The 90s are officially back. While the 90s nostalgia kick began in the 2010s, they have gained serious traction in recent years owing to a total pop culture recall. As Paul Simon sang, “Every generation throws a hero up the pop charts” every generation also tints their pop culture with a rose-tinted reminiscence and at the moment what the millennials considered their rite of passage into adulthood is very much back. As Taylor Swift would say, “I come back stronger than a 90s trend.”
But what makes us so nostalgic for the 90s, you ask? Well, the greatest paradox of the 21st century that is dominated by smart devices and social media is a collective longing to rewind and go back to a time before the internet. Perhaps we look back at the 90s and almost romanticize it, not just for what it was but also for it being the decade that trumpeted the end of the millennium and marked the final gasp of a global culture that was soon to be completely rewired by Big Tech. It was also the most ‘advanced’ pre-Web era in terms of culture. A post-modern longing for a less plugged-in era, makes the 90s all the more appealing for those that didn’t get to experience it.
The 90s were also a heady time for Indian bands, the generation marked by MTV, VH1 and Channel V saw a total culture shift. As one closely held on to their cassettes and CDs of their favourite bands and jammed to the indie, alternative and rock music being churned out, there were some bands from the late 80s and the 90s that defined an entire generation. They made Indian music what it was and we at Homegrown want to press a cultural reboot as we explore the bands that shaped the 90s kid’s music experience.
I. Bombay Vikings
To talk about the 90s and not mention the magic of the fun and almost mischievous band, Bombay Vikings should be considered a sin. They were among the first few early independent Indians bands that made their original compositions and gave the youth a break from filmy songs that dominated our understanding of Indian music till then. Their 1999 hit, Kya Soorat Hai was truly a moment in time and garnered them worldwide fame. Started by Neeraj Sridhar in Stockholm, Sweden, in 1994, Bombay Vikings changed the way we listened to music, breaking all boundaries whether it was their classical-rock fusions, their musical lyricism that spoke to a whole generation of young people, or their remixes of old bollywood music.
If you grew up in the 90s, you’re not unfamiliar with how Euphoria was all the rage back in the nineties as well as the early 2000s. The band broke into the music scene and cemented their place in everyone’s heart with the song Dhoom Pichuck Dhoom, from their hit debut album ‘Dhoom’ in 1998 and there was no looking back after that. Giving the music scene a new flavour with their refreshing take on rock music, they introduced an entire generation to ‘Hindi rock’ and ‘indie pop’. Their timeless songs like Dhoom Pichak Dhoom, Gully, Ab Na Jaa, and Maeri are sure-shot wormholes to the nostalgic decade that was energized by their peppy music, powerful vocals, and almost romantically playful music videos.
It is almost impossible to think of the 90s music scene and not think of Indian Ocean. Formed in New Delhi, in 1990, Indian Ocean was a pioneer in fusion and folk rock, as they seamlessly fused classical raagas with rock music. Today, almost three decades later, many college students still rock to their tunes as they play at colleges across the country along with performances scheduled all year long. Originally the band comprised Amit Kilam, Asheem Chakravarty, Susmit Sen, and Rahul Ram but as of today, only Kilam and Ram are a part of the band from the original line-up.
What started as Rock Machine in 1984, evolved to the ‘Rock N Roll Renegade’ sensation Indus Creed by the early 90s. Everyone remembers the days when Indus Creed was all the rage with many bands like Parikrama even looking up to them. For those growing up in the 90s, it’s hard to forget that the band was the first to release India’s all-original rock album and among the first to tour the length and breadth of the country. ‘Chains & Black Leather’ and ‘Rock n roll Renegade’ defined many people’s rock playlists back in the day and we can totally see why.
A true-blue product of the MTV Generation, Parikrama was a contemporary rock band that was many youngsters’ initiation to the world of rock music. Formed on June 17th, 1991 when the Malik brothers spotted Sonam Sherpa at Kirori Mal College in New Delhi and decided he was the perfect fit for their ensemble. They gave their first ever performance as Parikrama on September 15th, 1991 at New Delhi’s Father Agnel School. While they originally played covers of their favourites like Led Zepplin, Deep Purple, Doors and Pink Floyd, by 1995 they started slipping in a few of their originals to the mix. Parikrama originals like ‘But It Rained,’ ‘Tears Of The Wizard,’ ‘Vapourize,’ ‘Am I Dreaming?’ and ‘Open Skies’ became popular and are now what defines the band’s discography.
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