20 Jun 2017
8 min read
Prabin Maharjan does all the little things that are needed to keep fragments, a metal band, on course for their big payday
The last time he’d been as excited about finding a vocation for himself had been nine years ago. He’d always been interested in coding, and so in 2007, after he was done with his plus 2, he enrolled at Khwopa Engineering College, Bhaktapur, as a Computer Engineering student. But right from his very first year, he found himself nodding off during most classes. The coding classes were all right, but he just couldn’t bring himself to stay focused during the Chemistry, Physics and Electrical Engineering classes.
He’d become so uninterested in his studies by his second year that he started thinking about dabbling in photography instead. When it came time to pay his fees, he would present an inflated school bill to his family. And he would then pocket the difference from the sum he’d be given, after paying the requisite fees. From such ‘savings’ he had soon piled up enough to buy himself a DSLR. He started honing his photography skills by picking up tips from camera manuals and internet forums. He turned in a few photos to magazines and thought about becoming a freelancer. When he was in his fourth year, he decided he’d had enough of engineering and quit school, to the consternation of his family members. To this day, some of them nettle him about his dropping out.
He survived those difficult days by focusing on his photography until he’d become good enough to work as a freelance photographer and content writer for various publications in Kathmandu. Today, he still gets by on what he earns from his freelance work, but it’s his work as the manager of Fragments that he is most passionate about.
The work that a band manager does, says Maharjan, is difficult to exactly delineate. It calls for a little bit of everything. He handles Fragments’ social media platforms, through which he reaches out to the band’s fans. Oftentimes, he has to play the role of the big brother and make sure the band members don’t let up during practice. He’s the one to provide instant feedback during the band’s jams in their practice space. Recently, he tasked himself with producing band merchandise—stickers, t-shirts and badges—which Maharjan says helps increase the band’s visibility. And if the band has to perform a gig, he’s the one who will meet with the show’s organisers to work out a good deal for the lads. Maharjan is adamant that the band get paid for every gig they perform—they don’t get paid much now, such are the market fundamentals—but for him it’s all about running things professionally.
Maharjan needs to maintain this professional outlook because he sees a pretty good future for the band. The band is very respected in Nepal’s metal circles because they play exceedingly tight, driving, relentless progressive numbers. Indeed, they won the Kathmandu College of Management’s Inter College Music Competition in 2014. But he wants them to dream bigger—to think about broadening their reach beyond Kathmandu Valley. Beyond Nepal too.
Maharjan knows all about how so many local metal bands usually peter out after showing initial promise. How most metal musicians give up music because they don’t see a future. He wants Fragments to chart a different course. He wants them to produce the slickest of demos, which he can then pitch to record labels abroad. He wants them to put their music above everything else, and he wants the band to keep believing that they can find recognition in the extremely competitive global metal scene.
Maharjan doesn’t get paid much for what he does. It doesn’t amount to much, especially compared to what he might have made as an engineer. But being an engineer would have meant working a job he didn’t have his heart in—structured and safe though the vocation might have been. Today, he’s mostly running on faith, working a job that many would not want to make a career of. And dreaming, both for himself—and almost as it were, on behalf of his band—that they will make it big.