I remember spending the whole of Monday in a vague state of shock. I did not know Leon Ireland very well, but the little time I had spent with him was enough for me to know that he was a special person. As the vocalist and frontman of Moksha he had few equals in this country. He will be deeply missed. Tony’s spent a lot more time with him, playing bass with Moksha, and so it is only right that he writes what follows.
My eyes still ache. From trying not to cry when people were around, and, more often than not, failing.
How do you mourn the passing of a hero?
Leon was a hero to me. And probably to you too, if you’re reading this. He saved you, me, and this country from bad rock and roll, bad singing, and bad attitudes which were a usually a substitute for both of the aforementioned curses.
From the first time I saw Moksha, I was blown away by the stellar vocal performance that Leon put on display. His showmanship was at once so subtle yet so obvious that you could feel it, but you probably wouldn’t be able to point out why he had so much control over an audience. In my opinion, it was his body language on stage. It was as if he were saying “I’m know I’m blowing your minds, and I’m having myself a ball doing it.” Effortless. That’s one adjective that comes to mind. I suppose the ease with which he sang anything gave him the power that he had over his audience. And they were always his audience. They knew as well as he did that he could pull off everything that he pulled off. Effortlessly.
Shortly after I became a fan, I had the opportunity to go all around Bangalore in the back of an open van, distributing flyers to colleges, and sticking posters everywhere, advertising for a Moksha show that was going to raise funds for elderly people who could not support themselves. This was when I got to meet him for the first time. I was a little nervous, but I could not let the opportunity pass me by. I was greeted with a warm smile and warmer conversation, as we discussed the Christy’s lovely guitar, the state of rock music in India, and the fact that he was influenced as much by Nat King Cole as he was by Gary Cherone or David Coverdale. No airs. No attitude. No glam. Just a simple, down-to-earth man. I sheepishly mentioned that I too was jamming with a drummer and that we were trying to put a band together.
“Maybe we’ll open for you guys someday”, I said, starry-eyed fan that I was.
“Hey who knows, maybe someday we’ll open for you!,” he replied.
I suppose when you know you’re the best, you don’t need to try to prove it to everyone by hiding behind some sort of fake superiority complex. And when you’re Leon Ireland, you don’t even care that you are superior. It wasn’t about being superior. It was about giving it your all. He always did.
A little over a year ago I went down to Madras to audition for the same band for whom, 6 years prior, I was handing out flyers! I was nervous to meet everyone, especially Christy. Being a guitarist, I always found it tougher to play under the scrutiny of another guitarist. Now I was going to have to play in front of one of the country’s best! But also present at the audition was Leon, who met me again 6 years after our first meeting. He had this endearing warmth about him ( like a good tube amp ), that puts you at ease immediately, and then you feel like you’re talking to an old friend. So despite auditioning in the presence of one of my favourite bands, I was a lot more comfortable than I expected to be. I think it was finally Leon who got me the gig [ Thanks Leon ], because he kept making expressions while I was playing as if to say, “Oh.. that was nice!” Just as an encouraging father would do, even if his child were playing rubbish!
Then we were in a band together, and suddenly my hero was my friend, my brother, and still my hero. All rolled into one. If you were to meet his family, you would know how a person like him gets moulded. The way he spoke to his doting mother, the way he would behave so cheekily with his lovely wife and sister-in-law, the way he would play with his doggie, all gave me more of an insight into who he was. He was surrounded by love. I found myself getting more and more attached. He was still larger than life to me though. I think our heroes always are. The only difference was that I now saw a proportionately large heart. He was always the entertainer, making us laugh even if it meant we were laughing at him. Since September of 2005 I have gone on to play many shows with Moksha, travelling to many parts of the country. I don’t know if the kind of bond that this experience creates between the musicians in a band can be described to anyone who hasn’t done it. If I were to describe it, I would say it is fraternal. You become like one big family. But it’s a little better than that because you get to choose your family members. I wish I had the chance to choose again.
I would choose Leon.
