Today, as the clock struck 12:15 pm (Indian Standard Time), it was hard not to go back, even if for a second, to a simpler time. A time without strategic time-outs and cheerleaders. A time without human auctioning and corporate über Lust. A time where it was just about the sport, the occasion. A time, which was embodied by one man.
That man is Sachin Tendulkar. Now I don’t expect our international (non-cricketing) followers to know who he is or to understand how one person can mean so much to a billion. Hell, I’ve been trying to explain it to my European friends for over 8 years now. When he batted, we watched. When he spoke, we listened. That is the kind of power he had over us. And all that without the loud, invasive campaigning of politicians or the krass, forced mental onslaught of filmstars through their undergarment advertisements and unnecessary ponytails. Sachin just did his job. And we were sold.
To give you an idea of the kind of pressure that Sachin went through in his career, just imagine if you worked at McDonalds. There were 10 other people working with you, mostly with mediocre burger making skills and you were the undisputed star Cheeseburger flipper. There were about 7 other competing burger joints, usually with better working conditions as well as raw materials, trying to make life very difficult for you. Add to that the small matter of one billion people hoping and praying that you make the perfect burger every single time. You usually did, but when you didn’t, you were criticised in the local media for being past it and selfishly making burgers for your own personal gain. Your one mistake would break millions of hearts. Now, imagine that for every single day for over 24 years.
You made us smile, Sachin. You made us cry. But never once did you let us down. Because when it didn’t work out, we knew it hurt you more. You’ve been there for us in times of duress and need, without you even knowing it. You’ve represented us. You’ve given us a reason to be proud. More than anything, you made us believe. Made us believe that anything was possible.
Thank you, Sachin. Thanks for everything.
Our friends from whatsthescene.com took some nice pictures of the show in Mumbai last week, that we would like to share with you!
Recently during an intellectually stimulating discussion with a journalist while giving an Interview, the topic came up about bands selling out. The question of the hour was why does a band sell-out. Today, I want to address this general topic of selling out. But not why people sell-out. Instead WHAT exactly is selling out?
There have been numerous artists in the past that have been ‘accused’ of selling out. Either by changing their sound or incorporating unfamiliar elements into their existing sound or by signing with an ‘evil’ label or by having a stance against illegal download of music. In this process, die-hard fans get disappointed, new fans get created, names are made legendary and reputations are set in stone. And everyone generally seems to agree that this trend of selling-out revolves around the biggest evil of all. Money. I disagree. I actually have a very different take on selling out. And in my opinion everyone in the world sells out. Without exception.
Now one may raise the question. What about the Mandela’s of the world? What about Mother Teresa? What about Mahatma Gandhi? How dare one alleg humanity in its purest, selfless form? Thats where my definition of the term takes over. According to me selling out is not an act of monetary greed, not a phrase burdened by the negative. It is just the optimization of your methods to achieve a certain goal. Whether this goal be selling more cd’s, playing bigger concerts, seeing your child happy or to see your brothers free. Whatever we do in life that involves any other person is selling out. Getting happiness from a certain good deed is also a form of selling out. Even from eating food, we gain something (energy, satisfaction, happiness). It is also selling out. A perfect, non ‘sell-out’ person would be a person who does absolutely nothing. And since man is the most social of animals, we sell out every day. Multiple times.
So did Mandela, Mother Teresa and Mahatma Gandhi sell out? According to this definition yes. But they did so to help millions of others. Does selling out then carry with a negative connotation? For many, it does. For me, it doesn’t. It is a part of being human. We all do it. Everyday. We just dont think about it.
On a completely different note: Sometimes all you need is a bucket..
So here we are. India. The 7th largest country in the world. 2nd biggest population. Yes, we had quite a significant role in the world reaching 6.99 billion (did anything change there? Haven’t read the papers in a while). It’s mesmerizing really, this exhibition of colour and wonder. It’s like every view carries with it a hundred different stories being played out on nameless canvases. Every turn is a photograph waiting to be immortalized in a frame or on a magazine cover. But do we truly appreciate this gift? And if we appreciate it, do we respect it enough?
The word ‘Lakeerein’ literally means ‘Lines’ or Linien in German. If we look at the world objectively, lines define every inch of our existence. From the contours of our faces to the silhouette of trees, everything is a summation of lines. But these are not the lines that the song talks about. In India, we take these lines to the next level. We turn them into boundaries and we thrive on them.
