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Friends Of Linger: Lingering On Meaningful Issues

features Jul 28, 07:45pm

Conceived of as a concept band, featuring both amateur and professional musicians, Friends of Linger is a group that seamlessly fuses their bluesy jazz music with a no nonsense lyrical approach that is simple yet impactful. 

“It started with 'Friends of Linga', which generally conveys the idea of a phallus,” Sharif D Rangnekar says; writer and vocalist of Friends of Linger, a band which is lately sending off ripples with the release of their song ‘Head Held High’, dealing with the issue of discrimination against homosexuals in India. The story behind the naming of this unconventional band, operating in an already niche space, is something which immediately evoked my interest. The end result of the interview exercise - which turned out to be quite different from the image I had in mind - was a change in my outlook as to how to pen down this article, subsequently triggering me to treat it as a full-fledged story rather than a simple fact based news piece. After engaging themselves with several etymological pursuits, the band finalized on the name - which as the writer points out - can have many meanings. “We thought, lets turn this around a bit and stick with ‘Friends of Linger’, having a gender inclusivity dimension also. Some of us work as PR professionals, leading us to experiment with the names,” Sharif says, when asked that usual naming of the band question.

A group of amateur and professional musicians dedicated to making music with openhearted writing, dealing with social issues: that’s Friends of Linger for you in the simplest of descriptions.
 


 

There are two prime reasons which lead me to place this band in that category of ‘more unconventional’ in the already unconventional space of bands (though the underground music scene in the country is gaining more acceptance, we have to gulp down the fact that pursuing the profession of playing in a band is met with considerable surprise on the whole).

Firstly, the band has been conceived from the beginning as a concept/experimental project where collaboration and inclusiveness would be the key drivers. Already featuring an extensive line up of amateur and professional musicians, the band has easily flouted the unwritten norms of the general band culture in the country; with Rangnekar pointing out, “We’ve had that fluidity in terms of collaborating with musicians. It all started with us karaoking at several places, which gave us the idea of performing as a band. It wasn’t much about creating tracks but emphasizing more on performing live”.

The next important aspect that functions as a differentiating element for the band is its nuanced emphasis on the lyrical aspect of composing a song. In an era when a number of musicians are moving away from appreciating the power of the written word, the band’s outlook certainly suggests that they are not here to follow this approach. Bringing up the likes of Bob Dylan repeatedly during the conversation Sharif says, “A lot of things that we are writing about are related to societal issues. Obviously we are not averse to the idea of writing about something else, but one can certainly expect more songs which have a social quotient.” Not getting into using any complex literary jargons, the band has kept the lyrics simple and raw, making it easily comprehensible, and thus, all the more impactful for all kinds of audiences. This has been blended seamlessly with music that has elements of blues, jazz, and rock radiating throughout. With the band emphasizing on the uniqueness of the song in contemporary India, this seems to be one of the very few examples of contemporary music creations in the country, which has so brazenly dealt with the issue of discrimination against homosexuals in India. And it is this brazenness, which would eventually go a long way in rectifying the mindsets of people against homosexuality.

When asked about how the entire song came about and the thought process behind it, Sharif says, “The song came to me suddenly, and I don’t know how exactly it happened. Some lines just came about accidentally, and from there it just flew.” Seeing the whole song as a journey, the writer adheres to the view that to lead a normal and productive life, one has to stand up for something or the other. Moreover as regards the impact, which the band hopes to see with their contribution towards a meaningful social issue; Rangnekar remarks, “If music catches on, people start singing the lines. This would eventually touch their consciousness. Our idea is to reach some people and this consciousness in every way possible.” Surely with the recent success and popularity they are basking in, we can expect to see some positive impact through their contribution, even if it is in the most indirect of ways. 

Along with the live shows, the band also plans to start working on their next track in the foreseeable future, which is supposed to pack in elements of country folk. At the same time, the nice idea of an album is also starting to permeate the band members’ minds. Who knows, 2015 will see various new tracks spewing from the band’s stable.

With a promising future in sight, the band certainly seems to be on the right track. And the best part here is that they are achieving all this with the assistance of a strong message, conveyed with a hope that some betterment in society comes about. 

Watch the video of 'Head Held High' by Friends of Linger below:

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