Leon, whose eyes conspired with his smile to twinkle with mischief, betraying that he was the youngest child in a family that pampered him lovingly. Leon, whose voice sparkled with crystalline beauty, only to turn into a molten bluesy whine, before ascending into a heavy-metal scream! Leon, who would sit and talk with me about so many things, never being able to conceal a genuine concern for the state of the world and where we’re headed. Leon, whose voice touched as many lives as his heart. Leon, who would push an asthma attack aside for the duration of a gig, so that you couldn’t even tell there was anything wrong. Leon, with whom I’ve eaten Sunday breakfast, sipped on cups of tea in a Roorkee winter, and prayed in our backstage huddles. Leon, who would compete with me to see who could make worse puns. Leon, whose hugs really meant something special. Leon, who was gifted to us and snatched away too soon for us to try and prepare ourselves.
I hate that I will always have to say “was” from now on. I hate that I’ll never be able to hear him sing any of my favourite songs again. I hate that I was never good enough to deserve to play bass for him, despite his constant encouragement. I hate that the generation of kids just getting into rock and roll will never know what they missed. I hate that I never told him how much I admired, respected and loved him, because I took it for granted that he already knew.
But I love that the angels are probably dusting off and restringing their long-unused axes, taking crash courses in drumming, trading in their wings for synthesizers, cranking their amps up to infinity, and just rocking out!!
I wonder what a harp fitted with a DiMarzio would sound like through a Mesa/Boogie?
Hey, wait a minute.. where’s that music coming from ??……
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We’ve found time to get our lazy butts off the couch. Ergo, in answer to your oft-asked question “Where can we buy your CDs?”, we now have one smug answer.
And depending on whether you’re in India or anywhere else on ThirdRock, you have the option of buying from CDBaby (US, UK) or MusicYogi (India). And if you’re an on-the-go digital cybernaut, Jupiter Cafe is also available on iTunes and EMusic.
It’s the holiday season. Hint, hint…
As much as I agree with Bruce with regards to guitar, unfortunately, Drummers are left with very few options. Most of my purchases have been online, but one has to be careful again for online purchase of drums. Am going to give some gyaan, but this might be limited to my geographical reach within the United Kingdom.
Now, what one website advertises as its S.R.P (Seller Retail Price) might be nothing but just a super hyped price and might be absolute rubbish. Look elsewhere to buy your stuff.
I bought almost all my cymbals online (I’ve been lucky with a cymbal that I bought on EBay as well.)
The first and foremost rule if you looking at any product, use google for reviews, and also, there are many Power Sellers/ E-Bay Stores, spend hours reading their feedback. That will give you a general impression of whether you are going to get your bucks worth.
When buying Drum Shells/ Drums: One thiing is for sure there is not going to be that big a difference in terms of buying online or in store except for the massive price difference. So I say go to a store and try all the kits that are on offer, so u get an idea of what you want. Turn on the computer – www.google.com and presto you could be up all night looking for the right buy.
In the UK, I would bravely recommend Only1Music – www.only1recording.co.uk not only for their amazing prices, but also for the fact that the guys in their store know what they are talking about. Now E-Shopping for drums makes drum purchase remarkably cheaper, simply ‘cos of lesser investment. A drum store means big money especially if they have to create space for testing of a kit and whatever, and also, just the sheer size of the store.
THe only flipside is the cost of the courier. In my case my entire purchase including the cost of the courier by far out beat any of the drum store prices in the UK. So much so that Mapex were surprised I managed to get a drum kit that cheap!
Second thing when u talking to these, they are NOT call centre operators, but happen to be drummers with excellent telephone skills (!!!!!!!), so they wouldn’t refuse if you sit and chat with them for about an hour with all your queries!
This is the trickiest part of buying a drumming equipment online. Cymbals are pretty much like guitar buying, but again here as well, the price difference made me go the online way. However, I chose to be brand conscious and went with Paiste Cymbals and got in touch with one of Livepools famous sessions drummers who happens to own a E-Cymbal store. For each cymbal I bought, I would chat to this guy for hours………so much so that the last cymbal I bought, I got a call from him and said “Guru, I have a cymbal that I think will definitely match your taste.” I did think about it for a week, researched on it loads and this cymbal is currently my main crash cymbal and is my all time favourite. Here again, I was dealing with a musician who buy a twist of fate had excellent business skills!
