India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, they all have a lot in common. Historical connotations, geographical locations, seasonal conditions, cricket, religious festivals among others... but nothing as striking as the sheer size of their metal music scenes. Sure not many people in the West know that these scenes exist with India being the exception, after all Kryptos and Demonic Resurrection have been gracing the UK and European shores many times. As for the rest of the subcontinental contingent, there is Orobas from Bangladesh causing a buzz, Pakistan's Black Warrant perhaps being one of the oldest bands from there and Sri Lanka's Dhishti leading the Sri Lankan Black Metal wave... overarching all of that is a passion for extreme music, a passion for metalheads expressing themselves and a passion for thriving in an 'Extreme Nation', this is what Indian director Roy Dipankar's latest documentary is called and is about. He gladly spoke to GMA about the documentary, the troubles funding and filming such a feat and what it means to be a metalhead in this part of the world.
"The subcontinent now has her own flag-bearers in extreme metal being recognised worldwide thanks to the internet, supportive distributions and record labels."
Roy, what gave you the idea of doing a documentary about the Indian subcontinent's extreme underground metal scene?
"My affinity for independent and alternative music has traversed a long way, a decade plus later, manifesting itself as a film via videos and documentaries capturing the panorama of non-mainstream music and emerging voices from the Indian subcontinent. The professional experience in the commercial and institutional sector of record labels eventually left me not so satisfied in terms of creativity, progress and space to showcase emerging sub-cultures and alternative voices of the youth. I began to feel (and see) the societal fissures and cultural bias (injustice) which ran from pillar to post, within mainstream culture, be it the case in India or Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The more I searched, the more I discovered concurrent narratives of musicians, fans and propagators from far corners of the underground subcontinent.
The fledgling emergence of an unique subculture against the backdrop of religious radicalism, rising nationalism, traditional hegemony makes this documentary loaded in contrast, conversations and controversy. This led me to develop a first-of-its-kind attempt to document and showcase voices, the prevailing conditions and questions raised by metal musicians from the fringe communities based in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. Almost five years in the making, 'Extreme Nation' is now debuting at various film-festivals, media outlets and panoramas in India and outside."
What challenges did you have to overcome to deliver the documentary? How long did it take to create?
"Several! Especially when one embarks upon an independent task towards creative art which is all about subversiveness and anti-creation. Be it the interpersonal relationship of the countries, or the highly elusive or inert nature of bands and characters involved in the underground. Finding the right people and convincing them to be a part of a bigger spectrum was a massive deal.
Financial hurdles were / are the most difficult ones. Especially when the international documentary world is looking at India to produce more apparent hard-pressed issues related to environment, gender identity and equality, caste-based politics and such, a feature film on subculture takes a second or rather a second-last silver lining on the path to fruition.
Security was another concern regarding the cast and 'politically sensitive' content due to long term internal disputes and border-territory issues across the subcontinent. Diplomatic problems like visas have always been a chimera for extreme musicians to travel across our borders for performances. Struggling against the pre-fixated mindsets towards music that is metal, noise, power electronics, hardcore, is tough. But I took this as an anti-morose challenge which is both exciting and satisfying as the awareness spreads... a film about dark music! A film about the seething yet fragile voices within nations of the Indian subcontinent."
Do you feel that Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan (along with Nepal, Bhutan and The Maldives) are being noticed worldwide as forces within the extreme metal scene?
"Very much. The subcontinent now has her own flag-bearers in extreme metal that is being recognised worldwide thanks to the internet as well as supportive distribution and syndication by record labels."
What have you noticed about the scenes there, that at first came as a surprise to you?
"More than as a surprise, the feeling was that of a kind of discovery. The bands, their message, performances and imagery came across as crisp and sharp. It was both unique and seminal that would lay the path of an organised scene is what became clear to me."
Do you feel it will come to a point where a lot more Western labels take note of bands in this region; with Demonic Resurrection and Kryptos leading the way?
"Further to the aforementioned bands there are substantial releases of Indian subcontinental bands like Genocide Shrines, Konflict, Tetragrammacide to the now recent Kapala that has gained severe international recognition by release through 'Western labels' in the extreme underground."
What was life like growing up as a metalhead in India? What does your family think of your choice of music and your film-making?
"Growing up in the early 90's, the only two unique distinctions in sound for me was AR Rahman's music and Heavy Metal. Don't get me wrong, I mean, I grew up in the Bombay heartland (thus being) exposed to Bollywood, devotional cacophony of loudspeakers blaring during festivals, cassettes and LPs of international artists like ABBA, Boney M, Kraftwerk, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Rabindra Sangeet published by Polydor, Columbia, HMV (my grandfather's lifetime as an Exports Manager at HMV, Calcutta). But the teenage angst in me would be satiated by metal music alone and a bit of Bruce Lee films maybe. What attracts me in metal or extreme music (as currently what I listen to might not easily be identified as metal: 8MM, mz412, Bell, Black Cilice, Qrixkuor), it probably is that naked, unabashed and true openness of expressionist art that needn't adhere to a form, method or general formulae. My family is fine with me whether be it choice of profession or passion."
Will people in Europe get to see this documentary? Will you look to release it on DVD in the future?
"The film is completed and is making its way through film and music festivals. 'Extreme Nation' had her world premiere at the prolific Jecheon International Music Film Festival in South Korea this August. It was also screened at Wacken Open Air 2019, Germany and FICIME, Bogota, Colombia. The film is scheduled to screen at more avenues like Infierno Fest, Peru and a possible screening at Brutal Assault, Czech Republic next year. More announcements to follow. Currently I am in talks with a record label in Europe for a DVD release of the film later this year!"
Any final thoughts? Greetings you wish to send out?
Sigh on to you my friend,
Might be, is this the end,
The pain hurts the fear inside,
Kill be, the weak to ride."
If you were to ask Hatari if everything was going according to plan, they would give a solid response... yes. Following their journey at Eurovision and burying the past in the depths of history, it's clear that their message and music has crumbled over Europe having sold out their London show in rapid time.
London was part of a four-date tour across Western Europe, with the Icelanders having performed in Berlin the night before (they flew to all shows it would seem) and then had Oslo and Stockholm in their sights. The big 'Europe Will Crumble' tour begins next year and on the strength of tonight's show, they are already set to blow Camden wide open with their infectious brand of 'Industrial Techno Punk'.
With the queue steadily building outside of The Dome in Tufnell Park, it was evident that the UK loves Hatari and in turn it would seem Hatari loved the UK; or to this part London. Goths, industrialists, Eurovision-fans abound, this was surely to be the litmus test for how well Hatari can perform on the smaller stage having arguably been one of the most memorable acts of Eurovision from the past decade.
GMA is doing a first here by combining the gig report with the interview, let's do this.
After the support acts had delivered their sets, sets that could be described as gothic burlesque, or dark theatrics; either way they were entertaining and arguable proponents to the Hatari message, it was time for the Icelandic trio to bring the consensual BDSM, techno-punk and lights to the fore as they ploughed through songs from their debut EP 'Neysluvara', their Eurovision entry 'Hatrið Mun Sigra', 'Spillingardens' and of course 'Klefi / Samed' (ft. Bashar Murad) as well as new material...
Given that the show was sold out, it was interesting to find out Klemens's and Matthías's reaction to this news.
"We've been in shock this whole time, seeing our fans on social media, seeing our tickets being sold so successfully. We weren't sure whether Europe will accept our message, but our sponsors and board of directors remain confident throughout; especially after Eurovision, so we owe them many thanks."
"Yeah there was a certain unknown factor in entering the competition and we felt that we were well embraced and our message came across, to at least a certain number of people, so we're very humbled and pleased with the progress."
With the crowd as engaged as they were with each song Hatari threw at them, it was clear enough to see that the crowd understood the message being put out. Before the songs were played, there was a introductory speech explaining what Hatari is defined as, it has ten meanings and with some of these meanings, the universe became a focal point. This was no political rally but more so a celebration of free-thinking and understanding, sure the dystopian red and black was all abound and the two screens adjacent to Einar played graphics relating to the songs being performed, but with the performance overall there were positive vibes on and off the stage. It is clear these positive vibes will increase during their maiden tour next year... will these vibes push the band onto greater things?
"Well someone once said, 'he who controls Europe, controls the world', that person was probably wrong, but Europe will certainly crumble along with the rest of the world, so we find it fitting to start in Europe and we'll see how the global apocalypse then ensues. Our shareholders have presented to us their investment strategy in the coming years and it's an investment strategy that relies heavily on the end of the world being nigh, so we apparently fit into this scheme, which is excellent for us as musicians."
