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God gave Rock ‘N’ Roll to you

By:- Ringo Pebam

Runway Tracks/ Phoenix/ Phynyx, Machine Head/


Cannibals, Hell’s Angel, Post Mark, Dark Krusaders
besides other bands had taken the rock music scene
in Manipur to greater heights - from the early days
of Magnetos, Sudden Friends, J.B. Band and Runway
Tracks playing rock ‘n roll numbers at moderate con-
certs at Roop Mahal Theater, GM Hall and MDU in the
70’s and early 80’s. These bands created a new wave
of heavy metal scene by around mid-80’s playing Black
Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Judas Priest,
Uriah Heep, Iron Maiden etc, with leather pants, torn
jeans, long hair, blazing guitars and heavy metal thun-
ders at fully packed GM Hall, Range, Thau, Polo Ground, - Cannibals -
L-R: Jimmy, Ritchie, Momocha, Paul and Matthew
MFDC, Indoor Stadium, Churachandpur’s Light
house and various other venues all across Manipur. Regardless of awards the legend of Dark Krusaders/
Introducing heavy metal to India with a bang, Can- Post Mark/Hell’s Angel will always remain, we have seen
nibals won the coveted best band in SRCC’s ‘Cross- them perform, and we know how good they were; what the
road’ in Delhi in 1988-89. They conquered Calcutta audience felt at their concert venues is their testimony.
in 1991 at St Xavier’s college. Phoenix/Phynyx won We have heard Phoenix/Phynyx performing “Woman”,
their first award for the best band in the North Cannibals “Sweet Reggae” and Post Mark “Soar High” in
East Beat Contest in Shillong in 1990 and contin- the 80’s and 90’s, but they could only be heard by those
ued winning various other prestigious awards at fortunate few who were present at their live concerts.
IIT-Bombay’s ‘Livewire’ ‘91, and BITS-Pilani’s ‘Oasis’
‘93. Shillong boasted of The Great Society, Banga-
lore had Millenium, Calcutta had Shiva, and Bombay
had Rock Machine. Of the many talented Manipuri
bands, these two bands not only made their pres-
ence felt, but also gained and commanded great
respect across the country. Runway Tracks/Phoe-
nix gave birth to the masterpiece called “Woman”.
Phynyx was voted one among the top five bands in
India in an opinion poll conducted by the Rock Street
Journal. Cannibals in general and Momocha in par-
ticular, who is a legend in his own right, were held in - Phoenix -
high esteem by musicians in the Indian rock circuit. L-R: Nutan, Sando, Ringo, Vivek and Bobby