Spare Parts: ONLINE baby! Thats the cheapest you can find. Try and buy them in bulk. Also, cases for your drums – Online!
Ideally every musician would want the red carpet treatment at the cheapest of prices, heck I would love a nice back massage while I am testing out the drums as well, but we know a “bargain is a bargain.” Some basic tips for buying drums/ cymbals:
1) Research heavily on what your requirement and what sound you are after (I took three months to buy a snare, and is one of the loudest you can find. (Ask Mr. Bruce and Rzhude for feedback on that snare after the 13th Note Gig!!:D:D hahaha)
2) Trawl through as many pages in the world wide web for product/ price reviews. Also compare as many E-Shops as possible. Some good shops online are:
THere are more around, but it is upto you to find out what best prices you can expect!
3) Don’t forget this thing called “ASK,” these guys will answer every question, and might throw in a freebie too!
Once again, happy E-Shopping!
I might add more to this, but I think its time for my tea!
I’ve been asked this question several times over the last couple of months. Variations include, “Can I ask this friend of mine to buy one for me? He’s coming down from (insert US/Dubai/Singapore/UK/Anywhere (but) here)! He’s a musician – so he could check it out too..”
Let’s put it simply. I wouldn’t. Of course, that’s just me. Obsessive-compulsive, fussy, nit-picking, anal, self-absorbed me. If you’re a serious musician and none of these begin to describe you, I don’t know you, man.
I would recommend third-party or remote instrument buying if you’re planning on spending some very small money for a campfire-style instrument that you’d want to use a few times a year, or just to make you look good in your room. But if it’s any kind of serious purchase, with some serious money involved, you’re asking for trouble.
Most players I know have very definite ideas of what would constitute a good musical instrument. And one man’s Gibson is another’s Less Pol. [This is obviously a guitar-based discussion.] Far as I’m concerned, I’d have to play many guitars for many hours before I settle on something I like; then I’d test the crap out of it, run it through everything it’s supposed to do and more; then I’d probably spend a day or two just playing it in. Then I’d probably buy it if the store guys aren’t a) throwing rocks as soon as they catch a glimpse of me, or b) find a sudden need to have a lunch/coffee/just-for-kicks break if they see me up the street. If they stay nice and if I bug them enough, I’d even probably get a discount, just for getting out of their hair. .
Your guitar has to fit around you. There’re so many little things apart from the list of specs and features. If you’re lucky enough to know exactly what you want in terms of sound, then you’ve got to find a piece that’s intonated right, has good action, no funny bends/warps/twists in the neck, as few dead spots/odd bits as possible, the right shape of neck (c/v/d/ibanez-razor/etc), the right access to the higher frets, the right balance, no fiddly electrical/electronics, tuning stability — the list goes on. Whoever you ask to buy a guitar for you, it’s not going to fit around you. Even if that person is a musician, and a good one at that, his/her tastes are not the same as yours, and you’ll eventually have to live with a compromise. And remember if that someone isn’t gifting it to you (hah), it’s not their money: they’re simply not going to be as picky as you are.
I know and understand all the usual reasons why you might think about remote purchase – you can’t get really fine instruments here/you can’t get exactly what you’re looking for/you may not, or simply don’t have a chance to travel abroad in the immediate future, etc etc. Sorry, but belt up and wait. Or settle for second best and no cribbing.
There is a lot of gear available in India now – we recently went in to this place in Delhi called OnStage, and it was crawling with guitarist gear. Good stuff too – all your Ibanez shred axes, Mex Strats and more, cables, strings, accessories, pedals, effects – a regular drool-o-rama it was. (Unfortunately, drummers/basssits/other musical denizens are still not such a favoured lot.) I found some of the stuff very well priced, and some just marked up unreasonably. Ibanez signature-series axes for example. Have a student who recently splurged on a Joe Sat Ibanez (the JS-100 I think); spent 50-odd k for an axe I wouldn’t have paid half as much for.