Our society is rigged with division. Nowhere will you observe this incarnation of separation more than in India. We poison in the name of religion. We differentiate in the name of creed. We ridicule in the name of colour. We insist on extravagance and ignore the essential. We pride ourselves on income rather than achievement. Birth rights and the authority to succeed go hand in hand, irrespective of merit. Mediocrity is readily accepted as being part and parcel of the system, a limb of our culture. We are free in theory but in reality we are still slaves to the past.
Not for one second do I claim that these issues and more do not plague other societies. But what hurts one most is what’s closest to home. And as educated, able young Indians we have the power to rid ourselves of these archaic assumptions still holding our society back in the 21st century. I do not expect all of us to become Anna Hazare’s or Bhagat Singh’s. Nor do I expect this song to become the anthem of a young nation. We all have to find our own small way to contribute; I chose mine through this song. We have the power to make a difference. Now we just need to find the will.
As I prepare to go to India for the 8th time in the last 6 years, for my customary December vacations at home, I am bracing myself for the kaleidoscope of difference that awaits me. The longer I have been in Germany, the more exotic and surreal India has become for me. As a person born and brought up in the ‘system’, I merely questioned it as a teenager. Now as an adult, and in a field that encourages intrigue, I am possessed by it. Possessed by the disorder of this system. Possessed by the image that this chaotic system just cannot work. But it does. Emphatically, in some cases.
Why I suddenly feel the urge to discuss this with you all? Recently we were asked the logic behind having 1 song in Hindi ‘Lakeerein’ on our debut album that is otherwise dominated by thought provoking, complex lyrics in English. “What is the point of having a song that most of your fans cannot understand when what you really expect of them is to interrogate the depths of your work”. Ok the original question was in German but for the sake of ‘understanding’, I translated it. I found it interesting that this gentleman thought of music as something that needs to be ‘understood’. In a way he is right.
We do tend to use music as a means of judgment; good or bad, intelligent or stupid, cool or not. So many of us are obsessed with what a songwriter is trying to say with his song, that we forget what the song is trying to say to us. Yes, our music does have a message, garnished with strenuously thought out words that laminate the instruments. But this message is an expression, rather than an expectation. A medium to exhaust the cornucopia of thoughts that are always competing for attention in my head. If someone feels the same way when they hear a song of ours, well and good. If not, that’s fine too. It’s what you feel while listening to a song that’s most important. However, since ‘Lakeerein’ involves an obvious language barrier, I will gladly state the reasons that made me pen it. The reasons that made me start this piece the way I did. But I’ll get to the actual song and the meaning behind it a little later, once I am actually faced with the issues it so loudly protests against. Right now I am just envisioning the taste of home.
Ankur and Markus talk in our latest Vlog about the progress of the new album.
They also discuss our new practice room, Max our new drummer and Anks acoustic project.
To watch this is also your first chance to get a glimpse of what our new album might sound like.
Have fun watching!
As Martin is busy searching for biggest man vs biggest snake videos on youtube and Markus just started playing random riffs on his Framus in the name of ‘freedom’, I thought maybe I try my hand at this business of blog writing. What I want to share with you all today is the life of an upcoming musician: the myths and the realities.
Myth 1: Sex, drugs and rock n roll. Drugs: Probably the biggest sham of them all. If you’re trying to make it in the industry in today’s world as a serious hardworking professional, drugs would be the last thing on your mind. Just look back at what it’s done to some of the greatest musicians of yesteryear. Making mistakes is an important part of being human. Smart people learn from the mistakes of others.
Myth 2: It’s all for the love of music. It is not. Feelings don’t pay bills.
Myth 3: Getting discovered by chance. Sadly, it’s not the 70’s. There is no ‘luckily there was the CEO of roadrunner records in the audience and our music totally blew him away’. Unless you have a million youtube hits or a sugar daddy ready to pump in the euros, chances are you won’t get signed. But that’s not the end of the world! There are tonnes of artists out there today, making a living while still having complete control of their produce. Go out, meet people, share your music, play more music, write more music, use the internet intelligently, try different things. Don’t hope something might happen. Make it happen.
Myth 4: Talent is everything. It is not. Talent is just one small part of any success story. If you’re not ready to put in hardwork to back your talent up, you might as well save yourself the entire hassle.
