we grew up seeing.
Martin Haobam says,
"I last played in 1992 in Manipur, when I was in class 11/12. Have played all these years outside our home state, but the thought of playing again in Manipur gives me intense joy."
Now these guys have grown up, matured and pursued their hobby as a passion. They are not rebels without a cause anymore. They have a cause - to change the traditional perception of their music and to use it to bring joy and peace.
On the 23th of July 2009, Heavy Water, a Bangalore based hard rock metal band comprising of Manipuris, will be performing at Iboyaima Shumang Leela Sanglen (near BOAT), Imphal. Veterans like Vivek Sharma (former Phoenix/ Phynyx) will also be jamming up with them.
Vivek Sharma (see Ooba video profile here and his video "Stop the Killing" here ) - a household name among the rock community of Manipur and a guy who needs no formal introduction. A walk the talk guy, with talents from the likes of Yngwie Malmsteen to Jimmy Page to various contemporary rock artists. He has been a source of inspiration to many budding talents and a childhood idol of HeavyWater.
Romi Aribam based in Delhi - former band mate of Martin Haobam (vocals HeavyWater) in the erstwhile 'Valkyrie' will also be belting out some numbers. Monks, an Imphal based rock- blues- band will be opening the show. They promise to treat you with covers, interpretations and originals.
* Anthony Chirom and Ringo Pebam are based in Bangalore, Rowland Soibam(Thrash) is based in Delhi, and they are high school chums from DBS and St Joseph's, from the batch of 1993- 94) and contributes to e- pao.net regularly. The writers can be contacted at tull_chirom(at)yahoo(dot)com , ringo(dot)p(at)gmail(dot)com , thrash666ad(at)yahoo(dot)co(dot)in respectively.
This article was webcasted on July 24th, 2009.
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