Menwhopause, like the name, the band also defied convention, being the only band that sang its original songs when everyone was following the cover bandwagon. Here is band member Anup Kutty getting candid about the band, its success and more…..
VP: You are definitely the ‘men who pause’ us – me and the fans are dying to know what pauses you (what/who inspires you to produce the kind of music you do?)
MWP: Muse, moments and life. It’s also this compulsive feeling to create and express ideas and thoughts that we perhaps are not able to in the normal world.
VP: A question worth asking is how did you decide on the queer yet unforgettable name ‘menwhopause’?
MWP: This is probably the 1346th time we are answering this question and each time we promise ourselves never to answer it again. But we still do. It was the name of my college quiz team. When I decided to form a band after college, it was the first name that came to my mind. Although over the years, it just seemed to have a life and a powerful ideology of its own.
VP:How do you define your genre of music?
MWP:We leave that to you. Please tell us. We are also curious to know.
VP: Moving on, I would like to ask you how has your journey to the top been? Any interesting experience you would like to share with us.
MWP:We don’t think we are at the top or on the way there. Its music we are creating and we are not in any form of rat race to compete with anyone. Although we have enjoyed every bit of this ride, we’ve had fans support us to the extent of leaving their normal lives and following our tours, have been voted as the most fun band among 13 other international bands at a festival in Tennessee, have performed on an open truck rolling through Delhi’s busiest roads with over 300 kids following us, have recorded an entire album up in the wilderness somewhere in the Himalayas…
VP: Evidently the music scene in India has changed, since you started out. What were those changes and how did they affect you and the growth of your band?
MWP: There’s definitely been a remarkable change and we would like to think that we helped make that change instead of the other way round. We were one of the first bands to stick to playing our own songs in a market that was full of bands playing covers. We pushed through critics and pessimists who claimed it would never work. Now every band is playing their own song and looking for their signature sound. And it feels good to be part of that change.
VP: In today’s world when it is difficult to keep friends, how do you keep a band together as a group?
MWP: I think it’s because we were friends first before forming a band. Forming a band wasn’t an agenda. We were just a bunch of guys hanging out, making music… when some friends pushed us to get this music out.
VP: Do you attribute your phenomenal success to a particular formula? Do you think there are any set rules that one needs to follow to reach this height?
MWP: The formula we ever followed is to be honest about our music and song. As long as there are no pretensions, it’s all good. Also musically we love to give each other space, we treat songs like a common platform where all five of us have our different corners and yet come together.
VP: What are your views on the youth of the nation? Do you think this massive change in ideology and indifference towards culture good for India?
MWP:I think the new India that everyone keeps talking about is here, and we are all a big part of it. I believe in this generation which has been brought up on a strange mix of Doordarshan, MTV and youtube. Today’s youth has a larger choice of things whether its music, career, fashion… In such a scenario, what will really win is quality. Commercial art and PR driven entities will soon be short-lived. I foresee a massive revival of Indian culture and more space for contemporary new Indian culture, which I believe we are a part of.
VP: Congratulations for having won the Jack Daniels Rock Award for the Best Band. Having won such a prestigious award which I am sure must have been an exhilarating experience; I want to know how far do such felicitations/recognition go in strengthening/encouraging the growth of Rock music in India?
MWP: It’s a huge step especially because these things change the notion that the West seems to have of us. Suddenly, they realise that they can connect with us through a genre of music as well.
VP:How was the recent U.S. tour? How was the crowd’s response? Where do you enjoy playing more, the U.S. or back home?
MWP:We’ve realised that audiences are the same everywhere in the world. The only difference between them and us though was that they believe in paying for an artiste they like. Here, the audience has mostly been spoilt through free gigs.
VP: Any upcoming gigs and album releases that we should know about?
MWP:We are playing for the French Cultural Centre to celebrate the World Music Day on 21st June at Headquarters in Delhi.
VP: ‘Menwhopause’ have been invited to play at the ‘North By North East Festival’ in Toronto, which is another big recognition for your band. As said by you “We’ve been invited to play at NxNE, which again is a first for any Indian band. Now, all we need is a sponsor to support us back home”. How difficult is it to get a sponsor? What could change that?
MWP: Indian sponsors and venture capitalists are still too stuck up on Bollywood and other conventional forms of entertainment. It’s a pity that not many of them have a finger on the pulse of the youth or have the courage to support new ideas and work along with them. But thankfully, with free media like the internet, it’s easy for bands like us to keep reaching to our fans and show everyone that there really is a market for all this.
VP: According to you what part can the youth play in promoting the growth of rock music?
MWP:Very good question because I believe that for any form of art to be big and mainstream, the fans have a big role to play. Only if the listeners start showing and supporting their favourite acts, will this industry survive. Start showing up in huge numbers at gigs, start posting messages on the internet, make fan clubs, share your favourite music with all your friends and ask them to pass it on as well, try to pay for gigs and music…
VP:Lastly, all music-lovers want to know, what is your ‘mantra’ for success? Any words of wisdom to aspiring and struggling musicians?
MWP:Just hang in there. If you believe in it enough, it will happen.