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Vayu Rocks On

Mumbai’s cover gurus gear up for their first original album

Shazneen Acharia Aug 09, 2008

Bajirao Pawar

An overcast Friday morning, sipping on some hot cutting chai, seems to be the perfect setting for a long chat with the wickedly hilarious foursome of Vayu. The quartet, a little over 5 years old (with their new line-up) are ecstatic about their forthcoming debut album. From a distance it would seem like four guys catching up to discuss careers, wives and Bombay weather. But once you distill the corporate avtaars, and the smooth marketing lingo you’re left with four rockers – Ravi Iyer on lead guitar, Gopaal Dutta on drums, Crosby Fernandes on bass and Tirthankar Poddar aka 2Blue on vocals – a witty sense of humour and a sincere passion for their craft.

Vayu, defined by the Vedas as ”˜wind,’ was formed way back in 1997 with Iyer being the only surviving member of the band till date. “We were as invisible as air till 2003,” remarks Iyer about the band’s old lineup. Dutta was brought on board after much convincing, followed by 2Blue and finally Fernandes. With their new lineup and renewed energy, Vayu was to take the Indian rock scene by storm with their frighteningly accurate covers of Deep Purple, AC/DC, Rush, Pink Floyd, and Led Zeppelin.

Vayu has seen the music scene in India evolve to what it is today, where audiences are warming up to original compositions. Iyer recalls a more turbulent time where a mere mention of originals would result in the band being bottled on stage. There was no choice but to please the audience. “One of the main reasons the band switched to its current lineup was to focus on originals more than covers, and to strike a perfect balance between the two at performances,” 2Blue explains.

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Vayu’s new album Wings of a Dream, is slated for release next month, after being mastered in the same studio as that of their idols, Deep Purple – Australia’s Edensound Mastering. This studio has also seen artists like Ritchie Blackmore, Joe Cocker and Crowded House record there. Vayu’s originals were born way back in 2005 with their title track debuting at Independence Rock’s 20th anniversary show. The only instrumental track on the album, ”˜Rush Hour,’ is a bold choice for a debut album. The stadium-like sonic grandeur of the album is ideal for live performances. The 7-track album, which includes their oldest original ”˜Tonight,’ is a perfect blend of vintage-inspired ballads and crunchier, power-chord-filled compositions.

The album, the band explains, was a long process involving a change in lineup, and more importantly finding a label to latch on to. The jarring contradiction in the industry, of big music companies labeling their music as non-mainstream, and independent music houses classifying them as mainstream, left very little wiggle room for bands such as Vayu, that are purely rock-oriented. “It doesn’t matter how good you are, the growth for rock musicians is very limited in this country,” Dutta states. This never deterred the band, which has finally found a label to release their album, though they are not ready to name the label yet.

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