So what does this life actually entail then? Hmmm…
Reality 1: There are more disappointments than triumphs in the life of a musician. No matter if you’re Metallica or three 14 year old kids playing showtunes in the garage (that’s right im talking about you Jonas Brothers!). Chances are you will face more downs than ups in your life. Both personal and professional.
Reality 2: It’s all for the love of music. It is. Without the love for what you do, you wouldn’t be able to come out of the troughs.
Reality 3: Alcohol. There’s plenty of it flying around. Sometimes maybe a little too much..
But in the end is it all worth it? I wouldn’t trade a second of it with anything else.
When talking about music one often comes across terms like “awesome”, “great”, “mindblowing”, “total s#!t”… you know what I’m talking about. While these terms mostly describe personal feelings about music or a show or even a complete band, it is hard for the recipient of these comments to get a clear picture of what the other person is actually talking about.
Music itself – I’m not speaking of instrumental or vocal skill – is not subject to a measurable variable. It is mostly about feelings you associate with the whole vibe of a song or a musician or a whole concert.
Let me give you a brief example: In your childhood and teenager years you surely came across a lot of songs. And to some you might have had your first kiss or you listened to it, while something special happened in your life. The song might be the worst song in the world, but you have connected the worst song in the world with something special and it gained quality – for you.
These thoughts about judging music were aroused to me again, after we as a band were the judges of a band contest @ UNMAAD 2011 in IIM Bangalore. And I actually found it pretty hard to give away points for specified criteria. Some of these criteria were “Quality of Original Composition”, others were “Overall Impression”, etc. These criteria were a good guideline and were thought out well by the organizers, but I got the feeling that they still missed out, that music is not measurable in points. I sure get the point that in a competition you somehow have to find a way to compare performances. And for a comparison you need measurement parameters. And if there are none, you have to find some or the way you want the performances to be judged.
For me, music is free. It is an art not a competition. And art is about discussion, it is about controversy, it is revolutionary – it MUST be connected to feelings. Anthropologists and historics have discovered that any society that seriously neglects arts would not only thrive but they may eventually vanish. I don’t want to speak of ending societies, but generally speaking, music as an art adds a lot of quality to our life. I deliberately speak in a quality type of criterion “a lot”, because there is no measurement of life quality.
This addition in quality for me comes in two ways: listening to music and making music yourself. Both ways are benefiting because both ways are a kind of interaction and sharing is involved. And what is life without interaction and sharing. Sharing thoughts and feelings in lyrics and in song structures – or even further a corporate experience of a live performance, as part of the stage or the audience – it is about a connection.
Now try to add a competition part to this wonderful ideal of connection. It is impossible. How can one judge the feelings, the connection, the whole experience of a band and their impact on other people? It will always be a very personal opinion and it will never say anything about a constructed non existent impartial quality of a musician which states that one is superior to another.
This exactly is where the beauty of music comes in. The elusiveness of music. When you are writing a song, you can’t say if it touches anybody else except you – when you listen to a song and you are touched, you never know if it touches anybody else other than you.
And with this in mind: Who are we to judge music other than for ourselves?
PS: I know these pics have nothing to do with the blog, I just found them on my harddrive…
„Practice makes perfect. But on-the-fly makes art.“ – Danielle Egnew
This quote from an American Folk Singer says a lot about music and how I feel about it. Since we were practising a lot these days to adjust our bodies to playing in warmer and moister environment, I really feel the whole “perfecting” aspect of making music. But once in a while you get bored with playing songs over and over again, focussing on minor mistakes, finetuning…
One can say that maybe you are not perfectionist enough – this is right to a certain degree – but I would also disagree in some situations. I want to share a moment with you, where this disagreement was right. In one of our practises we all were kind of fed up with the songs, you play them over and over again and you get to a point where you just can’t hear it any more. It’s a little bit like you are eating mashed potatoes with peas every day. Not that they are not good, but I think the human nature is yearning for variety. If you think about entertainment and what is entertaining to you, it is probably the stuff that is “different” to your daily routine. Entertainment is used to get away. And from an outside point of view I would call that variety. Feeling good and satisfied is a matter of balance.
And now I want to extend this idea of balance to another level. In chaos theory there is a nice word to describe what I want to say: fractal. Fractal basically means that an object consists of smaller versions of itself. I’m not sure if the real meaning in the mathematical context is applicable to what I’m trying to say, but I will try to explain.
