Trendcrusher

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Bantering Ram (Unscene)

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In the past decade of blogging, I’ve mainly interviewed bands and recently also records label owners. Starting this week, I will be featuring the individuals that work behind the scene to make shows happen, the organizers.

Earlier this year, a new series of gigs called Unscene was launched in Bangalore. Each month founders, Abhijit Rao (Escher’s Knot) and Bantering Ram program a killer lineup of artists, which makes me wish I lived in Bangalore instead.

I wanted to know about Unscene spoke to Ram about the origins, memorable moments so far and their plans for the future.

Hi Ram, you’ve just wrapped up the 6th edition of the Unscene series of concerts. How does it feel looking back?

Reasonably satisfying that we’ve managed to keep it going and that we’ve brought in a number of bands that have been ear-openers for our audience. Bu it’s never enough, man. We could always do better.

For those not familiar with Unscene, do tell us about its origins and also the motivation behind starting the series of shows?

Back when I used to be a frequenter of Bengaluru gig venue, CounterCulture (no longer operational now) a few years back, I used to talk to Abijith Rao (musician/sound engineer/biker and very good friend now) who was part of that setup then about reviving metal music gigs in the city, which had gone into sharp decline. I’m not even a metalhead but I thought it was an unfortunate state of affairs and in an extreme way epitomised the difficulties in the independent music space in India. The more I saw gigs, the more I realized that it was a problem for even non-metal bands. Lots of good bands but not seen and heard enough. However, it remained a thought and a few well-meant conversations for some time. After the Progworks On Wheels tour in 2016, though, I thought I was sufficiently prepared to actually do something about it. I broached the topic with Nikhil Barua of The Humming Tree, Bengaluru who was very open to it. After talking to Abijith, we then pitched it as a rather ambitious monthly series of back-to-back to Metal and non-Metal music nights. Nikhil loved the idea of expanding the space for genres and bands and backed us to the hilt on this.

The name, Unscene, is hardly original; it’s a fairly obvious and in my opinion, a mildly pompous, play on what is called the ‘scene’ and going away from ‘scene’ things as also on the unseen or rather, less seen, nature of the musicians. However, I will stress that this is NOT a platform for newbies nor an open-mic gig. The bands that have played and will continue to play are formed of solid musicians. e.g the Anand Bhaskar Collective has been around and done well before playing on the first edition of Unscene. But it was the first time the band played in Bengaluru despite having tried to get a gig here for a long time.

This is not a living for me but it gives life to some of the things I want to do. I do it because I want to. It’s as simple and perhaps, as selfish as that.

Unscene is over 2 days, one metal and the other alternative. What was the reason behind splitting the bands and audience over 2 days?

The second day is not just Alternative. Let’s say, it’s non-metal. Part of the answer is in my response to the previous question. As much as it appeals to my subversive mind to have an ambient, jazz/R&B/electronica-influenced band like Signal W smack in the middle of the Doom/Death Metal of a Primitiv and the Prog outpouring of a Pineapple Express, it might just get a little too much for an audience to deal with. The 2-day format allows us to have more bands play in an edition and widens our audience.

How do you select the bands that will perform at shows?

That’s quite simple. It’s not just about how about good they are – that’s always such a relative measure and we don’t claim to being final arbiters of what constitutes ‘good’ music – we have to like their music. No point in doing something that lacks personal conviction. Then it’s a question of fitting in with what we’re programming on an edition while also keeping cost in mind. And yes, if we get to know that a band is a bunch of jerks to deal with, they can be insanely talented but I can’t have them on Unscene.

What have been the memorable moments so far? Any funny incidents?

It’s only in the 6th Edition and a bit of the 5th Edition that I’ve been able to spend a fair deal of time watching and listening to my bands since I usually am at the gate (that’s changed now thanks to the venue). I just feel very gratified when a number of people come over thrilled and happy with us for bringing over many of these bands that have impressed them. It has happened very frequently and that makes it worthwhile.

Related to that bit about my hardly getting to see these bands, in response to Siddharth Nair’s (of the Prog Metal band, Tangents) query on what I thought of his band’s performance, I let it slip that “Can’t say much because I usually come for about 5 minutes”. That didn’t come out quite right and so now “coming in 5” has become a standing joke. And I don’t think it’s going to go away quickly. 

I really like the artwork for the posters for each edition. You also give away some pretty cool stickers at the shows. Tell us about the inspiration behind this.

