New birth to old life

Last Updated 26 November 2011, 16:56 IST

Their scalps may have lost their jet-black silkiness and acquired more streaks of silver. Their weather-beaten faces may have helped them little to hide their ages. Yet, there is something young and fresh about members of the band, Second Coming.

Without their musical accessories, it may be hard to see what makes them tick-off as the ‘young and cool band’. But watching them forget themselves as they perform, enjoying the steady rhythm flowing from the instruments, and the way they delight the few gathered for a private listening with their jazz and rock-style numbers, the reason for that is not that hard to figure.

“Obviously, that’s what happens when you have fun with what you do. Music, as we know, can transcend all barriers of age, gender and language. So long as it’s the product of happier hearts, it would delight everyone,” Reji Varghese said, strumming his guitar and consulting a piece of paper on the sideboard of their practice place as the band prepared for their series of gigs in Bangalore this weekend. The lyrics scribbled over the paper are not the lingering phrases from a hit album, but Reji’s own, which was set to music by the band. The song talks of the middle finger, an ultimate expression of anger and rebellion.

“You start off with a few covers… the usual stuff everyone likes to play… But then you realise this is something people do all the time… Then what? A song pops up in the mind. I write it down and somehow the music goes well with it. This has been an amazing few months for all of us,” Reji says, eyes gleaming in the after-glow of the creative endeavour.

As they admit, age has lent wisdom to their child-like enthusiasm for music. The  aspiration that remained in some corner of their minds suddenly found strength in their collective spirit. The men, to their surprise, started to turn back the clock to be performers of music once again. And they did this, not as rebels or defying their parents and families, but by remaining true to their respective business or career pursuits.

Second coming, true to its name, is the second life the six men of this band have given to their aspirations to be musicians, sparked off by the lyrical genius of John Lennon and nurtured by every band and music that has delighted the world ever since.

“We simply couldn’t get it out of our heads,” says Maynard. “I have played with many bands before, but there was something fresh and wonderful when I played (drums) with these guys. It didn’t take too long for us to figure out that it would be a long association.”

It wasn’t a surprise that the band kept driving up the Yercaud mountains to re-kindle the passion and take time to evolve as a unit. Still at its embryonic stage without even a name for itself, it seemed more important for the band to find a common place to perform. “We got together because we all liked the same music,” Reji says, giving a sideways glance from the paper he is holding. “It’s a bit of jazz, a bit of rock… and some retro... There’s both improvisation and good sound to keep people throwing their hands up in the air. It’s a kind of free-flowing music that releases the audience from stress and indolence and encourages them to join us in the dance and fun. Well, it’s like a celebration.”

It wasn’t long before invitations started to arrive from various hotels in Chennai and slowly from other parts of south India. Shows were pre-announced through different sources and tickets sold faster. In just three-and-a-half months, the band crisscrossed south India, performing in all major cities. “It’s as if we did the music right, and everything else started to fall in place,” Tonia Kohlhoff, the singer in the band, says.

One of their original numbers found its way into Chennai’s FM radio — Chennai Live — that kept mentioning them as the band “that stirs up quite a wave”. Soon, the piece of music travelled east to Kochi, where again Radio Mango picked them up. The band recently did the ad jingles for Pondy tourism.

“It all sounded like a dream first. I mean, we always believed in our ability to play music. We were trained and kept honing our skills for a long time. But recognition came in a short time, which showed us that there’s still audience for good music,” Philip spoke for the first time, checking his guitar, whose mild strains mingle with the sounds from the piano keys that were being tentatively stroked by Mark.

The one concert that still lingers in the collective minds of these men is their charity show on October 8 at Zuri Resorts, Kumarakom. Having heard them on local FM, people packed the place from Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Trichur. “The most touching moment was when the Kochi Roundtable could collect Rs 5 lakh to fund the education of underprivileged children through their ‘Freedom Through Education’ project,” Tonia says.

The band is presently in Bangalore and will be wrapping up their performance today at Taj Vivanta.

“We’re still evolving as a band,” Reji says, copying the lyrics of the song for his band members. “We’re compiling our own album, which will be released in 2012. That has indeed been our dream. We keep working for that day.”

(Published 26 November 2011, 16:56 IST)

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