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That 70's band

Here's one band that believes most original scores are forgettable

Photo: MURALI KUMAR K.

Band stand Happy playing covers

Hip Pocket is a motley crew of musicians, all of them who bring to the band a little something that allows them to carry forth this legacy. “We started in the winter of '96,” says Nondon Bagchi, the grand old man of the band, and the only member who remains from the original line up. He continued in his baritone narrating the history of the band, quoting dates and seasons, “Mid '97 we started playing at Someplace Else at The Park in Kolkata, and since then we have always performed over there two days a week.”

The band that includes band members Nondon Bagchi on drums, Sumit Ramachandran on guitar, Mainak “Bumpy” Nag Chowdhury on bass, Dominic Saldanha on keyboard and Ben Westley on vocals, were in the city recently for a show at The Park. It was Nondon who got Hip Pocket their regular spot at Somepalce Else when he went there for a food review. “I used to write about food and when the F&B Manager said he was looking for a band to play live music I simply said ‘Hire us!'.”

It was a time when people with spending power were listening to a lot of 60s and 70s classic rock, or what Nondon-da as he is fondly known, calls “Classic rock of the Woodstock generation — that's what we played. The initial plan was to however play club music, which would allow people to dance. We still do club nights once in a while where we do songs by Olivia Newton John and people can dance.”

Hip Pocket as a policy plays only covers and when asked about this, Nondon explains with the patience of the Math teacher that he is, “The preoccupation with original material is an Indian habit, because in the culture of international rock India is still a young country. It is a sign of immaturity to even ask if a band does originals, like it's a feather in the band's cap if they have. There are hundreds of bands who play completely forgettable originals.”

While Hip Pocket play only covers, they ensure that every song they play has their signature style to it, making the end product worth it. The band that has played for over two decades has undergone several changes in their line up and fortunately for them it has not compromised their fan base.

“People miss familiar faces, but our song list and our style has remained the same. Sumit has been with the band for over eight years and maybe he cannot be called a founder, but that is just a minor technicality, because people identify him with Hip Pocket. Besides most of the current members of the band have watched us play and understand our style so it isn't too far from what we used to be”

CATHERINE RHEA ROY

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