The artwork is all Denver Fernandes. He gets what we’re trying to do and I let him do his thing. I think some of his best work (and this is just my opinion) is seen on what he does for Unscene.

When Abijith and I were sitting about throwing out possible names for this gig series (I had pretty much made up my mind on Unscene but we still wanted to see if we could come up with anything different), we came up with a few ‘scene’ phrases that one gets to hear all the time; things that we cringe at, that we feel epitomize much of what’s wrong here. Since then, I keep coming up with these and note them down. We wanted to give something away to folk that would come for these gigs. Stickers seemed like a good idea. So now I say often in half-jest that I organize these gigs just so I get to put these stickers out.

What is next for Unscene? What are your plans for the coming months?

Next? I continue doing these gigs. Although there’s been talk of taking it to other cities, it makes no sense to me. I’d rather focus on getting this in better shape, get more people to come for these shows, make it financially viable, increase the geographic spread of bands that Unscene brings in.

Thanks for answering all my questions. Do you have anything else to add?

It’s been my pleasure. I have plenty more to add – not for nothing is that Bantering Ram moniker. But I’d rather end with a cautionary note. It’s easy to get caught up in the hype and hoopla but the independent music space in India is not in great shape. For it to change for the better, everyone – organizers/promoters, venues, bands and audiences – has to mature. A lot. I’d love for us to not have to make those snarky stickers. And for the name, Unscene, to be done away with for valid reason.

Bonus question. What are 5 Indian independent bands that the read should check out?

There are quite a few – 5 is too small a number. But still, without meaning any disrespect to the bunch not listed here and in no particular order, here are 5 that you could do well to check out.

– Dossers Urge

– The Minerva Conduct

– The Circus

– Kaihon

– The Uncertainty Principle

The album that I’m really looking forward to this year is the new one from Blushing Satellite. I’ve heard it at different stages of its production and it is such a beautiful piece of work! Yup, I couldn’t resist sneaking that 6th one in.

Check out music from all 6 bands below

 

Written by trendcrusher

June 24, 2017 at 3:03 pm

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Interview: India’s Thrash Metal Powerhouse Kryptos

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Nine Circles

kryptos

With just over 2 months to go for the end of the year, there’s been another killer release from the Indian metal scene; Burn up the night by heavy metal band Kryptos. The band are one of the oldest surviving metal bands in India. Over the past 18 years they have released 3 albums.

Burn up the Night released through AFM Records features a straight up 80’s heavy metal sound which will appeal particularly to “old school” metal fans. I enjoyed the album as the songwriting and production contrasts with the sterile sounds of upcoming bands

I (Peter ‘Trendcrusher‘ K.) spoke to vocalist/guitarist Nolan Lewis about their change in sound, music videos and their recent European tour.

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October 12, 2016 at 11:22 pm

Eccentric Pendulum

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Eccentric Pendulum

Eccentric Pendulum are a progressive metal band from Bangalore, India. They released the EP ‘Sculptor of Negative Emotions’ in 2009 and the album ‘Winding The Optics’ in 2011. Winners of the Indian leg of the Wacken Metal Battle, the band were the first to represent India at the global metal battle at Wacken Open Air 2011.

I spoke to the band about their new single ‘Resisting Another Equation’ and also their future plans for Transcending Obscurity here

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December 25, 2015 at 12:30 am

Ironic Reversal Interview

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Ironic Reversal are a metal band from Bangalore. I discovered them through a facebook post by my friend Abbas (Skrypt) and was impressed with what I heard. The band released their 2nd album ‘Dysgenic‘ in October. I spoke to the band about the album, the concept behind it and more.

Ironic Reversal

Madhur Murli (guitars), Kaushal LS (vocals), Rahul Kini (drums)

Ironic Reversal has been around for just over a year now. How did the project start?

Madhur: Ironic Reversal started off as a bedroom project when I was studying in Manipal. By December 2013, I had written most of the songs for Clonus and was looking to record and release it. Around the same time, I was introduced to Rahul Kini by our producer Narayanan. All of us were playing together as a part of an instrumental prog metal band called Analyzed Consequences. Narayanan—after watching a couple of Orchid’s shows—suggested that I approach their vocalist Kaushal to perform the vocals on Clonus. Kaushal was interested and we started working on the album immediately. Rahul had helped me out with the drum programming during Clonus and I was really happy with the result. So, when it came to the drums for Dysgenic, I was absolutely sure that I wanted him to do it. I asked him to officially come on board and he agreed.

