Heathen Beast Interview
6 years ago, I was writing for Indianrockmp3 and got an email from a band I had never heard of before, Heathen Beast. The band had emailed me about their debut release, ‘Ayodhya Burns’; The bold artwork and themes really surprised me . The band members used pseudonyms, no one knew who they were despite India having a relatively small metal scene.
The band returned last year after a 3 year break with a new EP ‘The Carnage of Godhra’ and their entire discography was released on CD by Transcending Obscurity. Today, the band release ‘Rise of the Saffron Empire’ their most venomous tracks yet. I spoke to the band about the EP, the themes in their music and more.
Kolkata is not a city known for it’s metal bands. How did you get into metal?
The original line up of Heathen Beast was born and brought up in Mumbai. Later some of us were transferred to Kolkata on work. Since then we expanded our band to many parts of India with our main base in Kolkata. So we are quite new to the metal scene here. We all got into metal differently, some of us through friends, some of us through discovery via the internet and some of us via older siblings. It’s a different story for each member of this collective.
What made you decide to start a black metal band? What about the style appeals to you?
The absolute purity of black metal is what drew us to the genre. It is a genre that stands for something, it stands against something and it is never afraid to draw blood. It is the most primal form of metal and the perfect vehicle for us to express our hatred. It’s an ideology, a message and one that provokes thought. Very few other metal genres do that.
How has the response to your previous releases been? Have you faced any threats or complaints?
We are too insignificant for anyone to give a shit about us. So far we have had no threats or complaints. The response for all our music till date has been incredible. The fans have been more supportive than ever.
You went on a 3 year break after your first 2 releases? What was the reason behind it?
We are not full time musicians and life gets in the way and fucks us all. We have to move cities, change a lot of things around so sometimes it takes time to make music. Most musicians these days are all trying to balance life and music so we are doing the same. We are clear that this is 100% passion for us so we will do it at our own pace and we will do it right.
Your new release ‘Rise of the Saffron Empire’ has received accolades from around the world. How does it feel now that the EP has been released?
The feeling is amazing when people get your music and understand it. We don’t want posers listening to our music, we want people who not just like the music but also follow the ideology of the band. So we are happy to hear from most fans that they not only like the music but they relate to the lyrics and the ideology of the band.
The themes behind your music are current social and political issues in India. What is the main reason behind it?
Religion is the reason, God is the reason. Even the political events are driven by these man made creations and it is the most powerful force right now in our country. It is what is destroying what we have. It’s what needs to be spoken about right now. So we could not think of anything else that made more sense to sing about. However they are assholes out there who always go, but what about this and what about that, why are you not singing about this topic or that topic? We want to tell them you bastards if that topic is important to you then you should do something about it. So yeah fuck politics!!! Fuck political cocksuckers!!!
You have incorporated more Indian sounds on your recent releases. How did that happen? Have your taken formal music lessons in Hindustani music or percussion?
We have mentioned before that Heathen Beast is a collective and there are many elements that need to come together to complete this puzzle. So there is always some member who can bring a certain element to the table. Some of us have learnt Hindustani Classical and Carnatic Music while we were growing up. So we have that knowledge and we constantly strive to learn more and soak in as much musical knowledge as we can.
The production on the EP sounds better than your previous releases? Did you do anything different during the recording?
We are a beast that keeps growing and evolving. For us we do not look at production of EPs as better or worse. We only look at what is it that the material needs. How can we create a sound. How can we make the message stand out. For us our production is all about being raw and dirty. It should be abrasive and should be like a sonic assault without sounding like those programmed metalcore and deathcore robots.
All your releases are available for free download. What is the reason behind it? Do you personally like the digital format, which is intangible compared to cds and vinyl?
For us it has nothing to do with the format. It’s about spreading the music and the message. From day one we have said our music is always going to be free. Even when we signed to Transcending Obscurity we told brother Kunal that he can release it however he wants but we will release it for free as well on our pages. We know there are fans who want to own the music and support the bands and we really appreciate that because we can make the next album with lesson tension about money. But in principle we will keep the music free. This has always been the plan.
You have only released EPs so far. Is there a plan to record a full length album in the future?
“We think the age of the album is over now. The attention span of people has fallen and we think the 3 song format is the best way to get our message across.”
“We will always be open to recording an album one day when it makes sense for us. We are also full of surprises so you might just get an album next instead of an EP. You can never tell with Heathen Beast.”
Do you have any final words?
Hailz to all the Heathen Beasts in the world. Let us destroy religion and the concept of god and free the minds of men and find true freedom. Hailz!
‘Stream/Download ‘Rise of the Saffron Empire’ below
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