When you are a textbook romantic in the body of music maniac, who happens to be a writer, a Café gig is the best thing that can happen to you after a dull mundane week.
Highway Jammers was performing in Café Frespresso.
They had put Bollywood classic covers all around. So my first instinct was to go over and strike a conversation with the band.
I found Sarthak, the vocalist and songwriter of the band.
On asking about how they started, he said, “we were school mates back then and now we are in different colleges, but luckily we are all in Bhubaneswar.”
“How often do you jam?”
“Initially we did not have a place but now we have managed to create an almost complete jam pad at one of our band member’s place. So now we jam at his place whenever we get time.”
“Have you performed anywhere outside Odisha?”
“Yes, only once. That was in IIT-Kgp’s Springfest. They had a rock band competition Sargam, in which we came 3rd. We have been playing mostly in Bhubaneswar and regularly at the old Café Frespresso, at both of their outlets. The weekly gig that we used to do helped us learn a lot and rectify our mistakes.”
“How have you been doing in Bhubaneswar so far?”
“We have been participating in all War of Bands that happen in Bhubaneswar. We participate in College fests as well. We do play in our alumni schools. But now at this point of time we are totally focusing on our online reach, so, we do covers on our YouTube Channels. We have released ‘Nayi Shuruat’ a full album on SoundCloud. We are currently in process of video making for those songs.”
The gig mostly covered their original compositions, and I saw people hooting and joining in with claps. The songs were beautifully written and people were instantly connecting to them. The guitarist had some real cool chords up his sleeves. The aroma of coffee and the humming chorus made the ambiance even better. On demand they played some of the best Coldplay tracks.
I went back to them after the gig.
“What is your driving force? In spite of being in final year in different colleges, how do you manage to keep the band alive?”
“To be very frank, the only thing that keeps us together is good music, making memories, and writing good songs. Fortunately we are all like-minded people and we share same taste in music. Also, obviously victory is a great motivation, and on that front we have been grabbing positions on various platforms. We recently won an online music festival, and that makes us want to do more.”
Curious, I asked how they come up with such beautiful tracks.
“That varies with situations; basically we all pitch in together. We take a theme, a mood, and then write on it. We of course try to avoid repetition. I mean that’d be just foolish to write another song on war, so we try to keep our stuff unique. If the mood is intense, we write on similar lines and then it goes through a thought revelation. I take up a few chords, a few lines and move forward.”
“How is the music scene in Odisha?”
“I cannot talk about the entire scene in Odisha, but the band scene in Odisha is definitely not that good. Industry has been dominating band scene and music by young people. Thankfully there are few great bands in Odisha. We did a gig RockPlosion in Bhubaneswar consisting of 13 bands.”
Highway Jammers is not going to do any gig in near future. My first encounter with them was at their last gig. That saddened me.
“The Indian scene is such that, the bands are active only during college fests and band of wars, neither before nor after. And no one remembers them after that. They come to our college fests, we dance to them and then we forget!”
“War of bands is the only place we go to. No one is ready to shell out any bucks. People don’t turn up at gigs. There is lack of proper organization. Like today we are doing this for self promotion. It was about time that we go live. But then we are trying to keep our YouTube channel active, so we keep posting stuff online.”
“How do you imagine the future of ‘Highway Jammers’? It is a unique name.”
“Hahaha. It’s really most amateurish name ever. We were in high school and named it so, back in 2009. Once we were ranked 26th on National level by Sennheiser. We performed ‘breathless’ by Mahadevan sir, and received many accolades on that. So I’d definitely say that we have come a long way. I hope that we end up somewhere together. But if not, then at least online we will keep the band alive. We are going to make music somehow.”
I do hope to see them again, in another Café, in a distant place, where I can cover their journey to success.
[Story Courtesy: Manish Sehgal]
[Photo Courtesy: Ranvir Deb]