1974 AD : REVIVAL AND REJOICE
Many of their hit tunes are our childhood melody and listening to their songs -never quite forgotten; always playing at the back of our heads. 1974 A.D, Nepal’s pioneer rock band was smash hit back when they entered the scene two decades ago, and are still a household name, now that they have reunited after a hiatus. For this issue, TNM team sat down and had a hearty conversation with Nirakar Yakthumba (Bassist) and Adrian Pradhan (Drummer /Vocalist) on behalf of the band amidst their extremely busy schedule.
HOW DOES REUNION TASTE LIKE NOW THAT THE ORIGINAL BAND MEMBERS ARE ALL BACK TOGETHER? WOULD YOU CALL THIS REUNION A REBIRTH OR A CONTINUATION FROM WHERE THINGS WERE LEFT OFF?
Nirakar: According to Greek mythology, Phoenix perishes into ashes and then rises on its own, strong and soaring higher. We have risen from our own perished remains. For 1974 A.D, this is a resurrection. We have come up with fresh and boosted energy. It’s a complete rebirth. We wouldn’t say it is a continuation from where it was left off -if it were so, we would have gone downhill.
TWO DECADES AGO WHEN YOU ENTERED THE ROCK SCENE OF NEPAL AND TODAY AFTER SIX YEARS, BEING BACK, 1974 A.D IS STILL A HOUSEHOLD NAME. HOW DO YOU CONNECT WITH THE FANS? WHAT IS YOUR SONG-WRITING PROCESS?
Adrian: Twenty years ago, when we started writing songs, it was a connection between two elements, listeners and us. We were lucky at that time that our music happened to be the revolution in Nepali Music industry. People were confused whether or not to listen to Nepali songs at that time (people still are). But fortunately people loved our songs then. We broke the chains at that time with our musical creation and gave the industry something they happened to love. Our songs were followed and fans connected to it instantly rather we tailoring our songs for them. On the contrary, now we have to research on what songs do the listeners like and compose music that way.
Nirakar: Technically speaking about our creative process, sometimes one of us come up with the entire piece, including the lyrics and music and compositions. It is brought on the table and then we sit down, analyze it, edit it and when the final product is ready, it is completely different. All of us have our own inputs and part of us is incorporated in it. It is never a single person’s hard work, all of us have our equal efforts included in it.
IS PERFORMANCE ANXIETY A REAL THING FOR YOU? HOW DO YOU PREPARE FOR ANY PERFORMANCE, HOME AND ABROAD?
Nirakar: I don’t think we have any performance anxiety as such. But personally when we came together after so many years and did our first gig, I was a tad bit nervous, but in a good way. You know you the jitters of doing something after a long time.
As a band, whether we are performing here in the country or abroad, we do soundcheck beforehand to ensure everything is fine. Once there is this confidence, we go back to our hotel room, we stretch and relax and calm ourselves, say a little prayer together and go on the stage. The hesitation is rarely there.
ALL OF THE MEMBERS HAVE AN ESTABLISHED SOLO CAREER, HOW DIFFERENT IS IT OPERATING AS A BAND AND AS A SOLO ARTIST?
Adrian: Difference in functioning as a solo artist and as a band is felt in almost every aspect of the complete musical involvement. As a solo artist, one has to take it upon oneself for lyrics, music arrangement, and other such responsibilities which would be divided if in a band.
A band is a teamwork, unlike solo which is a one-man show. The duties, as mentioned, are classified and easier to manage. While performing as a band, there is full surge of energy. One teammates liveliness augments the others’. These are the advantages. Working in a band is more like an institution therefore one has to respect the decisions made by the other band members. One has to maintain that open mindedness and carry that positivity around.
HOW IS THE TOUR GOING?
Nirakar: One word: Fantastic!
Our opening concert in LOD was a massive success and the response was overwhelming. Subsequently, we had shows in Chitwan and Butwal as well. These were outdoor sessions and we were quite worried about the weather as well. In Chitwan, we performed at the bank of Narayani river. Due to the rain, the river had swollen and it was quite concerning. Luckily, just before the concert, the rain stopped and despite the muddy venue, audience showed up and enjoyed themselves. The audience was fantastic and we could not be happier.
WHAT’S IN THE FUTURE FOR 1974 A.D.?
Nirakar: It is not like previous times when we used to get calls like only a week ahead and be informed about gigs. Now, we are doing it more professionally and we actually have everything planned out till 2020. Even the music industry has changed a lot; things are more professional, the sponsorship is secure which has made planning out easier and efficient. Even the Nepali diaspora is stronger and hence we need to plan six months to a year prior just as how international bands do. So, 2020 A.D is mostly going to be about international tours. We will be starting off with Korea in January, Australia and New Zealand in April, the UK and the US during July/August and couple of shows in Nepal in October and Japan. We will be doing shows in pockets and sections.
With the rise of social media, music is not restricted anymore. We are trying our best to perform better. We will also be exploring ways to enhance our music, as to how our songs can be related to by people across borders. Hence, we are also experimenting with our folk songs with African and Afro-Cuban rhythms. Music transcends all borders and language barriers. We listen to international artists even though we cannot comprehend their language. It is understood nonetheless. We are trying to do that with our music as well. We want our Nepali music to be heard far and wide and be appreciated. So, we are working towards that as well.
WOULD LIKE TO SHARE WHY THE TEAM DRIFTED BACK THEN? AND WHAT WAS THE MOMENT THAT BROUGHT YOU BACK TOGETHER?
Adrian: In 2009, Mr. Phiroj Shyangden left Nepal for the States due to his own personal reasons. So when that happened, a gap was created in the band. It is natural that when the front runner, the guitarist leaves a band, there will be inconvenience. Yet, we tried our very best to keep the legacy going because we had been in the scene for two decades already. However, we could not keep it up even though we released an album after him. But the album didn’t do that good. Eventually, we started getting frustrated.We all had our solo project. We did not pay much attention to the band, although we should have. Even though our songs were playing everywhere, we were not focusing much on the band. And we started having cold wars amongst us, you know, clash of ideas and all.
Such things piled up and without having any negative feelings between us, we sat down in November 2014, and decided that the band needed a break. During that time I had to go to Kalimpong and during my absence, the other members brought in Prajwol Mukhiya and Rohit John Chhetri and recorded some songs. This was normal, previously too, when I was not available we had Subani Moktan perform with us. After this, social media started making headlines out of it. There were unauthorized information flying around about how Rohit and Prajwol replaced the original band members.
THAT WE NEEDED
EACH OTHER IS
WE NEEDED THE
TO CREATE OUR
MUSIC AND THIS
SEEPED IN US.
We made music individually, we made music with other members, it was different music, it wasn’t 1974 A.D music. To create 1974 A.D, we had to be together. So, we snapped back together. To have that essence of 1974 A.D, we had to input our ideas, we had to brainstorm and this understanding brought us all back.
Secondly, we aren’t getting any younger, so why not do what we are passionate about right now? When, if not now? The technology has evolved, the system and the level is just about right, barely any hardships about making music. Rather than having a very late epiphany about how we could save our band from disappearing, it was important to make a comeback now. We had discussed this reunion a year and a half back. We finished our individual commitments and returned. When we finally got back together, we understood what was amiss. “Nirantarta” came as a volcanic eruption; songs got composed swiftly and it’s just all a blur now. This break came as a blessing in disguise. We read all the comments and compliments on social media and that played a vital role for our comeback.
INTERVIEWED BY ABHIHYA SUBEDI | ASSISTED BY TNM TEAM
PHOTOGRAPHED BY GAURAV XHOMPATE SUNUWAR | 1974 AD