Sep 4, 2010

OFF & Eximious: Two Nagaland rock bands far from “Local”

There currently are two rock bands in Nagaland you have read about in some dingy Page-11 inset every edition of Nagaland’s National Hornbill Rock Beat Contest. But, you’ve never really got a shot at weaving your ears around their yet-unreleased stuff – which sadly, our inimitable, complex and shitty Naga political mess (yep, mess) has suppressed for so long.

Two of Nagaland’s biggest Hornbill festival stars crunch rockers Original Fire Factor (OFF) and “new-age” progressive rock group Eximious.

The one reason I make this claim (and I am 100% right, no offense) is that even music reviewers more irascible and ill-humored than Yours Truly have a thing and two alright things to say about OFF and Eximious’ yet-to-be-albumized stash. Their biggest deal? Their music is one with totally no “local nishena” vibe so characteristic of most Naga stuff.

Original Fire Factor (OFF) 

I know the OFF guys for long and basically they are protest rock – a la Rock Against The Machine. But of course, RATM are the original angry rabble-rousers (not that OFF are anywhere near Zack De La Rocha’s horde to qualify for comparisons). I have seen OFF perform their non-Hornbill stuff and all I can say is, I’ll 100% so totally buy it if the four ever get to release their originals. In the several proper shows OFF has performed, I have come to have bearings on their songs. OFF is an angry lot – just like their fathers RATM – but a contemporary, somewhat diplomatic version of protest actually.

And surprise, surprise, the traditional funk crunch is not so much from the guitars as Tom Morello would like from OFF – I strongly feel OFF’s drum arrangements are not just an important component of their sound – it is a huge chunk of OFF’s sound, in fact; as much for the guitars. OFF usually play patterns similar to the erratic, off-beat tempos reminiscent of art progressive metal (a la Sieges Even or Unexpect). If you took away the drums, you’d hear only slabs of fancy funk. But club it with the drums and you have that heavy, funky, crunchy rhythm so characteristic of you-know-what protest rock music.

OFF, I believe, ranks easily among four of the most noticeably arty and progressive rock bands Nagaland has thrown up in the recent years – alongside Christian rock group Divine Connection, Eximious and Diatribe. With their technical sophistication, aesthetic curiosity and fine tonal arrangements, I can remember no other band who can match OFF’s musical clout.

OFF is Lui Tzudir for the vocal duties, Temjen (guitars), Akum (bass guitars) and Meren (drums).


Like OFF, another well-known name from the Nagaland rock circuit is Eximious – a progressive rock outfit. Fronted by Talinungsang, Eximious is a favorite topic amongst my peers. We love talking about when this band’s actually coming out with a proper set. Frankly, there isn’t even a miserly bit of market for progressive rock genres (unless you happen to be a Dzukou Valley-singing “Nagamese” singer) and Eximious wouldn’t do much commercially. But I trust the kind of music Eximious makes – they are a testimony to the very definition of the genre they are in, progressive rock – intelligent, progressive and skillfully eclectic.

I have heard a number of their originals and they are international stuff. Although the songs were in demo, and can be forgiven of the production quality, you can feel the very nature of their music is not something you normally come across in Nagaland.

I talked to Tali just before Eximious was to perform for a Eric Dover, John Corabi, Troy Patrick Farrell Muddy Stardust show in Dimapur in 2009 winter. Here is an excerpt of the news interview that was published in The Morung Express:

“We will be playing only our won songs; originals” he said. Queried on the direction Eximious has taken, he said the nature of music Eximious plays is “whatever comes to our mind.” In short as music gurus would tell you “whatever comes to our mind” usually mean Progressive rock. “New-age progressive rock” he explained. And the weirdly cool name ‘Eximious’? He explained that the name has Greek roots to mean ‘Choice, or selected, or and for excellence.’ The band started in 2006 and in 2008 during the Hornbill National Beat Contest they stood third. “We are very excited,” Tali informs about the prospect of playing for the Los Angeles’ rock stars.

The band is Tali (voice), Anga (guitars), Lezo (bass guitars) and Kenny (drums).

I shall be keeping you update.

(Photo Credit: Rattle & Hum Society Media Handout)