“Are there many Christian Rock and Metal bands in India?” I ask bass guitarist and sound engineer, Jatin Jitendrakumar at the outset of our chat about his latest album, Arise, Lord!
“There were bands years ago in India that played Christian rock and even metal, but they’re not so active anymore. At least I haven’t heard from many of them lately, so yes, I’m kind of unique at the moment!” He laughs.
Christian contemporary music has always found resistance from the ultra-conservative. I ask Jatin how he feels it will fare here in India.
“I think people will get used to it. We are now in 2021 and no one has tried to revive it for many years. I am sure today it will find its place and I know there are regular listeners of Gospel rock here.”
For all intents and purposes, Christian rock had its birth in the 1960s. Before that all rock music faced severe opposition by traditional Christians, mostly due to the anti-establishment nature of it, the public behaviour of rock stars and allusions to sex, drugs and satanism. As the bridge between rock and pop narrowed, Christian rock bands began forming all over the United States and some also in Canada. It was only in the 1970s, however, that that Christian rock came to the forefront of the mainstream scene with legendary artists like Elvis, Bob Dylan and Arlo Guthrie contributing to its massive exposure. In the early 2000s, unless one was specifically told of it, it was near to impossible to recognise that some mainstream bands like POD and Switchfoot were Christian rock bands. Even the immensely popular band Creed, with its spiritual lyrical content, were widely considered Christian bands, even though they themselves never said it outrightly.
“I’m not too religious, but sometimes I connect with things,” he explains, “I think Psalms are one of those things. The album was basically just me doing my thing. I like the concepts of giving praise, giving thanks and doing good, and I like heavy metal. It was a combination of both.”
Jatin’s background in the industry is as impressive to note. He’s a full-time live sound-engineer with Electrocraft, India’s most prolific live events company. Plus, he steps in as a freelance live mix engineer for popular bands like Euphony, Vistara and Bandit Queens. As a musician, he plays bass guitar for the Metal bands, Elevation Dynamics and Emergency Trigger, the Blues band Bluestack face and independent artists like Deepak Peace and Vinod Bansode. If all this is not enough, he has three solo projects going for himself, Jimmy (acoustic/soft rock), Djunk (His solo bass project) and finally Psalms Revisited (The project we are talking about right now!)
“I’m into gospel music and have always wanted to do something with the genre. I knew I wouldn’t be able to write traditional gospel music, so I found a way to make it my own. Psalms are convenient in that sense, the songs are already written, and there’s little one can do to top that kind of lyrical finesse! So I thought, why not do my own renditions of them?”
And thus things began taking shape over three years. Jatin was already walking around with tunes and melodies in his head much before he’d even imagined this album. I suspect this is why it appeals even to those who aren’t religious. The album in fact stems more from his philosophical interest in Psalms than anything else.
“I read the last Psalm, Psalm 150, and I realised how well the words fit with my ideas and music. I then went back to the beginning, the first psalm, and began composing tunes chronologically. It has taken three years to churn out ten songs despite my packed schedule, but it’s been worthwhile. I plan to continue releasing albums with ten psalms each. My next one is almost ready!”
Jatin is enjoying the tremendous responses he’s getting from those within the community and also those from other faiths. Though he was initially concerned that audiences may view his Psalms Revisited project as being too religious, his doubts have been put to rest today.
“Many people are appreciating Arise, Lord! like they would any other rock album. I’ve even had someone from a different faith write an entire review of the album on Instagram. I like that that’s happened, because I don’t want to stick to one audience. If people enjoy it, even just as a piece of music, I’ll be thrilled.”
LISTEN TO ARISE, LORD!
Listen to it on all platforms: https://psalmsrevisited.hearnow.com/
1. Blessed Is The One - Anna Supriya Daniel, Joshua Rajan
2. The Decree - Jatin Jitendrakumar
3. Deliver - Jatin Jitendrakumar, Anna Supriya Daniel
4. Answer Me - Sanish Nair, Jatin Jitendrakumar
5. In Reverence - Selwyn Jathanna, Nelson Kharat, Jatin Jitendrakumar
6. How Long - Aditya Francis
7. O Most High - Karan Koli (Cajon), Selwyn Jathanna, Nelson Kharat, Jatin Jitendrakumar, Joshua Rajan, Aditya Francis
8. How Majestic Is Your Name - Jatin Jitendrakumar
9. Realm Of The Dead - Jatin Jitendrakumar
10. Forever And Ever - Jatin Jitendrakumar, Nelson Kharat