- A rock musician with a sage soul
A rock musician with a sage soul
16 Dec 2017 03:57am IST
16 Dec 2017 03:57am IST
Roque Lazarus is a man with an entrenched passion for music. Having spent most of his life with music in different capacities, the man is synonymous with rhythm. Café takes a peek into his life
many musicians, music is religion. For Roque Lazarus,
it is his genes. With musician
grandfathers on both sides of his parentage, Roque hit the ground humming, or
so his parents told him.
Growing up on catechism of music, Roque
had barely entered his teens in 1988, when he wielded the electric guitar to
play lead for… well, The Teens. Since then, Roque’s musical journey on the Goa
music-scape has been noteworthy. In 2014, the Goa government awarded him the
Yuva Srujan Puraskar (Youth State Award) for excellence in western music.
It was the late Fr Lourdino Barreto,
former Director of the Department of Western Music at the Kala Academy, Panjim,
who recognised his versatility and encouraged Roque to pursue studies in
various musical instruments.
Today, the rare musical instrument –
theremini – is just one of many he uses to make music. Slash, lead guitarist of
the rock band Guns N Roses may be his idol, yet Roque’s heart beats to the
rhythm of Konkani rock.
His recent single ‘Tuyam, Tuyam, Tuyam,’ a
tribute to his birth place Tuem, and sung in the rustic-rural dialect of Pednem
taluka, is a beautiful vignette of Goan culture, available on YouTube. Roque
Lazarus’s other Konkani collaborations like ‘Hanv Noko’, ‘Mai ge Dhobitalao,’
etc, portray his angst against some of the problems bedevilling the state in
areas such as environmental pollution, mining, etc. This angst is shared by
much of Goa’s youth.
Roque produces searing lead with his electric guitar and many of
the above songs are done in the fast, pulsating style of western rock. Yet
Roque is perfectly at home composing the lyrics of the enchanting and
gloriously soulful ‘Goemkarponn’ song, a hit among Goans worldwide. He also
traipses on classical ground and his compositions have been performed by western
orchestras. The Mahler Chamber Orchestra of Germany has performed his
arrangement of the Konkani ‘O Rosa’ and Ensemble Suavis from the UK performed
The groups he has played with in Goa are legion but a special
place in his heart is reserved for two bands of his own – ‘Surya, Chondrim,
Noketram’ (Konkani for Sun, Moon, Stars) and ‘Kantte ani Fullam’ (Thorns and
Flowers). These two bands perform only for very special events.
Roque fondly recalls his friendship with another Goan music
icon, Remo Fernandes, and his association with Remo’s band, the refurbished
Microwave Papadums. He played with the band for almost five years and is
clearly grateful for all the stagecraft he learnt from Remo.
Films happened accidentally, over 20 of them, in most of which
he plays a musician. In the recent Konkani musical ‘Nachomia Kumpasar’, he is
seen playing the ‘bonkao’ (double bass). ‘Enemy?’ is another recent film he has
acted in and co-written two songs.
In his former years of rock rage, he was the lean-mean musician
with long straggly hair, unruly beard, beads around his neck and such other
paraphernalia. He is still lean, but now wears a close crop and is driven by a
charitable soul that has drawn quite a bit of scorn from friends for his free
music tuitions to youngsters. Roque describes that as his search for “musical
prodigies in Goa”.
He says music comes naturally to Goans. “But we rely too much on
that free gift. The right thing would be to enhance our natural talent with
continuous learning and also live with good values,” says Roque.
He is clearly a man of many facets, and some contradictions.
Despite an outward appearance of a rockstar, Roque is a vegetarian, non-smoker
and teetotaller; only drinking deep from the fount of music – composing and
arranging, singing and performing, playing musician in films,
learning-teaching-recording and giving music recording classes. His current
band is the Ventures from Ucassaim, Bardez, but he takes time out for Kungfu
sweet solace, he goes home to Santa Cruz and his wife, Alba Roncon. The two
were married in 2000 and are blessed with two children – son Axl (16) plays the
guitar, and daughter Axline (11) is learning the piano. On the home front,
Roque “couldn’t be happier.”