Listen: Surat Band Odyssey’s Debut Album
The psychedelic rock band is also planning to release a music video this year
The gig calendar in Gujarat has previously listed alt rock band Manefus [who have since moved to Pune], Surat Hindi alt rock band The Aura Stealers [who have been inactive since last year] and metal bands like Ahmedabad’s Contravene and Amarthine from Surat [who have played at local organizers Metalabad’s gigs]. Amidst the gig-parched state of Gujarat, it’s refreshing to come across Surat-based psychedelic rock band Odyssey, who digitally released their debut album, No Hay Banda, in July.
If you read the title right, No Hay BandaÂ is Spanish forÂ “there is no band.”Â The Surat group’s sound is carefully constructed organic rock that leans towards psychedelic elements including the 12-minute “Nostradamus,” an epic trip about the soothsayer who lends the track its name. Says vocalist-bassist Yogendra Saniyawala, “Our music places a lot of emphasis on lyrics and layers in the compositions. On listening, you can feel an essence of world music using Gujarati folk and Indian percussion blended with western rock in ”˜Where You Been?’”
With band members scattered across the world ”“Â keyboardist Himanshu Bhardwaj works at an engineering company in Memphis, US and guitarist Anand Joseph Mani is completing his postgraduation in Jamshedpur, while vocalist Saniyawala is also a filmmaker, drummer Gaurav Kapadia is a freelance sound engineer and guitarist Chaitanya Bhanawala, who teaches music at an international school, all reside in Surat ”“Â Odyssey manages to perform only the occasional corporate gig in their hometown. SaniyawalaÂ says the common perception of a band in Surat is of one that usually plays at a wedding or family gatherings.Â As for gigging in Surat, there’s a perspective that needs changing, according to Saniyawala, “Despite the improvements in the music scene here in the last five years, a majority of people would not understand the concept of a rock band.”
In 2011, the band recorded their debut album at guitarist Bhanawala’s home. Says Saniyawala, “We converted the hall into a studio and hired some recording equipment.” While that’s about as DIY as it gets, the band recruited American producer Bob Katz to mix and master the album once they finished recording in November. Say Saniyawala, “We never had money when we started recording this album, as a matter of fact we still don’t. We’re currently running a negative balance. We got recording equipment and a decent place to mix with help from various friends.”
Apart from working on a music video for “Bringing Back the Tigers,” a track about poaching tigers, the band is plotting a country-wide tour to promoteÂ No Hay Banda, with a gig at the Alliance Francaise in Puducherry in the works.Â
After a low profile album release in November last year at a charity concert in Ahmedabad, Odyssey worked to releaseÂ No Hay BandaÂ worldwide and received a digital distribution deal with online store CD Baby last month. The music is now available on iTunes and Bandcamp.
StreamÂ No Hay BandaÂ here