October 26, 2018 08:13 AM NPT
By: Rea S Mishra
In 2002, Monkey Temple released their first full-length album Black Bee & the Flower. This album was what helped the band create a buzz and gather a loyal fan base, especially due to the two popular tracks, Sangai Bachauna and Acoustic 11.
If you are into Nepali alternative rock scene, you have definitely come across the band Monkey Temple before. Being one of the first Nepali alternative rock bands, that was formed 20 years ago in 1998 at St Xavier’s School, by lead vocalist Sareen Deoja, 34, and then guitarist Subodh Gurung, Monkey Temple has created a unique identity for themselves in the Nepali rock scene.
In 2002, Monkey Temple released their first full-length album Black Bee & the Flower. This album was what helped the band create a buzz and gather a loyal fan base, especially due to the two popular tracks, Sangai Bachauna and Acoustic 11. These two tracks were rerecorded and reintroduced in Monkey Temple’s third album. “When we recorded the first album, which was a really long time ago, we didn’t have proper resources for serious studio production and so the sound quality along with many other things were not really that good,” says Deoja.
Talking about how the band first started, Deoja reminiscences how it was all about having fun. “We were just a couple of high school kids with hopes and dreams, jamming around on our instruments. Times were much more different, with alternative rock being almost unknown at that time in Nepal,” he says. This is also why he believes Monkey Temple gained a lot of hype and success back in the day, as the genre they played wasn’t mainstream and thus was like a breath of fresh air in the music industry in Nepal.
However, now that the music scene in Nepal is rapidly changing and alternative rock has been taken upon by many Nepalis recently, Monkey Temple is really happy to know that there are other people interested in the same line of music as they are. “The alternative rock scene is getting bigger and we could not be more proud. I think we have created an impact to pursue this type of music as we had managed to penetrate the Nepali crowd back when alternative rock was completely unheard of,” says Deoja.
For a long time after the first album was released, the lineup of the band, besides Deoja, kept changing, with a lot of “members” leaving and joining. “The reason we split as a band after 2002 and only released the second album Shades of Grey ten years later in 2012 was because we all went to the US to pursue our undergraduate studies. So, a lot of things changed during that time, which lead to a lot of reluctance from the original members when it came to reviving the band,” explains Deoja.
This was also the reason why the lineup for the self-titled third album is random, with different people performing on different tracks. However, since 2015, the band members have remained the same with Pratap Risal, 25, on the drums, Jenish Maharjan, 25, on the bass, and Dipesh Shrestha, 26, on the guitar. Being the longest lineup the band has ever had, none of the members plan on leaving any time soon, and are all looking forward to growing and doing their best for the band. “We have been working on the fourth album since 2015, and have already released five songs as singles on YouTube. We are very excited to keep on working on our music and hopefully release the album soon,” says Shrestha.
However, even though all members of the band are extremely talented, four out of the five members have received no training in music whatsoever, and practiced and learnt everything on their own. “I believe that music is something to be played from the heart, whereas these days it is institutionalized. Also a lot of the world’s best musicians that have set a trend were not trained, such as Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Elton John, David Bowie, and Kurt Cobain,” says Deoja adding that when they started out they didn’t have many options to learn music.
Despite the fact that most the members were entirely self-taught, the band has had a lot of nationwide and international success due to their passion and hard work. The band’s music video of their song “Anumati” garnered a lot of success and popularity for the band, as it was the first song/video from Nepal to be featured on MTV South Asia in 2012. Amongst their many accolades also comes their title for Best Rock Composition in the Hits FM 2069 awards, along with numerous nominations for the Kantipur National Music awards. Besides touring Nepal on numerous occasions, Monkey Temple has also toured internationally to places such as United Kingdom, Australia, and India to cater to the Nepalis crowd residing there.
Their next album is scheduled for 2019. Besides working on the tracks, the band has also been releasing multiple music videos and song covers. Six months ago, they were on a Nepal tour and visited multiple cities including Pokhara, Chitwan, Butwal, and Itahari. They are planning another tour within Nepal again soon and say that this time they will be heading to Butwal first.