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     Volume 6 Issue 34 | August 31, 2007 |

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For Whom the Bell Tolls

Elita Karim


In the last few years, telecom companies have been, directly or indirectly, influencing the youngsters in Bangladesh. Not only did they capture the lifestyle and everyday culture, these mobile phone companies also caught the attention of rock bands and the young and rising musicians.

It was in 2006 when Djuice Bangladesh, a youth lifestyle brand of Grameen Phone, created a platform for these youngsters. Singers from all over Bangladesh had come to participate in the D-rockstars, a contest that showcased much more in a singer other than one's singing talent - self confidence and the attitude expected of a rock star.

This year, however, Djuice came up with a different concept where bands from all over the country compete against each other unlike the solo rock star notion from last year. D-rockstars part II is a competition for rock stars. With their strategic partner BAMBA, media partners Channel i, Radio Foorti and co-partner Sony Ericsson, bands have been going through various levels of competition, complete with a new set of wardrobe from Trends and hairstyle / makeover done by Hairobics. Moreover, the top bands in this competition were given special training and courses on guitars, vocals, drums, bass and the keys in the week-long grooming session held at Water Kingdom in Ashulia. The bands were also made to do early morning physical exercises to strengthen their sense of balance, both physical and emotional.


After months of rigorous training sessions and the gruelling rounds of selection and elimination, D-rockstars is now left with six top bands, waiting for the final result. Even though it is left with the panel of judges to decide the winning band, at least 40% of the decision lies with the audience and the music lovers outside who vote for their favourite bands through text messages. This year, the audience abroad can also vote for their favourite bands by logging on to www.djuice.com.bd.

Dour (Vocals & Guitars: Pranjal, Guitars & Vocals: Shaon, Bass: Turja, Drums: Turjo, Keys & Vocals: Pappu) claims to be a mellow rock band, who have done very few live shows as a band. Even then, this band seems to have a lot of fans, owing to the large number of SMS votes that have been helping them to move from one round to another. Growing up in Dhaka, the members of this band have been involved with the music scene in the city and have had a lot of established musicians influencing and admiring their work. The band is ecstatic by the fact that it finally has a strong platform from where it can begin working on music more professionally. "The grooming session has been memorable and special for all of us," says Pranjal. "Besides being trained by some of the greatest names in the music industry in the country, we also had the scope to understand the significance of a band, how to be one and create music."

Bortoman (Vocals: Masum, Guiters: Sojib, Bass & Vocals: Didar, Drums: Md. Riaz Sagar, Keys: Amy) has come all the way from Khulna to participate in the competition. Being amidst the top names in Dhaka, this mellow rock band says that it has developed dramatically in the last few months. At the grooming session, the members emphasised a lot on compositions and song writing. "The best part of the competition is getting a hands-on training from experienced musicians in the country," says Masum. Even though the band has had a positive response from the audience, Masum says that he is not very happy with the concept of SMS voting. "An enthusiastic fan can always send several text messages to vote for one single band. I don't think that's fair as far as voting is concerned."


Dreek (Vocals: Saif, Guitars: Faiyaz, Mehraz & Moushfiq, Bass: Rahi, Drums: Upal) is a hard rock band and has performed at several concerts and shows held in Dhaka. Because of the faith that they have within themselves, the members of the band believe that with hard work and honesty, one can achieve his or her goal. "In the past few months, we learnt how to work together and share ideas so that we can come up with creations in an organised and a smooth way," says Faiyaz, overwhelmed by the fact that Dreek has reached the final stage of the competition. The grooming session, according to Faiyaz, was a lot of fun, especially interacting with the other bands, famous musicians and the media. "We have also made plenty of friends!" he adds. The band believes that it is apparent that the audience is responding very well because of the SMS votes that are coming in every other week. For months now, Dreek has been campaigning online and also amongst their friends and families for votes and support. There was also an instance when the band got into trouble with RAB officials one night, while sticking posters on walls!


EclipsE (Vocals: Diep, Guitars: Wasiun, Bass: Nahian, Drums: Nazim, Keys and Guitars: Adnan) is a metal band and is quite popular in the underground music scene in Dhaka. "In the last few months, we learnt a lot about the features of live sound, sound frequency control, song production, tone settings in instruments and so on," says Nazim. Always trying to learn more about instruments and production, Nazim says that the grooming session was an excellent opportunity for them to watch, learn and work closely with bands, both rising and established. "The competition has been healthy through out and has driven us to work harder," he says. "In fact, we completed around seven tracks of our own." As a progressive metal bands, the members of the band have always been a little doubtful of depending on SMS votes alone, since not many in the audience would probably accept their style of performance or creations, though they do have a very loyal fan following in the country. In this case according to Nazim, the concept of SMS voting has actually worked against them.


Powersurge (Vocals: Jamshed, Guitars: Nahian & Samir, Bass: Arefin, Drums: Samiul) is probably the only out-of-the-box band, with their thrash metal and metal core influences. Performing live since early 2006, Powersurge has practically become a household name for the thrash metal fans in Dhaka. "This genre is very new and strange to many in Bangladesh," says Nahian. "That is probably one of the key reasons as to why we felt more driven to perform our music for all to watch and listen to on television. Moreover, we had some of the most established musicians helping us out and appreciating our acts as well." At the grooming session, Powersurge concentrated on the guitar and bass classes, since they had plenty of questions to ask regarding usage of proper gadgets and effects on stage. "It was also a great opportunity for us to share our musical tastes with the other bands present at the session." A memorable moment for this band is the time when the judges had given them a standing ovation in the first round of the top 20s. "We had performed Mitther Agrashon, one of our compositions," says Nahian. Months later, the band was once again given a standing ovation by the judges in the final round, appreciating the band's unique style. The band feels that it would have been fairer if the SMS vote-counts per cell phone had a limit. "People get biased sometimes and start voting without judging bands based on the music," says Nahian. He feels that SMS votes probably worked against the band.


Radio Active (Vocals: Palash, Guitars: Mitul & Shakil, Bass: Taposh, Drums: Saad, Keys: Onabil) has been one of the many popular bands at the D-rockstars right from the beginning. Inspired by bands like Dream Theatre, Scorpion and Guns n Roses, this rock band has successfully made both the audience and the judges laugh and cry with their music. Thanks to the powerful vocals rendered from Palash and heartfelt compositions, many established musicians and bands in the country have already taken notice of this band. Currently, the band's only ambition and focus in life is to become the next D-rockstar and voice out the generations' woes and happiness through their music. The grooming session, to them, was extremely rewarding, where the members got a huge opportunity to work closely with all kinds of musicians and learn from the big names of the country. "It was very educational for us as a band," says the band. "This has been and continues to be a food platform for all rock bands in the country." Even though the band has been quite popular with the judges, they are a little apprehensive about the SMS votes that play a huge role in deciding who will be the D-rockstar this year.


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