If none of this gear is to your taste, there’s the ‘custom’ option, which, IMHO, is a good way to go if you can find a luthier that can do the job just right. There ARE a few around, yes there are.
So, if you’re planning to pick up a guitar that’s just right, D-I-Y. It’s the only real way. There will be, of course those exceptions; those happy folk who find the right instrument without all the fuss of having to go get it themselves… ah, you’ll have to cling pretty tight to the lacy petticoats of ole lady luck if you’re wishing for that magic.
It’s club nights all the way.
Dec. 15 – Maya, The Bombay Store, MG Road
Dec. 20 – Hint, Bangalore Central, Residency Road
What a couple of days.
Bangalore, er, Bengalooru Habba was one super Beja Fry. 4pm afternoon, bright sunny day, an audience that was mostly post-modern plastic. Sivamani’s ginomous drum set-up (everything and the kitchen sink, dish antennas, power windows – a cymbal of excess, but fun I’m sure) dwarfed our little Orangeade kit. We were just plugging in when we hear that it was time for his sound check.. but he wanted to move his whole set up (!) off the drum riser and on to front of stage. So we carried on with our check and launched off into our set.
Through the first coupla songs, Sivamani’s roadies (a half-dozen of them, at least) started lugging all his bits, bells and bongos down off the riser and our effervescent manager PG had to step in, shout, and get a couple of poor maroons to hold a big Radio Indigo sign in front of all the (Habb)ub. Distracting to say the least. We carried on, however, with aplomb, and pulled off a decent set I thought. Heard some good things from the people who were there. Mike Herting (kickass piano/keyboard player, German, plays a lot with Charlie Mariano and others)was watching from backstage. Was good to have him there! He liked our set too… I was fortunate to do a gig with him in another part of the Habba, and that’s a different tale.
JNC was a different kind of trip. You know how it is, girl’s college and all… Our most eligible bachelor, M’sieu Nate Linkon, actually postponed a trip to London to be there! There were some initial worries about sound – we heard scary things about archestra (sic)-style horn speakers, Velumurugan Amplifiers and Gurumurthy Mics. Last minute frantic phone calls got a gent called Francis to do sound. Decent gear.
By the time we got on after Galeej, lots of belles were heading off, probably hostelward, wardens be bell’d. The ones that hung around seemed to be having a blast. Lots of screaming, jumping etc. Fun! We shook some booty on stage and they did too. Wonderwall was nice, so was Sanity, Look at Me and How Can I Get Your Groove.
Good weekend! More to come…
We used to look down at this place. I mean literally. From our little eyrie (alas, now defunct) in Barton Centre, a certain 6th floor balcony that is now, perhaps, part of popular Banga-lore. Way back when in those black & white times, a Blue Fox hid out there, some kind of phamily restaurant, I believe. We actually saw L’attitude being built, and Suraj (Motherjane) was the cool guy who did all the AC work. It’s now Smartini, and we played there last night.
Sound guys SoundAce weren’t really on the ball. Not even sniffing distance, actually. Just managed to pull it off. And, dear readers, if ever you play at Smartini, remember not to hit a Bb note on stage. It cries wolf.
People were trickling in – a lot of the crowd was probably at the Max Mueller Jazz gig – heck we’d have liked to go too! And the smart folks at Smartini weren’t letting stags in. And stopping folks who didn’t have ‘invites’ (which were only available inside Smartini, I think).
Was a fun gig for us though – relaxed and easy. Played some new songs – 1996 – to good response. Had to sing really hard – could barely hear vox on monitors. Don’t like that situation. Feel like you’re not in control. Tony took nice solo on Intermission. Nate was cooking too.
Went to Church St. Empire afterward, hoping that a certain young Nick didn’t choose that night for a bit of bohemian bullying, with full parental backing.