“I Love Rock n Roll,” said Joan Jett & the Blackhearts. The year was 1981. Cut to present and we have Voodoo Child, a band from the beautiful city of Guwahati who believe they possess all that is required in getting the zeitgeist of the Rock n Roll genre.
While in conversation with the band, we realised that symbiotic convergence of music and art is what they aim for. Not just when music is art, but when art is at the core of every musical undertaking, to the point where sonic elements ooze with a visual journey of the mind!
When we consider the history of Rock and Roll bands, the last thing associated with them is longevity. However, this band from the land of the Brahmaputra, twelve years after their first concert, is still 'hard as a rock'.
Listening to the band’s groovy rhythms and style has made us realise that it’s something sheet-music can never reproduce.
We spoke to Rittique Phukan, the lead vocalist of Voodoo Child about their work, influences and challenges they faced as a band against the backdrop of a changing music scene in the country.
You mostly play Rock and Roll, is that what you want the band to be remembered for?
Rock n Roll is not just Jerry Lee Lewis or Little Richard. It’s a way of music, a way of life. Lemmy Kilmister once started a show by saying, "Hi, we are Motorhead and we play rock n roll" ... and they completely tore down the place apart that night. AC/DC & Rolling Stones still play kick ass Rock n Roll. So those who understand it will remember us the way it’s meant to be.
What are the major challenges you have faced as a band?
None! It’s all in the mind. A challenge is only when you make your mind to see it as a challenge.
Your music has been noticed quite largely. As a band from North East, that is thriving with musicians, what makes you stand out?
It’s the sincerity, honesty and the deep love that the whole band shares for music. Also it’s been a while we have been playing; high time we are known for our music!
Are you concentrating on original compositions? What are you doing to make it different?
Yes, we have a number of original compositions that we play during our live shows. We are working on our audience; in getting used to the originals first before releasing an album. That way they would create an instant connection.
Which musicians, would you say, have influenced you?
Strangely, the answer to this won’t be a Beatles or a Rolling Stones or a Jim Morrison and the likes. The answer would be the musicians in my band and other artists with whom I have played with in my life so far. There is always something to learn from each one of them.
You have been a part of the industry since 2002. How have you seen Rock and Roll evolve?
Like I said, Rock n Roll is a way of life. In India, it’s still not evolved. However it’s good to see organisers holding live shows and festivals in India. That keeps the music going.
What do you think about the western music scene in the country?
It’s quite good...in certain pockets and areas.
Your take on Bollywood dominance in the Indian music industry, please?
We are in India so, Bollywood dominance is natural. Some Bollywood music is very good and I hope it keeps getting better.
What have you guys been up to lately?
The usual, that boys do! On a serious note, we are starting out on our release plans of the album. Our music has been well taken in all our live shows and I think it’s about time.
The band has gone through a few line-up changes since its inception. What keeps Voodoo Child going?
The love for playing live music keeps it going. Going through changes in 12 years is natural. There have been just a few changes primarily because of alternative careers of band-mates. But the best part is we are all in touch regularly and now, we are just one big family.
Describe your band in one sentence.
I think I'll let our listeners do that. It would add more variety, don't you think? But if I have to describe it then it would probably be the name of our upcoming album "We Own The Night".