"I agree, obviously we're only employees of Relentless Scam Incorporated our holdings company, so we only follow the schedule that is given to us each week. There's a bit of a longer distance between each scheduled announcement, it's not as progressive or as intense as it was during the Eurovision period."
Arguably their performance was crafted and shaped by Relentless Scam Incorporated in such a way that it resulted in engaging the crowd, the sweating however was a by-product of consuming such energising music and no pyrotechnics were needed to raise the atmosphere at all. The laser lights however made for a sensational display, metaphorically speaking beaming the music and message across to Europe and the world, that Hatari are here and are if you like the vox populi of the modern times. But what of the Eastern side of Europe? Russia surely would revel in the dystopia envisaged here, perhaps George Orwell '1984' was prophetical for it's time....
"Yeah we're scheduled to play in Russia in November this year, which we look forward to seeing our fans there and the big fan-base we've seemed to built up there over the past few months. We hope to bring our message of the world ending to Russia, in Moscow and St. Petersburg where we will be playing"
"Make no mistake, even though this tour is entitled 'Europe Will Crumble' and relies heavily on Western Europe, it goes without saying that all corners of Europe will indeed crumble."
Some would say that the dystopia Hatari puts forward is happening right now, Europe could well be crumbling and those who heed their message will understand what they mean. The use of the introduction music for the BBC News did not go amiss nor did the mesmerising dialogue regarding humanity and the world, and certainly the joke about the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was not ignored. Naturally no one can ignore the rise of populism and nationalism within the European Union, this is probably where the song 'Hatrið Mun Sigra' (Hate Will Prevail) comes into use....
"We've always had our act as a dystopia, it goes for our Eurovision track as well as the whole set we're playing tonight, it's a portrayal of a world we see as a very real and frightening possibility in the near future"
This set list would comprise of 'X' along with the songs from their debut EP 'Neysluvara', their Eurovision song ''Hatrið Mun Sigra' (which reached #85 on the UK Singles download chart), their collaborating song 'Klefi / Samed' with Palestinian artist Bashar Murad and 'Spillingardans' among other tracks unbeknownst to the Hatari faithful. Months ago GMA spoke to Hatari about their Eurovision adventure and plans thereafter; the mini-tour included, however the hint of an album was mentioned and so has Relentless Scam Inc. given the order for this to be manifested?
"We are working on it and we aim to publish it before the 'Europe Will Crumble' tour, the exact dates are not in our hands unfortunately."
With their set it was clear there was an understanding between the crowd and the band performing, be it through body movement or simply grasping the message being put out; even if you cannot understand a word of Icelandic (everyone should know the word 'skál'!), but for those who might feel they disagree with their message and what they are doing, could the act of persuasion come into play or is it as simple as opening your mind to the world of realism...
"We feel that we bring a certain kind of world to the stage, a certain feeling of emotion and frustration that we cast onto our audience, so yes there's a certain understanding even if you don't necessarily grasp the meaning of the lyrics straight away"
"I don't think the lyrics are quote 'too political' in the sense that they take sides on specific issues, it's more of a general feeling of frustration, angst and dissonance about our current states of affairs that doesn't pick side a or b, it's more of a general contradiction we find ourselves in and therein lies Hatari."
What Hatari brought to the stage that night was what you would call in a Star Wars context, 'balance to the force', that is through Klemens's angelic and symphonic vocals crashing against the demonic and gritty vocals of Matthías. Metaphorically speaking both bringing the light and the dark together to create a middle ground, an understanding of what kind of world we live in and that in order to bring stability and peace to the world, we first must learn to love before hatred seeps in; a paradox if you like in this modern world. Hatari have indefinitely succeeded in bringing their message to the peoples tonight and are certain to carry this message onwards through their unique music and vocals...
"Well there's a lot of pre-work that goes into them (the vocals), the preparation of singing in the certain specific styles that we must work with. It's been a long process, a lot of placement sessions - working on our vocals, Matthías's 'hoh''s, so yes it's been a long process, a lot of different vocal techniques and teachings that we've learnt along the way. We still haven't perfected the vocal styles yet and they're ever and ever transforming, so we looking forward to seeing where it will bring us and what we can do with our vocals.
You could say that there is a lot of love, respect, connection, acceptance going on between the members of Relentless Scam Incorporated, even though we don't know the board of directors. We still feel the kind of compassion that they bring to the atmosphere that we strive to perform in."
"Yes, I'm very repressed in my personal life whereas Klemens is very expressive and always has been since I've known him, so I think it's a game of opposites and I think without Klemens, Hatari would be a unpublished book of poetry, but I feel safe knowing that he is on stage with me and we're really dared to do this together.
One must give a lot of credit to the drum gimp, for example yesterday (in Berlin) it must have been in the middle of a heatwave because we've never seen him so sweaty, but he's alive and well today thankfully."
Of course all bands and subsequent members have their own music tastes and artists / bands they grew up listening to, some of which have a role in the music they create as a result of, it is clear enough that Hatari have a melting pot of different music elements going through each song played tonight, meaning not one song is the same as the other or indeed similar. With the strobe lighting and lasers (purple, green and blue) making it feel like we were witnessing the new wave of Icelandic rave, in fact the crowd were bearing witness to a rising act in the making. Question is what spurred the members on in the first place in terms of their listening habits....
"Obviously there are lot of artists that brings influence to us - Matthías interjects - one example is an Icelandic children's album by - Klemens resumes - Skoppa and Skrítla, they're an Icelandic duo much like us. - Matthías continues - 'Abbabbabb' was another Icelandic children's album that I remember and of course the 'Moonmintrolls', - Klemens continues - the 'Moomintrolls' have been a steady influence in our goal to bring down capitalism - Matthías continues - and they have an apocalypse story in the 'Moomintrolls', it's very touching and I remember being frightened as a child. My parents both listened to Punk when they were younger and I dabbled in the likes of Laibach before starting this adventure, Britney Spears, Destiny's Child... Britney Spears is the master of curbing, which I tried to do for a long time... curbing is a vocal technique but I found overdrive is more my thing.
"We could go on with these influences, obviously Greta Thunberg, not a musician obviously but is one of our more recent influences - Klemens adds - yeah a primary influence at the moment, everyone should know who she is. I could go over to politics... (both laugh), yeah Donald Trump is obviously a certain influence at some point. - Matthías adds - I'd do Boris Johnson mostly as a poet, poet first and politician second and I think it's an example of irony going too far, maybe like many artists that we know and love. - Klemens adds - he obviously shares the opinion that the world is going to end and is striving to help that come about, - Matthías continues - accelerating the process obviously and which is what we're all about as well, accelerating the doomsday prophecy - Klemens interjects - we don't support his methods - Matthías agrees - ah no, he's a terrible man... (both laugh after Matthías mentions an Icelandic word which evidently carries an humorous element with it).
What was the Italian guy's name in Eurovision? Do you remember? We've had his song stuck to our brains for a long time. An Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson, he's a patron of our arts... he left me his summer house this summer, which was really lovely and we had a really intriguing discussions about arts with him and others including Elísabet Kristín Jökulsdóttir, poet, performer, and former candidate for President of Iceland. Obviously Bashar Murad is a huge collaborator and an important collaborator, Cyber as well from the Icelandic rap scene; they're a project that branched out of a rap collective, they're a political, all-female Icelandic rap collective and they did the track 'Hlauptu' with us, they're a huge influence as well obviously. Trashy clothing have been, we're collaborating with them and have done a photo-shoot with them, we're aiming to work with them more in the future; they're a Palestinian fashion brand that really fits our aesthetics in a very post-plastic, kitsch, dystopian-kind-of-way."
Many will recall how Hatari waved the Palestinian flag at Eurovision, some agreed with and some did not. None the less, it boosted their profile and their song 'Klefi / Samed' with Palestinian artist Bashar Murad, boosted theirs and his popularity further as the video now has been viewed 1.2 million times. They played the song tonight but had to use the audio clip of Bashar in lieu of him being there. Could this be a great example of how music brings the world together? They go on to explain how they managed to get in touch with Bashar Murad and explain their thoughts regarding the beauty of the song, being in both Icelandic and Arabic....
"After winning the national selections, we wanted to make contact with Palestinian and Israeli artists and activists, we were put in touch with Bashar Murad and had a Skype meeting with him where we made a really strong connection straight away, from there on we felt it was right to do a song together.
I didn't feel it was too surprising though because we worked with a lot of contrast and, this being a huge contrast coming from two completely different worlds, they were somehow brought together into one beautiful song"
"The crucial link there was probably the Palestine music expo, which is where Bashar has played before and is sort of like the Palestinian (version of) Icelandic airwaves. Pleasantly surprised yes."
