Eric Clapton did it to Cocaine, Guns N’ Roses to Knockin’ on heaven’s door and Elvis Presley to Hound dog. These songs became popular, not as original tracks, but as covers by other artistes. Now an online initiative, No Cover Charge, aims to rediscover this magic through a series of videos. Indie bands can pick a song from the repertoire of another Indian artiste and perform it in their own way. The video then gets uploaded online.
“It is interesting when artistes interpret a song in their own way. We were always downloading bootleg versions of live covers that international bands did. And there are times when an artiste reinvents a song to such an extent that it becomes their own, like when Jimi Hendrix did a cover of a Bob Dylan song,” says Dinkar Dwivedi, of music promoting venture Okay Potato. He has conceptualised the series and also directed the videos.
One of their videos features Paralights, an electronica act helmed by producer Ayan De, collaborating with singer-songwriter Siddharth Basrur and performing a cover of the song, PSP 12, by Zero. It received 10,000 hits in less than a month. “We figured that the Indian scene has moved on from the era where bands would only do covers of international bands,” says Dwivedi.
Not surprisingly, veteran electro-rock band Pentagram has been a popular choice among artistes picking their favourite band to cover. While The Lightyears’ Explode covered ‘Nocture’, a song from their last album Bloodywood, Sidd Coutto chose an earlier track, ‘Rock ‘n’ roll’. “We have so many bands with such distinctive styles. It would be great to see them cover each other,” says Dwivedi.
Rohit ‘P-Man’ Pereira, who is also part of the initiative, adds, “We have a bunch of great artistes lined up. Eventually, we hope the series gets to a point where we can promote newer bands that are starting to build an audience.”