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Those songs never got released commercially with They would refer to small sections of the ‘Sun’ maga-
major record labels. I had “Stamp on you”, the first al- zine, dedicated to music, for lyrics. The musicians had
bum of Post Mark, which only a few might have bought. to be their own managers and organizers - from printing
The story ended there and their music could not cross and selling tickets to decorating the stage, as there
the border of Manipur (or maybe the North-East). were no event management groups (they wouldn’t
I got a chance to listen to a cassette full of origi- have been able to afford them had there been any).
nal tracks by Phynyx in the early 90’s. It was not a A life dedicated to rock music is not so easy. A son
commercially released album, but a compilation of getting into rock music was every mother’s night-
demo tracks. The songs were fantastic and I still mare. Mothers loved their children, so much so that
remember the tunes. Since then, I have been hoping they were scared. Elders and the society in general
to find their albums in CD racks in giant music shops have the impression that lovers of Rock Music are
across the country. Sad but true, it’s been more than - amangba-angang, street hoodlums, drug addicts,
a decade and I haven’t seen a single album released. good-for-nothing, high school drop outs, and simply,
Phynyx, are you listening? Pentagram, just a imitators of the western culture. Often they got
budding band back then, and the opening band color blind with what they saw in general, and failed
for a concert headlined by Phynyx in New Delhi in to realise that it takes lots of creativity to compose
the mid 90’s, have released two albums, and have songs, and that their sons had the genius in them.
even performed at UK’s prestigious Glaston- In a small place like Manipur, we have many sub-cul-
bury rock festival. Musically, our bands were, and tures within our broad traditional culture. Due to the
still are, no less than bands from the rest of the coming of the western education, we found a platform
country, but unfortunately they couldn’t get far. to assert many things which were new to the Manipuri
Bands which have made the impact and inspired so society. The primary reasons why the mothers of the
many of us, had to struggle in every step of the way rockers were upset, were perhaps not because of the
- their practice sessions at their residences were music, but the other influences that came with the mu-
greeted with showers of stones on their rooftops from sic - like sporting long hair, drugs, torn jeans, bikes, etc.
neighbours, they had to pool in the limited money they It’s true that these factors existed, but only to a
had to hire amplifiers and drum kits. Distortion ped- certain sector of the youth and only upto a certain
als and guitar processors were hard to find and not stage.Itwasunfortunatethattheyouth,whoweretrue
cheap; money had to be saved to go and participate in to the music, had to bear their image of innocence and
competitions outside the state. Money was, indeed, a creativity obscured with the above mentioned factors.
problem and they had neither sponsors nor moral sup-
port, except from the few souls who believed in them.
There was no MTV/VH1, no internet to search for
lyrics and guitar tabs, no mp3s, no winamp and no
softwares like ‘Guitar Pro’. They had to depend on
those worn out audio cassettes, press the rewind/
play button very often to figure out the lead guitar
solos and depended on friends studying outside the - Phynyx -
L-R: Bobby, Gouhau, Lien Gangte, Ringo Golmei, Vivek
north-eastern region to get them song/lyrics books. Sharma
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Scores of kids from every part of Manipur who had
access to those music, and had the talents in them
showed the urge to play. Towns like Churachandpur
has a rich history of Rock ‘N Roll bands. Rock Music
developed as a sub culture even in the urban pockets
and sub-townships like Kakching. Kakching’s very
own band Holy Rider bagged the second prize in a
toughly fought ‘Summer Rock Contest’ in early ‘90s.
‘Talent Search’ - a platform to showcase talents in
my school (Don Bosco, Imphal) was mandatory for ev-
ery class in late 80’s to the early 90’s. It was a good
- Post Mark -
initiative, which broke the general psyche that sci- L-R - Ingocha Thingom , Boycha, Abungcha Kshetrim-
ence and scores in report cards are not everything and ayum, Bipin Sanjenbam, Imocha Ph
that there’s also a thing called ‘Art’ which holds equal
importance. Rock Music is just another form of music The 80’s is long gone; it’s no more those days
like Hindustani, Ghazals, Karnatic, Pung Cholom etc. when the fate of your music lies in record com-
In the words of my high school senior, Rajen Ch- pany deals. Now there are internet radio stations
ingakham - “Music is basically conceptual math- - your hard work, your original songs, which are
ematics. It is cryptic but once you understand it, so close to your hearts, can be reached to people
it is amazing.” In early 90’s a group of youth who around the globe. We are no more confined to the
loved music and called themselves SMART, came cocoons. www.jamendo.com and www.garageband.
out boldly, selflessly and successfully organised com are some websites that are dedicated to
the famous “Summer Rock Contest” through which bands worldwide that are seeking greater exposure,
talented bands were discovered - NH-39, Miracles, where new independent artists can be discovered.
Metal Teens and Holy Rider to name a few. Guitar- India’s own www.rsjonline.com and Manipur’s own
ist like Boss Leishangthem who was discovered in www.e-pao.net are doing their best to promote new
the contest in ‘95, went on to become an official talents, demo tracks can be sent to them, so that
judge at IT-BHU’s CROSSWINDZ ‘05, an annual all you are heard and recognised. It is from the e-pao
India rock competition. SMART conducted some site that many of us who have been away from home
54 events - festivals, concerts, competition till the for long, get the chance to hear original tracks by
late ‘90s. I wish those talent hunts still exist today. band like Eastern Dark. License like Creative Com-
Call it lack of sponsors, call it lack of exposures mons can also be used, which provide a flexible range
and opportunities, call it lack of professionalism, call of protection and freedom for authors, artists, and
it the not-so-easy means of livelihood, talents fades educators. There are softwares by which you can
and dies in Manipur. In spite of this, one thing is for sure virtually jamming along with other instruments
- deep in your hearts the passion for music never dies. rather than playing alone. Welcome to the matrix.
