In Nagaland, music bands are like ‘a dime a dozen’, with the band names getting weirder and weirder. Moreover, the bands always seem to disband just when it looks like there’s a good thing going and almost all groups in Nagaland sing only cover versions. So I usually don’t like writing about music bands. Then last weekend, I received an invitation to attend the launch of the debut album of the rock band ‘Native Rising’ at Dream Cafe, Kohima.
I had been following the progress of ‘Native Rising’ as an upcoming band in Nagaland and in the north-east. I already knew that they sing some of their originals but didn’t realize they had been working on a full album! So, I decided to attend the function held on the evening of 7th October.
The show started off on the dot with the arrival of the Chief Guest Mr. Alemtemshi Jamir, APC. Compered by the ever-dependable Theja Meru who introduced ‘Native Rising’ to the audience, the chief guest released the cassette version of the album simply titled ‘Native Rising’. Mr. Alemtemshi, a music professional himself, congratulated the group on their achievement saying it was one of the best original demos he listened to, on rock music by a Naga band. He also spoke briefly on the music scenario in Nagaland.
Since many youth are influenced by song lyrics, he encouraged composers to write lyrics relevant to the present state of affairs and how to let it bring about a positive change in Naga society.
The band then took the stage singing three of their originals. I especially liked the song ‘Tell Me’ and as Lanula (the lead vocalist put it) – it speaks about a few questions that seem to have no answers. ‘Tell Me’ was a hit with the audience requesting for an encore. I believe it’ll be an instant hit in Nagaland and in the north-east as well.
Coming back to Dimapur, I rang them up to ask about their future plans and their marketing strategy. They revealed that they were making plans to go on a promotional tour beginning this year end. As it is, they have already been invited to perform at Shillong during the last week of October. They will also be releasing the CD version of the album soon. Since music cassettes (as opposed to music CDs) have the most reach in the interior parts of Nagaland, they had decided on the release of the cassette first. The cassettes would be made available at all leading music stores in Nagaland and in the north-east.
Incidentally, I caught them just when they were about to go and distribute the cassettes to some music stores at Dimapur. They also had to give some free copies to friends, relatives etc.. - and I thought “Why free??”. I think, friends and relatives, if they want to support and encourage them, should BUY a copy and not expect things for free! These people had spent a lot of money, time and energy working on this album and I feel some appreciation must be shown by buying the cassette, at least by people close to them. It is not that easy to compose an original song but they had managed to release a full album.
I wished them all luck and assured to promote them in any way I can through my website and other forms of media. ‘Native Rising’ cannot be written off just like that - I think they deserve a chance, simply because they are trying to be creative and set up a new trend to seriously take up music as a means to earn a living. After all, how long can musicians, talented or not, survive only on singing/playing cover versions?
By the way, I bought their cassette that very night at Dream Cafe. Later on, I realized I had a problem. I don’t own a cassette player !
The writer is Webmaster, www.akasworld.com