What is Dysgenic about? Tell us a bit about it.

Kaushal: Dysgenic speaks of a bleak, dystopian future where genetic experimentation has spiraled completely out of control. GMO mega-corporations have seized power and have replaced the democratic governments of the world with a corporate republic. As a result, all privately-owned mass media is criminalized, protests of any kind are banned, propaganda is rampant, farmers live in perpetual debt slavery, all organic food is outlawed and radical environmentalists have resorted to terrorism.

And that’s just the premise. It’s a tale that spans the five songs of Dysgenic. You can check out the lyrics and the extended synopsis here

Dysgenic

What was the songwriting process for the album? How long have you been working on it?

Madhur: The songwriting process began in January 2015, a few months after we released our debut album Clonus. It took me about three months to write all the five songs in Dysgenic. After finalizing the guitar parts, our drummer Rahul spent a month on the drum lines. Since we decided to program drums rather than go to a studio, we spent more time trying to humanize the drums as much as possible. Rahul literally mapped note-per-note of what he was playing on the drums to MIDI. Once the drum lines were written, I borrowed a friend’s bass and spent about a couple of weeks writing the bass parts.

After hearing how the whole thing was sounding, I felt that there was a certain flow amongst the songs. I thought of making the record a concept album which our vocalist/lyricist Kaushal seemed pretty interested in. Kaushal started making notes of possible ideas and storylines that would fit the music. It took some time to narrow down the final theme of Dysgenic—we wanted to get it right. Once we did that, the lyric-writing process began.

All in all, the entire songwriting process took about six months.

How was the recording process? How long did it take?

Madhur: Considering the fact that I had moved to Delhi when we decided to go ahead with the album, I had to make a schedule of how we were going to go about recording the album. The first step was to freeze the guitar parts, which I did and tracked each song as I finalized the parts. This took about two weeks after which I sent the guitar tracks to our producer Narayanan in Manipal.

Since we programmed the drums, we didn’t have to spend time recording them in the studio. Although, as I’d mentioned earlier, Rahul spent quite some time humanizing the drums as much as possible.

The next step was to record the bass, for which I went to a friend’s (who’s bass I’d borrowed) house to record. Recording the bass took only three days since all the parts were pretty much written.

On Narayanan’s advice, we headed to Manipal to record the vocals. We spent three days recording. During the free time, I sat with Narayanan to figure out guitar, bass and drum tones.

How does it compare to your previous album, Clonus?

Madhur: From the writing perspective, the biggest difference would be that the tracks in Dysgenic are linked to each other. I had written Clonus over nine months and all the songs are kind of disconnected. Dysgenic was written over three months and a certain amount of continuity was maintained. Clonus was our first album and I feel we were still looking for our style and sound but with Dysgenic, I think we finally have a distinct style and sound.

Kaushal: Lyrically as well, all the songs on Clonus have individual themes; some were inspired by a few ’70s sci-fi/dystopian films. But for Dysgenic, the lyrics were written as a whole with a specific concept and storyline in mind. It’s meant to be heard/read from start to finish

Do you plan on playing live anytime soon?

Madhur: I don’t think we will go live anytime soon, mainly due to the fact that I’m currently in the USA for a master’s degree.

Listen to ‘Dysgenic‘ below

Photo Credit: Photo 1 – Khalid Saquib,photo 2 & 3 – Neerav Nagumantri

Written by trendcrusher

December 2, 2015 at 2:49 pm

Introducing: Deadstar

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image

Who: Deadstar is the instrumental project of Nihal Anand.

Where: Bangalore, India

What:  Last month, Deadstar released his debut album “In Between Dreams“. “Well its quite varied for the different songs on the album. A lot of the mood is based on travel and places I was lucky enough to see during the time I was writing the album.” said Nihal about the album. “Other songs are based off of TV shows, other bands, people that I know well and people I’ve never met. So it’s basically anything that really pushed me to feel something over the last 4 months. I think most of the songs are quite happy on the surface, but they all make me a tiny bit sad, so I think that’s the perfect vibe for this album.”

