By now, many might have caught Srijan Bikram Gewali performing at The Irish Pub in Lazimpat with his band, Cobweb. After all, they are there every Friday night. And best believe it’s not only the audience who enjoys their chemistry. Gewali talks about how, every now and then, the band members can just riff off one another.
“There are moments when we don’t have to say anything, we can just understand one another and improvise,” he says. For him, apparently that is the best bit about live shows. He is living the dream indeed. Gewali used to idolize Cobweb, and now he is one of their members, touring together (just a month ago to America and planning another one to Australia). Priyanka Gurung talks to the young guitarist about making it in a band and then, there is his personal playlist.
There are so many people who grow up dreaming of being in a rock band, what do you think helps make this dream a reality?
First and foremost, you have to practice, and practice a lot. But I think you also need to be patient. You can’t expect things to fall into place just because you have learned how to play the guitar. You have to keep at it. When I started with a band, initially it was determined just to play with original work. Even putting out a video didn’t help much.
My philosophy was to take every opportunity I got. So whether it was performing around town or filling up in other bands, I went for it. I wanted to play as much as I could. I thought if I were good enough, people would hear it and I’d get a spot somehow, somewhere. So patience is very important.
Do you still practice as much as you did before?
My practice hours have always been from seven to eight hours a day. If I am at the studio or have other work, it’s obviously less. But usually, I start with acoustic guitar then move up to electric. I do some hand exercises to warm up and then continue practicing. If I am learning or making new music, I fully concentrate on it but, otherwise, I really like watching movies while practicing. It’s a habit.
Has it all become easy or do you still find some aspects of being a guitarist challenging?
I have been a part of Cobweb for six years now. I was with Monkey Temple before that. We worked on one album together. So it’s been quite a while that I have been working. But it’s obviously best not to get stuck in a rut. It’s nice to find yourself some challenges. For instance, I am doing things on my own as well. I want to make an instrumental album. So, at the moment, I have been making music for it. I haven’t put it on record yet but it’s a way to continue pushing myself.
Do you feel like you have finally made it?
I think it was a lot easier for me because Cobweb had a decent fan following by the time I had joined in. Our vocalist, Divesh and bassist, Nitesh are the ones who really struggled to establish the band. They tell stories of how they had to deal with poorly managed concerts and shows, how they had to sleep in shady hotels while on tours and, apparently, there were times when the organizers ran away while they were performing. We have it much easier now. Cobweb is at a point in its career where we can choose the kind of shows we want to be a part of. So the struggling phase is certainly over.
Everybody likes to weigh in about who is more important in a rock band, the vocalist, or the guitarist. What’s your opinion?
In Cobweb’s case, I think the most important people are definitely Divesh and Nitesh, the vocalist, and the bassist respectively. They have carried the band on their shoulders for so long and they continue to take responsibility for our sound. It’s really cool making music with them.
(Cobweb is preparing for their 25th anniversary. Though a date hasn’t been set, they plan to host a show for their fans in November.)
The ultimate throwback band: Steel Panther
I gravitate towards guitar centric songs. When I like the guitarist, I pretty much always end up enjoying the song as well. So among these kinds of artists, Steel Panther, the American glam metal band from the 80s, have always been rather prominent. Gloryhole is my personal favorite track of theirs. Besides, they are still active, and you want experience that Steel Panther goodness in their new work as well.
The tune that inspired his practice sessions: Cobweb, Mercedes Benz
I still remember the 7:30 am show on Image Channel during my school days. I believe it was called Shangri La. That’s where I caught Cobweb. I was a massive fan back then as well and specially remember enjoying Mercedes Benz. Their songs made me want to work harder and practice more. I still like this song. The only difference being now, as a member of the band, I get to perform it. We have a remix version of the original as well.
The pick me up song: Pantera
Pantera’s songs always pack a punch. Some call them the cowboys from hell but their power grooves have all the right kinds of energy. You can’t help but feel pumped up. It’s actually one of the songs that I like to practice as well. The band is regarded as one of the most important metal bands of the 90s and their guitarist is highly respected.
The recent rediscovery: Avenged Sevenfold
This is another American heavy metal band that I had actually discovered a long time ago. But despite knowing about them before as well, it’s only recently that I started paying close attention to their work. I think now I have become an avid fan of their work. The old guns are still active on the scene and their work is what you call new age metal. They have a very diverse sound.
The legend in my book: Dream Theatre
As far as I am concerned, Dream Theatre is an absolute genius. The band’s music is often labeled as progressive metal and they are renowned for their technical proficiency. Initially, I actually didn’t understand a lot of their music but as I started listening to more of their songs, I really started appreciating them. Each band member contributes with his/her own distinct style. There are just so many layers to their songs.