Twenty-seven years on, Indian Ocean remains one of India’s most popular musicians, with their live concerts having thrilled so many of us. We were lucky enough to get a few minutes with the band as they headed to Nashik for SulaFest 2017. They talked about some of the favorite concerts and what we could hope to expect from them at SulaFest 2017.
You are one of India’s most beloved bands; a generation of undergraduates can trace their college years to the soundtrack of your music. What do you think has kept you relevant all these years?
Not sure! Perhaps it’s the very Indian yet modern sound; meaningful lyrics; our live act, which is great fun; all live instrumentation… No one answer, but we’re glad we are still relevant!
Has your line up change affected your set list at all? Can fans expect to hear favorites like Bandeh or primarily songs from more recent albums like Tandanu?
We do a lot of new material, not just from Tandanu but also from our forthcoming album. In addition we do play some of our “hits” from years past, such as Bandeh, Kandisa and Ma Rewa. We play other older numbers occasionally just so that they don’t disappear (Leaving Home, Jhini, Hille le…)!!
You’ve been playing for twenty –seven years. I remember seeing you, and dancing like a demon, at Mehrauli in 2004. I was 24; I am now 38. How do you approach a gig like Sulafest where the revelers are half my age? Is it different? How do they react to your live jugalbandi? Do they sing along?
Since we still play a lot of college shows, we are used to performing for younger audiences. It’s very heartening to see how many of them know the lyrics to our older material as well. They love our jugAlbandhis, and our sing along parts as well. Our songs from Masaan also go down well!
What is your favourite song to play live? And why?
No one song … every song has its own challenges and pleasures!
What have been some of your most memorable gigs?
Since we have crossed a thousand concerts live, it’s rather difficult to single out a handful. Largest audience was probably about 25000 people in Mumbai way back in 2004. Memorable venues: Trafalgar Square, Gorky Park, a really beautiful venue in Albany, Australia; in front of the Red Fort in Delhi. IIM Ahmedabad is one of our favorite venues… we could go on and on, and each one of us would have different answers!
Your sound has cut across genres, be it sufi-esque, which I always thought Desert Rain was, world, indo-western fusion rock etc. It seems to speak to everyone of us. What sound inspires you today?
No big change in our inspirations, but we do have a bit of Carnatic influence nowadays thanks mainly to our new guitar player.
What is your take on today’s music scene? Whom do you listen to?
A lot more variations in sound textures now, more styles and a lot of Indian languages being used by our Indie musicians. Bollywood has started using a lot of Indie musicians, which is mutually beneficial. I (Rahul Ram) personally like a band called Agam a lot, but every band member would have their own list.
What are you currently working on? What can we expect from Indian Ocean in 2017?
We are working on our new album, but wondering whether singles are better in this era when nobody in India purchases albums anymore. Also working on a film for which we are composing four songs, even as we speak.
On the 3rd of Feb, Indian Ocean rocked the packed amphitheater at Sula Vineyards, much to the delight of old fans and new.