Saturday, January 18, 2014

A Major Campaign

Three veterans have formed a band, ‘Major Triad’. Their aim: to revive ‘live’ performances in an era where singers are all using recorded music

Photo: (From left) Aisten, Stelsie Jose, Biju James and Sesil George 

By Shevlin Sebastian

Bass guitarist Biju James cannot forget the sight of a young Tamilian boy playing the keyboard at a performance given by a singer. “He had no idea what he was playing,” says Biju. “In fact, he was just moving his fingers over the keys. They were hoodwinking the public.”

Essentially, the songs had been downloaded to the keyboard and it was being played. “The idea is to save up on the cost of having a full band,” says Biju. “This is the trend all over Kerala. Whereever there is a public concert, the music that is played is downloaded songs. So what is the point of coming for a programme? You might as well stay at home and listen to the music on your stereo player.”

Drummer Sesil George says that during earlier times, like when 13AD and Crest were playing, the music was live. “We want to perform authentic music,” says Sesil. “We want to be sincere during a performance. Using recorded tracks is to trick the audience.”

So Biju, Sesil, as well as electrical guitarist Stelsie Jose and vocalist Aisten have formed a band called Major Triad. “Except for Aisten, we are veterans in the field,” says Sesil. “That is why we have put the word Major. And Triad is a music notation.”

The group is clear about the audience they are playing for: it is from the mid-thirties upwards. “All of them have a nostalgia for classical rock, which is our focus,” says Sesil. “We don't play rap or disco.”

At a recent performance at the Elephant Court hotel in Thekkady, where there were a large number of foreigners and North Indians present, they played songs by John Denver, Eagles, Eric Clapton, Deep Purple, Cliff Richards, Simon & Garfunkel, Elvis Presley, Doobie Brothers, Santana, Pink Floyd, Bob Marley, among many others.

We got a good response,” says Biju. “It was 'live' music all the way through.” 
This was confirmed by the manager of Elephant Court, Manoj Thomas. “They played very well,” he says. “The big difference was because it was live music. Through their energy and passion for playing, they were able to draw the audience in. The people could feel as if they are participating in the show. It is very different from playing recorded music. Later, the feedback from the guests confirmed this. In all probability, we will be inviting Major Triad again.”

The senior trio joined together after a break of several years. While Biju was a marketing professional, Sesil was busy providing sound equipment for various institutions, while Stelsie has a music shop near the North Railway station. “One day we realised that our passion for music was still intact, and we wanted to return to it, before it is too late,” says Biju.

Adds Sesil: “We are not playing for money. We are playing for the love of music. All of us have arranged for alternate means of income.”

While Sesil is getting rent from a few flats that he owns, Stelsie has his music shop, while Biju is a teacher of music at home. “I teach school and college students, as well as IT professionals,” he says. “I am also the music teacher at the Teresa Spinelli Public School at Kaloor. The rest of the time we are busy playing music.” 

Their reasons are clear: “We want to create a space where people can come and enjoy this type of classical music. The hotels should take the initiative, spend a little bit of money and hire full bands, instead of going for the cheaper option of one or two musicians and using recorded music.” 

(The New Indian Express, Kochi)   

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