Originally from Darjeeling, Rusty Nails was one of the first rock bands of the 80’s from that region to have made an impact in the live music scene of Nepal. The band recently released its first official album titled ‘Nepali’. Yuvraj Chhetri (popularly known as Viku), lyricist, composer, guitarist and founding member of the band talks about his career.
How did you start your musical journey?
My father was very passionate about music. He is, in fact, a very good singer himself which is why the love and appreciation for music that he instilled in my brother and me during childhood led to us taking music seriously once we grew up. It was back in 1985, when we were still in school, that we both decided to form a rock band. Rusty Nails was thus formed for the love of music. Passion was our key driving force. There were four members initially - my brother (Hemraj Chhetri - Drums), Sanjeev (currently in Germany), Minketan (currently a CBI officer in India) and me.
Was there a change in lineup?
When we were in college, the lineup changed and we started taking music more seriously. The members at this time were Devendra Rai (guitars) and Naren Singh (bass) besides my brother and me.
Which gigs do you count among your most notable ones?
We toured all over India, right from Chennai to Kharagpur to Delhi and Mumbai. We were mostly playing at IIT (Indian Information Technology) college festivals. One such concert was a part of their ‘Springfest’, a band competition where Hero Honda was the main sponsor. We won the first prize and bagged a cash award of Rs. 15,000 which used to be a huge sum of money back then. We bought some musical instruments, partied and even saved some when we returned home from Calcutta.
Shortly afterwards, we struck a deal with a producer in Mumbai for a record and India tour. They had also signed the popular band Agni. I still remember the huge map in their office where different major locations were marked for the tour. The first concert was scheduled at Chandigarh but there was a riot and the gig was cancelled. The second city of the tour was Delhi. Our performance there was really memorable. After the show, we were sent to a hotel. We later found out that the organizers had decided to leave us there without any monetary support. The bills were huge. We eventually had to give them all of our musical instruments as payment since we did not have enough money.
What happened afterwards?
After that, we returned to Darjeeling and organized unplugged concerts that were literally sold out. Then one of the members decided to leave for Mumbai. I also wanted to go but was not able to do so since my daughter had just been born. In the course of time, I decided to come to Kathmandu. I have been in love with this place ever since!
Is it true that your band has an album in Hindi?
Yes, indeed. It was recorded back in 2004 in Mumbai but was never officially released. One reason was because making music videos in India turned out to be very expensive. We also couldn’t afford to stay in that city for long due to the plight of our record company. Hence, it’s been shelved.
Tell us about the new album.
This is Rusty Nails’ first official album with Nepali lyrics. That’s why it’s titled ‘Nepali’. I decided to write the lyrics myself when I was not satisfied with what the songwriters came up for me. The first words appeared when I was waiting in line at a petrol pump for hours some time ago. I titled it ‘Kathmandu’ as it addresses the mundane lives of people living here and urges them to do something to change it. The influences of the many artists we’ve covered helped us in creating these new songs. !