Of course there is one member of the group who does not partake in interviews and has his own affectionate place alongside Klemens and Matthías, referred to as the 'drum gimp', Einar is the third member of Hatari. It was said that his energy and devoition caused him to sweat a lot in Berlin and thus did he sweat a lot in London, 'sweat and determination' is an understatement and as both Matthías and Klemens went on to explain, they're a band of brothers or as some might say, the three musketeers....
"I would say both him and Klemens as music producers, Klemens as a composer, but Einar is a professional in whatever he undertakes. Obviously he is a great drummer, he's a very efficient gimp and has a lot to do with the mix of our tracks, our sound in general.
Honestly in the best cases, you start remembering who had the original idea, the important thing in the creative collaboration isn't counting your own beans so-to-speak, it's more about just serving the concept and keeping it flowing. It's all our stuffs that keeps this structure alive, we're all backbones in a way; regarding the concept at least."
"Yeah it's a very flowing thing, so far I compose all of the tracks and Einar helps and does the final touches, then the production and the mixing of the tracks. Matthías obviously brings in his lyrics that we often work on together, I sometimes compose or I usually compose my lyrics and then Matthías brings his touch into them, so it's a very free-flowing creative experience that happens between the three of us."
Of course all bands and artists have their ups and downs, yet arguably for Hatari there are certainly more high than low points. For Hatari, forming, winning the Icelandic national selection for Eurovision, reaching the Eurovision finals and then selling out 4 European shows ahead of next years 'Europe Will Crumble' tour, is surely the Crème de la crème, or is it not?...
"Well Einar was very sweaty at the Berlin show and may have reached a low point, we let him take off his leather and contraptions out of medical needs, more than anything else, but I think he is better now, all primed up as you say"
"Honestly in a certain way it's become very mainstream what we do, so we look forward to establishing our side-project 'lounge-core', the art of performance, co-hosting an experience that will be sometimes performing... - Matthías interjects - yeah in a hotel lounge near you. Another high point is obviously the fact that we did our first European headline show in Berlin and our second show (today) in London, all sold-out shows. - Klemens adds - this was pleasing for the promoters, the board of directors and the investors in Relentless Scam Incorporated. - Matthías continues - good for us as well at the gig, it's much harder to do a gig if there is no one there, it's better to have a crowd and invest in new followers if you will."
It's clear that the group has some down time when the board of directors permits, there is only so much that can be done in a set period of time and despite the adrenalin received from your very own 'Sodadream', Hatari are certified to give you the full treatment of dystopian, high-intense visions that you will succumb to as they spread the messages handed down to them by Relentless Scam Incorporated. So how does Hatari unwind after receiving their instructions from the powers that be?
"Well I'm unemployed at the moment, so being here is [Klemens mentions Matthías likes babysitting] a huge relief from the intense babysitting I do for Klemens and his family. I'm also a playwright."
"Other hobbies, obviously a lot of my time goes to being with my two lovely daughters at the moment, and my fiance Ronja; we're getting married next year. Otherwise we both go out swimming a lot, enjoy going out for long walks - Matthías adds - we clean the leather a lot, that's sometimes fun. - Klemens continues - I wouldn't say I maintain a lot of my hobbies at the moment since my focus is required elsewhere, but I hope to take up all my other hobbies sometimes - Matthías adds - Klemens is an excellent carpenter, cabinet maker and furniture designer; his home is graced by these original designs, I like to admire these in my free time from which I have a lot."
Creativity runs rich through the veins of this Icelandic trio, much more than the ice-cool blood you would expect after donning PVC / leather garments in the snow and ice-laden terrains of Iceland, not to say they aren't cool as ice because they evidently are, winning the hearts of the peoples of Europe; BDSM, fetish, techno, Eurovision-fans, the list never ends of scenes they've tapped into. It's truer than true to accept that they are more than just a band, they are a living, breathing (and sweating) multimedia project that are set to do great things in the years ahead into the future. Just like the constant rotating of the saw behind the globe in their logo, Hatari cut through the clouded visions in this world and open up people's minds, the question is what do they see their logo as portraying?
"Well it's the logo of Svikamylla ehf. / Relentless Scam Incorporated that you're referring to, to us it's the late capitalist, loving embrace of our generous investors. Their passionate commitment to making all of this turn out profitable, mostly to them and just a cheerful way in which corporations are spiralling towards their own doom in the early half of the 21st century."
"It can also be interpreted as that we're all caged in within a certain mentality, mechanics that runs our conciousness and also awaits the spiritual awakening of humanity."
After tonight's show it was fair to say that they've started this spiritual awakening as the masses attending understood, digested and came to terms with what they are highlighting about the world. This is just the very start for Hatari, with their set and their dedication to the art passed down to them by Relentless Scam Incorporated, it's very fair to say that they will move on to greater things, forget Eurovision for what it is; that was just the appetiser, now this 'award-winning, anti-capitalist, BDSM, techno-dystopian, performance art collective' are serving up the mains and have added sides to go with this feast for the ages, what sides dare you ask? And what messages have Hatari got for their faithful custodians?
"We're not allowed to comment on this at this moment unfortunately. To my room-mates in Iceland, next week is your turn to clean the bathroom. Stay strong, not just my room-mates but everyone. Don't just read the headline if you're going to quote an article, you have to know what the source was, you can't go telling people all of this sensationalist topics and exclamations if you don't even know what the source was. Read the whole article if you're going to go about quoting things. - Klemens adds - we're guilty of doing that sometimes, - Matthías continues - it's something we're working on within the band, it was an article about plastic in the Pacific Ocean, growing by itself and I didn't understand it, but I started exclaiming it to everyone yesterday... 'did you know they're forming islands, and it's becoming a part of the natural terrain?, turns out it was b******t. But still, plastic in the Pacific is still a big problem so yeah everyone should recycle and not just quote an article if they've only read the headline, that's my lesson from today and yesterday."
"Stay strong. Don't forget to recycle."
Hatari are here to stay and open peoples eyes to the plethora of issues the world faces, through the rise of capitalism to the politicisations of multicultural events (those who know, know), overarching all of this is a trio of Icelandic musicians, who, are arguably a band of brothers undertaking duties and operations handed down to them by the board of directors at Svikamylla ehf. (Relentless Scam Inc) with pinpoint precision. The performance was faultless, everything is going according to plan.
The world of crossover music has always been there and for those eager enough to explore it, there are some rather spectacular and imaginative musicians out there. One such musician is Chinese-American cellist and erhuist Tina Guo, who has been a part of a countless number of musical scores most notably as a solo cellist, these include (but not limited to): 'Iron Man 2', 'Olympus Has Fallen', 'Vikings' (TV series), 'X-Men: First Class', 'Family Guy' and more. Moreover she has collaborated with world-famous musicians and composers such as John Legend, Hans Zimmer and Rupert Gregson-Williams respectively.
To top that she has appeared in the 'Mazda 6' and 'United Airlines' adverts respectively... in fact alongside this she has helped score for numerous video games including 'Diablo III' and 'Call of Duty: Black Ops' as well as releasing as of 2017, 8 albums of her own material with guests along the way; some of the albums are covers of game tunes e.g. her latest album 'Game On!' which has a metal feel to it and as Tina goes on to explain in the interview she had with GMA, there is something special about the relationship between metal and classical music.
Furthermore she has recently appeared on 'The Lion King' soundtrack to which she expressed absolute delight at.
"There is something about both Classical Music and Metal Music that has a lot of deep emotion and power."
At what point during your life did you want to become a musician? Did you have a strong music-orientated upbringing? Are other family members musicians?
"To be honest, I was forced into the family trade as a musician! Both of my parents are classical musicians and music teachers and I started on the piano at the of age 3, violin at 6, and cello at 7. Playing music and performing was a mandatory activity but it wasn't until I was 18 and moved to Los Angeles for University (studying Classical Cello Performance) at the University of South Carolina (USC) when I started really pursuing ways to make my own music, and just work as a cellist in order to pay the bills. I did a lot of work as a session musician and hired gun, and it helped me learn and familiarize myself with all genres of music, but my main love and obsession has always been Industrial Metal. I'm lucky that my "day job" of being a session musician has a lot of crossover with my own music!"
What was it like for you as a child moving from China to the USA? What were (if any) the challenges you had to face?
