When the “Catch 22” was formed in 1996 in Kathmandu, it was a unique outfit of talented musicians who could, even back then, actually play their respective instruments, rather than only posing with them. They were able to justify their recordings with equally accomplished live performances. With Prallen Pradhan on drums and vocals, popular Indian musician Chris Masand on keyboards, Raja Rubin Sinha on guitars, and Niraj “Priest” on bass, the rock-inspired band with incorporated elements of blues and jazz took off.
In 1997, the band released its debut album “A Raat Ko Charaa” which sold hand-to-hand in colleges and friend circles. The album did well considering the market it catered to, but it’s the band’s later singles like “Kathmandu” (1998) and “Ojhel” (2001) that would give the outfit wider popularity. The music videos of these songs were made in early days of commercial Nepali music and paved a way for the mainstreaming of rock music.
With a changed lineup, in 2007 the band released its second album “Plan B”, giving us the rock riff-based hit “Yatri.” The band, unfortunately, was forced into another hiatus after that.
“You can take the boys out of music but you can never take music out of the boys,” says Prallen Pradhan, the vocalist. “The hiatus was painful as some members could not see the same big picture we had in our minds. And the people who didn’t leave the sinking ship eventually formed the current lineup.” Sun Dangol (guitars) was already a close associate of the band since 2004. Sanam Shrestha (drums) was a big catalyst in getting the band back together and new additions followed in the form of Sonam Bhutia (bass) and Amit Khadgi (rhythm and second lead guitar) to form the current Catch 22 lineup.
The comeback owes to Prallen’s expressive self and the determination not to let the band’s legacy fade. “Ojhel,” “Kathmandu” and “Yatri” are still popular among the current generation of music lovers and Catch 22 had to give continuity to their music. “People can still relate to our songs with their own experiences. Guess we can’t put a time stamp on longevity,” says Prallen about the band’s music. “Yatri is quintessentially a song about having a free spirit and not being bound to anyone’s love or validation. Ojhel is also still highly relatable and many youngsters do its covers.
A change in lineup which includes experienced musicians in their early 30s and 40s means a change in the band’s sound too. The band will continue with its old Catch 22 rock vibe and also experiment with ballads, jazz rock and fusion music.
How challenging will it be for a band of yesteryears to join the music industry now dominated by youngsters? “Well it’s not going to be a challenge to us because we see this as a journey and not a competition,” Prallen says. “The challenge lies within us as we have to find the right inspiration and write the right songs.”
Catch 22 is managed by the Live & Loud Pvt Ltd. The band plays its comeback show at Lord of the Drinks, Thamel on March 21.