VALUE SITUATIONS AND STAY STRONG AND BRUTAL – Reyniel RozarioDecember 2, 2016
The first time you listen to me, there are more chances of you getting scared of me than liking me. But that’s what I do. I GRaaaOOL. I also do clean vocals but sometimes feel that’s besides the point. I’m the frontman of a Baroda-based progressive metal band named Tailored Haven and we are just a year old.
Being from an Anglo-Indian family from Kochin, my parents used to play diverse music in our house (through the CD Player of course!).
“The popular joke within the band is that I’m 1/8th Portuguese.”
Music of the likes of Elvis Presley, Kenny Rogers, Scorpions and so on. So as far as the early listening was concerned, I was cruising through, listening to various artists of various expressions. I never really imagined that I would front a metal band someday and that it would gift me with such good friends and such good musicians. I first started taking vocals seriously when I reached college. College exposed me to other musicians. Rishi (rhythm/lead guitarist, Tailored Haven), a newly found friend then told me about Paramarsh, a tech-fest at MSU Vadodara. During this time, I was personally deep down in a hole (Alice in Chains fans, Waddup?!). I had just quit my call centre job. Paramarsh is where I saw local bands like Aeon of Darkness (AOD), Flood of Mutiny and Blitzkrieg. The experience at Paramarsh sparked in me the idea of performing in a band. Rishi also introduced me to a band called Contra Civillian, a band he was playing bass for. This is also the time I first met Jay, their rhythm player (and now rhythm/lead guitarist, Tailored Haven).
Rishi playing bass for Contra Civillian
Jay while in Contra Civillian
It so happened that one day, Jay got a call from AOD’s guitarist asking him whether there were any metal vocalists around. AOD’s own vocalist was busy with exams and they needed a temporary vocalist for an upcoming gig. I told Jay that I could do it. After doing trials with them, I played with them at 2 stages. The feeling of being on stage was scary at first but once I felt the energy of the 10 guys in front who were head-banging to what we were playing, I went mad!
“It was scary at first but the crowd’s energy made me go mad!”
My experience with AOD drove me to the desire of creating a band. I kept hunting for musicians, foremost drummers without any success. A year went by like that. By this time I had dropped out of my commerce course to take up Arts.
During my second or third day in the Faculty of Arts, I happened to meet Parijat and Jyotirmay (Parijat is now Tailored Haven’s official sound-techie and Jyotirmay is drummer/lyricist, Tailored Haven).
Jyotirmay and Parijat
I later got to know that Jyotirmay had seen the Opeth badge that I had on my bag. We immediately became friends. And then the fact that he too was Mallu. ☺ Soon, I heard his drumming through the debut EP of Counter Act, his Ahmedabad based Prog-Rock band. Then, when I saw him play, I was totally taken aback by his versatility, dynamic control and knowledge of musical space. Rishi who’d be always up and keen for playing bass/guitar for any band/project (although he ironically still doesn’t own a guitar) was interested in forming a band and that’s how we jammed for the first time. Rishi, Jyotirmay and me. Interestingly, Jyotirmay hadn’t shifted his kit yet, so even though we are a metal band now, the first time we jammed was with a classical guitar and a Dice as percussion (the ones on which you can sit and use as make-shift Cajons). Through jam sessions or “Samuha Jams”, Jay started developing an interest in playing in the new line-up (or as how he would put it “Trip aaya”). The four of us had good raw chemistry. We knew we were just short of a bass player. So we formed a band with the working title “Seeds on Blade” and played at a college venue (Neotech College, Vadodara). After trialling with a couple of bassists, we locked Akash Vyas as our bassist. He was part of a local band named Morphosis which was on the verge of disintegration. With Akash, we felt complete as a line-up and started working on originals.
Akash joined as the bassist
Pursuing this ambition obviously did come with its fair share of woes. I never felt comfortable practicing indoors because I was wary of disturbing my parents or neighbours. As a result I would practice whenever I could trying different vocal techniques and in turn scaring my friends in brevity.