How:  “I’ve been writing songs for the album since May this year so its been about 3 months of writing, I usually finish writing/recording a song in a day so its still fresh, so I guess its 10 days of those 3 months that I actively spent writing songs.” said Nihal about how he went about writing the album. “A lot of times I didn’t feel like I could come up with anything nice if I forced it so I just picked up the guitar when I felt like. I probably spent more time travelling and collecting ideas in those months. Since I play and record alone, the songwriting process is completely linked to the recording. I’ll start off recording the riffs I have in mind, then add in second guitar and whatever drums I have in mind and from there it just keeps going. I rarely I have complete songs written when I start recording, because I need to know how all the parts sound together.”

“So that way, the actual recording was about 10 days and then I sat and obsessively mixed it for a few weeks, adding in keys, electronic bits and field recordings.” said Nihal about the recording process. “I do everything at home on my own, I recently bought this really nice Focusrite sound card and since I have an amp simulator I can record at any time, but it’s usually in the wee hours of the morning.”

Listen to “In Between Dreams” below

 

Written by trendcrusher

September 28, 2015 at 10:00 am

Bevar Sea Interview

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Bevar Sea are doom metal band from Bangalore, India. I interviewed them 3 years ago when they release their self titled album. This weekend they release their second album ‘Invoke the Bizarre’ in India (Worldwide release 31st October). I caught up with Srikanth, guitarist of Bevar Sea and spoke to him about their new album, the different approach they took and also advice he had for bands planning to self release their music and merchandise.

Bevar Sea - 2015

Avinash Ramchander (Bass), Deepak Raghu (Drums), Rahul Chacko (Guitars), Ganesh Krishnaswamy (Vocals) and Srikanth Panaman (Guitars) (Left to Right)

Congrats on the release of your second album ‘Invoke the Bizarre’. Tell us a bit about the album.

Srikanth Panaman: Hey Peter. Long time no see! Invoke the Bizarre has been cooking slowly since the first album came out and we finally were able to record late last year and put it out this year. It is out on September 25th in India and October 31st in the rest of the world. It’s been a labour of love from everyone involved, and we’re excited to have the fans hear it finally.  

How does the album compare to your debut album?

Srikanth Panaman: The first album was good for what it was at that time. We got the best out of what we had and knew at that time. On the second one, we went in knowing a lot more about recording and engineering, and we went in as better performers. Musically, this still stoner and doom, but it’s darker and more varied than the first one.

I remember you released a demo of ‘Sleeping Pool’ in December 2012. How long have you’ll been working on the songs for the album?

Srikanth Panaman: Sleeping Pool was written in 2011 before the first album came out, Where There’s Smoke (There’s a Pyre) was written in 2012, Bearded and Bizarre was written in 2013, The Grand Alignment, Bury Me in NOLA and Heathen were written in 2014. We are slow, much like our music. If we’re able to recover the money invested on an album sooner, and save up for the next album sooner, we will get off our asses and write more but one album every three years is not too bad. I’d ideally like us to have a smaller release between two full lengths, so let’s see how things go.

Invoke

‘Invoke the Bizzare’ was recorded at Adarsh Recording Studio. How different was the recording process this time around?

Srikanth Panaman: We booked ten whole days at the studio for recording each band member separately and we wanted to use the big room and the fancy mics that the studio had at its disposal. We went in the order of drums, bass, rhythm guitars, additional guitars, acoustic guitars, lead guitars, and vocals over the course of the ten days, and spent the eleventh day listening to each track and then consolidate various takes. This was a pro approach and it was a great experience for us. We’d like to be in a real studio and not a home studio because the equipment is better, and more importantly the recording room itself is better. We also can’t afford to be lazy because time is limited, so that helps us finish what we started as per schedule. We all took time off work and got this done, so it wasn’t a weekend project for us.

You have been working with Matt Lynch (Mysterious Mammal Studios) on the album. How was the experience been?

Srikanth Panaman: Matt plays for an old timey Seattle/LA band called Snail and that’s how I got to know him. He had also worked with bands like Nebula and others, and I always liked the way his drums and the way the ‘room’ sounds in his mixes. We were more metal than his usual work, but when I told him what we’re going for on each track, he understood immediately and got the mixes the way I’d wanted. We gave him a good sounding recording, and the tones were all there. His job was mainly to remove all the mud, and to give us that big overall sound. We’re super happy with the results.

Your self titled album was released on Iron Fist records, a label started by the band. What did you’ll learn from the experience? What advice would you give other metal bands that plan on self releasing their EP/ Album?

