An exclusive Interview with SURAJ MANI of MOTHERJANE
”Motherjane is rock music from progressive India. Spiritual, intelligent, proudly honoring its roots & fearlessly questioning its rules”
Motherjane is the band’s Guardian Angel – Her image may appear in various forms but her message is always the same
Formed in 1996 Motherjane is Asia’s No1 rock band at the AVIMA awards 2009 . Motherjane is a 5 piece progressive rock band from Cochin ( Kochi) Kerala . With two brilliant albums to its name (Insane Biography & Maktub) Motherjane is indeed ‘the Sound of Indian Rock’ . We caught up with Motherjane‘s iconic frontman Suraj Mani for this exclusive interview.
SURAJ: Hi, yes we will be performing at Java Rockin’ land, a 3 day festival and we will be playing at 8 pm on the 8th, one band before the legendary Mr Big! There is a chance that Deftones & The Black Crowes will also feature along with other international acts like MEW, Vertical Horizon etc. As you can guess, we are excited
IRMP3: 2008/9 probably is the most successful years for the band, much credit to your second album ‘Maktub’. Could you walk us through the songs please
SURAJ: It definitely has been a great year and almost like a self fulfilling prophecy. Maktub -It is written! The album has 9 songs in it that includes 1. chasing the sun, 2.Fields of sound, 3.Broken, 4.Blood in the apple, 5. An ode to life, 6.Maktub, 7.Mindstreet, 8.Before one million comes one & 9.Karmic steps. I shall leave you a link here which actually can reintroduce people to how we launched the entire album online with a live webcast. It has a small intro to each of the 9 songs & each has the inside story that inspired the same. If you weren’t there the first time & missed what is actually a little bit of musical history that an Indian band achieved, you can still catch a glimpse into what had happened at http://www.motherjane.in/preLaunch/index.php
IRMP3: What is the inspiration behind those beautiful lyrics?
SURAJ: Life! And a very nice one too, sometimes bcause of how we responded to the not so easy situations that every life brings. Thanks for complimenting the lyrics. It is a great feeling as a rock band to know that we are connecting with people thru both the music and the thoughts.That completes the package in so many ways and the songs live longer thru real people who then take it to a different level with their own interpretations.
IRMP3:In a recent interview you said Motherjane is planning to release 5 albums in the next 5 years, Could you tell us more about it.
SURAJ: Well we have been signed on by Aum-i Artistes , a lablel started by some of our fans who have produced this 1st album, our video for Broken, run our website, finances etc. In return we have been asked to produce 5 albums in the next 5 years, since ”maktub” is complete, there are 4 more to go and they are building a full fledged high end studio where we will be free to nail the upcoming albums. That is a luxury we haven’t had till date and I am sure motherjane will enjoy the pluses that comes with unlimited studio time etc etc. We have already written 18 new songs and will be ready with the music asap so that we can walk into the studios again. Most of what we are going thru now is like a dream coming true and we worked our butts off for it.
IRMP3: You live in Bangalore and the band in Cochin, how do you guys hold it together? I mean it must be a very grueling journey, I wonder how do you guys manage the practice sessions?
SURAJ: Don’t ask. One thing about life is that, every now and then you find people who you respect & love in equal measures and you invariably have to put in effort to keep it together. MOTHERJANE is formed by people who understand and appreciate that in each other. We keep shared dreams in front of us and work towards them & that helps us ignore the hardships that are so obvious to you and other bands.
IRMP3: Friend of mine said ‘Motherjane the guardian angel’s real name is Eva Dowd, Jokes apart, could you tell us about the Eva, How she has helped to promote the band despite of being on the other side of the globe?
SURAJ: Ha Ha! Good one MOTHERJANE & Eva Dowd are a classic example of how music makes the world a smaller place by bringing people together. Do you even know that we haven’t even met her yet and that we do not even know when we will! She is great with people, very warm & personal & in many ways; a lot like this progressive ‘metal’ band that she is promoting and that is where the connect begins.
We are in a team that loves doing what it does and the synergies of such a combination is always very positive both for the people concerned & for strangers exposed to it. She handles almost all of our online PR & fan sites and she is so good at raving about the band without being over the top. It is in many ways sooo important for us that we got someone like that, bcause we like to avoid blowing our own trumpets:) She has already added 100 odd real fans in Indonesia just bcause we are gonna perform there.
She also great at getting our fans & friends help in growing the sites & introducing new people to MOTHERJANE & vice versa, so maybe anyone interested in chipping in with part time efforts should get in touch with her. I am sure she could use more ‘angels’ – both male & female. Interested fans can contact Eva at firstname.lastname@example.org
IRMP3: Looking back, are there any regrets; may be a point in time you wish you could have done things better?
SURAJ: Well my personal motto is that, work at what you like when you have the time and energy. Some day you WILL grow old & that is when you should look back & enjoy your achievements. As a result, we don’t look back much. Especially at things that we regretted. There is a lovely line from a Thermal & a quarter song that goes something like, “its easy to move mountains, when you’re on the road“. Perfect! I thank Bruce for writing those lines. It gets me, it really does
IRMP3: There is a long list of achievements, number of awards received by the band over the years. What is the most defining moment of Motherjane as a band?
SURAJ: Every one of them man, including both the albums being named No 1 in the year of their releases, the unbelievable experience of being the 1st Indian band to win a major award like the AVIMA’s Asia’s best rock act, The JD awards, playing with Opeth. etc etc. But the greatest one would always be that we found each other. Everything starts from there.
IRMP3: How do you see the current rock scene in India compared to the struggling early years of this decade?
SURAJ: It’s absolutely awesome, Parikrama played Download, Pentagram played Glastonbury, Thermal and A Quarter toured UK, JYG won Desert rock, Galeej Guru‘s then went & did that again for India, Kryptos is gonna tour the US, Swarathma, Raghu Dixit played UK again to great receptions. the list is becoming longer and we are happy that we are also adding some good stuff to it. India is happening man & so is the non filmy music scene. There’s a lot of guts and glory stories that are grabbing the attention of people here now. You guys (the media) are making a big difference. Rock is getting glamorized as being full of achievers and you are doing it well. Kudos
IRMP3: Motherjane is certainly driven by passion for rock music, what message would you give to young bands that look up to you for inspiration.
SURAJ: Do what you love & do it to the best of your ability. It doesn’t matter what hand you are dealt…. what matters is how well you play it. There is always something very beautiful about overachieving with limited resources. May you all experience that feeling.
IRMP3: Your message to Motherjane fans.
SURAJ: Love you guys. A great band is made by how great its fans are. And you guys look especially good to us. We even have a song that has been written for you. Watch out for it & send in your energies, so that it will be our best song yet!
Baiju, Clyde, Deepu, John & Suraj.