When I was 19, I was dating the drummer of an experimental metal band from Kolkata. Unfortunately, there were times when he was accused of his “antisocial behaviour” (read drumming). Though, he and his band members rehearsed in a soundproof room, somehow the complaints from the neighbours continued till the group disbanded.
Wonder why am I telling you this? The idea is, drum rehearsals have always been an issue with next-door neighbours. So much so that a lawsuit was filed against the family of a 15-year-old New Jersey drummer (Traetto v. Palazzo, 2014) by his neighbours. Thankfully, the judge ruled that a teenage drummer’s practice sessions in his family’s garage was not a private nuisance. Practice makes you perfect and even if you think you are perfect, you are not; keep practicing. Well, that is one statement drummers live by. Sadly but, practicing can be difficult without a jam pad in India.
Abhinandan Mukherjee, the drummer of a Funk Alternative Rock band Gingerfeet and Desi Rock Act Spunk shared his bittersweet experience. When he was based in Kolkata, his place was a jam den. An elderly Bengali couple in their 70s lived next door who enjoyed their jam sessions to the core. “Good thing, they used to sit on the balcony to listen to our jams and sometimes even request a couple of ACDC and Van Halen hits,” adds Abhinandan.
On the other hand, he also faced some trouble when a few members from a Marwari residence wrote a letter to him. It was addressing him stating that the microphone levels and the ‘band party’ (drum) were way too loud for their comfort. “The funny part was the letter that was written in Hindi never got acknowledged and instead we continued our jams. Now that I am settled in Mumbai, my neighbours in Calcutta often talk to me about our jams and how they miss them. Best part they are all ardent followers of the projects that I am a part of now,” he smirks.
The drummer of Komorebi and MOSKO, Suyash Gabriel had it rather easy when he started drumming at the age of 13. “I’ve always been extremely fortunate to have people around me who didn’t really mind me making a lot of noise (or were just too sweet to tell me to shut it). The neighbours were always encouraging and so were my parents. In fact, my neighbour was hosting a theatre group who needed a place to practice. So they were practicing in his backyard. The director heard me play and decided he wanted to add me to the live music of the act, which was quite lovely and unexpected. I had just turned 15,” he says.
Another prominent drummer from Bombay Bassment and Laxmi Bomb, Levin Mendes got full support from his mother while jamming at home as she knew they wouldn’t have another pad to jam at. However, his troublesome days existed during their rehearsal periods each day, where obviously a few of his neighbours had this huge problem with that loud sound each afternoon.
Mendes narrated from the people from the neighbouring community, watchmen to kids and other neighbours used to barge in to shut down the jam sessions each day. The neighbourhood changed, but the troubles continued. After moving to a friend’s home in Kalina village (Santacruz) back in 2005, during Mumbai floods all of their equipment was drowned. Yet again, they moved to another friend’s terrace. “Every Sunday after mass, we’d blast loud live music from his terrace onto the entire Kalina village. For about two years we were rock stars and our volumes got louder and louder, until one fine day a neighbouring cow shed (tabela) owner called the cops and shut us down, poor cows must be mooing their ass off, it seems,” he added. Eventually, in 2006-2007, when Bajaao (one of the first jam pads in Mumbai during that time) opened its doors to NOC, Levin continued jamming indoors.
Recently joined Hariharan for his live shows, Suvro Ganguly, drummer, was part of two metal bands Crystal and the Witches and Infected back in Kolkata. According to him, it is difficult for the one who is living in an apartment with their parents who aren’t supportive. In fact, once, cops came over to his place and threatened to arrest him after a neighbour called them assuming there was shooting. “The worst was when a herd of people came to my place and broke my drums while my grandmother was around and I wasn’t there,” he utters. One of his neighbours with a heart condition believed that there was a bomb blast every time he hit the bass and the cymbals together, Suyro recalls.
So, what is the solution? Except some drum quietening pads or soundproof arrangement, maybe, as long as a drummer is not playing it super early or late in the night, I don’t really think it’s something anyone can complain about!