Can you turn your head away and pretend like your mind If money is one factor that makes you lose
is not being pulled towards the music when you hear heart, then it’s high time you realise how
somebody play Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven”? much bands outside Manipur are earning.
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Most of the major rock bands in India charge about there were two Hmar boys - David Khawbung and
1.25 lakhs per show and they have atleast a couple of Zuala Hrangchal, in the Delhi based band “FTN”, who
showsinamonth,andtherearebandsinManipurwhoare won the best band award, and the biggest prize they
muchbetterthanthem.Welcometothebravenewworld. are given is - to be the opening act for Iron Maiden.
There’s also “Indie rock” - a shorthand for “inde-
pendent rock”, for many of its artists are unsigned Come March 17th and Iron Maiden will rock Banga-
or signed to independent record labels, rather lore. Maiden singer Bruce Dickinson commented “To
than major record labels. Blues band “Soulmate”, say we’re all really looking forward to going to Banga-
from Shillong, produced a demo and simply broad- lore is something of an understatement. It’s very spe-
casted it on www.radioverve.com - an Indie rock in- cial to us to be able play to new fans in countries we’ve
ternet radio. Overnight they had gigs, record label never been to before, and we hear the Indian fans are
offers and a website promoting their music. They very loud and into their metal. The fans should know
are the first Indian blues band to perform in Mem- that we are bringing the whole stage show we used in
phis. ‘’It’s all about smart promotion. If you can Europe and America and that Eddie will definitely be
perform, there should be no reason for you to sit joining us! We are crafting a special set to include both
at home and feel useless. I couldn’t let that hap- songs from ‘A Matter of Life and Death’ and a load of
pen,’’ said Vijay Nair a 24 years old band manager. other favorites. It promises to be an absolutely amaz-
There are lots of things to be done - to revive, ing atmosphere playing outdoors in front of the palace.”
to promote the abundant talents and to bring Maiden fans from across Asia will be coming down
them to the national and international scene. to Bangalore. Dear Rock Musicians of Manipur, come
Our budding musicians can be encouraged to have to Bangalore, you’ve got to watch your Gods play
some kind of formal trainings in music; to learn to ‘live’. You are the most deserving heavy metal mu-
read and write music - like tablature (for fretted sicians of the country. If Steve Harris and Bruce
stringed instruments) and staff notation (stan- Dickinson had come in disguise, stood among the
dard 5-line musical notation). But if music is re- crowd in the concerts at GM Hall or Polo ground, and
ally understood it is okay, for it is not a formula that silently watched you playing their songs to perfec-
should be used to compose music; the beauty is in tion in a place like Manipur (with poverty, lack of in-
what comes out from the musician’s inner self with struments/ gadgets/ sponsors/ sound systems...)
no formula as such. Such a person was Stevie Ray. Iron Maiden would have surely loved you to be their
Vaughan, whose music always amazed blues players special guest at their upcoming Bangalore concert.
It will be good if more budding bands step outside Pioneers and stalwarts of rock music in Ma-
Manipur for more exposure and compete with the rest nipur are still remembered and held with highest
of the country. www.gigpad.com can be frequented, respect - Mangcha, Subu Konsam, Somo Ayekpam,
where information about major gigs across the coun- Sando Laishram, Nutan Elangbam, Tiken Akoijam,
try is given; mailing lists can be subscribed to, to keep Kaaikho, Momocha Laishram, Lien Gangte, Jessy
one updated about the happenings in other cities. Ralte, Lienchungnung Gangte, Deepak Nambram,
Bangalore has bands jamming every first Sunday of the Paul Kamei, Mick, Caroline, Abungcha Kshetrim-
month.Intherecentlyconcluded‘CampusRockIdols’.... ayum, Phurailatpam Vivek Sharma, Ritchie Ram-
shanga, Eddie, Raju RK, Ringo Golmei, Benjamin,
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Vikram Chongtham, Imocha, Bobby (Yaiskool Lak- God gave rock and roll to you,
pa) N, Dubby RK. Many other heroes and unsung he- Put it in the soul of everyone
roes are not at all forgotten, if listed out their names
it will take up lots of space here in this newspaper You don’t have money or a fancy car
column. Most often we tend to respect and decorate And you’re tired of wishin’ on a falling star
noted film makers, dancers and artists of other forms You gotta put your faith in a loud guitar
of art more. The names mentioned above are also If you wanna be a singer, or play guitar
our men of honor; they are equally talented in their Man, you gotta sweat or you won’t get far
form of art. They should also be given the same “Ekai Cause it’s never too late to work nine-to-five
Khumnaba Utpa” in our society. Their road was filled
with immense obstacles, which they successfully You can take a stand, or you can compromise
You can work real hard or just fantasize
overcame doing what they love most. Nothing is more
But you don’t start livin’ till you realize - “I gotta
difficult than breaking barriers. They did exactly that.
tell ya!”
Bands like Ultra Vires, Lapps, Nexus, Power Pak, Rex,
Angel Dust, Crystal, Salvator, Red Devils, Metal Teens,
“I know life sometimes can get tough!
Holy Rider, Miracles, Young Ones, NH-39, Angellica, Il- And I know life sometimes can be a drag!
legals, Black Widow, Valkyrie, Dead Bones, Dark Ages, But people, we have been given a gift, we have
Infidels, Black Insurgents etc are still being cherished been given a role, and that role’s name is... Rock
In recent years we have heard of “Rock ‘N Roll and Roll!”
dreams”, a solo album by Phurailatpam Vivek Sharma
who in the ‘80s and ‘90s made major contributions
to Manipur’s rock with his neo-classical guitar works.
The Drixian Empire (formerly Dark Krusaders) had
recorded some outstanding original tracks like “No
where to Run” and “Broken Piece of Battery”. The
coming up of new music schools and sound engineer-
ing being taken as a serious profession in Manipur
are in the news. Momocha Laishram is back with his
new band X-Cannibals. Revive, re-energize, rejuvenate
and keep writing beautiful music; you have it in your
blood. How can we forget the ever soothing ‘Woman’,
the sweet and catchy ‘Sweet Reggae’, ‘Soar High’ - - Phurailatpam Vivek Sharma -
perhaps the first thrash song fused with a touch of
ethnic thabal-chongba beat and lai-harouba melody ...

The glory days of rock... are they coming


back?Theysurelywill,Rock‘NRollisnotdead.
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