Cyanide: Leaving It All Behind
Starting out as a school band with multiple line-up changes, it has been a long, hard and difficult road for Cyanide, the easy-on-the-ears, alternative rock band from Delhi. We sit down with Rohan Solomon, the vocalist and guitarist of the band for a peek in to their poison-free world.
Cyanide has come to be one of the leading bands on the Indian scene right now. Where did it all begin?
Well, Cyanide actually started out as a school band, winning school competitions and getting a decent amount of recognition. But we gradually made our way into the circuit. But around 2006, after we disbanded and then reunited with a new line-up, we came back with a bang.
Why the odd choice in the band nomenclature? Why a chemical poison, when you could have easily called yourself something sweeter, like say, pineapples?
(Laughs) Tell me honestly, would you go to watch a band called “The Pineapples”? (Laughs) But as for the name Cyanide [is concerned], I don’t know really — we were in school, didn’t even know what genre of music we wanted to play, we just knew that we wanted to be in a band and cover the bands we like and also make our own songs. Just named it back then when I was in the 10th grade and the name just carried on.
From what we’ve seen and heard, Cyanide is one of the most frequently aired bands on TV and on the radio. What do you think is the band’s USP that enables you to be so marketable in a dormant scene like ours?
Yes, I agree that Cyanide has been in the spotlight for a while now and we keep making some appearance here or there quite frequently. That’s because people like our music and keep showing up for our gigs, keep joining our groups on Facebook, Orkut, MySpace, etc. I would say that our USP is definitely the fact that we have radio-friendly music. A larger variety of people enjoy our music, because we deliver a heavy yet peppy element. Plus our slower songs are very melodic and easy on the ears. So a heavy metal fan would enjoy our songs and so would a pop lover.
I would still rate Delhi as number one as far as the rock circuit goes. It’s not about the people and fans, but more about the number and quality of venues.
You guys released a video for one of your more popular songs, “Tomorrow”. Can you take the readers of Split through the entire process?
It’s a very low budget video, but the process was definitely a lot of fun, especially since most of our ideas have been incorporated in the video. HMV Sa Re Ga Ma recorded the video for the promotion of their compilation ‘The Underground — Delhi’, which features our song “Tomorrow”. They allotted directors to each band and we got a pretty good director named Vishant Baru, who was very co-operative and was open to feel the vibe of the band and hence incorporated a lot of our ideas into the story of the video. But what I like is that he focused more on the band than the story. The whole process took about a week, we shot [it] at our jam pad (my farm) from different angles for band shots, plus they shot us individually also from different angles. It was very tough for Srijan, because the music volume was so low that when he started playing the drums he couldn’t hear the music and would hence lose the beat. (Laughs) Good fun though, we pulled it off somehow. Then the story aspect came. The main girl and the boy were changed last minute as there was some problem and delay, but we shot a little bit in Connaught Place and then the torture scenes were shot in Vishant’s cousin’s house. After that it was all edited and finally we saw the video at the launch of the compilation.
What’s the status of the impending Cyanide album?
That is still in the recording stage. We are aiming at releasing it in October.
Rohan Solomon, have you ever been told that you look a lot like Shankar Mahadevan?
(Laughs) Yes, I have, MANY times. Some of my friends even say that I look like Raghu Dixit and some college friends even say that I look like Mike Portnoy. It’s bizarre, ’cause I only wanna look like myself.
What’s the band’s take on the fragmentation and the amalgamation of the Indian rock scene? Where do you think the Delhi scene stands, when held up against the other major, although sporadic, rock scenes?
The Indian rock circuit is definitely not fragmenting, not from any angle. It’s only growing and at a crazy rate. But there is amalgamation between the different circuits in the country through fests like Pubrockfest and Great Indian Rock by RSJ and Eastwind as well. So many bands from all over the country came down to play at Eastwind. In Pubrockfest, we had an insane tour this year and played in so many cities, saw the cultures, the people and the vibe and plus we got to play and interact with different bands from different cities. It is the only way to grow. But I would still rate Delhi as number one as far as the rock circuit goes. It’s not about the people and fans, but more about the number and quality of venues.
Quite a few people seem to be of the opinion that Cyanide is on its way to becoming the next big alternative band in India after Zero. Comments?
Oh, my God, if people think that, then I (personally) am so flattered, because Zero is one of my favourite bands. They played such a huge role in influencing me to grow in the rock circuit and play gigs and come out with an album. Their album ‘Hook’ really blew me away. My comments to that statement is that I really hope so. I really do hope that we become as big as Zero is today.
Cyanide is going to have a song featured on a computer game title from a major label. How did that come about?
Well, that didn’t work out. Due to a confidentiality clause, I can’t really comment more on that subject.
What about other projects that the band members are involved in? How do you guys keep the balance? What other Indian bands are you fond of?
Other projects… hmmmm, I am not involved with any other bands, I just keep freelancing here and there whenever somebody needs me. I keep playing with Half Step Down, I did two tracks in Joint Family’s album and I’m doing five tracks in Another Vertigo Rush’s EP as well. Bharat plays in Tear Cube as well. Kale has started a new project but they only keep jamming, they haven’t played a gig as yet. Srijan is of course in Parikrama and Half Step Down. We all just manage with “work/other bands/school” and music side by side. We manage to take out time for Cyanide because we all feel for the music and love the band. As for the other question, I am really fond of a lot of Indian bands like Them Clones, Zero, Junkyard Groove, Thermal And A Quarter, Skinny Alley, Joint Family, Superfuzz, Another Vertigo Rush, Half Step Down, Bhayanak Maut — to name a few
It’s been quite the ride for you guys, and I think you’ve come a long, long way in a short time. What has been the most fulfilling achievement, according to you?
I think what has been the most fulfilling achievement for the band has been to attain this particular line-up, everything else comes secondary. The band would be nothing if even one of the four goes missing.
All the Cyanide fans in and around the country are eagerly awaiting the upcoming album. Any words of solace for them while they wait?
Well, the album is titled ‘Leaving It All Behind’ and it will be out by October — hopefully in a music store near your homes or maybe just at Cyanide gigs (laughs), but we will make sure that the album reaches you whether you buy it online or at our gigs or at the store. Please be patient and please buy it when it comes out. Cheers!