The fractal quality I see in the idea of balance is that you can extend it to everything. You have to have balance in your daily live: sleeping and being awake…and so on and so forth.
Coming back to the story of our practise and referring to variety: instead of starting another set-playing-session we just started a random jam. We had no idea where we were heading and what the fuck was going on, but I got the feeling of the quote in the beginning: making art on-the-fly. The ability to recognize all the small hints other band mates give you while playing, which are only noticeable when you play together as a team for quite a long time, makes a jam like that art. Intuitive changes from slower and quieter parts to monstrous thundering and roaring pieces in a kind of naturally evolving process gives you goosebumps.
I don’t want to say we wrote five new songs – we didn’t. It is also not like we invented a new style or found the world saving chord change during that time. But what I can say for sure: we obtained our balance as a band. the balance between practise and creation.
We are now in India for quite some time, but our trip to Varanasi and Kolkata was till now the deepest we immersed into the Indian culture. Varanasi is the holiest places in the world in Hinduism and Kolkata is said to be the cultural capital of India.
Our trip started in Delhi with a one and a half hour flight to Varanasi. As we got off the plane and drove to our hotel with a taxi, we felt kind of relieved because it seemed to be less noisy than Delhi and less crowded. In the inner parts of the city you barely find cars, most of the things and people are transported by motorbikes, bike-rikshaws, auto-rikshaws and three-wheel-transporters.
The holiness and the culture of the city is closely associated with the River Ganges and its religious importance in Hinduism. It is worshipped as the goddess ‘Ganga’. A bath in the Ganges causes a remission of sins and liberation from the cycle of life and death. When you wander along the Ghats at the Ganges (Ghats are the places where people go bathing, you can walk into the Ganges on stairs) you will always find pilgrims, locals and priests taking a bath in the Ganges, no matter what time. It is easy to imagine that people have been doing this for thousands of years – and you can really sense ‘history’ there.
For the next part I just want to state something:
I apologize for not knowing the exact details and the names of these rituals – I am just describing it from my view as a westerner and I have absolutely no intention to offend anybody!
Nevertheless I don’t want to skip my most impressive experience. Not all of the Ghats are bathing Ghats, some of them are also used for cremations. The male family members bring the dead body of the deceased to the ganges. Some hours prior the body was washed and prepared for cremation with oils and butter and some rituals I don’t know exactly. The body is now bathed in the ganges and a ceremony with fire is held.
After this the body is placed on a stack of wood and the fire is lit up. The family members have to stay and watch the fire until the body is completely cremated.
When I think about a german funeral, I don’t think any people outside the family and close friends are allowed to watch a ceremony like that. Indian life is somehow less exclusive and less private to strangers.
From Varanasi we took an overnight train to Kolkata. And this trip had a real “Indian quality” to it. This was the first time we ever used a train in India – first time in a rail station. Surprisingly the overall organisation is pretty good there. There are offices with very helpful people who explain everything and answer all your questions. So the first glance of the whole thing is kind of misleading. But here comes the “Indian quality”… our train was delayed for two hours. And we had no idea where our cabin will be, because these trains are very long and, as mentioned, it was our first time in a train. Again surprisingly, we had absolutely no problem finding our cabin and our seats.
Riding a train for longer distances without changing the train is somehow romantic to me. I always get the real feeling of travelling. It is way more convenient than a car, because you always have to adjust to the traffic and you have to buckle up….a train just rolls.
In a train it is kind of a static motion. Smoothly accelerating and decelerating. One can really see what landscape he is travelling through and your thoughts just go on a different journey.
We reached Kolkata at noon, with another two hours delay and jumped into the lively pulse of downtown Kolkata. We put our stuff in the hotel room and started to explore our last destination of our one week trip. We found nice people, lovely restaurants and cafés with really good coffee and snacks….
I’m still thinking about the whole experience in Kolkata and it seems to me that this city – or more the ‘feel’ of the city – is comparable to London or New York. The bustle and the vitality seemed kind of familiar to experiences I had in other big cities in the world.
To sum the whole feelings trip up is quite hard. As I mentioned in the beginning, we kind of started to feel a deeper connection to the whole life in India, as we got more insight in how life is organized and structured. From public transportation to cremations, from street shops and markets to baths in the ganges, from museums to unwilling taxi drivers, from barbers on the street to domestic flights…