When you scroll through people’s profiles on Facebook or any other social networking sites, you come across so many boys and girls, men and women who swear music excites them the most, and music is what defines their life. Not many of them mean that really, however. But then, there is this band called October, whose members have left everything and actually made music their life. Suyash Gabriel, drummer in the band, is one of them. His band recently won first runners-up prize at the Hornbill festival. The other members of the band are Shashvat Pandit (guitar), Rohan Panjiar (guitar), Sherry Mathews (vocals) and Akshay Dwivedi (bass). Suyash shares his experience in this candid tete-a-tete.
Q. What genre do you guys fall in?
A. We don’t like to label our music or assign any specific genre to it. It’s just good old rock n roll. There are heavy elements of progressive rock, grunge, punk rock and even some pop in our sound. We try to produce something people wouldn’t have heard, but can still relate to.
Q. How many albums have you released so far?
A. The band released its debut album, “Defeat the Question” a long time ago, back in 2010 at the Great India Rock Festival. We recently released an EP, titled “Reckon” which had three songs on it. We are currently working on our second album. The EP actually kind of indicates where we’re planning to take our songwriting and the way we sound. We like to keep evolving and keep things fresh, so hopefully that’ll reflect in the new album.
Q. What exactly is this Hornbill festival?
A. Hornbill International rock fest is an international music competition which happens as part of the Hornbill festival in Kohima, Nagaland. It’s arguably the biggest and most rewarding competition in the country, so winning something like this is quite prestigious. Not to mention the rewards are pretty massive. We came home with a grand total of Rs. 5,00,000, which is amazing. We also won the best vocalist award, which was incredible. We got to play for a massive, wonderful audience who are not only receptive to different music, but extremely supportive when they like your stuff. It doesn’t get much better than hearing your name chanted from the stage.
Q. How did you plan the band?
A. October has been through a few line-up changes. The band was started in 2007, but hit a hiatus period when their previous drummer, Shantanu Sudarshan and their vocalist, Amitabh Mukherjee, left the country to study. That’s when Sherry and I joined the line-up sometime last year. It’s been pretty much smooth sailing since then. With the new line-up, it’s been about a year.
Q. Are all of you full time musicians or do some of you have jobs?
A. Four of the five of us are full time musicians. Barring Rohan (who works at Little Black Book Delhi), we all do this for a living. Sherry teaches music and sings professionally both with his bands and in various operas and classical recitals across the country. Shashvat is heavily into the band circuit, touring with around four other bands other than October. He is also quite active as an event manager in the circuit. I play professionally for a number of bands and acts in the city, play sessions for studios and tour extensively both in the country and internationally. Akshay is also a classically trained bass player and plays with his bands as well as in a variety of classical outfits.
Q. Is it viable financially to take up music full time?
A. Like any job, it takes hard work, a lot of patience and dedication, and a bit of luck. Taking music as a profession is not a joke. It’s a serious gamble because getting work can be tough. It’s a very competitive industry and you have to be someone who’s damn good at what they do, but is also someone who others can work with. A lot of people think it is all fun and games. But it involves a great amount of hard work and discipline. You need to be socially active on top of that and take care of your health to make sure you’re well rested when you have back to back shows or sessions. But the best thing about this job is that it doesn’t feel like a job. We choose to do this because we love to do it. And if you put in the hours and the work, of course you can make a living doing it. Like I said, it’s like any other job. But to make it financially viable, you need to be versatile and open to out of the box ideas. Some musicians make a living just off performances and selling their music. Others perform and make music while also making money through other avenues within the industry like event management, teaching music or if they’re technically proficient enough, then starting their own studios or becoming sound engineers. Again, like any other job, you need to be smart and creative. If you persevere enough, good things happen.