Experience Alien Accent
By Ruhanie Perera
"If your typical musical show is just food for the soul, consider this
a lavish banquet...", runs the tag line
to the Alien Accent concert.
The preparations for Alien Accent's show 'Rites of Passage', which will
be on at the Bishop's College Auditorium on March 22,23 and 24, are indeed
like that of a banquet. The trio who make up Alien Accent have been running
around planning, preparing, practising and putting in finishing touches
to this 'gourmet' musical effort purely for your listening pleasure.
Where practising is concerned, they treat it as a relative term - it's
never enough and the whole effort has left them, as DK of Alien Accent
puts it, "stressed to the eyeballs". This is going be to a one-of-a-kind
show, they promise. For them, their greatest moment is to be on stage performing
for their own people, and naturally everything possible has been done to
ensure a "different" kind of show.
Different - that seems to be part of their identity - starting from
the connotations of their name. "Oh that," says leader of the group Suresh
with a laugh, "That happened some time ago when we needed a name and one
that went with our flavour of music. People at the time were also trying
to label our music, which was slightly hard to define."
What was their music all about? English, but it sounded foreign; there
were strains of local folk, yet it sounded alien. Yes, their accent was
very much one that was alien: And voila! Alien Accent was born. The Alien
Accent you will see at the concert comprises and encompasses, if I may
borrow from the advertisement again, 'Suresh, DK and Ricky Bahar - A decade
and a half of inspiration, in an original musical odyssey.
Each one of the trio has a distinct role cut out for them. A very guessable
role is that of Suresh, the sometimes quiet and almost tranquil Suresh
who tends to speak in capsules of poetic thought - he is the songwriter
- in his hands begins the group's musical creation.
Next comes vibrant, always ready with a clever quip, DK who dabbles
with the musical arrangement of the song, experimenting with vocals, harmonies
and everything else those in his line experiment with.
To link it up comes in Ricky Bahar who as the lead singer gives the
breath of life to Alien Accent's music. Between the three of them there
is a lot of common ground, well a lot meaning, 60 to 70 percent. That,
I suppose is as good as it gets, for there is bound to be some difference
of opinion. And that is what makes up the remaining percentage; it is the
zone where they don't see eye-to-eye and individual taste takes precedence.
"Naturally, we've had different musical influences and that is what
shapes our individual tastes," says Suresh. Although this may spell trouble
and many a shouting match in any other instance, but for Alien Accent it
means diversity in their music. "Our difference of opinion, where music
is concerned, is a factor that is to our advantage since we aim to be different
and strive to create totally new sounds. So it really is a plus point that
enriches our music."
In the end, when putting things together, difference of opinion or not
everything comes together. This happens quite possibly because of their
rock solid "sense of identity". Says Suresh: "The end result is up to the
three of us and that takes shape when we work at it together." It's definitely
a formula that works for them because their 'end results' over the years
contained in their album 'Rites of Passage' - which will be released at
the concert - have not just wowed audiences at home but have also impressed
producers, musicians and music lovers in Los Angeles winning them the once
in a lifetime opportunity of recording their album in the States by professional
'Rites of Passage' is an inspired collaboration of East and West, featuring
some of the finest session musicians in LA. The album was directed by Hussain
Jiffrey, a Sri Lankan born musician and was digitally mixed and mastered
The single most important lesson they have learnt from all of their
experiences as musicians is that talent alone is not enough to reach the
pinnacle of any career.
You have to be 100 percent committed, ready to put in a lot of hard
work, maintain high standards of professionalism and discipline. Discipline?
Now that's a funny word to associate with the uninhibited musicians and
their free, no-limits kind of music- but there you have it straight from
the horse's mouth. Although the guys did maintain a standard of discipline
where their work was concerned, the d-word took on greater proportions
after their LA experience. "Even if it's something like showing up late
for a practice, which happens constantly here, you are done for. You show
up late and you don't have the gig. Everyone learns that you can't do the
minimum and just get by. That's something that we've believed in. We continuously
set higher standards for ourselves and work our way up to it."
Their 100 percent commitment stems from the fact that music has been
an important part of their lives. Even in their 'college days' - from stressful
exam times to those days when you've got da blues - music has been a source
of inspiration. "Creating and experimenting with music, although at one
level can be hard, gives us a sense of satisfaction."
Creating original music, they feel, is a challenge with (at present)
not much rewards - except the personal satisfaction they get out of it.
Still they remain passionate about their work. "It's got to do with this
unquenchable urge to create music."
Almost as often as 'create', 'listen' comes into the conversation as
well. Says Suresh, "In music, listening is more important than anything
else. Just as much as it's something you enjoy, it is in fact your inspiration
to create. Everything you create is the sum total of your life experience
of listening. - What did I say, add a tune to that and I'm sure there's
a song in it!"
You want more of that, tickets for their concert are available at the
Bishop's College Auditorium.
Now it's your right
The show: Rites of Passage
The venue: Bishop's College auditorium
The date: March 22, 23 and 24.
The performers: Alien Accent (Suresh, DK and Ricky
Bahar) backed by Aruna Siriwardhana, Kumar De Silva, Shane Berenger, Shobi
Perera, with Thilan Wijesinghe as guest artiste.