A candid chat with Bengali Rock band Fossils on the occasion of their 24th anniversary.

Fossils has secured its position as one of the most successful Bengali rock bands of all time by channelising basic human emotions such as anger and frustration.
From Left: Deep Ghosh, Allan Temjen Ao, Tanmoy Das, Prasenjit Pom Chakrabutty. Front: Rupam Islam
From Left: Deep Ghosh, Allan Temjen Ao, Tanmoy Das, Prasenjit Pom Chakrabutty. Front: Rupam Islam

It would not be difficult for an average Bengali who grew up during the late ’90s and early 2000s, to recall the flourishing age of the Bengali rock and pop scene ruled by emerging new-age bands. And Fossils, formed by Rupam Islam in 1998, was surely the front runner, leading the pack with its blended renditions of blues, rock, and psychedelia. 

The band pioneered the new soundscape in Bangla rock with its melodious aggression and soaring power ballads, taking a cue from Bangladeshi rockstar Ayub Bachhu. A score and half years later, the five-member arrangement still remains one of the most successful Bangla hard rock bands of all times with classic numbers such as Bicycle Chor, Hasnuhana, Bishakto Manush, and Aro Ekbar.

We caught up with Allan Temjen Ao, guitarist and music producer of Fossils on the occasion of their 24th anniversary.


What led to a sort of mini rock revolution in the Bengali soundscape towards the late ’90s?

During the last half of the nineties, there was a section of college students who listened to Rock music from the West but aspired to do something in their own language, much like the Bangladeshi scene which was already established and thriving then. This led to a sudden boom of Bengali bands in the city. Initially, we had minimal expectations of recognition from mainstream audiences and musicians.

Fossils diverged from mainstream Bengali music to create something new. What was the response?

The band faced hurdles in terms of acceptance initially as the audiences were not too accustomed to loud music accompanied by physical aggression and grunge. Fossils remained unapologetic in their ways of expression and did not expect validation from the mainstream audience. We decided upon the name with the idea that our music would never be accepted and would remain buried deep somewhere until it is discovered years down the line, just like lithic fossils are. 

Rupam Islam
Rupam Islam

What would you term as the turning point for Fossils?

Radio and television in the early half of the millennium propagated Fossils across households. Our first album, Fossils 1 released in 2002, and for a year and a half after that, the situation was stagnant. It wasn’t until Aamar FM and Sangeet Bangla came into existence that Fossils began gaining momentum. Our original Ekla Ghor from the album became popular and there was a sudden rise in the number of performances we were being invited for. This was a turning point for us as you know you are making the mark when people want to see you live.

Twenty-four years later, what is your survival mantra?

It is easy being an underdog as people have the least amount of expectations from you. However, the real challenge begins when you start getting accepted with every progressive year and album. We owe our survival to continuously evolving with the times, writing and producing quality music, and ensuring our live shows are consistently high in production and performance standards.

Is Bangla rock as active as it was?

Despite having numerous talented musicians, Bangla rock has yet again gone underground. Audiences are more interested in watching music rather than listening to it. A chunk of the audience is unaware of our more recent work, as they no longer keep track. This is happening due to the variety of content instantly available over the internet. It wouldn’t come as a surprise if our albums get buried in that pile of options. So, we keep promoting our work at our shows and on social media to keep the audiences in the loop.

People need to step out of their comfort zone to experience yet another revolution in Bengali music.

Fossils Concert
Fossils Concert

Have you considered exploiting digital space?

While the pandemic pushed many indie bands towards the digital space, Fossils consciously kept away from performing digital concerts. We have been working on a few songs amidst the challenges of pandemic. We have recorded a Hindi song with intention of reaching out to a broader audience and are looking for the right platform or collaborator to release it. We hope to begin rehearsing again as soon as the situation normalises.

Fossils Jhor 2 concert date to be announced soon.

Picture Credits: Prasanta Kumar Sur

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