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FEB. 11, 2007
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Taxing Times
The phase-out of central sales tax is yet another move towards ushering in the national goods and services tax (GST). The compensation to the states, in lieu of CST phase-out, will include revenue proceeds from 33 services currently being taxed by the Centre as well as 44 new services of an intra-state nature that will be traded by the states. However, VAT is the way forward, though much needs to be done to iron out the anomalies in the current VAT regime.

India, Ahoy!
Indian investments overseas are growing and how. For instance, total Indian investment in Latin America and the Caribbean has topped $3 billion (Rs 13,500 crore) so far. The latest investment is by ONGC Videsh, which acquired an oilfield in Colombia for $425 million (Rs 1,912.5 crore). Earlier, ONGC bought an offshore oilfield in Brazil for $410 million (Rs 1,845 crore).
More Net Specials
Business Today,  January 28, 2007
Bands On The Run
Indian bands are gaining in popularity but they need institutional support before they can become mainstream.

Them Clones: About to release their second album




We've all witnessed the magic of music. We all have our favourite songs and bands. And many of us harbour secret desires of becoming rock stars! But very few of us really exhibit the commitment to go that extra mile to live out our dreams. However, that is changing, albeit very slowly, and some Indian bands, like Euphoria and Indian Ocean, to name just two, have found moderate fame and a modicum of financial success. And there are many more in the making. But the question is: are we ready to accept and experiment with various forms of music or do we rather have them play covers and get on with their lives? More importantly, is the market big enough to sustain these independent bands solely on the basis of their music?

In the past decade, the Indian music industry has witnessed significant changes. Perhaps the most obvious is the growth in comfort levels of the Indian public with various genres of music. Gigs and live performances, which were earlier restricted to college festivals, have marked out their presence in pubs and during festivals like Durga Puja. Some bands, like Thermal and a Quarter and Junkyard Groove, have even travelled abroad and opened shows for big daddies like Deep Purple and Jethro Tull. Events like Great Indian Rock (GIR) and the Hornbill Festival, though recent, also did their bit to popularise live music bands. All in all, the time is ripe for these independent bands to showcase their own talent instead of singing songs written and composed by their famous western counterparts. Today, there are over a hundred Indie bands in the country playing their own music.

TAAQ: It claims that half of its fans are from the US and the UK

Thermal and a Quarter

This Bangalore-based band got together way back in 1996 and, since then, has witnessed many changes in its playing order. Today, it has four members-Bruce Lee Mani (guitar), Rajiv Rajagopal (drums), Sunil Chandy (bass) and Ajit Abraham (vocals). taaq, as it is popularly called, has performed in Glasgow and London, and opened shows for Deep Purple in 2001 and Jethro Tull in 2006. Today, it claims that half of its fans are from the US and the UK, which is a great step for an Indian rock band. Interestingly, taaq uses software like BitTorrents to distribute its music free of cost.


This band first came together in 2001 and is based out of Shillong. The core team comprises Rudy Wallang (guitar) and Tripriti Kharbamgar (vocals), Ferdy (bass) and Sam Shullai (drums). One of its songs, I am, has been featured in the international music channel, vh1, and the foursome has been invited to compete in the 23rd International Blues Challenge scheduled for February 2007 in Tennessee, us.

Skinny Alley

Soulmate: The Shillong-based band is certainly going places
The name is a literal English translation of Patli Galli. This is, arguably, the most versatile band in the country and has never hesitated to experiment with genres like rock, pop, funk, R&B, reggae and the blues. It started off by playing covers but soon graduated to making its own music. Based in Kolkata, Skinny Alley, which has spent many years touring the country, comprises Jayashree Singh (vocals), Amit Datta (guitar), Gyan Singh (vocals and guitar), Jeffrey Menezes (keyboards) and Jeffrey Rikh (drums and vocals). One album strong, the band members take great pride playing their own music.

Junkyard Groove

This Chennai-based band has four members-Ameeth Thomas (vocals), Siddhartha Srinivasan (guitar), Craig Maxworth (bass) and Jerry Abraham John (drums)-and was formed just two years ago. It's a band of youngsters-Siddhartha is still in college-and will be opening shows for international bands like Iron Maiden, Incubus, Prodigy and Children of Bodom at the forthcoming Dubai Desert Rock Festival sometime in March. Junkyard Groove has also signed a three-year contract with Creative Kingdom Records (US) which will produce and promote its first album for which it begins recording next month in Dubai. Clearly, this is one band to watch out for!

Them Clones

Formed in July 2000, band members Prithvish (vocals), Gucci (guitar), Joseph (guitar), Romit (guitar) and Dev (bass) have stuck it out for the past six years, and have performed at several college fests, corporate events and rock festivals. Their high point: playing at events like vh1 Rock Rulz and JD Set International Festival in London in 2006. They are in the process of releasing their second album, the recording for which is being done at Empire Studios, Mumbai.

Pin Drop Violence

Skinny Alley: Arguably, the most versatile band in the country
Based out of Mumbai, the band was formed in November 2000 by Pradeep and Rohit, who had been in college together. Today, Pin Drop Violence comprises Pradeep Miranda (vocals), Mithun Pujari (guitar), Visti Honavazir (guitar), Rohit Perreira (bass) and Virendra Kaith (sound engineer). The band is one album old (Compose Oppose Dispose was released in July 2004) and was among the top three Indie bands that were slated to open the Dubai Desert Rock Festival. Its second album, Right II Riot, is scheduled for release sometime next month. Says Perreira: "We'd love to make a full-time living out of our band but as of now, that does not seem to be an option."

There are several other bands that have great talent and are making good music but money, or, rather, the lack of it, often plays spoilsport and forces members to drift away in search of other, more sustainable, professions. The cost of instruments, recording studios, travelling, cutting an album, sales and promotions are just some of the issues that cannot be sorted out without money and institutional support. Festivals like GIR and Strawberry Fields (NLSUI, Bangalore) that provide platforms to over 50-60 Indian and other South Asian bands, are just some examples of what needs to be done.

Besides mainstream rock, metal, blues and jazz, there are several regional bands that play fusion-essentially regional language lyrics set to tunes influenced by rock and jazz. One such band, Avial, which is based out of Kerala, plays Malayalam rock. Similarly, bands like Bhumi and Chandrabindu are very famous in Bengal. These bands are quite popular even with the Indian diaspora abroad, but in the absence of institutional sponsorships, foreign tours are hard to come by and a lot depends on luck. Currently, they distribute their music by uploading it on websites like, or through e-mails or even BitTorrent. Several of these bands have also been featured on internet radio services like Radio Verve and Split Radio. Verve is run by Gaurav, Shreyas and Kaustabh and is based out of Bangalore, while Split is based in Mumbai.

Adhiraj Mustafi, MD, Prospect Event Management Company, says: "A lot is happening in the industry. There are enough discerning listeners and fans of live music around, and there are some great bands doing the rounds." Some of the music tracks being produced by these bands are of international quality so much so that it's hard to spot the difference, but very few sponsors and record companies are willing to take the risk of backing these mostly non-Hindi bands that don't cater to the "pop" segment. Endorsements, sales, studio businesses, commissioned work, performance and appearance fees are just some of the other avenues that bands have to explore today. But given the growing domestic and international interest in them, one hopes to hear a lot more of these Indian bands in the days to come.