The Local Train Detail Their Upcoming Album ‘Vaaqif’
The Hindi rock band on finding direction on their more experimental sophomore album and their faith that their unendingly loyal fan base will be able to make the jump with them
A lot has changed for Hindi rock band The Local Train since they won the first season of Sennheiser Top 50’s band hunt in 2015. The release of their album, Aalas Ka Pedh, solidified their status as the flag-bearers of college-aged angst and dreams, and garnered them a loyal fanbase. Their high-powered debut, coupled with their thorough rounds of India’s college festival circuit, their emotional, detailed music videos and fun-loving personalities ensured that The Local Train’s rise to popularity—especially online—was inevitable. Also inevitable: the pressure to deliver a suitable follow-up.
As they gear up for the release of their sophomore album Vaaqif (due later this month), lead vocalist Raman Negi, bassist Ramit Mehra, guitarist Paras Thakur and drummer Sahil Sarin believe they’re in the best place they have ever been artistically. The feedback on their most recent tour of India to promote Vaaqif is proof: the high demand for the band warranted a second show in both Bengaluru and Pune. “The tour’s going good, we’re all tired as fuck so it’s good,” says bassist Ramit Mehra with a laugh over the phone from Baroda, where the band will be performing as part of their 13-city India tour.
Mehra explains that with Aalas Ka Pedh, they were able to build the bones of their musical style, figure out a little more about who they were as artists and determine the next direction they wanted to go in. “Vaaqif was always something that we wanted to work on—in fact, we finished Alaas Ka Pedh and we put it out in 2015, but we had already started working on the second album,” says Mehra. He explains that the second album is perhaps the most important for any band because it builds the foundation of their artistry and showcases their growth as artists. Does that mean fans might see a brand new side to the band?
“I’m not going to say a brand new side, but a much more evolved side,” says Thakur. “Because Aalas Ka Pedh was made when all of us were really young and that was our debut album as well.” He believes that the songwriting on that album wasn’t as mature as compared to what it is now and that evolution is only natural. “Whatever we’ve learned through those years while making Aalas Ka Pedh and touring and promoting it… it’s all of that knowledge.” Thakur is firm in his belief that the band will retain their signature sound but add more complexity. He points out that regardless of their numerous tours and successes, they’re still in the process of growing as artists. “We still have a long way to go,” Thakur says. “But we’ve really tried to push the envelope on this one, experiment and stretch out our own boundaries.”
The first single off Vaaqif is “Khudi,” a breezy and introspective pop rock number that the band released earlier this year in June. “Khudi” was the first track the band started working on for Vaaqif. “The rest of the songs pretty much came in the last six months,” says Mehra. The band were so focused on recording the album that they barely left the studio.
“Each song evolved in its own space, in an independent time frame,” adds Thakur. He explains that instead of one running theme through the album, each song has its own story to tell. “With “Khudi” for example, it’s about self-actualization. There are songs about being a non-believer, about when you’re not one amongst the sheep.”
Thakur does have his fears about the album not being received well, especially since Indian audiences may not respond well to Vaaqif’s more experimental sound. “When you work on an album for half a year, you’re completely cut off,” Thakur explains. “You also don’t know where you stand and you start losing perspective a little bit like ‘How is this actually sounding?’ I am too deep into the microscopy of this thing to see what the actual picture looks like.” He recounts how before their first couple of shows playing the new album, the band were extremely anxious about how it would sound live. So far, however, Vaaqif has been received with open arms by audiences on the tour. They admit a lot of it is due to the relationship the band has built with their fans. “People know what to expect out of The Local Train so they come with that mindset,” says Thakur.
The band’s aforementioned music videos have secured them a strong presence on YouTube.The music video for “Khudi,” about a man on a journey to find himself and happiness in the process, is particularly heart-warming and has won ‘Platinum Film of the Year 2017’ in the music video category at the India Film Project Awards. The band is aiming to make more videos along those lines for the new album–perhaps even a music video each for all the eight tracks on the record. The Local Train understands the power of visual content and YouTube and aren’t afraid to use it. At its core, the band connects so well with audiences because of how genuine and relatable they are.
“We’re just four guys who sit together and decide to make music,” says Thakur. “It is just that. There’s no label on our heads, no one telling us what to do… This is the outcome of just four people being passionate about something and it comes out and it sounds like this.”
Watch The Local Train’s video for “Khudi” below: