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Posts Tagged ‘India

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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aswekeepsearching

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aswekeepsearching are no strangers to this blog. I interviewed them in 2015 after the release of their debut album, Khwaab. Last month, they released their second album Zia. The album is a unique take on post rock and is unlike anything I have heard before.

Read my interview with frontman Uddipan Sarmah on Nine Circles

Written by trendcrusher

May 17, 2017 at 10:05 pm

Demonic Resurrection

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Demonic Resurrection is one of India’s oldest metal bands. Frontman Sahil “Demonstealer” Makhija has kept the band going with his dogged determination despite multiple lineup changes over the years. The band have performed at festivals and even toured the UK. On their fifth full length album Dashavatar, the band have expanded their already full sound with the introduction of Indian instruments and further experimentation in melodic death metal mixed with black metal and even strains of epic power. I spoke to Sahil about Dashavatar, their new sound and their plans for this year.

 

Read my interview with Sahil “Demonstealer” Makhija on Nine Circles

Written by trendcrusher

April 13, 2017 at 8:17 am

Indian indie goes digital

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A few days ago I came across this article in inbox that I had written for a zine in 2012. It did not get published for some reason. The article was about 4 new websites which had music by independent artists from acrossIndia on sale. From the websites listed below only Oklisten is still active. The Tagmuse website is online but has not been updated in some time. Musicfellas was acquired by Gaana.com in 2014. Flipkart shut down it’s Flyte store.

The “Big Boys” like Apple and Google are now in India with their Apple iTunes and Google Play. There has also been a shift with streaming services emerging in the past couple of years. The dominant players are Gaana and Saavn, however they feature a limited amount of independent artists.

The past decade has seen a rapid increase in the number of EP/Albums being released by independent bands in India, there were over 50 last year according to NH7.in. A basic problem for bands is getting their music heard and distributed; there have been many platforms, soundclick (does anyone still use it?) Myspace and reverbnation that have been around for a while; bandcamp and soundcloud are relatively newer. Bands in the past used to post their mp3s online for free. “No one will pay for Mp3s ” is a common statement I have heard by band members. However things are slowly changing, in the past few months, a few platforms have emerged in India that offer paid downloads.

music fellas Music Fellas is described as a “social, music discovery platform helping people have great experiences and meaningful conversations around music they love.” The platform was started by 3 techies from IIT Roorkee and BITS Pilani who are also music lovers, Mayank Jain, Shubhranshu Jain and Gaurav Shahlot. Currently it is invite only. Visit http://www.musicfellas.com to get your invite

 

nh7-flyte-banner

NH7.in, the music streaming and discovery platform tied-up with the Indian e-commerce Flipkart.com to launch digital music downloads featuring independent music, via Flipkart’s Flyte digital store. The store currently features over albums/EPs from over 50 artists ranging from folk rockers Swarathma to hardcore band Scribe. The singles are priced between Rs. 6 – Rs. 15 for singles and Rs. 20 – 150 for albums. You can download the songs up to 4 times. Visit http://nh7.in/musicstore for more information.

ok-listen-logo

Ok Listen! was started after Vijay Basrur could realised that he could not buy Mp3s of a Indian rock band. He has over 16 years of experience working in companies like Baazee.com and Quikr. The platform currently features mainly folk and rock artists like Raghu Dixit Project, Indian Ocean and Parvaaz. The prices for singles range from Rs. 10 to Rs. 25 and albums from Rs. 60 to Rs.200. They is no limit on the number of times you can download the songs. The platform is pro musician as they receive 70% of the net sales. Visit http://oklisten.com for more information.

tagmuse-logo

Tagmuse describe itself as “A double-octave space for independent artists to perform, connect, amplify and inspire the rest of humanity. Creating a launch pad for all musicians irrespective of race, language, ability, style, or genre. We appreciate it all.” They will be launching in another month or so. Sign up on http://tagmuse.com and stay updated.

Written by trendcrusher

October 23, 2016 at 1:04 pm

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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Written by trendcrusher

October 12, 2016 at 11:22 pm

death by fungi interview

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death by fungi is a hardcore punk band from Mumbai, India. Formed in 2013, the band released a self titled EP last year. Earlier this month, the released another EP, ‘in dearth of’ which features a more melodic sound.

I spoke to vocalist/guitarist Vrishank Menon about the ‘in dearth of’ EP, recording it and also their plans for the rest of the year. 

death by fungi

What made you decide to start a hardcore punk band? What about the style appeals to you?

I can’t say! I got into punk rock when I was very young, right after I got into Slayer and Metallica, but mostly listened to skatepunk bands like Strung Out and Propagandhi. As I got older, I got into eighties hardcore (Black Flag, Minor Threat), metalcore (Shai Hulud, Converge, Integrity), powerviolence (Spazz, Charles Bronson) and post-hardcore (Fugazi, Glassjaw, Nation of Ulysses).

The music was very empowering, it was fast and it broke musical convention – as a 12 year old, I loved that! I still firmly believe that most alternative genres of music we listen to today – be it alternative rock, metal, math rock, whatever – comes from hardcore and hardcore ethic.

Mumbai is a city better known for it’s metal than punk scene. How did you find like minded band members? How did the band get together?

I was very fortunate to find these people but we aren’t all that like-minded when it comes to music. I mean we all love hardcore bands like Converge and Despise You, but we come from different places, musically. I began writing punk and indie rock tunes when I was in my mid-teens and used to record songs on my own since none of my friends liked punk rock. Kamran and I grew up playing in odd bands here and there so it was natural that I’d make him play bass with me and he did. Another friend agreed to play drums but he didn’t really care. Finding Aryaman was more a stroke of luck. He used to play drums in a mathcore band with Kamran and so when our old drummer left us right before our first show, he asked Aryaman to drum for us. We had no idea but he came from a background of thrash and old-school death metal like Entombed and Morbid Angel. So he was super stoked to play fast songs with us and we all clicked immediately. The first song we jammed to was perfect and all of us established ‘musical intimacy’, if that’s a thing. We shifted to a heavy hardcore sound because of Aryaman’s influence on that band. I think we found our sound our current sound together.

cover The ‘in dearth of’ EP sounds more melodic compared to your self-titled EP. What prompted the shift in direction? Tell us a bit more about your EP.

Two songs on the EP are more melodic but the other two are much heavier than our older work. In terms of sound, we’re just doing more, not letting genre boundaries limit us. We threw in bits of post rock, skramz and emo (bands like American Football and Christie Front Drive, mind you) while fucking with time signatures and guitar tones. We just write what feels right.

What was the songwriting process for the EP? How long did it take?

It’s different for every song. Iced and Pathfinder fell together very quickly and sort of assembled themselves. I literally remember Aryaman and I spit-balling riff and drum ideas and putting together all these songs in literally less than an hour. Endless Rain and Black Lung were very different and we spent a lot of time writing those. Endless Rain was actually the first song we wrote as a band and we’ve been revising it for 2 years. We weren’t even going to put it on the EP but we had extra studio time booked, so we altered the structure and put that in.

We try to be systematic but our band works better when we’re impulsive and do things if they feel right.

The EP was recorded at That studio and a home studio. What was the recording process like? Did you try anything different this time around?

It was much better, we enjoyed the process and everything came out sounding very nice and didn’t rob us of all of our money. That Studio was great and the engineers we worked with, Anupam Roy and Abhishek Kamdar, were very helpful and added a lot to the record.

The only thing I did different was recording a lot of guitar layers.

What are your plans for the rest of the year? Do you have any shows planned?

We are recording a split with our friends from Jugaa (Kathmandu based- metallic hardcore) in the summer and I’m currently trying to book as many shows as possible. We’re also organizing DIY house shows, which should be very fun. Hopefully.

Stream/Download ‘in dearth of’ below

Written by trendcrusher

May 28, 2016 at 7:20 pm

Godless Interview

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Godless are an upcoming death metal band from India. The band members are no strangers to the Indian metal scene, they have been part of bands like Skrypt, Eccentric Pendulum, Ironic Reversal and Shock Therapy. The band release their debut EP ‘Centuries of Decadence‘ this week through Transcending Obscurity India. I spoke to bassist Abbas and vocalist Kaushal about the EP, working with Joe Haley and also their plans for the rest of the year.

Godless

“Ravi (my band mate in Skrypt) and I decided to form a new band. We wanted to take this project really seriously and wanted like minded musicians to play with. We got in touch with the other members and things just started to fall in place.” said bassist Abbas about how the band got together.

“We never really made a conscious effort to play any particular genre of metal really. We’re all definitely fans of death and thrash metal though. We just wanted to make some really powerful and and aggressive music so what we ended up making just happened to fall into the death metal category.” said Abbas about how they decided to play death metal.

Last year Godless released a single Infest featuring Sean O’Kane Connolly (Ex – In Dread Response) on vocals. “So we had struggled a bit trying to find vocalists when the band started off. We thought it would be a good idea to get a guest vocalist to track a song so people could get a feel of the band and it would be easier to jam with people during auditions. Soon after releasing the demo we actually tried out a few vocalist but things just didn’t work out as planned. We then thought of trying out someone from either Pune or Bangalore since they’re quite close to Hyderabad. The eccentric pendulum guys are really good friends so I asked them to suggest someone and they recommended Kaushal. He came down and jammed with us and things just went way better than we imagined. He was quite keen on the band and really enjoyed the music and has exactly the same focus as us so everything was just perfect.” explained Abbas about how vocalist Kaushal become a part of the band.

Centuries of Decadence

“All four songs in the EP have their own themes and narratives. The opening track Infest’s lyrics was written by Sean O’Kane Connolly and talk about the effects of overpopulation on the world. Ossuary is about a wretched creature which lives in the catacombs in a state of suspended animation, about to wreck havoc into our world — a metaphor for covert groups and sleeper cells within the governments of today. Replicant’s about, yes, the replicants from Blade Runner. Our vocalist’s big on sci-fi. Oneiros is our take on the Sandman, and we’ve taken our inspiration from Neil Gaiman’s graphic masterpiece. The artwork and the title of the EP reflect the narrative of the second song, Ossuary.” said vocalist Kaushal describing the themes behind their ‘Centuries of Decadence’ EP.

The EP has been mixed and mastered by Joe Haley (Psycroptic). “We’re all really big fans of Psycroptic and Joe’s playing. Since he was already mixing our stuff and mentioned to us that he was really digging the music we thought there’s no harm in asking him to try and lay down a solo. He was cool with it and just blew us away with the solo he laid down. Can’t wait for people to hear it.” said Abbas about how Joe Haley contributed a guitar solo to Ossuary. “Joe was just brilliant to work with. He was really cool with all the changes we had asked for and was just really nice about having to do even the smallest changes over and over. That said, he pretty much nailed the mix in just the first attempt and we’re really happy with the way everything turned out.”

With each member being a part of other bands, Godless could have become a side project. “Definitely not. We started off with the intention of never making this a side project.” said Abbas dismissing the idea. “Every band member took this up knowing that they’ll be able to commit to this band and make time for this apart from the projects they’re already involved with.”

Godless Album launch gig

Godless are launching their album in Hyderabad tomorrow at Houz of Blues. They also perform in Mumbai at the 8th edition of Domination the Deathfest on 5th June. “The plan is just to gig as much as possible. We’ve got a short album launch tour planned and then just booked a really cool gig at this metal festival Orka Networks is organising later this year. So just gigging as much as possible and writing new music in the downtime.” said Abbas about their plans for the rest of the year.

Listen/Download ‘Centuries of Decadence’ below

Written by trendcrusher

May 6, 2016 at 5:16 am