Jan 13, 2013

No Music award, but Alobo Naga & The Band wins hearts

Once upon a time in the great land of the warriors, war cries, war songs and warring UGs, there emerged a gawky teenage kid with spiky hair, a Tee-shirt that licked the ground, a 4-kg medallion around his neck and pants that resembled something similar to a parachute.

This teen was performing with a Patkai Christian College outfit called ‘Nice & Ugly’ in a rock music competition in Dimapur one summery night of 2003. You see, the gawky adolescent was good in making some really dirty grunts that made the girls in the audience somewhat weak in the knees. This band with the Shaggy-and-Rap-singing singer won the contest hands down.

Today, Alobo Naga has grown in wisdom and has wisely decided to shed his medallion, bed sheet pants, the dirty grunts and seedy groans of Shaggy and Rap. He has more important responsibilities – like landing songs on TV music charts or showing Indians that Nagas don’t eat snakes for breakfast or go naked but create amazing things like music. Today Alobo Naga leads Alobo Naga & The Band, one of India’s most newspaper-friendly rocks bands since Indus Creed (ex-Rock Machine). 

In 2011, an unknown group called Alobo Naga & The Band found a ticket on the music charts of music channel VH1’s Top-40.  One of the band’s songs called ‘Painted Dreams’ took to heavy airplay (God bless enterprising producers!) and many Facebook likes from Nagas flooded in. The band could barely manage to release their EP. Numerous concert appearances, shows and a slew of Media hype in Nagaland and across India followed although they don’t even have an album (Alobo Naga released a solo alum ‘Road of a Thousand Dreams,’ 2010). But they have come a long way – to the point where they just barely, caressed the life-changing MTV European Music Awards for Best Worldwide Act just a day ago.

After the feverish months’ campaign, the MTV EMA went to someone else. Yet, one thing the music-crazy Naga knows well – AN & TB may have missed out the awards, but they have won many more hearts. 

Hello guys its sad to announce that we could not win the MTV EMA Best worldwide Act but we are very humbled and grateful to each and everyone of you for your love and support, also not forgetting your valuable votes, helping us to reach thus far and letting us win Best Indian Act,” Alobo Naga said on his Facebook profile, October 30, Tuesday.

The Morung Express interacted with Alobo Naga, the singer, earlier and got a first-hand account of his journey as an aspiring singer in school, the recent accolades and the road to a thousand dreams he has. Here are some exclusive, no-holds-barred excerpts: 
Morung Express:  It’s interesting because just a day ago, Nice & Ugly guitarist Bendang was at my place. Alobo Naga & The Band has come a long way, isn't it? What did you hope and expect when you started out?

Alobo Naga: Yes indeed. The way God is working is beyond imagination. He has been good to me till date­­. When I started out, my dream was to go international and make a name out there­­ one of my wildest dreams still date is to hold that Grammy award and give my speech and I tell you...that speech is ready (smiles)! I dream big because I know that I am serving a big God­­. But on the other hand I am not overconfident. My mantra in life is ‘no expectation’ – just work hard give my best and go with the flow. Leave everything to God.­­

Morung Express: At a more practical level do you think you can hold on your own in the international arena? I have an idea what it takes to make it. What makes you believe you can do it, aside from God’s blessing, that is?

Alobo Naga: I believe in myself and I know for sure that if given a chance I can hold it. If they can do it why can't we? And moreover, I will take something Naga in the market. So I guess Dream Theater can't play Naga music­­! (smiles)

Morung Express: Music is about creativity not comparison, your take? What defines you to be different from the other bands around?

Alobo Naga: Well, you are right I can’t play Dream Theater. For your info, even the chorus in the song ‘Painted Dreams’ is a chant from Sumi folk­­. So I guess my strength will lie in Naga touch, in a contemporary style­­. When I sing I sing from my heart. I know there are many people who are better than me but I am honest and true to myself when I sing.­­

Morung Express: I'm glad you reply in that way. ‘Painted Dreams’ is a mile away from your solo album ‘Road of a Thousand Dreams’ (2008). And it certainly wasn't ‘safe’, what made you take the change of direction?

Alobo Naga: Road of a thousand dream was the dream and ‘Painted Dreams’ was one of those thousand dreams­­. May be it’s the market that changed me but on the other hand I will stick true to my genre when I go solo (smiles). But now my focus is with my band­­. But at the end I give credit to God for all the change.­­

Morung Express: ‘Painted Dreams’ was more British Rock than a ‘Naga’ item. Do you mean you wanted a more commercial sound to be viable to the market?

Alobo Naga: Yes, I did study the market and I composed the song and my band members contributed in and that’s how we made It.

Morung Express: Did you always want to be a musician or is music something that just took a passionate turn out of an interest?

Alobo Naga: I think I was into music from the first stage of my life and I was very sure that I wanted it to be my life. I started singing very early; was performing by the age of 8 years, started composing and writing songs by 12. But I always wanted to finish my academics first, so by the grace of God, I studied whatever I wanted to, did my graduation, masters and then management then I came into music.­­ I don’t know what a musician was when I was a kid but I always wanted to be a singer and perform on stage.­­

Morung Express: Interesting. Tell me about your early musical activities, bands, Nice & Ugly etc., the works and how they have nurtured you into the person you are.

Alobo Naga: Since I started very early. I had many bands. When I was in school we called ourselves ‘Flying Machine’ and we toured even some parts of North East, then performed for Doordarshan and played in many churches and small gigs. By the time I was in higher secondary, I was in the band ‘Nice & Ugly,’ we did many shows and even won the first ‘Summer Jam 2003.’ 

When I joined college I was still with Nice & Ugly. After my graduation I went to Delhi for my Masters. Even there I was musically involved with many bands. Apart from the band activities I was always helping the church whenever I was, in Praise & worship. From all those experiences I gained and learned many things which helped me grow as an artist. 

After my Masters I came back home and formed a ministry band called ‘Spark’ and did many shows and ministry. Then in 2010, I released my debut solo album ‘Road of a Thousand Dreams’ and here I am today with ‘Alobo Naga & The Band.’ All this transitions made me grow as a person and as an artist.­­

Morung Express: You have an interesting background to match where you are today. I still remember you doing the Shaggy grunts. :)

Alobo Naga: (Laughs) you have a very good memory. It’s been so long I guess. The last time was in Delhi in 2006.

Morung Express: I see. Alobo, if it is alright with you, could you share about you and your family?

Alobo Naga: Yes, I have wonderful parents who have been supporting me in my music career from day one till today. I am so blessed since I know that many of my friends were discouraged and stopped by their parents because they thought music has no future and killed the dreams of many talented artists. But my parents were totally cool with my music. They used to say ‘If you know God and do anything we are cool.’ I have 2 younger brothers and 1 younger sister. I am the eldest in the family.

Morung Express: Let me rephrase the first question: Are you a celebrity at home or you still have to wash your clothes?

Alobo Naga: (Smiles) Well, we’re so cool at home. I am just another son and a brother to them at home!

Morung Express: One more thing, there are many in Nagaland who dream of the success you are having now. What would you say to them?
Alobo Naga: Bro’, I still feel I have not reached there and fit enough to answer this question, but certainly God has been blessing me a lot. Anyways, my advice to all those who dream like me is ‘just work hard’, believe in yourself and the talent that God blessed you. Just be yourself and work hard and leave the rest to God but do the publicity and networking yourself! 

(The Morung Express, Tuesday, October 30, 2012)

1 comment:

  1. I felt really blessed reading this:) May God continue to shower His blessings upon Alobo Naga & The Band^-^