Over 60,000 people watched, mesmerised as Nepal’s most popular band 1974 AD took stage at the Dasarath Stadium in Kathmandu and belted out some of their biggest hits including 'Nepali Ho' and 'Pahilo Junima', songs that made the audience wave the double triangle wildly. Thas was 2000 and the band had just put on the country’s biggest concert.
Sixteen years on, 1974 AD continues to attract the same fervour from Nepalis everywhere despite changing its line-up more than once. The numbers are not just songs, they are anthems. Which explains why the band's booking calendar is already full for this year.
“1974 AD has become a sort of an institution. Even if we were to leave tomorrow, the band and its legacy will carry on,” says drummer Sanjay Shrestha, one of the only three remaining members from the original band.
After delivering hits like ‘Sambodhan’, ‘Parelima’, and ‘Chaubandi Cholo’ the band hit a bump in their journey in 2008 when lead vocalist Phiroj Syangden left. The news didn’t sit well with hardcore fans who voiced their dissatisfaction at their beloved rockstar being replaced by another.
Despite the initial backlash the audience eventually warmed up to Adrian Pradhan taking Syangden’s spot and the band’s album Aath Aathara dominated airwaves.
Last year Adrian Pradhan also left the band, which led to the formation of a brand new 1974 AD. Besides Manoj KC, Nirakar Yakthumba and Sanjay Shrestha, the band now consists of four more members: all young musicians - Prajjwal Mukhiya, Rohit John Chhetri, Jacko Wacko and Pratick Baniya - associated with the Kathmandu Jazz Conservatory.
“I grew up listening to 1974 AD. Never did I think I’d be a part of it,” says new vocalist Prajjwal Mukhiya. The young members are proud to be part of such a legendary band, but also understand that audience expectations will be high.
“There is a lot of pressure, but we all practice a lot and that makes us confident enough to perform on stage,” says Jacko Wacko, who plays the trumpet.
The band is currently working on its new album which will feature wider use of Nepali folk instruments fused with western trombone and trumpet.
For the two decades 1974 AD has been around, the band has never needed to promote itself through music videos. Manoj KC admits that none of the band’s video has a wow factor. In fact, the popularity of its songs - especially till 2006 when radio was still a popular medium - lugged the band to fame.
By playing a mix of rock, funk and classical, 1974 AD made it big in the new century giving people a variety of music to listen to. Its popularity took the band to the international stage, and it still regularly performs overseas in US, UK and Australia.
Today, despite the changes, their efforts are still focused to offer its audience one-of-a-kind music. Said Sanjay Shrestha: “We want to continue to reach out to as many people as possible.”
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Hitting the right notes,Juanita Malagon