Top of the Rock Again
Uday Benegal and Mahesh Tinaikar re-launch Indus Creed this month
As we scroll through old pictures on his Macbook, singer Uday Benegal and his guitarist friend Mahesh Tinaikar are more than mildly amused. What they see in these pictures is their old band all kitted up in regulation Nineties rock band attire, white hi-top sneakers and cheesy haircuts included. But appearances aside, it’s an indisputable fact that their band – Rock Machine and its subsequent reincarnation, Indus Creed – were frontrunners in the world of Indian rock from the mid-Eighties to the mid-Nineties.
Anyone self-respecting Indian rock fan who grew up in the Eighties and Nineties will remember mouthing the lyrics to Rock Machine’s ‘Top of the Rock’: “We started out like any other hard rockin’ band/Together we’re gonna rock every corner of this land/Turned out that he was right/But we ain’t givin’ up without a fight/Till we’re on top of the rock/And we know just how to live it up/On top of the rock/And we’re never gonna give it up.” Rock Machine delivered two successful albums – 1988’s Rock ‘N’ Roll Renegade and 1990’s The Second Coming – that spawned hits like ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Renegade,’ ‘Polyvinyl Lady’ and ‘Pretty Child.’
Soon, the Nineties ripened, the musical climate changed and so did their moniker.
Rock Machine became Indus Creed and their music turned mellower. 1995’s self-
titled album had people singing along to beauties like ‘Trapped’ (remember the
video?), ‘Fly’ and ‘Cry.’ “We never set out to do anything big. We just wanted
to put together a rock and roll band, get out and play. And things snowballed
along the way,” says Benegal, rather modestly.
The duo are now re-launching Indus Creed, with their debut gig slated for October 7 at Hard Rock Café, Mumbai. “The re-launch is essentially Mahesh and me forming a rock band again,” says Benegal, who had last year, alongwith Tinaikar, started Whirling Kalapas, an acoustic band. The new Indus Creed will feature bassist Rushad Mistry and drummer Jai Row Kavi (who until recently was part of Whirling Kalapas). “Indus Creed seemed like the logical name to use, considering it’s part of our history,” says Benegal. “Also the other guys from the band, all the ex-members were encouraging us to use it.”
So why not get all of them back together, right? “Everyone’s got separate lives, they’ve move on completely,” says Tinaikar. “[Bassist] Mark [Selwyn] has got his own real estate business. Zubin’s got his business, his studios and he’s busy doing his commercial work. [Guitarist] Jayesh [Gandhi] is in New York. He’s never gonna come back, I think. And [drummer] Mark [Menezes] is in New Zealand,” he continues.
Tinaikar assures us that – unlike Whirling Kalapas which has been mostly doing acoustic covers of older Rock Machine and Indus Creed songs – the new Indus Creed will be showcasing newer material. “We are mostly doing all new stuff,” he says. “The old stuff is just by the way, because people will be expecting that. Otherwise, almost 60 to 70 per cent will be new material.” Benegal concurs and says, “We’re gonna have to play some of the old stuff, and frankly why not? We are not divorcing our past. But the challenge for us is going to be taking those old tunes that we decide to play and put them in the context of the newer sound,” he says. The newer sound, he tells us, is not going to be radically different (“Not like a rock band going electronica”) but it will be updated. (“It certainly is not the Eighties or Nineties rock sound; it’s going to be a contemporary rock band.”)
The birth of the new Indus Creed also means that Whirling Kalapas won’t be covering any more Indus Creed. “That will stop,” says Benegal. “With Indus Creed, there is a certain course that we will take and that frees us up in the Kalapas to do whatever the fuck we want to do.”
“I totally agree. [Whirling Kalapas] is more a fun band,” says Tinaikar, who will be whipping out his electric six-string again for Indus Creed. “Sonically, there are so many more option on the electric. There is a certain way you write songs on the acoustic guitar and on the electric guitar, that process is completely different. There are so many option with effects and all… it’s all very, very different.”
The band is currently busy writing and working on the new songs, but are hoping to get into the studios in November. “October is when we actually start to play live. I don’t want to record this stuff before we actually start to play it live,” says Benegal. “And I would rather that everyone gets familiar with the tunes, and lets it seep into their bones, you know… Just get a better feel.”