On a Thursday night, when Bangalore resembles a huge college campus during an annual festival, the mood was already set for the weekend at Hard Rock Café. The band in question for the live night? Solder.
No, not a lone, crussading Soldier, but the verb – to solder, inspired from the first group activity that the band members bonded over when a technical difficulty cropped up during a jamming session.
Now that the origin of the band’s name has been spelled out, meet Siddarth Abraham (Vocals/ Acoustic Guitar), Sylvester Pradeep (Guitar), Akhilesh Kumar (Guitar), Joel Rozario (Drums/ Percussions) and Samson Phillip (Bass).
You can leave behind your formalities (and maybe even your music elitism!) as these Bangalore ex-Joseph-ites and Cottonian boys, are ace at putting one at ease with their charm and “We like happy music” attitude, flashing on their sleeves!
In the Greenhorn: Band Banter
The story of the band is a simple one about finding the right mix of talent and comfort. After the founding members Joel, Akhilesh and Siddharth were in place (back when he had Afro-styled hair, he confessed), the band’s line up saw two changes while in search of a guitarist and bassist. As Joel eloquently puts it, “We like hanging out and you can’t hang out with Hitler; it won’t really work. More than anything, we wanted the vibe of the person to go with the band; more than musical technicalities, we wanted them to gel with us, be friends. We found Phillip sitting outside an orphanage and Sylvester, well, he wanted to make the move up from amateur guitaring, so he joined Solder.” Phillip Samson was made an offer (he couldn’t refuse) as the band’s bass guitarist, while Sylvester filled in the guitarist slot and ever since, the band has been as merry as can be.
With their debut album coming up, fans can expect a feel-good rock band, with a fresh sound that falls under post-alternative rock, with a fun element. The band has no qulams being tagged as ‘pop rock’ either. Joel argues, “It is fun music and there’s nothing wrong with saying Pop; it’s popular. We’re good at playing our music.” Hallelujah, chimes the band in unision!
Surviving in the Indian music scene as a band, even with torrents officially restricted, I asked the members how bothersome is the monetising aspect of‘making it big’ in the music business. Outlining the core attitude of the band, the members tell us, “We love making our music, so that’s what encourages us. We have our way of approaching the scene… you have to persist. If you let it go easily, all your work is down the drain.”
The Sound – Music for Fun, Fun for Music
As a band, Solder has been performing live since 2009, before which the band wrote songs and practised for 2 years. Solder’s gig showcased a full set of original compilations of over 15 songs, lasting over-an-hour, with their signature medley tribute to The Beatles as their sign off.
The band seemed to bring together three classic tones to its guitaring – energetic acoustic strumming by Siddharth, a pinch of heavy riffs from Akhilesh and melodic solos by Sylvester that blended in well with Joel’s percussions and casual drumming style – both memorable and almost cheeky. Team that up with solid, unwavering vocals from Siddharth & healthy supporting vocals from all the rest, and you have music that is definitely progressive, easy to enjoy and unpretentious. The band’s stage presence and interaction skills would deserve a mention because all too often, Indian bands tend to get awkward or forget to talk to their audience in between songs.
Talking about their sound, these guys are clear about what works with an audience. Commercial is not a tag they shy away from because for these guys, its all about a positive end for both – the listeners and the performers.
“We bring all our likes to the table, collate it, and define it. It’s all of us in the music. We like happy music and that is exactly what our songs are – catchy and upbeat tunes. Commercially, at the end of the day, as a musician you want your songs to be played on the radio or on television. You won’t get airplay if it goes longer than 3-4 minutes and we keep that in mind when we’re writing our music. Some of the great music being played falls in that time slot… or it’s eight minutes if it’s a Led Zeppelin.”
On a parting note, as a message to fans, Solder bandmates humbly said, “Buy our album because it is awesome. It will make your day. Support your local bands and indie music. There are lots of good bands in India that nobody listens to.”
Solder – The Performers: Let’s Live and be Loud!
The band jumped in and began with an original composition and next, a “Solder-ised” cover version of Coldplay’s Fix You. The song was given a heavier dose of the guitar, making the chorus, recognizable yet louder. Frontman Siddharth and drummer, Joel shared the vocals, lending two distinct voice qualities to the otherwise vocally patented song. Towards the end of the song, the crowd couldn’t resist either and joined in to sing along.
Having warmed up, the band now began a steady stream of their originals. Starting with a love song, (because we are twenty-somethings and love does seem to take a lot of our time), there was Stay With Me. With the blues notes hitting you, what each member brought to the table slowly unraveled. The song weaved within itself smooth interludes as Akhilesh took the limelight and poured out a solo, with dedication and intent on all their faces to play well.
Next up, was Bring Back the Rain, again carrying with it a strong bluesy feel that resonated with the audience who began to move to the sheer energy of the song. Sylvester’s white fender and Joel’s drums indulged into a melodic rapture that had the crowd wooing with appreciation, and if there were improvs, they were smooth and seemed more like a chiseled jam session.
Waiting For Love, another romantic number spoke about ‘a beautiful girl’ with classic rock-n-roll phrases like ‘still loving you’ as part of the lyrics. You could hear the band’s musical influences in the songs Won’t Let You Down that reminded me of Indian band Zero, in their earlier days. Whiskey and Wine was wilder, with a Dave Mathews Band madness to it (minus the orchestral or saxophone orgy), and the guitar notes in Irish Coffee, sounded remarkably like a Coldplay tune that would grow on you.
Mid-way through their set by now, there was no sign of the crowd complaining except for an estranged request for Summer of 69, which was promptly met with an “I’ll kill myself”, from Siddharth. Putting on their funk, the band now brought out the pep and groove that the night was screaming for. I’m Sexy And I Know It was one for the crowd, with Samson, (Phillip, as he is otherwise called), bringing on the bass in all its glory. Siddharth’s baritone vocals and crowd-connect antics did complete justice to the smug attitude the song demands. Songs such as All By Myself and Take A Stand with its choir-like seconds, spelt out the band’s message in invisible neon lighting – we love our music, we like it loud and we love playing it for you, so enjoy!
As the crowd asked for more, the band drew out their final close, a mesh of classics from The Beatles. Akhilesh took on vocals too (fun surprise number #n!), Slyvester went bluesy on us again, while Siddharth egged on the crowd to let loose as songs such as Daytripper, I Wanna Hold Your Hand, Let It Be, Hard Day’s Night, and the final favourite, Hey Jude came on, with its Na, na naas … where the crowd gladly played Simon (aka Siddharth) Says, as he asked them tto sing and jump alonga nd join the party that they had going onstage.
Sticking true to their ‘Live and Loud’ anthem, I’d say this one is a gig for anyone who is not allergic to guitars and groovy live music. Solder-ised, are we yet? Maybe… but Sold? Er, Hell Yeah!
PHOTO CREDITS: DAVID ABRAHAM – More pics, right here!
SPECIAL THANKS: Prachi from HRC
More pictures, right here!