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News |  30 Jun 2016 20:10 |  By RnMTeam

What emerging alternative music acts can learn from The Local Train

MUMBAI: Delhi-based Hindi rock band ‘The Local Train’ released its debut album in September, last year. The album was released on the back of the success at Sennheiser’s Top 50 bands contest, and as the winning band, The Local Train enjoyed certain privileges that acted as a major catalyst in the band’s journey during the last nine months. From an album-tour to garnering over 200,000 views – on an average – to its official music videos, the ‘universities’ go-to band’ has evolved into a serious phenomenon. How did the four-piece act manage to transform its identity and set an example for upcoming bands?

Emphasis on music videos

The Local Train has officially released five music videos on YouTube, so far. Five. That’s almost as twice to Parikrama’s original video content. Of course, not a fair way of comparison (and also, Parikrama is Parikrama), but the recent ‘indie’ practice of emphasising more on the music videos extends to The Local Train. Videos act as a medium to help the listeners understand the essence of the compositions, as well as an additional element to the entire package. One of its originals from the debut album ‘Aaoge Tum Kabhi’ has crossed half-a-million views – a remarkable achievement for a band once tagged as “yet-another-college-act”. ‘Aaoge Tum Kabhi’ grabbed Raghu Dixit’s attention, and eventually every who’s who of the alternative music community. The Local Train does not believe in producing a music video for the sake of it. It believes in travelling an extra mile. From a ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ finalist to the ‘2012 Miss Poland Finalist’, The Local Train has incorporated all the necessary ingredients to ensure the listeners return to the music video after the first listen.

Making the most of brand associations

Sennheiser Top 50 bands contest led to serious developments in the members’ personal growth (and thus the act’s growth) as the audio company supported the band in every technical aspects on the sonic front. Said the vocalist of the band, Raman Negi, “To be in an alternative music act does not guarantee access to the best of the gears and devices. Through this association with Sennheiser, we have the access to the gears that we had always wanted to buy as musicians. As a vocalist, it helped me to a huge extent through the access to high-end microphones that I only dreamt of once.” The Local Train won the competition in July 2015, two months before the release of the debut album, and the bassist Ramit Mehra pointed out that Sennheiser’s contribution did not end shortly after the contest. “The amazing thing about Sennheiser is, they have let us explain our needs. And they have delivered every single time.” Sennheiser also arranged a master-class for the members of the band with the technical management. The partnership would continue for one more year, and the successful collaboration has surely provided Sennheiser enough reasons to extend the deal.

Perform wherever you can

Pretty sure, every established as well as emerging act would agree to the approach. A quick look at the band’s FB page suggests the amount of pride The Local Train boasts regarding the college gigs and music festivals it either headlined or participated for. And while the struggle was real in the early days (applicable to almost every alternative music act in the country), The Local Train focused on ways that would ensure the team sticks together (the members live together too) and carries the sound wherever there’s a platform. From Morjhim Beach in Goa to an auditorium in Assam, the band treated every invite equally important and the attitude eventually paid off.

Focus on college gigs

Not exaggerating, but The Local Train has a magnitude of popularity in the college circuit that can be matched by a very few existing (emerging as well as established) bands in the country. The Local Train’s biggest share of fan-base arrives from colleges, and the band has every right to gloat about the fact. Compared to certain live venues, college gigs have more budgets than certain music festivals that exist (rather poorly) in the alternative music ecosystem. The following video remains one of the examples of how every attendee sang along the band’s compositions – a visual that one experiences in the concerts involving the Raghu Dixits and Kailash Khers. “College gigs have major budgets. In a way, they’re the corporate gigs to a certain extent."

Ticketed album tour

This “small-time” band comprising of members from small-time towns neighbouring-Delhi announced the album-tour shortly after the release of ‘Aalas Ka Pedh’. Unlike almost every act’s album tour, The Local Train ticketed the 8-city tour with venues that included the Hard Rock Café. “We tried that as an experiment. The popularity in the college circuit was well-established. We wanted to know if the response extends to places where the venues would charge the followers. And trust us, in some cases, the venues were sold-out.” If you are good at something, why do it for free, right?

Never-Give-Up

Yes, the most obvious of them all. But truest, in every account. The band knocked the doors of several production houses (for videos), music experts (for mastering) and live venues (for performances), and more often than not, the four members received negative responses to their ‘indie’ demands. And eventually, the DIY spirit kick-started a series of efforts for the band that eventually led to approaching the drummer of popular act Hoobastank, who helped with the mixing and mastering responsibilities of few of the originals. Currently, the band can only vouch on Ok Listen and iTunes for monetization of its creation, and so far, the band has no complaints whatsoever. “Being an independent band demands you to go against every obstacle that runs your way,” added Negi.

The Local Train will release its sixth music video – Manzil – in ten days, and would feature in a campaign called ‘100 Days of Summer’. With a year remaining to the release of its second album, The Local Train believes in boosting the older content, while the creation of newer ones would ensure the act stays relevant for curious years to come. From a usual day in 2008 where the members could not think of a name for the band to featuring its music in a Bollywood project, The Local Train has travelled a long way. And the Train has the potential to cover few more miles.

The Local Train is -
Vocals / Acoustic Guitar: Raman Negi,
Lead / Acoustic Guitar: Paras Thakur,
Bass Guitar: Ramit Mehra,
Drums / Percussions: Sahil Sarin

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