India is the next big thing on the global rock music map with international bands culling heavily from this country, say Indian and international rock musicians.
Many of them are performing at the two-day Fuel-Great Indian Rock festival that began in Mumbai on Thursday. The Delhi leg of the festival is to take place Nov 1-2 at the Hamsadhwani open air theatre in Pragati Maidan.
The 13-year-old festival, one of the oldest international rock music festivals in the country, will travel to seven cities - Mumbai, Delhi, Shillong, Kolkata, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Pune.
"Indian rock musicians are innovating. Bands in this country are incorporating elements from Indian classical and religious music into hard rock and heavy metal. They sound very good. Asia is where all the action will take place in the future. I just heard Pentagram, a Mumbai-based band, yesterday and I liked their music," Mattias Seklunth, guitarist and vocalist of the 16-year-old Swedish rock band Freak Kitchen, told IANS in New Delhi on Thursday.
The Great Indian Rock Festival over the years has featured some of the biggest names in home-grown rock like Parikrama, Orange Street and Indian Ocean. It has been a platform for Indian bands to showcase their skills and talent - with several crediting the festival for their journey to the global stage.
This year, the festival will feature indigenous bands like Them Clones, Level 9, Cyanide, Cassini's Division, Half Step Down, Skinny Alley, Undying Inc, and The Supersonics. The West will be represented by Freak Kitchen from Sweden and Sahg and Satyricon from Norway.
Amit Saigal, editor of the Rock Street Journal told reporters here on the eve of the festival that it was a "privilege and a pleasure to have so many good musicians despite the initial hiccups".
"It has taken us 12 years to reach here. The festival is a big platform to connect," Saigal said, clarifying that it was not a competitive event.
International rock, the musicians asserted, was culling heavily from India.
Groups like the Sahg and the Freak Kitchen have been inspired by Indian music and have tried to adapt Indian classical scales and Carnatic music in their new scores.
"The idea to play in India occurred to us after an Indian drummer auditioned for us. Though he didn't make it to the stage, we were curious about India and wanted to play our music there," said Olav Iversen of the Norwegian heavy metal band Sahg, which models its music on the likes of legends like Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, REM and Metallica.
Freak Kitchen, on its part, is more rooted in India.
"In my childhood, my brother-in-law hired a sitarist from India to teach him the instrument. My mother also learnt to play the instrument," said Seklunth, who has picked up tonalities from Carnatic music.
Freak Kitchen has an Indian violinist Radhakrishna, who plays the double violin.
Selkunth has also performed with Selvaganesh, who plays the khanjira, a traditional percussion instrument.