"I had to take my first grade twice because I had trouble learning English – haha! - but after that I was able to integrate pretty quickly. I always was a very shy person and hid in the library during most lunch periods throughout school because I felt too awkward to be outside and didn't feel like I belonged to any particular group of friends. However, I don't think that has to do with coming from China - that's just childhood in general! I was always drawn to people, art, and music that was gothic and dark however, and my world was completely changed when a goth kid in my middle school lent me his copy of "Antichrist Superstar" (Marilyn Manson) and I heard industrial music for the first time!"
Arguably your career has been rocketing skywards ever since you started making music, surely doing your own rendition of 'The Circle Of Life' is a dream come true?
"Being able to record cello solos on the soundtrack for the new 'Lion King' was amazing! I love Hans so much and am so appreciative and grateful for his friendship and mentorship. Since he saw my "Queen Bee" music video on YouTube 9 years ago, I have worked on many of his soundtracks and also tour with him in his live band. When he asked me to be a part of 'The Lion King', of course I was elated! Recording my own version of "The Circle Of Life" I felt was an appropriate way to celebrate the occasion!"
Out of all the characters from 'The Lion King', who is your favourite and why? What are your thoughts on Disney bringing their animated films to life these days?
"Pumbaa! He is hilarious and adorable. I really liked the live action 'Beauty And The Beast' - I think that it's a great way to integrate new technology with graphics and retell classic Disney stories in a new way."
You've done numerous albums, some involving metal music and so, could you tell us how you became interested in metal music? Do you feel classical music and metal music have strong correlations with each other?
"Yes! Industrial Metal is my main love and after hearing Marilyn Manson when I was 13 secretly, since I was not allowed to listen to anything but classical music in my household, the next big revelation came when I turned 18 and moved to Los Angeles to attend the University at the University of Southern California where I studied Classical Cello Performance. I felt my world open up when I was able to go online, watch YouTube videos, and discover so many amazing bands and artists - including my favourite band, Rammstein. I feel all music is just music, there is good and bad music in any genre - but to me personally, there is something about both Classical Music and Metal Music that has a lot of deep emotion and power.
From your experience, do you feel that classical music of any kind should receive more respect and recognition than it does currently?
"To be honest, I don't really play traditional classical music any more, but I think that there are so many amazing musicians online who are using technology and social media to connect with a new and young audience. I feel like if you want more people to recognize something, it also has to be made accessible and energetically open, not closed off because for members of the general public who have never had experience with Classical Music, it may seem intimidating. I think that Soundtracks are an amazing way for people to hear orchestral music, and it has really reinvigorated people in being curious about instrumental music based on the tradition of European Art Music."
For those looking to get into playing the cello or erhu, what tips and tricks could you offer? What make and model of cello are you currently using?
"Lots of practise! I practised 8 hours a day from when I started the cello at age 7 - in the past 10 years as I've gotten busier, I haven't been able to do as many hours but that foundation of technical ability is very important to establish when starting an instrument if it's something you'd like to pursue professionally. I would recommend find a good private teacher, and taking regular lessons - but most important is the follow through and practice.
My Acoustic Cello is an 1880 Gand & Bernardel that I purchased 7 years ago, I love him very much and his name is Cello Guo! I have a few bows but my favourite is by Lothar Seifert, with a Wholly Mammoth Ivory tip.
Do you have any greetings or thanks that you wish to send out to friends, family, fans, etc?
"I love and appreciate everyone who has supported my music and art, because without people to watch and listen, what is the point of music? Music and art is to communicate our own emotions and interpretations of the human experience, and I love being able to share that energetically with others.
Mentioning the Eurovision Song Contest usually brings to the fore the flamboyant outfits, lovey-dovey pop songs and the evident 'block-voting' syndrome. However occasionally the event delivers some rather outstanding and unique entries, from Heavy Metallers Lordi (delivered Finland's first ever win in 2006) to Hungary's Post-Hardcore group AWS (post-Eurovision performed at Wacken Open Air)... then came Iceland's turn to abandon the safe-zone, free itself from the shackles of formulaic Eurovision pop music and embrace a darker, more aesthetically-pleasing and original tone in the form of Hatari, who are a 'Award-winning, anti-capitalist, BDSM, techno-dystopian, performance art collective'.
Of course they are not a metal band, however arguably through their performance which befits that of a Rammstein show; through pyrotechnics, elaborate outfits and singing in a language that demands your utmost attention, they might as well be. The unfurling of the Palestinian flags will be seen as a political statement and perhaps the most controversial thing to happen at Eurovision (although the counter-argument is Ukraine's winning song '1944' by Jamela; centres around the deportation of the Crimean Tatars), could the Eurovision be political in that it allows Australia and Israel to participate, but not Kosovo nor Gibraltar or the Faroe Islands due to the latter two not being independent nations. With that in mind it does beg the question whether the ESC is contradictory in it's own rulings or whether there needs a massive shake-up... let's face it will Punk Rock ever get a look in? Maybe the UK should send the Sex Pistols... let's see how far that goes, but for now GMA caught up with Matthías Haraldsson, harsh vocalist of Hatari and discussed about post-Eurovision events, their first EP 'Neysluvara' and of course if everything is going according to plan.
For your listening pleasure we have included the single / music video for 'Klefi / Samed', curated by Hatari and Palestinian musician Bashar Murad. Next to this is 'Hatrið Mun Sigra', Hatari's Eurovision song, whilst the jurors did not really appreciate the song, the public vote was very high - they finished 10th... we like to think Europe understand the message Hatari are conveying.
Having performed at Eurovision, this surely was the biggest moment of the band's career thus far?
"Yes. Our participation went according to plan and part of that plan was reaching the masses of Europe."
Regarding the music video for 'Hatrið Mun Sigra', where was it filmed and how long did it take to shoot?
"The video was filmed in Reykjavik, Iceland. It took a few days to shoot under the careful direction of Hatari vocalist Klemens Hannigan and film-maker Baldvin Vernharðsson, who has proven to be an indispensable part of the Svikamylla Ehf crew."
Arguably 'Hatrið Mun Sigra' can be contextualised in many ways with the way the world is right now, would you say the song is more relatable now more than ever? (reflecting on the rise of populism in the recent European elections).
"We feel (that) 'Hatrið Mun Sigra' is a dystopia relevant to our current political climate, consumer culture, the context in which the 2019 Eurovision Song Contest took place, and the rise of populism in the recent European elections. This is the case with many of our songs."
You released the EP 'Neysluvara' back in 2017, would you say your sound has changed a lot since then? Would you agree that Hatari has it's own unique sound?
"All aspects of our performances undergo constant development, including our sound, although we work with many of the same elements and themes, including the impending doom of mankind."
With the release of 'Hatrið Mun Sigra' and 'Klefi / Samed (صامد)' ft. Bashar Murad, will Hatari deliver an album for the fans in the foreseeable future?
"Yes. Relentless Scam Incorporated, or Svikamylla Ehf, will announce the album's release when the time comes."
What was the reception like for Hatari when arriving back in Reykjavik? Are you concerned that RUV could be banned from Eurovision next year?*
"The reception was encouraging and our tour around the country with Bashar Murad went according to plan.
We are no longer concerned with the dealings of the Eurovision Song Contest. It would, however, be hypocritical to enforce a rule that every contestant broke on day one, as participation was in itself a political action."
What is the fetish scene like in Iceland?
"The fetish scene in Iceland is vibrant and has much to teach us about many kinds of safe, sane, and consensual activities."
What plans does Hatari have for the year ahead? Will we see you performing in the UK in the foreseeable future?
"We will play shows in many places where there is currently no illegal military occupation taking place. One of these places is London, where we aim to perform late this August."
One could argue that the Japanese Metal scene has only really broken into the Western hemisphere and began to establish a respectable presence here. Sure it's true that if you look at the history of the Japanese Metal scene, you would notice that it's origins are firmly placed in the 1970's, echoing a similar backstory to the British Metal scene. It has to be said though that the Visual Kei movement certainly spurred the overall Japanese Metal scene on and pushed it outside the country with bands like X Japan gaining overseas attention. Fast forward to the turn of the century and bands like Crossfaith, Babymetal and now Lovebites are riding the tides of the New Wave of Japanese Metal.
Lovebites are definitely pretty, but don't let the looks fool you as this all-female Heavy / Power ensemble have enough brutality, grit and power to leave you in awe, given Lovebites have only been going 3 years. In these 3 years they have played at Wacken and Bloodstock Open Air and have signed two record deals, subsequently releasing 2 albums and 2 EP's.
Drummer Haruna spoke to GMA about the girls backstory, rise to global success and the debate of whether to call their music Heavy / Power Metal or Kawaii Metal.
"Maybe people say we are Kawaii Metal because of our looks... listen to our music... we are a Heavy / Power Metal band!"
Festival appearances, a headline tour, two EP's and now two albums across two years since the band's inception, that must be a dream start right?
"I have never thought I could experience this much in such a short time. However, I was sure that this band was going to be a good band because of these great members. I am very pleased to get good reviews for all of our songs. Playing overseas was great too. I have never experienced these kind of things so I just really hope the band will be grow up bigger by footing these chances."
When you were informed you were to perform on the main stage at Bloodstock (instead of Sophie stage), what were emotions like in the band?
I was very surprised. The happiness was bigger than the nervousness. I felt like the luck was on our side. I could do my best and did the best performance, I wanted to make good use of this opportunity. It felt so good to play Bloodstock Open Air, it was the first outdoor festival to play as Lovebites. It was raining that day, but when we played the sky became clearer and many people came out to see us."
You all seem to have different tastes in music: Asami listens to Alicia Keys and Aretha Franklin, Miyako learned to play a classical piano; do you use these as influences in Lovebites' music?
"Halloween triggered me to get into metal music. The first album I listened to was “Master Of The Rings” and I was inspired by Ulrich Kusch’s drumming style. His style became my basic drumming style.
Do you feel that the Japanese Metal scene has gained more attention from Europe over the last decade or so? It seems Japanese Metal is on the rise?
"I believe it’s getting bigger. Loudness and Babymetal are playing often overseas. I hope Lovebites to get in to the boom."
In your own words could you tell us the difference between Visual Kei and Japanese Metal? Is the Visual Kei scene still active?
"I think it’s just the look. Visual Kei bands are mainly guys dressed up, their music styles vary, sometime metal and sometimes not. Somehow people mix up Visual Kei with Metal and think it’s the same thing in Japan. Visual Kei is still highly popular though.
With your new album "Clockwork Immortality", what did you do differently that wasn't present on "Awakening From Abyss"?
"Regarding drumming, I wanted songs to stand out. So sometimes I play aggressive, sometimes I go for something simple to let the vocals and guitars sound stand out. Through the entire album, we wanted and tried to make stronger heavy metal."
Some say your music is Heavy / Power Metal, some say it's Kawaii Metal, how would you describe your music?
"Maybe people say we are Kawaii Metal because of our looks. Just listen to our music or come see us play live, you’ll know we are a Heavy / Power Metal band!
With 2019 in full swing, what have you been up to and what plans have you got for the year ahead?
"We played a Japanese tour in January. I hope to play a lot inside and outside Japan in 2019."
Do you have any greetings, thank you's etc you wish to send out?
"The new album “Clockwork Immortality” shares strong points from “Awakening From Abyss” and “Battle Against Damnation”. Plus it became more powerful with greater melodies, I hope you’ll notice the evolution of Lovebites. You will see us before long. See you there!"
Metalcore is arguably one of those genres that has fallen into the trap of being stigmatised for being too formulaic, relying too much on riffs, breakdowns and bland imagination. So where does this leave Windrunner? Well by adding melodies and progressive elements to the mix, the Vietnamese quintet have come up with a solution to bypass the clutches of being pigeon-holed as just another Metalcore band. It might as well be said that whilst Vietnam is famous for it's motorbikes and bicycles, with Windrunner in full throttle, soon Vietnam will be acknowledged for it's vibrant metal scene. Windrunner were more than pleased to chat to GMA about their deal with Famined Records, the Vietnamese Metal scene, how metal is viewed by the public and their plans for 2019.
"Society has been more and more accepting of metal, but it’s still nowhere it needs to be in a music scene dominated by V-pop and K-pop"
For those who have not heard of Windrunner, could you give us a brief history of the band?
"The band began about 6 years ago, when two local Vietnamese bands combined with current members of Windrunner. Mind you, the scene here is still small, so we have all known each other for years and a few of us have played in different bands together before. It's been kind of back and forth between acts, before this line up solidified. The band has been officially together as Windrunner only for 3 years, continuously growing and blending styles and ideas."
Please can you tell us the history of the Vietnamese Metal scene, it's current state, what festivals, media, support, etc., are present?
"Our scene is quite young, but pulsing. We regularly have shows of every genre you can think of - and the metal scene is doing great right now, with some fresh new acts and creative new directions. There are a few promoters that are pushing the scene and inviting some amazing international acts - Emmure is coming over in March, for example, so we are eternally grateful to them. It's young, it's thriving, and it's at that point where it just steadily keeps growing because it hasn't been around for long."
Bands like Ngũ Cung, Microwave and Black Infinity have gained international attention, for yourselves what is it that makes the Vietnamese style of metal (as it were) what it is?
"We look up to our big brothers in Ngũ Cung, Microwave (we just recently shared the stage with them!) and Black Infinity as the pioneers of metal in Vietnam, but we don’t draw much musical influences from them. Each band has a different style and we want to create our own style too. One thing that we all have in common though is we all have tried to incorporate some elements of Vietnamese traditional music into our own style of metal, one way or another."
It seems that neighbouring countries like Laos and Cambodia are producing metal bands too, do you have bands from neighbouring countries come to play in Vietnam?
"Yes, South East Asia is certainly growing more talented bands each year. We have a few notable bands from around the region from places such as Singapore, Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, even Japanese bands are making motions to tour in our area."
What do your parents think of your music? On a wider scale how does Vietnamese society view metal music?
"As metal music has only been in Vietnam for a short time, the generation gap generally doesn’t allow for a good connection among us and our parents in terms of music. The same applies to how the society views metal music. Rock music isn’t even mainstream here, so metal is just another black sheep. Just over a decade ago, underground metal shows would always get busted by the authorities. Generally though, society has been more and more accepting of metal, but it’s still nowhere it needs to be in a music scene dominated by V-pop and K-pop."
Are you all self-taught? Or did you attend music school's (if there any?)
"Yes all of us are self-taught. Besides the general music classes in grade school, YouTube was and is still our best music teacher."
Obviously releasing 'Mai' your debut album through an American label must carry great feelings? Are you hoping you will expose Vietnamese Metal to the world?
"It’s an honour, so we are eternally grateful for Famined Records and the help they have given us. Our heads were exploding with the feedback and exposure we were witnessing on various internet platforms across the States and international scene in general. It’s truly humbling and so unbelievably exciting. Of course! We are hungry, and Vietnam has tons of quality acts ready to break out."
With the Metalcore genre saturated as it is, what is Windrunner hoping to bring to the table that has not been done already?
"Too right. Lyrical themes and structures are becoming a bit standardised for most genres of heavy music, so what we want to bring is a genuine fresh blend, and push for new sounds and combinations not heard before. We have a few ideas in the pot ready to go for our next release."
For metalheads visiting Hanoi, what sights / attractions could you recommend? What is the best way to get around?
"The city is rich in historical sights. Museums, traditional pagodas and temples are scattered across Hanoi, and the night life in certain areas will keep you busy for sure. The food alone is a landmark in Vietnam, so come hungry! Renting a motorbike or just good ol’ taxis are the best and fastest way to get around."
What are your plans for 2019?
"We already have some ideas brewing for our next release. We have an amazing tour coming up in March with Emmure across South East Asia and China, which we are beyond excited for. After that, we're definitely moving onto bigger and better things! If you liked what you heard so far, just wait for what's next."
Finally do you have any greetings, or thank you's that you wish to send out?
"We would simply like to thank everyone for their interest and support over the last few months. All the feedback, likes, posts, shares - each one means the world. We would like to thank our local supporters for coming to shows and making each one memorable. We would like to thank the team at Famined Records for believing in us and giving us a chance to grow in a way we would never have thought possible."
Skyforger are arguably Latvia's most successful and well known metal band, here is a Pagan Metal band who have stood against the test of time since their inception back in 1995; previously known as Grindmaster Dead from 1991-1995. Since then many changes have taken place, with vocalist / guitarist Pēteris Kvetkovskis and backing vocalist / bassist Edgars Grabovskis being the only members from the original line-up, both of which also take on duties of playing traditional Latvian instruments; joining them are Alvis Bernāns on guitars and Artūrs Jurjāns on drums.
Their latest album "Senprūsija (Old Prussia)" which saw daylight back in 2015, is their sixth album and provides more evidence that Skyforger are more than just a metal band, they're dedicated at pushing more of their cultural heritage, folklore and history to the fore. This is even more so evident with their new music video 'Nothing Is Forgotten' which was released in celebratory honour of the 100th anniversary of Latvian independence.
Peter was more than happy to chat to GMA about this momentous occasion, Skyforger's history, the importance of learning about one's national history and folklore, what makes Pagan Metal uniquely separate from the overarching Folk Metal genre and of course what metalheads can do in Latvia's heavily-steeped-in-history capital Riga.
Skyforger has stood the test of time with seven albums and 24 years under your belt - will you be celebrating your 25th in style?
"No, we don’t plan to celebrate 25 nor 30 years, if we will still be around, and have nothing more important to present our fans than retrospective on what we have done for all this years. But I hope not and that instead we get out new albums and new songs to show! Last year we did a concert dedicated to 20 years of our first album “Kauja Pie Saules”, but it was initiative from our friends to make such a concert happen, we just took part in there. However, it was all about the album, not the band. Personally I don’t like this kind of fake celebrations – who cares if a band is around 10 or 25 years, what matters is music they create. We do big shows when we have a new album out and could call it a “celebration”, but never cared about for how long band has been going."
How long did it take to make the latest video? Where was it filmed and who was involved?
"Well, the idea for this video was floating around in the air for some couple of years. We wanted to dedicate a song “Nekas Nav Aizmirsts”, or in English “Nothing Is Forgotten” for all those nameless Latvian soldiers and riflemen, who make freedom of Latvia possible 100 years ago. Since we had exactly a centenary date coming up, there was no more time to waste. The video clip was filmed in various locations near Riga during the Summer and September / October of 2018. Then we put it all together in one month and release date was decided to be 18th November, the day of our 100th independence day, which is a very symbolic date. We invited a great upcoming actress Maija Arvena to join the video clip and also used a couple of excerpts from some famous Latvian movies, like massive war scenes which we could not film ourselves, And we ourselves, of course ha ha. You can watch video online in YouTube."
Along with the other Baltic countries, how did Latvia celebrate 100 years of independence?
"Oh, there was a lot of stuff going on! Concerts, movies, various events, it is hard to name them all. The Government gave away money to special foundations, which took care of such events to happen. It was all around our country for some time. Needless to say it went on with high national pride and spirit. Also we had the annual Song Festival celebrations for one month. Skyforger also took part in these activities: we played a concert at the Soldier Remembrance Day on 11th November 2018, and most importantly, our biggest show ever – metal opera “Kurbads”, a whole spectacle based on our "Kurbads" album performed by dancers! You can watch it here: http://straume.lmt.lv/lv/kultura/kultura/kurbads/1001003"
Can people learn basic Latvian from your songs? Is it easy / hard to learn Latvian?
"Hmm hard to say, but I doubt it would be possible to learn basic Latvian just from our songs - few words, sure, but not the basic language, you need some dictionary for that. In my opinion the Latvian language is hard to learn - could be a lot harder than German, English, or Russian. We had a lot of those ķ, ļ, dž, ž, š and a/ā, i /ī, u/ū and so on. Very few words built on a Latin base like English or German have and even then those words are borrowed from languages I mentioned. So it would be quite difficult for foreigners to learn and pronounce words like kaķis (cat) or dzelzsceļš (railroad) ha ha I bet!"
With your lyrics are you hoping people would pay interest in Latvian history and folklore?
"Sure we do! That is one of our goals! That is why we have everything translated into English and even more – we always add some explanations and stories for people to understand what it is all about. Just check our website, it is full of explanations about what we sing and what we tell: http://skyforger.lv/en/"
Do you have any favourite songs from the albums you have done?
"No, they all are like my children, everyone is equal in the eyes of the father ha ha. But honestly, I never listen to my music at home. Probably it is because I hear those songs differently to anyone else from aside or they were in my ears already for so many times when I created, recorded and performed them, so I had enough already. Therefore I can’t name you any specific song I love from Skyforger, sorry."
What is it in your opinion that makes Folk Metal, or in your case Pagan Metal that bit special?
"Hmm, I can tell you what makes our music special, but if you ask how those (Folk / Pagan) styles stand out, I have a hard time today to tell something original here. So-called Folk Metal of late reminds me more of Power Metal than what it was (Folk) when it all started. Today I see Folk Metal as jolly Power Metal hymns with pathetic pompous choruses and of course bagpipes playing along the band, add here Odin and Vikings ad nauseam and you’ll get the picture. It is funny that even non-Folk Metal bands now sing about Vikings and add that folky stuff in their music. Like when you have Judas Priest and Saxon singing about Valhalla!
It is to the point that we as Skyforger feel a bit shameful to be named as Folk Metal band. I know it will sound like bragging, but here are a few things that makes us stand apart: we sing in our language, we sing about our Baltic heritage and history instead of Vikings, we try to play a more aggressive and grim style of music, we do real research about what we sing. So maybe it is better, in our case, to call it Pagan Metal. I know, I maybe take it all a bit too serious, but then again that is my personal attitude to the music."
For Metalheads visiting Riga, what sights / attractions could you recommend? What venues? Best alcohol drinks?
"Old Town of course - there is a lot to see, all that medieval style most of metalheads would love. Then there is the Ethnographical Open Air museum on the outskirts of Riga. What else… probably the folk club-pub Ala, with live Latvian folk music and dances and something like 30 kinds of beer. The Folk music shop Upe (you can buy traditional folk instruments there) and ancient jewellery shop “Baltu Rotas”. Some traditional food places, like Lido Dzirnavas. For best alcohol – beer - there is no better stuff here as we have old beer traditions. I can recommend Bauskas, Tērvetes, Valmiermuiža beers as good ones one can buy in shops and then there are countless craft beers in places like Labietis. Two of the best places for Metalheads to hang around with metal music and like-minded people inside is the tavern “Zobens and Lemess” and café Leningrad. If you come in Summer (June) we have our own Pagan Metal festival 'Zobens Un Lemess' or 'Kilkim Žaibu' festival in neighbouring Lithuania. So this is what comes into my mind right now."
What plans does Skyforger have for going into 2019? Are there any greetings you wish to send out to friends, family, fans, etc?
"We started to work on new songs, but I guess a new album will be out only in 2020 as it still goes slow due to not enough of free time and just one rehearsal in a week. But at least it is started! Then we have some great festivals ahead and few concerts here and there for this year. For example Party.San festival in Germany. Maybe some more opportunities will arouse as the new year is just started!
As always we want to say big thanks to everyone who supports our band, comes to concerts and listens our music – we appreciated it a lot! Thanks Global Metal Apocalypse for this interview and see you all soon around!"
Demonic Resurrection are one of the leading metal bands from the Indian Metal scene, having been around since the turn of the millennium they have released 5 albums, 1 EP and 1 split and in that time played across Asia and Europe; most notably playing twice at Bloodstock where this year Sahil (vocalist/guitarist) had a chat with GMA about why he was putting not only the band to rest, but his other bands as well. He spoke about his YouTube channel, the scene going forward, what you can do in Bombay and what religion means to him.
"Religion is very good fiction; they're great stories and it's unfortunate that people have taken them literally "
Demonic Resurrection has come to an end, could you tell us how this come about?
"I don't know man I think after 18 years of doing this, I'm kind of a little tired and fed-up with the way things are. I don't mind the struggle and I'm happy to work really hard and put 110% behind what I am doing, but for me I feel like the struggle has been with the same things as opposed to being different struggles as you progress as a band. For me that's kind of where it sort of says it's not working; if you're struggling with the same thing you started 10 years ago then maybe you're doing something wrong. So I kind of need to at least for now just put this behind me and maybe focus on something that is really doing well for me right now, which is my Headbangers Kitchen YouTube channel, so that's the plan right now."
Regarding your YouTube channel, you recently become certified correct? And you contributed to a book?
"Yeah we got certified a while back but we just reached 230,000 subscribers, so it's pretty much become my full-time job now and has kept me quite busy.
I was approached by a publisher last year to sort of edit a book rather than write one, I wrote some stuff for this book but mainly edited a lot of their recipes too make them keto-friendly.
Keto is a sort of way of eating where you deprive your body of carbohydrates and it goes into burning fat for fuel, it's sort of become one of the hottest ways to lose weight because it kind of lets you do it in a more of a free-approach to it, rather than being restricting yourself in terms of what you can and cannot eat; though you are, but it doesn't feel as deprived as most diets do."
Out of all of the dishes you have done, which is your favourite?
"Oh that's a tough question man, I would definitely say one of my most popular dishes is the 'bacon bomb'; that is kind of my signature meat dish, but I'm also very proud of my buttered chicken. The 'bacon bomb' is half a kilo of ground pork meat seasoned beautifully with fresh herbs, stuffed with cheese, peppers, onions, wrapped in bacon, covered in BBQ sauce and baked. That would keep you going for the rest of the day."
So your other bands Reptilian Death, Demonstealer and Workshop are being phased out too?
"If anyone has been following me, I think it was about 2 years ago I put Workshop to rest and then a year ago I put Reptilian Death down as well. I don't know man just things stopped working for the band and like I said I don't mind working hard, but when all the odds are against you then you just need to know when to let go. With Workshop we just come to a point where we were just unable to book shows because whoever booked shows didn't like our music, so eventually we were not able to book anything and it just sort of died down because there were no gigs we could play and the other members became busy with their other musical careers, so we called it a day."
With Kryptos carrying on, what does the future of the Indian Metal scene look like in your opinion?
"Honestly I don't know, but what I do know is it will survive, it will go through it's up's and down's like it always has, I think as a genre metal still holds onto people in some way. Even though the Indian scene is not growing in the way it should, but you know we will have to wait and see the way it goes, but I do believe it will survive and have children always wanting to play metal, so you will always have some Indian Metal bands; whether they last or not, that's a different question."
With the metal band Bloodywood mixing Bollywood music with metal, do you see this as a step forward?
"Honestly, I don't know if that's a step forward but it is definitely a connecting point for people around the world to know that there's metal in India. I guess they've tapped into what I would call the 'YouTube Market' ,which is a huge platform for very creative content and creators to exploit, and I think they have found a formula what works for them. So I definitely think them as a band will do great things, whether they choose to go live or whether they choose to spend their energy on YouTube, it will definitely be and introduction for most people getting into the Indian Metal scene."
So how did Demonic Resurrection come round to playing Bloodstock this time? Do you keep in touch with past members?
"Yes I think Bio-Cancer dropped out and my agent said I could book in for Bloodstock, so I was like let me check the visa situation because the last time we came here we had to get a work permit, which is really expensive, but it turns out that there is a cheaper option and I was anyway planning to visit the UK for friend's wedding so it kind-of worked out. Especially as we have two members in the UK, so that's two people that actually needed to fly in now for the gig; myself and Virendra. As of now we have Shoi Sen and Arran McSporran from De Profundis who play bass and guitar, they're our live session members in the UK.
I'm still in touch with most of them yeah, they're always doing something or the other. Nishith Hegde and Ashwin Shriyan play in Bollywood, they're session musicians and as is Daniel Kenneth Rego, Mephisto chills at home and writes some of his own music but doesn't really put anything out so."
Could you tell us more about your last (and final) album "Dashavatar", what does it mean?
"'Dashavatar' is basically about the the primary avatars of Vishnu, the Hindu god of preservation, it's actually funny that I even wrote something like this because I'm a staunch atheist and I have a lot of disdain for religion, but as stories there are interesting things here and my wife told me the story of
Narasimha the man-lion, and the way it was told to me was... it kind of showed a very brutal side to the story and the truth is I think, religion is very good fiction; they're great stories and it's unfortunate that people have taken them literally and f****d everything up, but they are great stories and they were stories that I thought would be good to tell through our music and I made sure that we didn't compromise the music that we made. I know we do have Indian instruments in the album, but they are there with a purpose, they are not us suddenly going all fusion, trying to create something, so that was an interesting thing to do."
For metalheads visiting India, aside from the Taj Mahal, what sights / attractions would you recommend seeing?
"Well if you're coming to Bombay (Mumbai) it's always good to get a look at the gateway of India, there are these caves called the Ajanta and Ellora caves which are nice to visit as well, you can go to the beach, Juhu beach, Marine Drive, yeah you can go around and eat some good food in Bombay. Honestly I always never know what to tell people to go and see in Bombay because myself I don't really care for sightseeing and stuff, it's all about food."
Signing off are there any greetings or thank you's that you wish to send out?
"Thank you for having me and for doing this interview, thank you to anyone who has listened to any of my music and bought a CD or t-shirt, I appreciate it!"
Bloodstock cherishes and relishes the opportunity to showcase metal bands from all over the world, this year they reeled in Nepal's Underside, a Groove Metal / Metalcore leviathan that is taking the Asian Metal scene by storm. But it has not always been plain sailing for the band as vocalist Avishek KC explained to GMA, he spoke to us about the Nepalese economy, challenges the scene and band faced, the importance of the Ghurka and how metal unites world cultures.
"No one bought CDs... you couldn't afford it, 20-30 US Dollars would be like 3,000-4,000 Nepalese Rupee (NPR)... my pocket money for 2 months to buy one album"
KC, how did Underside come about? What challenges have you faced?
"We started Underside after the country suffered war, we were tired of shifting from one band to the other so we go together and started this whole new project, with a lot of energy and anger.
Oh man, where do I get started? Ok, the survival itself in a country like Nepal is number one just in terms of the economy, everyone goes through that it's normal, then you have the police, the system, the security, the society, they hate everyone with long hair. There was a time where police used to grab you and chop your hair off, just for looking like different. It's not the first time, I've been through that on many levels and if you're walking in the middle of the night, get in. It's changed a little bit now comparatively but, and then there were the power shortages, we had power out for like 16 hours a day so imagine being in a band, and that was because the Government was selling electricity illegally to companies and they found out the whole country was in darkness for 10 years because of some corruption in the system.
When there is no light it has a ripple effect, on your job, timings, everything and itself being in a country that far is a big challenge trying to get your music out here so you talk to someone and it's like 'OK let's watch it if you're here' if you get a gig or two, I think those are some of the few challenges faced so far.
Getting gear in Nepal is fine, it's not that hard but they don't sell the expensive stuff because no one can afford it, so there are a lot of music stores that sell low-grade guitars from 200-400 USD so you can make do with what you can get."
How long has the Nepalese Metal scene been going? What is it like?
"It's been there but in it's infancy, it has been there for a while but not for a while, not very long. Now it's slowly coming up with our best but it's not an easy job, it's a struggle everyday so.
Yeah we have one we do as a band and as a team put on Silence Festival, the only metal festival otherwise there is no metal festival scene at all, so it's a brand new culture slowly coming out, it's a lot of hard work for us to, even to put one show on.
It's insane, even within the country Kathmandu is so centralized, now we've sort of taken over the city with our music and put show on in front of what 800 people in a venue a few days before Bloodstock. Now we're focusing on outside of the country and are going to the rural places, probably will be doing a little bit of India, so that's the plan to go on."
Would you play in neighbouring Bhutan?
"Yeah of course! I would love to play there with Underside, I think we have some fans from Bhutan who message us on our social media, so yeah that would be sick".
What do your parents think of your music? When did you want to become a musician?
"My parents have never... I think my dad once came to the show and just left after two songs, that was also because my nephew and niece wanted to come, so he came four hours early and I asked him to come again and then he came back and instantly left. My mum has never seen my shows so.
I don't know, I think I always use to want to become a musician when I was a kid and I guess it was what I wanted from the band, I think it was when I heard Pantera and then I wanted to play guitar, but I then said no you can't play guitar you got to sing. But it was always there, I always love the culture of being in a band, playing music it just spoke to me so... ever since I can remember."
What was the journey from Kathmandu to Bloodstock like? Tell us what happened. How did you get invited to play Bloodstock?
"Ah man, it's been pretty crazy with two flights, 6 hours on one plane and two hours break and then 8 hours on another plane and then our home and then a 4-hour drive to Bloodstock. So yeah that's pretty much a little journey, but before that there's been a lot of preparation where we were working on production, we were trying a smaller scale production pretty much for the first time, for Bloodstock we want to bring a little bit of home, just been talking to the production crew in the tent so yeah we worked pretty hard and prepared to do it.
Well we received an invite, I have got a few friends here and promoters who have been working for the festival in the past, so we started a good relationship over the years you know, I think it's from peoples love and friendship that has made the band what it is."
Do you feel that Nepalese band coming to play in the UK could aid tourism in Nepal?
"I think it does because like we're representing where we are from and people get to know where you are from and I'm telling you about this because you asked about the problems, if you ask me about the good stuff there are a lot of good things, good people, they're the most helpful and I think friendly people you meet going about disregarding the society, the police, the system. But yeah I think it does, when people get to understand and connect, I think it does help in some ways."
With the UK and Nepal sharing a long history together, do you feel it's ever more important to support the Ghurka's?
"I think it's a cool thing that we have that relationship with the Ghurka's and like, it's been there for years and it's always good to fuse and connect on a certain level, keeping a healthy relationship. So it's always good to cherish, improve it and make it better. I think it's great, times like this when conflicts are happening, problems with each other and everything all the time, I think it's a great thing that we connect."
Who was the biggest band to play in Nepal thus far? Has the Nepalese Government become more relaxed in recent times?
"I think Behemoth, Vader, but no I think Behemoth is still the biggest to have played Nepal so far. Yeah I mean even last year the police were just bar-standing, we had so many problems trying to get the Twelve Foot Ninja boys out of the airport because the Government did not understand the system of bringing in your own equipment and stuff, it's just like you can't do whatever the f**k you want; 'I've got it, everything in a letter' and they were like 'we don't know come back Monday' and I was like 'dude the festival is today, you can't tell them to come on Monday', and I had to be on stage in 30 minutes so we play after the band because I was still at the airport stressing."
So is Nepal still a slightly conservative country?
"Yeah yeah in regards to metal music and being out there with your long hair and looking like all of us here it still is, it is an open place for tourism as we get a lot of tourists, but when it comes to the society; they have a different attitude towards it, because we are from the inside and are kind of rebels. But you go there and do things that we do, so they have a different approach for how you're treated."
What did you listen to when you were in high school?
"A lot of Pantera, Metallica, Slipknot... I was in a Black Metal band, there was something about Black Metal that I really love, it's been a while when I was listening to Mayhem, Nargaroth, Burzum, I love that stuff back in the day and also a lot of alternative stuff. So there was a lot to listen to, you used to have a lot of friends into different things, we were listening to pretty much everything. Listening to the old stuff on vinyl, Hendrix, Manson and stuff, depends on who you hanged out with back in the day. I loved albums by the likes of Korn, anything you can get your hands on, but it was so hard to get music at that time - if it was metal, everyone would just listen to it and no questions asked.
No one bought a CD, you couldn't get it because you couldn't afford it, 20-30 US Dollars would be like 3,000-4,000 Nepalese Rupee (NPR) and that would be my pocket money for 2 months to buy one album. You couldn't get it even if you said you'd save up to buy it, so whatever you had you listened to it as much as you can. For the UK a £10-£15 album would be like 2,000 NPR and that's a lot of money for us at that time especially when we were children.
What could you buy for 2,000 NPR?
"Nothing man, just like cigarettes... a little bit more than that, not a lot, definitely not a lot. Maybe lunch and stuff, you could buy posters and stuff, bootleg albums, etc., Nowadays children have the spending access, they can buy guitars; I got my first electric guitar when I was 16 and it cost about 200 USD and it was a fight; my parents got it in but it was a brutal fight."
Do you have any greetings or thank you's that you wish to send out?
"Yes, thank you to you man for talking to us or any other press that's talking to us at Bloodstock; it's amazing to be here, our crew, all the boys, our fans and people back home."
Obzidian are a Progressive Death / Thrash outfit situated in Staffordshire and ultimately slammed Bloodstrock with their infectious music, they spoke to GMA about the struggles in their local scene, their music backgrounds and why being social media savvy pays off.
Who came up with the band name Obzidian and what does it mean?
"I was doing A-level geography in college and basically it's a volcanic glassy rock that forms so quickly that it's like a sheet of glass but is black, so it's like a sort of reflective black glass so we thought that's a pretty metal thing, so we'll name out band after it, we just changed the 's' to a 'z' because there is already another band with that name using an 's'."
What was the emotions like in the Obzidian camp when being confirmed to play Bloodstock? Was there any hush-hush?
"Excitement and a little bit of terror because I was at work at the time, obviously our manager Dan just put messages on our group thread saying 'call me, call me', I'm like what's going on? I'm at work. I called him in the toilet and he was like 'mate we're playing Bloodstock', so I kind of had a little dance to myself in the toilet at work. We've been wanting this for ages and it finally happened, it's all a bit of a blur to be honest.
Yeah my dad was our sound-man for a very long time so he's fully engrained into our band, helped us and bought all of the gear we've got at the moment, drove us round the country week-in week-out. My mum's always supportive, she's not a musician herself but has grown up with my dad being a musician and obviously supported music and stuff - they've all supported us 100% and when I told them they were absolutely made up. They've back us through everything.
I'm from a big music background, my father toured the US in the 70's with his band, my brother is a semi-professional drummer, so they're really proud because I found my own way as I don't have the musical attributes they had, I don't have the musical talent they had."
How did you all get into Metal Music?
"I started off with more classic rock stuff like AC/DC when I was around 12, started playing guitar because of them and then just got heavier and heavier, started listening to Megadeth, Metallica and Pantera, then onto Meshuggah.
All of our parents have grown up with rock, classic rock, that kind of thing. My dad was a big Deep Purple and Motorhead fan, then Judas Priest, he got me into all of that and then by growing up with that, I was about 8 or 9 when I listened to the 'Black Album' and then that took me onto a different path and then I found Megadeth, then onto Metallica, then onto Sepultura, it all got heavier from there really.
Same with me the whole classic rock background with my dad, I think it was my brother really who started to dip his fingers into the heavier side of things, to be fair I think Sepultura was the first heavy band I listened to. It was an honour to play with them, so that's one thing ticked off the bucket list a few years back.
Was there any challenges that Obzidian had to overcome in the years past?
"I don't know if there's been any real challenges as such like some bands go through, money is always a challenge, trying to find how to travel, buying gear and merch, making sure we put our finances in the right areas, make some back and make a profit, being able to carry on doing it. It's always a bit of a risk when you want to carry on doing that kind of thing, when you have all those upfront costs. Apart from that not really, the only change we ever made to our line-up was in 2005 when Matty Jenks came in on vocals and we parted ways with our old vocalist / guitarist; more like a James Hetfield kind of character, we wanted to go heavier and he didn't, we kind of changed up a little bit.
For the past 13-14 years it's been this line-up and we really haven't faced anything apart from time and money. If someone has a problem they put it out there, when we need to argue we argue and when we need to complement each other we do. There's no stones or turbulence.
We've known each other for so long, me (Paul Hayward), Baz Foster and Matt Jeffs grew up together and went through high school, we've known each other since the age of 11 and it just formed a solid friendship that you can base music on. "
Could you tell us about what the Staffordshire Metal scene is like?
"Stafford is a semi-rural town, but it's starting to get better, there's not a lot of bands there, not a lot of live music there. There's a venue called The Red Rum where a guy called Nick is really trying to bring Hed P.E. and bigger bands in to the area to try and encourage people to come out and listen to more live music and we can't thank him enough for that as he's put us on 3-4 times already in various venues
I'm from the Staffordshire side of Wolverhampton, right by Birmingham which is the home of heavy metal as everyone says but for so many years there was just nothing there... but the way the underground scene has been rising in the past 2-3 years in Birmingham, it's beginning to feel like a real place again metal-wise. We did a lot of stuff up in Manchester for a while.
There's been times where we've had to drive hours and hours away from home to find a decent show, but now it's all coming back to the Midlands which is a really good thing. There's a lot of good promoters out there just sticking at it and getting the right bands on the shows.
FatAngel who we're with now, the label and promotions who are based in Coventry have really done wonders for the Midlands scene e.g. Mosh Against Cancer Festival, they've just been wonderful for us. Dan Carter who is our manager (also the bassist in Left For Red), he's the man who looks after us now and just waggled his hand just like 'oh you guys' (all laugh).
When growing up when did you realize you wanted to become a musician, what was your first instrument?
"I don't remember the exact point but I used to play guitar originally and used to jam with my dad who also is a guitarist and vocalist from back in the 70's. After about 4-5 years of that, getting my own gear and being in a couple of bands as a guitarist, my cousin who is a drummer let me have a go on his kit and the rest is just history, so I've been on drums ever since. My cousin probably influenced me the most on drums, but for guitar it was probably my dad and I think I was probably 7/8 when I properly started playing guitar and then changed to drums when I was around 12/13 and now I'm 34. For the last 10-15 I went into music production learning how to record etc.
AC/DC, from my dad's old vinyl collection, once I pulled out 'Power Age' it was f*****g awesome, stuck that on and went out to buy some AC/DC albums and that was it, I wanted to be like Angus Young.
I've played drums, I've played guitar, but I was s**t so I went to vocals and started screaming (all laugh).
Summarise Bloodstock in two words, what would you say?
"Bloody raining / awesome metal / absolutely incredible / metal family"
Have you had any fans from abroad contact you via social media?
"Yeah we've had a few guys from Norway, Sweden, those kinds of places, firstly they message us and then buy the album. They say they really love it and will play it to all of their friends. We've had radio play in Canada and the USA, so yeah we've had a lot of international contact - we just need to turn that into shows now and see what happens."
Are there any greetings or thank you's that you wish to send out?
"Hello to anyone whose bought stuff or who will buy stuff, check us out on obzidian.co.uk and on Facebook. A big shout out to those who visited the New Blood Stage at 10:30, cheers to the crew, everyone who knows us and has checked us out."