Dehradun has always been a hub for talented artists who have constantly been experimenting with their styles and creating art and music which is both entertaining and aspiring for the generations to follow. Today, we have with us, an amazing 18 year old guitar virtuoso from Dehradun – Abhinav Thapa (better known ‘Alexander’ – his stage name), who has been shredding his fingers on the strings & fusing numerous genres and converting them into Rock and Metal.
Hello Abhinav, A lot of our readers are interested in knowing about an 18 year old with such massive control on the guitar. Tell us about yourself.
I was born in Bangalore but belong to Dehradun. I’ve had the major part of my schooling from Doon International School. I am a solo lead guitarist & YouTuber currently pursuing engineering and taking a year off for the preparation. My friends might describe me as a selectively extroverted, crazy and a hilarious person.
What inspired you to come into music and explore the vastness in the art with your guitar?
I spend a lot of time on the computer, surfing the internet. So just like that one day I came across an unboxing video of a Gibson Les Paul. Now at this point in my life I knew literally nothing about music, so I had no idea what kind of guitar it was, just seemed expensive with all the packaging and boxes. When the guitar was unboxed, I was amazed, call it eye candy if you will, the paintjob, the knobs, the inlays, I had never seen anything like that before.
Now I don’t believe in fate and destiny but what happened next blows my mind to this day I came into school the next day just like any other normal day, barely made it through 2 classes without sleeping. The very next class had my seat changed and now I sat next to a fairly new student Akashdeep. His father was in the Army, so they had just moved here a couple of months ago. I barely noticed him in our class, was always quiet and hardworking, didn’t have many friends.
So I was completing my pending work when I noticed him sketching something in his rough notebook. The moment I saw it, I knew what it exactly was a unbelievable coincidence, I shouted it’s name, “LES PAUL” he was shocked and amazed, and thus I met my best friend who is the reason where I am today.
That’s when I started to listen to Guns N Roses, Metallica, Megadeth and many other legendary rock/heavy metal bands. With time I developed an obsession with lead guitarists, and rockstar culture in general. I used to play guitar hero on my computer holding my keyboard in a position resembling that of Slash, and play solos.
When my parents noticed my growing obsession, they bought me a guitar that Christmas. A semi acoustic counterfeit Hofner, more than enough for a beginner. The first thing I learned was the solo from Green Day-21 Guns. I never ever had looked at a music sheet before, somehow I could read it, and figure out solos by ear, but funny enough still couldn’t hold a barre chord.
My skills progressed by covering songs, but still I didn’t know enough music theory. I joined Rock garage a month later, had my theory classes jammed with Sachin Shahi, Vipul Maiden, Partho Hazarika, and that’s where I developed a major sense of musicality, and understood the role of a lead guitar player in a band. I now practiced 10 hours a day religiously, without any distraction, going up and down the BPMs with my metronome and practice shapes that were from an Instructional DVD by John Petrucci of Dream Theater. This went on every day and the rest is the improvement that’s popping up. 🙂
Tell us more about your family, relationships and their role in your life and music.
I belong to a Gorkha family with a rich history of the Indian Army. Almost every male member of my family has served in the army. The very strict disciplinary lifestyle of our family might be credited for inspiring my practice regime.
As expected, my family does not have enough appreciation for the kind of music I create and perform. Although there are my cousins who really love it but most of the elders are unfazed. I’ve had fallouts with my parents a number of times before they could come to terms with my passion for music and the large amount of time I devoted to my guitar and not my studying.
I think that’s okay because generally Indian society does not have as much appreciation for western music as compared to Classical Indian Music which is not guitar dominant. I’d say they are 70% supportive to what I do but still lay great emphasis on studying more than playing. I used to make deals with my mom, like if I would get good marks, I would get a new piece of gear, and that’s how I got my gear, through performing well in academics, so that I could perform well on the stage. So all the major support I’ve had is either from my friends or from the people I perform in front of.
For an 18 year old, it’s not really easy to hold up on one thing. What are other things than music that attract you?
Other than music I am really nerdy about computers, technology, and hardware. I also love DC Comics, especially The Flash. I love to play Football and Basketball, the latter I suck at. I also do love bodybuilding. Fitness has always been in my lifestyle.
You are definitely doing great! Tell us some of your achievements and moments that you feel proud of.
I have done more than 35 gigs, some of which were away from Dehradun. I was the Sports Captain of my school. I was featured in Amar Ujala and other newspapers in 2013 for my academic success in 10th Grade (9.8 CGPA). I won IZHAR-E-HUNAR 2015 hosted by HOPETOWN GIRLS SCHOOL and participated in MILESTONE 2013-14-15 representing my school, and secured 2nd, 3rd, 3rd positions respectively. I also participated in Songdew’s Great Indian Guitar Solo competition, and got most views and likes on YouTube.
What are your upcoming plans? Where do you see yourself in the upcoming time? What do you want to convey to our readers and your fans?
My father has always taught me to have a solid plan even if things don’t work out with my passion. In the future I want to become a Computer Science engineer, have a well-paying job so that I can buy top of the line guitars, recording equipment, get my YouTube Channel going, and if I become successful, then I would just pursue music professionally. And most important, I want to become the best guitarist this country has ever seen. I have a vision to do musically unprecedented and revolutionary things that captivate people. I’m very confident in my skills, so I’m sure I’ll turn some heads around and in the upcoming time with a bit of luck get recognized globally as a pioneer in my style of playing.
I’d like people who read this article to know, that any vision, any dream is achievable. And to achieve our vision we need to have discipline, patience, respect, we need to break our comfort zone, be genuine, and practice a lot! And most importantly to be passionate about what we do. I have struggled, been in pain, been frustrated to the point of keeping my guitar back in the case, but it’s that drive, that feeling, which each and every one of us has, that makes us go that extra distance.
Thank you so much Abhinav for being a charm. Last Question – Where can our readers connect with you and your music?
My music is available on Soundcloud and Youtube.
People can check the following links to listen to some of my own compositions and covers.
Feel free to connect to my Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/abhinavalexofficial
Check out my latest video Malhaari Meets Metal: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nzRPHM-uuWQ