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The Hobos

The four-year-old Kolkata metal heads are scouting for a record deal

Rolling Stone IN Nov 08, 2008

Neelutpal Das

Ironic though it may sound, members of The Hobos are unanimously glad at not emerging among the top three bands at a major rock competition. This was when the band made it to the finals of the 40-band strong inaugural edition of the Hornbill National Rock Contest in Kohima ’06, but didn’t make a podium finish. Good thing, they reckon, since the competition’s charter bars previous winners from participating in future editions.

When the Kolkata prog rockers returned to the Hornbill stage the next year, they ensured that the Rs 5 lakh booty for the best band came home. With the money came better sound equipment, a proper sound proof setup and an AC machine at their rehearsal pad. Also importantly: oodles of confidence.

Kestopur, where the band rehearses, is an unremarkable part of east Kolkata ”” a place people cross often on the way to the airport, but these days, is largely remembered for its debilitating traffic jams and a recent macabre bus accident. Sitting at the unassuming home of keyboardist Suman Bhattacharya, who is often responsible for the band’s moody, melodic meltdowns between the rush of guitar and groove, the band does a roll call of recent highs ”” winners at the Kharagpur and Guwahati IIT festivals, at Banaras Hindu University, where the band wiped the prize table clean, national runners-up at Rock Illusion held in Mumbai and toppers at IIM, Calcutta, besides getting guest band slots twice at June Rock Out in Chennai, at Bangalore’s Opus and National Institute of Technology, Rourkela, among others. The buzz is surely with The Hobos, supposes Arko Chatterjee, guitarman.

It was when the band’s vocalist accidentally met Chatterjee outside a rehab clinic in Kolkata that the core of the band got introduced. With Devroop Mitra, bassist (who somewhat grudgingly acknowledges his bias towards the death metal genre) and Subhajit Ghosh coming in on drums, The Hobos finally came together as a unit in 2004 with the implicit intent to shake up a music scene largely dominated by Bengali bands and cover-singing retro acts.  “It was tough. But we were charged by the response from audiences to our originals. Now it’s getting bigger,” says Souvik Chakravarti, 29, who other than doing duty at the microphone also writes the lyrics without veering towards “philosophising.”

The Hobos are currently scouting for record deals. “We tend to limit ourselves, but these days the whole world can be your audience. As long as we keep up with the world, that is,” Chatterjee declares.

The band’s 15 originals come across as summations of the members’ favourite blasts from the past and present ”” Van Halen, Deep Purple, the Doors, AC/DC, Metallica, Iron Maiden, among others. Where they go collectively bonkers is over Dream Theater. The influence of the American prog rock powerhouse is an indelible presence in songs like the feverish ‘Breakup’, which rabidly espouses escape from bad relationships, ‘Perverse Comedy’, an indictment of socio-political power structures that moves evenly towards a raucous ‘power to the people’ climax, and ‘Lust’, a song about well, lust of all kinds, either material or mental.

Then there are numbers like ‘The Road Song’, a Steppenwolf-meets-Sabbath sort of gig scorcher and ‘Kurukshetra’, which attempts a distinct Indian feel with conch blowing, slokas, et al. “We thought it worked well in that song, though we don’t really want to consciously Indianise our music” contends Chakravarti. “As a form rock music can’t be bracketed to any particular place or people. We are Indians and we rock ”” I’m proud to say that.”


‘Perverse Comedy’: Dark and passionate, with an intense melody at its core. Good teamwork.

”˜The Road Song’: The 80s. High-pitched vocals, throbbing drums and soaring fretwork. A rollercoaster ride all the way.


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