Interviews

In Conversation with Prateek Rajagopal | The Life of a Touring Musician

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Whilst there are many musicians in the country who are touring around making their voices heard, there’s not many that are juggling tours inside and outside the country. Touring itself for most Independent Indian Bands seems like a dream, but there are definitely some bands and musicians that are a testament to the fact that Touring is not something to shy away from, but rather something to take on full force. Prateek Rajagopal is one such musician.

The Bombay based Metal Guitar Player is famously known for his work in Gutslit and The Minerva Conduct. With various tours and albums under his belt, we decided to talk to him to get a business/personal insider look into a touring band and especially, an Indian Touring Band. This is what he had to say:

1. At a time when touring is something bands are pushing for more and more, what are some things they should look over before they even think of organizing a tour?

The first thing is accepting where your band stands. If you’re a fairly big band and know that you have a decent/growing fan base abroad or home, you go the normal route of investing consistently, but consecutively reducing costs with every tour and eventually hoping to break even. If your band has no fanbase abroad, you’ll have to accept that you might have an overall input of 99% and a 1% output on your first tour. But if you’re determined enough and you keep releasing more (great) music consistently, investing in PR and touring for about 5 years straight; things will definitely pick up. Thus, a combo of good music, determination, consistent releases, international PR, constant investments for at least 5-6 years straight is necessary to break out or get decent exposure.

2. You’ve been around touring for a while now – You just finished up a tour with Gutslit around Europe. How was that experience?

It was fantastic, definitely a push upwards! We toured right in time when our album ‘Amputheatre’ came out so we played a lot of new songs and took a lot of Merchandise there, which we managed to sell out (almost) and that was incredible. We got to played some fantastic Festivals like ‘Meh Suff’ and ‘Deathfeast’, and made some great friends and new fans!

3. What are the biggest misconceptions bands and artists have about touring in general?

That things might change with one or two tours. Unless you’re lucky enough to grab the right attention within the first two-three tours, you need to keep pushing for a long time. It’s a mind f****g business but if you’re determined, it’s worth investing in and only then does it make sense to keep pushing for more. Otherwise you gotta re-evaluate what you’re doing wrong etc.

4. How would you compare touring in India to touring abroad?

We just wrapped up a 4-city tiny tour with Benighted (France), and the biggest problem here is the lack of support in general. If people don’t come out to shows or buy band merchandise, organizers will stop having gigs because majority of the metal gigs are in heavy, heavy losses. You don’t have a touring system here where you can hop onto a bus and go to another city in time to play. Flights are the only option and they’re definitely not cheap. In my opinion, the main issue (with metal) is how there aren’t many ‘fans’ anymore, and we’ve experienced that from not just sales (Abroad VS India) but also response in shows.

5. What is your go-to meal/drink whilst you’re out?

I’m vegetarian, but surprisingly vegan food is much much better than veggie food there. There’s this outburst of a vegan culture in Europe and I’m loving it! Out of the many shows we played, at least 3-4 were vegan-only shows (catering). At the top of my head, my favorite food this time was quinoa rice with red sauce & veggies/beans and this maddening falafel – it was so good that the Non-Veg members of the band promised they’d go vegan if given food like that everyday. 😛

6. Tell us your favorite tour experience.

Everyday was a brand new experience, so it’s really hard to pin point what was the best thing – but I specifically loved this punk show in Neubrandenburg, Germany in the middle of a forest. The venue, vibe, people, dressing, food, everything was punk as f**k! And of course, people lost their shit in that gig.

7. Lastly, what would you like to see happen in India that would support and help bands tour more?

Just more genuine fans. Without fans to pay for gigs and merchandise, bands and gigs will be non existent!

It is safe to say from Prateek’s experience that touring is an amalgamation of all the things a band should be working on every step of the way. From solid music to releases, to going out of your comfort zone and being constantly at it till you see results. It doesn’t seem like this huge monster that people hardly know about, but it something you definitely need to put in a lot of time and investment. If you liked this article, check out Prateek’s further projects here:

 

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