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For a common cause

Sound of music
Last Updated : 03 September 2011, 15:55 IST
Last Updated : 03 September 2011, 15:55 IST

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The energy they exude on stage is high octane and contagious. The genre of music they have together created has been consciously named Swatantra Rock. And their first single track titled Satyameva Jayate – Voices for a better India, couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time. This is when the entire nation seems to have come together as one, and the track echoes the country’s cry against corruption. Meet Eka, a three-member rock band from Delhi.

Incidentally, Benjamine ‘Benny’ Pinto, the keyboardist, and Hitesh ‘Rikki’ Madan, on the lead guitar and vocals, were part of the hit band Euphoria, while Lokesh Madan, on vocals and bass, who is Hitesh’s cousin and classmate from school, gave up a high-flying corporate career to follow his heart and return to his first love — music. Why Eka, I ask, and pat comes the reply. “The whole essence of a music band is to believe in a common cause and vision,” says Hitesh. “Eka is a Sanskrit word that means ‘one’. To us, Eka means being one with our innermost self; connecting with the teammates as well as the audience,” adds Lokesh.

And surely the trio doesn’t have to try too hard when it comes to connecting with their audiences. While performing at the Hard Rock Café in the capital recently, the band played a great line-up of songs that had the audience begging for more, way past closing time. Right from playing memorable songs wrapped in smooth rock beats such as Dama dam mast qalandar, singing hit Bollywood tracks from Rock On and Wake Up Sid, to paying homage to legends of rock like Queen and Bryan Adams with classics like I Want to Break Free and Summer of ’69, or even when giving in to incessant requests for the notoriously popular track, Bhaag DK Bose, in-between their own singles, the sole objective for Eka seems to be pleasing the crowds. “The crowd went home happy because there was music for everyone. We make a conscious effort to appeal to a wider audience,” says Lokesh.

He adds, “When we’re making music, we don’t want to limit ourselves in any way, that’s why we call our music Swatantra Rock — music beyond music, time or boundaries, be they geographical or those of the mind.” And rightly so, since Eka has sung songs in half a dozen different languages like Tamil, Konkani, Marathi, Hindi and even French, and the band is currently busy writing a song in German. Moreover, all their original songs carry a message, inspired by the urge to bring about a positive change in the lives of people. For instance, their recent track, Aasra, was written as a prayer for the victims of quake and tsunami in Japan, while Chalte Jaana talks about never giving up hope — a song chosen by the United Nations for a conference on women’s and children’s health. But before you can typecast their music, sample their love ballads like Jaane kyun and Aaye tum along with the fun song, Mr Paisa, inspired by rampant bribery that reveals the funny streak in Eka. 

When asked about how each one of them was initiated into music, Benny divulges that as a child, he was fascinated by the Amitabh Bachchan classic, Amar Akbar Anthony, and always wanted to grow up to be on stage. And then, watching Remo Fernandes perform simply sealed his fate. From singing in the church to playing in a local band, he draws his inspiration from pop, rock, jazz and gospel. “I pray to the lord to help me make music that touches people’s hearts,” he adds. Benny founded the rock band Black Slade before he went on to create hit music with Euphoria for the next 18 years.

For Hitesh, his tryst with music started early as a child when he used to get called upon to sing in class, but he says, “When I picked up the guitar for the first time, I fell in love with the instrument and it secured  a more important place in my life than singing.” And by the age of 17, he became the lead guitarist in Euphoria and hasn’t looked back since.

Lokesh attributes his musical genes to his mother,  who is a good singer with an enviable collection of Punjabi folk songs. Like Hitesh, Lokesh took to music early in life and they both went onto form the band Canzona after high school. But since he “couldn’t foresee a career in music at that point in time,” he went on to carve a niche for himself in the corporate world. And as luck would have it, he gave it all up and decided to team up with Benny and Hitesh to come together as Eka. 

Hereon, things can only get better as the coming months will see Eka perform across the country and internationally.  The band is also scheduled to play in Bengaluru, as the city holds a very special place in their hearts. Their first ever performance was in this very city and they always remember the encouraging response they received. Barely a year since, with plenty of gigs cued up, including composing music for Bollywood, we hope to see Eka deliver one great performance after another, while their tunes linger on in our minds long after the songs have ended.

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Published 03 September 2011, 15:52 IST

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