What comes to your mind when you think of classic rock songs? You might think of legendary bands, but it’s the guitar parts, for sure, that you associate with the term ‘rock’. Take the rock and roll scene in India, and we are not behind as far as the number of guitar maestros the country has produced is concerned. The name Baiju Dharmajan reverberates in India’s independent music scene as loud as it could get. Considered as one of India’s finest guitar players of all time, Baiju is reuniting with his longtime mate Girish Pradhan and the rest from Girish and The Chronicles (GATC). In an upcoming concert happening on the IISc Bangalore campus, Baiju will feature for GATC in a live show on the 20th of this month. With event being hosted and managed by young artiste manager Arppan Thejas, who handles a number of independent musicians and bands with the goal of metal revival in India.
“We have known each other since my cover of Guns N’ Roses’ Sweet Child of Mine. Girish was the vocalist in the video in which he did a commendable version of the song, originally sung by Axl Rose, and I gave a Carnatic tinge to what Slash did in the original. After that, we were part of some other projects and I played with all the members of GATC later. So, this performance would be like coming back to the good old friends,” says Baiju. The former lead guitarist of Motherjane, Baiju is all praise for GATC for their step forward in doing original songs rather than covers. Particularly noted for his winding, Carnatic-inspired, and enduring guitar solos, Baiju says he has been busy doing two projects in continuation of his Randamoozham project, initiated by Baiju Dharmajan Syndicate.
With more than two decades’ experience in independent music, Baiju’s musical repertoire goes way back — to the time when rock music was in its embryonic stage in the country. Looking back, Baiju says the journey from a normal stage performer to the guitarist who is rightly called ‘The God of Small Strings’ has been a rollercoaster ride. “I still marvel at all that happened in my life as a musician and as a person. I have had my ups and downs. But what matters is I am in it. I still have the flair of that normal stage performer in me. That’s the best way to put it in a philosophical way,” laughs Baiju.
There has been no dearth of awards – if they are the benchmark to judge an artist – and fans showed their love, too, in celebrating this wonderful artist and his works. One time Rolling Stone Award winner and three-time Jack Daniel’s Rock Awards winner, Baiju has always adored Steve Vai and loves to dream of meeting him one day. “During a performance at NH7 Weekender concert, I happened to know that Steve Vai would be performing later on the show. But I never had the opportunity to meet him.” He also dreams of performing or being part of a gig at the Wembley Stadium, which featured great bands like Queen during its Live Aid concert. Who would not want to perform where Freddie Mercury announced himself to the world that he has the greatest showmanship of all time?
Quizzed about his take on the independent music scene of India and how much film bound are the Indian artists, Baiju says, “You have to differentiate them. One is the entertainment industry in which music is a part of. That’s where popular music is bound with films. The other one is independent music which happens parallel. We still have not accepted or fail to give credit to independent musicians the way they deserve or the way we accept the entertainment music industry. That culture or the way we are looking at it should be changed. There are a lot of upcoming bands, whatever the genre is, and the current environment does not allow them to grow. This is my opinion when we compare a western world of music which actually rules every other entertainment. The western way of accepting or approaching music is different. The system should be ready to have that kind of changes here. It is not easy, but it can happen,” he wraps up....