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In Conversation with Western Express Highway, an Eclectic band from the Woods

Western Express Highway is an all-in-one package of high-energy blues and rock music, with eccentric costumes and thought-provoking conversations about freedom, rebellion, and change. With a shared love for iconic artists and bands from the 60s and 70s such as Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix, Elvis Presley and The Doors, members Joe and Roy started their journey in Mumbai in the year 2017. Tying their paths to drummer RD, they went on to perform sold-out shows in the woods and valleys of Himachal Pradesh and later on in multiple states of India.

Western Express Highway has achieved a great feat in their short time of existence. From playing sold-out shows in Himachal Pradesh to touring multiple states of India and spreading their original music like wildfire, the band has certainly made a name for itself. The band also does self-curated events wherein they provide concept shoots or throw a rock and roll party and entertain fellow travelers.

We had the chance to hear from the band post their glorious win at Roctaves 2022 organized by BITS Pilani where they competed at a country level. The band shares insights on their win and discuss important topics around music. Read more below.

1. You have been playing together since 2017, have your goals for the band changed over the years?

Yes. In 2017, we started the band for the love of playing music. Along the way, the goals altered. Scrounging our own sound in this dynamic universe of rock n roll, blues – was one. Making people lose their shit on the dance floor was another. Finally, bringing an internal uprising in the minds & hearts of people, and to believe that, “a change is gonna come”.

2. What themes and issues do you explore in your music?

To be honest, music has jolted our awareness, which is something we think modern humanity lacks. If we lack awareness, who are we to discuss rights, political issues or questions about personal identity? Today, the human body is free but the soul is imprisoned. We need to go back to the roots from where it all started. Our dreams come from the West, and all of us are victims racing on the Western Express Highway.

3. What makes performing and touring in the woods and valleys of Himachal Pradesh unique and special to you?

The woods helped us to delete everything that the plains stuffed us with.  We went to the jungles to unlearn the blues, to be able to play every note as if we had heard it for the first time in our lives. It was also a test of our entire being, from emotional to the spiritual to the physical. It made us who we are – naked & free.

4. What does freedom of expression mean to you? How would you like to see it around?

You know those boys in groups, who roam around to act like creeps to the girls on the street? They may seem like they are dangerous, and yes they are. It is only because we have taken their freedom of expression away. When they go home to sleep on their beds, all alone, all that they feel is longing. Longing to be touched and feel loved. But the world is not ready to understand, that all of this behaviour comes from longing. And longing is beautiful.

5. What specific influences from 60s and 70s Rock and Roll & Blues musicians have shaped your music?

Muddy Waters, Fleetwood Mac, Janis Joplin, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Rolling Stones.

6. The band also organises self-curated events such as concept shoots, theme-based rock and roll parties and fanatic entertainment. Tell us more about these parties and the fun that goes on.

Stories of the tribes, freedom of the dying souls, rebellion of the suppressed, wild rock n roll on stage, nothing to stop us from saying whatever we wanna say, dancing however we wanna dance, ecstatic and free. There is a wildfire in the woods. The woods inside each one of us. We want to see that. And that’s why we do this.

7. Western Express Highway had a remarkable win at Rocktaves 2022 organized by BITS Pilani. What was the biggest challenge playing at a country level?

Whether it’s on a country level or not, our biggest challenge has always been to ‘make our audience feel what we mean to convey through our music and act.’ This time, to break barriers in front of young students & be outrageously free and wild, we just wanted them to receive it with all the love.

8. What do you dislike the most about the current music scene in India? How would you like that to change?

People are switching towards easily understandable music. And sometimes it goes down to songs with lack of melodies, rhythms and harmonies being played in clubs and bars. Songs produced inorganically in computers. But who are we to say anything? It just inspires us to travel and find people who long for a story.

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