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The Local Train on their latest album Vaaqif

With their second album Vaaqif out for nearly two weeks, the Hindi rock band the Local Train is currently basking in the praise it has been receiving. “It’s great to receive so much love from our fans,” says Raman Negi, the band’s frontman and guitarist. “It’s crossed all our expectations,” adds Ramit Mehra, the bassist.

Negi and Mehra used to jam in 2008 and after liking the music they produced, they went on to form a band. They met Sahil Sarin later that year.  Paras Thakur, the lead guitarist, joined the group in 2011, and the quartet was complete.

Working on Vaaqif

Vaaqif comes three years after their acclaimed debut album Aalas Ka Pedh which was released in 2015. “We started working on the album on September 1, 2016, and it was completed exactly on August 30, 2017,” said Mehra. Initially slated for an October 2017 release, the band decided to find producers to mix their songs and further polish the album. They got in touch with Eric Talaba, a music producer from the US, and Hoobastank drummer Chris Hesse. They resonated with the band’s thinking and created the final mix for them.

The Local Train live
The Local Train live[/media-credit] The Local Train at the Timeout 72 music festival, Goa Anand M

The first song to be written and composed for the album was ‘Khudi’, followed by ‘Aakhri Salaam’. “’Aakhri Salaam’ set the mood for the entire album,” says Mehra. “There was a period of three to four months in 2017 where we were completely locked in.”

‘Aaftab’ was the quickest song to be composed. “Paras was playing this riff, and we jammed on it a couple of times. The lyrics were written in two days, and then we wrapped up,” says Negi.

The band recorded the album at their place in Delhi and released it on Apple Music. “We don’t have CD players ourselves, so it doesn’t make sense to release DVDs,” said Negi. The band, however, plans to release a collector’s edition vinyl soon.

The album artwork was created by an artist from the Philippines. Thakur had bought a poster online, and the band was so mesmerised with the artwork that they contacted the website listed on it to get the artist’s details. “We communicated the message of the album to him, and he made this for us. We’re in love with it,” says Negi.

But why did they name the album Vaaqif? “Vaaqif means to be aware and to be alive. The entire album is an underlying narration of the whole world that we live in. We’re just telling our own stories, what we see through our eyes,” quips Negi.

“From a personal point too, we all grew up with this album. This journey of finishing it made us realise what are our shortcomings, what we like, and how we want things to be,” adds Sarin.

Then and now

The band, which lists pop-rock artists like Lucky Ali as their inspiration, has been touring continuously since 2014. “We feel, for an Indian independent band, it’s vital to be on the road”, says Negi. “Nobody’s on the radio; nobody’s on TV. There’s no push that we get.”

When the band started out, MySpace was at its peak and they uploaded their music under their current moniker. “We uploaded a couple of songs for free on MySpace to see if we’re any good or not. They got popular in colleges and from there onwards, we stuck with the name.”

The Local Train Live
“We feel, for an Indian independent band, it’s vital to be on the road” – Raman Negi, The Local Train

They are used to fans singing their songs and were surprised to find out people singing to songs from Vaaqif before they released it. “I guess someone bootlegged some copies. It’s a great feeling to hear to crowd sing along, nevertheless,” says Negi.

For now, the band plans to play at as many festivals and venues as they can. “We don’t know any other way of life, to be honest. To make and play our music is all we live for,” says Negi.

Listen to the Local Train’s Vaaqif