Sujith Nambiar, Ahmedabad: It was the first-anniversary celebration concert of the Sunday Secret Sessions last month where I first witnessed Mystical Delusion, a rock band from aapnu Amdavad give a thunderous performance on stage, much to surprise and awe of the attendees. Many of the non-musician crowd had heard the name of the band probably for the first time that evening. Led by vocalist Vanessa Kisku, the five-member band performed three of their original compositions and hit the right notes to ensure that most of the crowd were on their feet.

I recently got a chance to sit down and chat with them at Music Centre in Maninagar, the part of the city where they belong to and the place where this band was born. I bumped into Abhishek Mehta, one of the guitarists of the band right outside the gates of music teacher Lenny Kisku’s house where the Music Centre is located on the second floor. He led me upstairs to the guitar-room, where I was greeted by lead guitarist Rozas Christian, bassist Vinit Gorakh and drummer Rushabh Karmakar, all smiling ear to ear. We sat in a manner that resembled a viva session, but here I was the one with a volley of questions for the band I had found out about quite recently, despite them being active for 4 years.

The Journey….

“This band was the brainchild of Lenny sir (The chief mentor at Music Centre and Vanessa’s father), who has been teaching us music for years. He felt we were ready enough to form a collective and pitched the idea to us of forming a band and participate in an upcoming rock music competition. We began practicing and playing as a band in 2014 and participated in Rhapsody at DAIICT in Gandhinagar in 2015, our very first competition and won it,” says Vanessa, the front-woman of the band. “We went on to participate in several such competitions in and across Gujarat where we won some, fell short at some, but learned a lot at the end of each of them,” she adds.

The Reception…

Guitarist Abhishek tells me that the reception to the music they play has been very positive so far, mainly because people love it when they listen to their favourite songs being played live instead of a recorded version. The band, after winning almost every rock competition in Gujarat, finally decided to go pro. Vinit tells us that after travelling across the state and playing at rock competitions, they realized that they were spotting familiar faces everywhere. “It was always the same bands playing the same playlists at every competition. So before we end up becoming one of them, we decided to start playing as a professional band.”

The band had got offers to open at some of the biggest musical concerts in the recent times in the city, but turned down the offer when the organizers suggested they play some Hindi film songs too along with their playlist. “We are a proper rock and blues band, so we refrain from playing at gigs where we are asked to play some Bollywood numbers too just in order to please the crowd,” Abhishek informs. The ‘bollywoodisation’ of musical concerts is something almost every musical artist I have met so far has complained about.

At a time when bands prefer performing covers of popular English numbers, Mystical Delusion already has four original compositions in the playlist- Mystical Delusion, Teenage Girl, Home and In a new world.

What makes them stand out…

The band has been going strong ever since its inception, despite the members shouldering multiple responsibilities individually like jobs, businesses, studies etc. While normally bands formed during the heydays of college digress and split gradually after their studies and members going different paths, Mystical Delusion has weathered all the storms that have come their way. They meet every Sunday at the Music Centre to jam and practice. Rozas says that all five of them have different tastes in music. But having known each other and performing for years now, they have been marching through despite having difference of opinions at times.

“The students of the Music Centre are always looking forward to the annual fiesta held on the foundation day of the centre. Sir encourages us to write our own songs and create our own music for the performance at the fiesta, says Vanessa. So over the time when the band got formed, they were already experimenting and playing their own compositions at events and gigs, unlike their contemporaries who probably played safe with playing the same old crowd favourite numbers.

Just like Ringo Starr of the Beatles, all the while during our conversations, drummer Rushabh Karmakar was mostly silent, just nodding and smiling every time his bandmates made a point or cracked a joke or two in between. I turn towards him and ask, why there are very few good drummers in the city. “Because everyone wants to play the guitar, I guess…” said Rushabh, while chuckling at the question. Vanessa chips in “Poor chap, always complains that he gets hidden behind us every time we perform on stage” and all of us collectively break into a laughter. “You know, it’s a fad of sorts when it comes to learning music that people always go for the guitar. We’ve got students who come to the Music Centre asking Lenny sir to teach them the guitar so that they can impress a girl in class, or show off about them ‘learning the guitar’ in their circles,” says Vinit.

Vanessa adds that such inquiries rile up Lenny sir and he asks such students to get lost before he himself throws them out of the class. Rushabh tells me that he joined Music Centre specifically to learn to play drums right after he finished his matriculation exams. He says he very well knew that he is not made for the rat race in the society but for music. Till recently, he was also the assistant trainer at the drum class at the Centre.

Ask them about their favourite song of all time, every member of the band swears by Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody as their most favourite song of all time. As a matter of fact, the band believes that it is also the GOAT.

Future plans…

The band has plans to record their OCs soon. In June, they had organized Voltage 21K8-The Birth of Bands at Mehdi Nawaz Jung Hall in Paldi, a concert where several new bands like Eastern Sunrise, Atziluth, Nebula, The Trident, and Blackjack performed with Mystical Delusion. It was a grand success as the show was sold out days before the event. The success of Voltage 21K8 has infused a great amount of confidence in them and strengthened their belief that the future of underground music is bright in Ahmedabad.

Sujith Nambiar tweets @sujith17nambiar. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for more.