Bidding farewell to Rzhude David

His first gig was playing the triangle in the school band! He brought out his first solo album in 1994 and joined the Bangalore-based Thermal and a Quarter (TAAQ), one of India’s pioneering rock bands, in 1999 as the bass guitarist. Eleven years later, Rzhude David bids adieu.

“Music has been a part of my life as long as I can remember. I didn’t have to try too hard to play music or learn it. I took naturally to playing whatever instrument I came upon,” he says, recalling how he became passionate about music. “I never really chose rock or the bass guitar in particular. I prefer playing acoustic guitar and percussion, preferably folk styles — it’s just that my public image has been associated with rock music and the bass guitar.”

When David joined, Bruce Lee Mani and Rajeev Rajagopal were the only remaining founding members of TAAQ, which started as a Christ College band. Now he feels he can comfortably lay claim to having played a pivotal role in making it a part of India’s rock history. “Be it independently producing and marketing its own music while being a pioneering online presence, or conceptualising and executing both national and international tours, we’ve been there and done what it takes to be a globally admired musical entity,” he says. “By sheer stubbornness, if you will, we took a stand when original music by Indian bands wasn’t appreciated, and carved a new place. The TAAQ sound is niche. Our style of music has consistently evolved and defied categorisation.”

If the scenario of Indian rock music today is undergoing a transformation for the better, it is due to rapidly devloping technology, David thinks. “While rock is not really a part of India’s musical heritage it has certainly found musical expression in the last few decades due to the way technology has broken down cultural barriers. Today’s kids with access to computers, software and the Internet are empowered to create, record and promote their own sound.”

But it’s time to move on, David admits. “As the oldest member I think getting in some younger, more energetic blood will do the band a world of good!” He currently heads a project called MusicLab, which designs music education solutions, bringing the latest technology and teaching methodology to schools across India. “I feel the need to focus on projects that I’ve always wanted to do but couldn’t, because of the mind space that being a full time member of the band, a corporate career and a growing family demands. I’ve opened what I call the Acoustic Garden. Here I can work on music at my own pace,” he says. “It is an intimate acoustic space with just about all the tools needed for the organic process of music production.”

He will always treasure the great memories, he says. “From traversing the UK in a beat up tour van, getting near bushwhacked by goons in Ahmedabad, to living it up in five-star luxury brushing shoulders with some of our idols, it’s been a long, strange and mostly self-indulgent trip, but well worth every moment of it.”

Published in DNA, May 21st 2010