Srikanth Panaman: That was a name we used because our then manager Salman (from Bangalore Open Air) wanted to use Kryptos’ and our releases to start a label to support and push good local bands but that never took off. We are putting this one out on our new imprint called The Mighty Riff Records, something I’ve been meaning to start for a couple of years but finally getting to. I sure do have some advice: Don’t compromise on the artwork and packaging. Don’t think of yourself as a local band. Don’t expect people to buy CDs if you don’t have a CD collection yourselves. Don’t expect to make your money back if you invested despite knowing your album had no demand to begin with. Learn everything about the workings of being in a band, including printing, pressing CDs, making merch, logistics, management, recording, video editing, designing, web designing – whatever talents you have acquired can be of use and can help you make your money back. The more skillful you are, the better it is.

Were you satisfied with the response your first album received? Are you planning anything different for the release of ‘Invoke the Bizarre’?

Srikanth Panaman:The first album far exceeded our expectations in terms of response. We’re hoping the second one will kick things up a few notches for us – especially in Europe, UK, and the US. These are the three territories where we got the most real purchases from, so we’d like to go a little deeper in those markets with this album.

What are your plans for the rest of the year?

Srikanth Panaman: We’re taking things slow this year. We just want to put this out and make sure the album reaches the right audience around the world.


Any final words?

Srikanth Panaman: Thanks for letting us talk about our new album man. Your readers can always go to the below links to follow us.

http://bevarsea.bandcamp.com [pre-orders are online here]

http://fb.com/bevarsea

http://youtube.com/bevarsea

Listen to three songs from ‘Invoke the Bizzare’ below

Written by trendcrusher

September 25, 2015 at 10:00 am

Dying Embrace Interview

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Last July/August, Cyclopen Eye productions released “Through corridors of dead centuries“, a split between two veteran bands from the Indian subcontinent, Dusk (Pakistan) and Dying Embrace (India). I described the release as “death/doom metal recommended for those who preferred metal that sounds raw”. It was Dying Embrace first release since they got back together in 2011.

This interview was originally planned to go along with the one with Dusk however it got delayed due to various reasons. I spoke to Vikram Bhat via email about their side of the split and their future plans.

 

Dying Embrace

Vikram Bhat (Vocals), Jimmy Palkhivala (Guitars), Deepak Raghu (Drums) and Pritham Denzil D’Souza (Bass) (Left to Right)

 

Where did the idea to do the split come about? Did Sandesh from Cyclopean Eye productions have anything to do with it?

Vikram: Hello Peter , actually this split was possible only because of Sandesh of Cyclopean Eye Productions. He always spoke about this idea right from the early years, even when the band was inactive and on a hiatus at the same time even Dusk were in suspended animation and he said, if these 2 bands ever return then a split has to happen, those knowing Sandesh, he always has had it his way.

How does it feel to have your first release out in over a decade?

Vikram: It’s a very surreal feeling, a bit of deja-vu a bit of disbelief all rolled into one. We never thought the band would return back, the love and support we have got since we returned has been fantastic. It’s a great feeling to see so many fans who still remember the band even though we were gone for a good 10 years.

Tell us a bit about the songs your side of the split. What are they about?

Vikram: We have 4 original compositions and a cover on our side of the split. 3 songs and one instrumental, the songs have a very different approach and yet still retain the trademark Dying Embrace sound. A melting witches cauldron of Death and Doom Metal with several influences which the band members brought in. The songs just like our older material deal with the occult, mythology and religion.The fans will get what they have loved and liked from us over the years.

How different was the recording process this time around?

Vikram: Very different actually, recording music has seen a sea change over the past years and for us it was an all new learning experience, luckily we had Srikanth Panaman of The Doom Cave Studio producing us and he guided and showed us the newer technology we had at our disposal now. It was a great experience indeed and the band enjoyed putting the new songs together for the split CD.

What are you plans for the rest of 2014? Any plans to release a full length album soon?

Vikram: Since 2014 has passed and we are into 2015,we have a few shows lined up for the rest of the year, a 7” split vinyl EP may happen by the end of the year, we have never got down to writing a full length album ever, I don’t think that will ever happen.

Any Final words?

Vikram: 666 apologies for the delayed replies to the interview,the past year hasn’t been easy on me personally and a lot of things got pushed to the back but I still owed you this one and here it is! Thanks for the support and patience and salutes & respect to all the fans and friends who have supported us, you rule and you know who you are!

Listen to ‘Ascendance of Namtar‘ from “Through corridors of dead centuries” below

 

Written by trendcrusher

July 21, 2015 at 10:00 am