At Plug-In, a local gig at the Kamatibaug Amphitheatre we played together for the first time as Tailored Haven. We received warm response and important feedback from our friends and other musicians. As a couple of months went by, the concept of creating originals was finding an echo within all of us and to our great fortune, 6 months into our inception, we had already created 2 original tracks. Our greater pride lay in the fact that by winning Paramarsh, our first competition as a band, we had two live professionally-shot videos. After winning a series of small local college fests we had gathered some funds which we mostly put into our travel expense and other gear related expenditure.
Winning our first competition felt special
Playing at LNMIIT, Jaipur was an eye-opener. Even though we lost the competition we learned a lot about how bands function and the numerous non-musical aspects that we had overlooked so far. The conversations we had with other bands, mostly from the Delhi-circuit gave us incredible exposure. This was also the first time we were travelling together, as a band. The travelling brought us further together and the whole experience was priceless.
The dearth of gigs in Vadodara had been a major issue for local musicians and bands, the only gigs being college competitions. I should probably mention here, the THC (If you got it, you got it). The THC stands for Tailored Haven Camp and it’s a group composed of our well-wishers and friends. We had been planning since long to organise a gig that could help us and other local bands get a stage. A stage that would have no genre bias. A stage that would encourage sound-checks (No, seriously). This is when I ventured slightly into the field of event management. Through numerous sponsor visits and numerous sponsor rejections, I learnt how difficult it was to even organize a small event. With time passing by and the sponsorship targets being met sparsely, I was constantly being questioned by my friends, family and so on. Saloni (our drummer’s girlfriend) was my biggest support throughout always keeping the team spirits high with her strong sense of logic and judgement and as a result I had strong belief that RUSH (that’s what we called the gig ultimately for obvious reasons) would be a success.
“I learnt a lot from Saloni’s strong headedness and crisp communication ability.”
Slowly we put up a small core team and finalised the conceptual design for the gig. The fact that we were able to work with Yogendrasingh Gaekwad and Divyarajsinh Rana gave us incredible strength in planning and execution. One of our oldest (literally age wise) friends Gaffar Bhai helped us immensely not for any interest but purely for the sake of arts and music. He is the one who gave us key contacts who would all be ultimately, instrumental in the execution of RUSH. Hafiz Bhai was another character of great influence. Our friends from the Design Faculty promised to help us out with Photography and Videography (they did a fantastic job). When the show finally happened, the whole experience was surreal. The feedback we got was overwhelming and that night we partied hard. ☺
“The process of putting together RUSH taught me a lot of important lessons.”
In any story of overcoming odds (it’s relative), there are a handful of wise counsels that play crucial roles in crucial situations. My cousin Neil Rozario was my mentor and counsel-in disguise. He was a self-taught DJ himself who started off his career by helping in lifting and unloading heavy stage equipment in Kochi. Slowly working his way upward, he started disc jockeying. His friends used to call him the “Running DJ” in addition to calling him “pichakaaran” which is Malayalam for beggar. He got this name as a result of his attitude to say yes to any organiser without thinking of monetary profits or gains. It is from him that I understood the significance of perseverance. His temperament and his wise air always made me like being with him. So did hundreds of other friends. Because Neil was like that. Everyone felt relief and contentment with him around. Neil is tragically no more. But I still follow his advices.
It would be sinful not to thank my band mates. Rishi, Jay, Akash and Jyotirmay. These guys make sure that every day is new and different by challenging me and each other. They have helped me evolve and grow, both as a person and as a musician.
(L-R) Rishi, me, Akash, Jyotirmay and Jay
Currently we are working on an interesting concept of road-gigs in collaboration with Nowon – Free the Music. Those videos will be out by mid-December or early 2017. I hope to play at bigger venues with Tailored Haven and continue writing fresh and new original material. We will soon be announcing our album release in addition to releasing more videos.
“I feel that if you’re content with what you have and value your situation, everything eventually falls into place.”
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