Music | Interview | THE ALTERNATIVE INDIAN ROCK GROUP CASSINI’S DIVISION

THE ALTERNATIVE INDIAN ROCK GROUP CASSINI’S DIVISION

Posted by Editor on November 12, 2010 | No Comments

THE ALTERNATIVE INDIAN ROCK GROUP CASSINI’S DIVISION

Given that the band came together in 2001, how has the journey been?

Cassini’s Division: The journey has been a long, and convoluted one. We were one of the first bands in the country to play full slots of exclusively original material (with a couple of covers of bands we enjoyed). Getting an audience hitherto unused to a desi band not playing popular covers was a challenge. But Rahul is a brilliant songwriter, and our material is melodic and catchy, and fortunately, everyone gets it. Then we’re from Kolkatta – and that has its own problems. Opportunities are few and far between. Most of the notable concerts and festivals happen in Delhi, Bombay, Bangalore, etc. Event organizers are reluctant to bear logistical costs. Geographically, we’re disadvantaged on that count. There is also a preconception that Kolkatta is about Jazz music and great cover bands. It’s not inaccurate historically, but everything evolves and I can tell you that the City of Joy has some of the most remarkable musicians and bands, from every conceivable genre, in the country. But, for whatever reason, we’re kinda like the step-sibling of the Indian music scene. Nobody wants us. But it will change in time, I know. You can’t hide light.

Musically, the journey has been the best thing ever. Everyone in the Division comes with his own mental musical accoutrement – each vastly temperamentally different from the other. When it comes together, it’s always new and refreshing. Which answers a question we’re often asked – the band’s hybrid sound is incidental and not contrived. It often surprises us too. The release of our album Ringside View was a high point in our musical journey. It has placed us indelibly on record in the annals of Indian rock music history. It has also vindicated the belief in us that our fans have borne through the hard times. This one’s for them.

Talk about your upcoming tours and albums?

Cassini’s Division: Our label is talking to venues and event organizers. With the album out, we’re hoping to achieve momentum as far as gigs and tours are concerned. The band is also independently working out its own gigs. There are so many fans of the band in cities and towns across the country. Our online communities are flooded with messages asking “When are you guys playing at Bangalore?” and “When Cassini’s Division coming to Mumbai?”

We’ve begun work on the next two albums and we’re really excited about them both. The next release is going to be special for a lot of reasons, which I won’t get into. But it’s going to be super-special. Recording and releasing Ringside View was an education for us all. We (the band and the record company) are in a better position now to understand the workings of the market, and we hope to utilize that knowledge for the forthcoming releases.

The influence of Kolkata in the evolution of the band?

Cassini’s Division: Let me increase the scope of your question to answer that – what is the influence of Bengal on the arts and allied industries in India. Films, music, theatre, writing, academia – you name it – you’re are bound to find Bengalis and Kolkata everywhere. It’s inescapable. Bengal, the arts, and revolutionary thought have been bedfellows for a long time now. In fact each feeds the other with creativity and intellect. As far as bands go, over 80% of bands in India have had at least 1 Bengali as part of the line-up. I think it has to do with having a rich musical lineage from as early as the 13th century –  and Rabindra sangeet, and Nazrulgeeti, and a host of incredible film singers from Kishore Kumar to Manna Dey. It has given birth to a genre of music – Bangla Rock. It is in our soil and in our blood. So then, having been born into this environment is bound to influence. If Music is an entity, she found Cassini’s Division to voice some part of her emotions. Our songs talk about life as we see it, as we live it. Life in Calcutta. Windows into life in India. The emotional range of the music on Ringside View is definitely urban – and at some level reflects the humdrum, chaotic, relentlessness of life in one of India’s largest metropolitan conglomerates.

Which has been your greatest hit composition?

Cassini’s Division: To us, all our songs are hits. It’s like asking a parent which their favorite child is.
The songs on Ringside View address such a variety of emotions that everybody listening to the album can find something subjective to their current state of mind/being. If an indicator is required, we find Rumble, Story of My Life, Caesar, Voivoid, Glowworm, Stay and Satyr9 are the most requested songs at performances.

On performing in Singapore?

Cassini’s Division: Singapore was our first experience of performing in a different country. The country itself is rather an experience. You gotta stand in little yellow boxes to smoke.
Sutasi had bands, soloists and songwriters from 13 Asian countries participating. To quote Rahul (Rapper bard and lyricist), “It was interesting to see how the musical trajectory and emotional narrative of rock music has evolved in such different ways in different countries. Chinese rock, for example, is wholly and vastly different from the sound and scene in India. It was less of a competition and more of a festival to take Asian Rock to an international audience. We were popular choice finalists from our region (South Asia) and we’d like to think of that as an achievement we’ll always be proud of, considering the fact that the quality of music from all the countries was simply superb.”

Any upcoming films, post the BONG CONNECTION?

Cassini’s Division: Not yet.

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