One of the India’s foremost guitarists and ardent supporter of independent music, Claver Menezes recently released his latest album, ‘Diverse Delusions’, featuring various singers from all over the country, giving it as the title suggests, a diverse and eclectic musical experience.
Comprising of 19 tracks, it has some of the most illustrious singers featured on each track including Sherrin Varghese, Suzanne D'Mello, Uday Iyer, Sidd Coutto, Gary Lawyer, Temeer Chimulkar, Sujit Kumar, Ashwini Torvi, SiDD, Shawn Pereira, Nitish Roque Pires, Christina Andrew, Sukhbir Kalsi, Neha Gandhi, Riyaz Qadir, and others.
Claver took up the guitar when he was twelve and a year’s time started performing on stage. He was just 14 when he formed his own band ‘Rust Angels’ in 1992. Rust Angels performed in various college shows, gaining in popularity and reached the ‘Live Wire’ finals at the IIT Mumbai Mood Indigo Festival in 1993. He was highly influenced by Joe Satriani and soon came to be recognized as one of the top rock guitarists in Mumbai, for his distinctive style and speed on the fret board.
He started his record label Hangar Records in 2000, to as he says, ‘keep rock music alive’. In 2001 released an instrumental album, The Unborn Recital, on which he brought together some of the best guitarists in the country. In 2002 he came out with his next album, ‘Screwed’ which featured songs by some of the best bands in India. Rust Angels disbanded in 2004 and Claver set up his own studio to concentrate on his solo projects and in 2005 scored the music for the film, ‘Sacred Evil’. In 2008 he formed the band Zedde, playing numerous gigs and shows across the country. Claver released his first solo instrumental albums ‘Crooked Ways’ I & II in 2018.
Here Claver Menezes talks to Ragatorock about his musical journey.
Tell us something about yourself.
I formed my own rock band 'Rust Angels' in 1991 practicing and playing cover versions of Iron Maiden, Scorpions, Metallica, Megadeth, Wasp, Anthrax and many more. The band gained in popularity and attained prominence among the young college-going crowd. We performed at rock shows across colleges and also entered the finals of Live Wire (IIT, Mood Indigo) the next in 1992.
Zedde came to existence in 2008, which was one of the popular bands I was with. We made a lot of original music together and we saw great appreciation for it. Our song ‘Mumbai’ won the prestigious ‘Anthem of the Year’ title at the world’s largest indie music awards: AVIMA 2010. The video for the song frequented all popular music channels, including VH1 and MTV India, and climbed to #1 on the YouTube India charts within 24 hours of upload. The ‘Best Band’ at ArtistAloud.com Awards 2010 and the regional championship at the Hard Rock Rising 2012 challenge followed. As part of Hard Rock Rising 2012, Zedde made it to the top 10 from amongst 12,000 bands worldwide.
When did you decide to be a Musician?
There wasn’t a particular event or a eureka moment for it. My entire family was into music, and that already gave me a taste and music came to me naturally.
Tell us of your style of Guitar playing? your favorite Guitar players & influences in your music?
Joe Satriani's style of music has been the most significant influences in my style. Every good song influences me. I love 21 pilots and how with just 2 people they create magic on stage.
Tell us about your latest album?
I have been wanting to make this collaborative album for a really long time now. Putting out 19 songs in one album took a lot of efforts, but now I take a sigh of that sweet sweet relief and happiness. The album is essentially me collaborating with various singers. Each singer brings in his/her quirks in their songs. Of course you could go listen to them on all music streaming platforms.
While being a musician you were also a working professional, how did you manage to do both?
During the day I used to go to the office do my regular day job, and during the nights is when I used to work on the album, and of course the weekends were entirely dedicated for this as well.
Tell us about Hangar Records? the whole journey?
I started a recording label called Hangar Records, and brought together the top guitarists of the country in 2001 for an instrumental album, 'The Unborn Recital (FOK II)' and a video featuring all the guitarists were also produced and released. The participating guitarists in the album were Li'l Finger, Ravi Iyer, Sarosh Izedyar, Paresh Kamat, Dhruv Ghanekar, Warren Mendonca, Suri Sequiera, Chandresh Kudwa, Edwin Fernandes, Sushil, and Randolph Correia.
The very same year Hangar Records recorded and released another album, a non-instrumental this time, called 'Screwed' which other than my own band Rust Angels featured other rock bands Zero, Sceptre, Thor, Fate, Psychomotor, Kinky Ski Munky, AFS, Freedom, and Morticide. The reason why Hangar Records came into being was to keep rock music alive.
What do you think of the independent music scene in India?
I see a lot of music festivals happening in India but I hardly see any indie rock bands playing anymore. It only disheartens me to see no independent rock musicians being pushed on any of these platforms. I see a lot of heavy rock music or pop rock playing these days but nothing which can be considered as the middle ground of these two sub sects.
Why has India not produced any great independent artistes, compared to the West where music is propelled by musicians and bands?
In the West music is their job, where they are paid handsomely for their music / performances. Whereas in India, rock musicians are paid peanuts or worse, not paid at all. So they either give up or they start playing for Hindi film industry.
What is your advice to young and upcoming artistes?
Do your undergrad in whatever interests you and then do an MBA. Hahahaha.
- Stanley Paul
Those of you who have been around from the 1960's through the 1990's will remember the vibrant live music scene in almost every starred hotel in India. Those were the days when you walked into a nightclub like 'Rendezvous' at The Taj Mahal hotel and 'Supper Club' at the Oberoi Sheraton in Mumbai to see curtains going up on a band that was the prime focus of these outlets. Every seat in these restaurants allowed an unobstructed view of the band that performed every night on resident contracts. Today all this has disappeared thanks to some ridiculously high entertainment taxes on live music. Today, non off these hotels have complete bands playing save for a few that feature small duos or solo singers. The Lodhi in New Delhi, recently listed among the world's best hotels, decided to step in and rewind to the good old days. They got Goa's premier jazz quartet 'Jazz Junction' to move to Delhi on a resident contract and the decision has paid off in terms of footfalls generated by the band. Jazz Junction featuring singer Daniella Rodrigues, pianist Tony Dias,
bassist Colin D'Cruz and drummer Angelo Colasco began playing at The Lodhi in June 2018. Four months into the contract the band generated a sizeable following, with quite a few high profile guests choosing to celebrate their special occasion at the Elan bar where the band performs. Against all odds the rewind option proved to be a huge success and hopefully other properties around the country takes the cue to trigger a whole new revival of live music.