Monthly Archives: August 2011

INTERVIEW WITH SKRYPT


Presenting for today, a freewheeling chat with Abbas Razvi, the bassist of the Hyderabad, India based metal act, SKRYPT, about his early influences, struggling with labels in India popping people’s metal cherries.

Enjoy!

TDSR: Hey, Abbas. Baba T here.

TDSR:So, tell me how you got into metal in the first place?

Abbas (Skrypt): That’s a long time ago now man. It was back when I was in school in the 6th or 7th. I think a friend of mine gave me a CD with some Metallica, Sepultura, Pantera and Arch Enemy videos on it.

I liked it, and kept watching it over and over. It was back in the days of Kazaa, and I downloaded more songs by the same bands. I used to download the song that had the most number of seeds and that’s how I got into it and started exploring the genre from there on.

TDSR: Did you ever get people around you trying to dissuade you from listening to such stuff? I know I used to face a lot of opposition at home!!

On basis of the sound as well as religious concerns, I guess

Abbas (Skrypt): Yeah all the time man. It created a lot of problems. I just stopped cranking it too loud and just play it to myself usually

I do that even right now. I just got back from breakfast and I’m wearing a Devoid tee that says “A God’s Lie” on the front. I tried covering the line when I sat at the breakfast table, so no one could read it! Haha.

TDSR: Hehe. I would think that starting a metal band would require a very VERY high amount of dedication seeing that the scene in India is not very fertile for metal in particular and rock music in general.

How was it like, at first, when you thought of starting your own band?

Abbas (Skrypt): Starting a band is the easy part actually. Sustaining the band and having dedicated members is the hard part.

I wasn’t really the founding member of the band though. Scenic, Rajiv. Ramya and Akhil were already together when I joined the band and we were all really lucky to find dedicated members who took this seriously and had similar taste and shared the same passion towards music.

We’ve always had problems with the 2nd guitarist having to leave for some reason or the other but I think we’ve got a really stable lineup for now.

TDSR: Speaking of taste, you talked about how you started off with the usual stuff – Metallica, Slayer etc. What’s the stuff from the modern era which interests you the most, as a metal fan?

Abbas (Skrypt): Well, there’s lots now man. There’s so many genres of metal! I’d say Opeth, Meshuggah, Textures, Lazarus AD, Dying Fetus, Decapitated, Necrophagist etc. are my main influences. A few of these bands aren’t really new though. Lately though, I’ve been listening to a lot of Neuraxis and Abysmal Dawn.

TDSR: But Skrypt’s primary influences seem to be centered on lot of the groove-thrash territory of Sepeltura, Pantera and Machinehead, yes?

Abbas (Skrypt): Yeah, our roots lie there. Pantera, Slayer, Sep etc. type thrash groove with some progressive death elements influences such as Death, Opeth etc. is a big part of our sound.

The 2 biggest common influences to the band members though, are Pantera and Death.

TDSR: Especially the Sound of Perseverance and Symbolic albums I would guess.

Abbas (Skrypt): Yeah.

Individual thought patterns and human too….

TDSR: How did you get attracted to bass as an instrument?

Abbas (Skrypt): Well I started off by playing a bit of rhythm guitar at home but listening to Black Sabbath, Pantera and Death made me want to try out bass. But I couldn’t really afford to buy a bass and wasn’t too sure how long I’d be interested in that.

I actually picked up bass after I joined Skrypt. I sold my cellphone and bought the cheapest bass available in the market

TDSR: Oho. That must have been a little tough in the beginning

Abbas (Skrypt): For the first year or year and a half, it was pretty much keeping up with the band and almost like playing guitar on the bass. But then I understood the instrument better and started playing more of “bass” on the bass.

It was a little tough at the beginning, but then got used to it soon enough.

TDSR: As a musician, though, what are the other kinds of music you listen to for inspiration, other than metal?

Abbas (Skrypt): Nothing.

There’s enough metal out there to listen to for inspiration. There’s no reason to try and listen to anything else

TDSR:So no classical music/pop etc??

Abbas (Skrypt): Nah, man. There’s metal with a neoclassical influence. There’s metal with progressive influence. There’s metal with blues and jazz influence

So that keeps me satisfied within the metal genre.

 

TDSR: Hehe. So moving on, now you were in a band, playing bass and your band mates luckily like the same music as you. When did you decide that you would like to get really serious about the whole thing?

Abbas (Skrypt): Well, there wasn’t really a definite point as such. It started out as fun, but we were serious about the band and wanted it to get places right from the start. Along the way, it got a lot more fun and a lot more serious.

TDSR: Which I guess has worked out very well so far, after the release of Discord.

Abbas (Skrypt): Yeah man. We’re really happy with the way the EP release went, and the response has been great so far.

TDSR: Yes. Are you guys trying to get onto a label?

Abbas (Skrypt): We’re still undecided about it man. I’ve been hearing mixed reviews about the labels here. The bands that are on Indian labels seem unsatisfied with their labels. So, I was thinking we’re better off being an independent band.

TDSR: Why is that?

Abbas (Skrypt): Maybe, if there’s a good offer from an international label we could look into that.

TDSR: I mean why are they unsatisfied with the Indian labels?

Abbas (Skrypt): The labels act like they own the bands, man. The band can’t just play any gig. They need the consent of the label. They’re literally owned by the label.

TDSR: Oh. Which becomes a major problem

Abbas (Skrypt): yeah. And the band doesn’t really get any major benefit. Anything the label does, the band can do itself.

TDSR: Plus, it’s not as if any band makes major dough through album sales in India…..

Abbas (Skrypt): yeah

TDSR:I would think that the lifeline for a band would be gigs, gigs and more gigs.

Abbas (Skrypt): Yeah, definitely man. Live shows are what the bands are all about anyway.

TDSR: Definitely. Anyway, you have been gigging all over India for around 4 odd years now. Do you think there has been a growth in the number of fans for metal all over India, or is it just the same 300-400 people showing up for every gig?

Abbas (Skrypt): the scene has definitely grown man….lots of new faces at gigs. There are lots of people that are into this music now and the bands have improved lots as well….from playing only covers to bands playing original material… there are tighter bands and better sound and the quality is definitely improving as well.

TDSR:If you remember that Nervecell gig though back in September, you guys were pissed with the organizers. In general, how do you find the organizers treating bands here? Because we here a lot of complaints from a lot of bands.

Abbas (Skrypt): The organizers still need to learn a lot. They think that if they get a band to come and play and pay them, the band will do anything they want them to do. I’m not saying everyone is like that. We’ve been lucky enough to play gigs with some really brilliant organizers as well, but a lot of people need to learn to respect the bands as well.

 

TDSR: …As well as the fans. Everytime I go for a gig, there is someone there to stop us from forming a moshpit or headbanging too hard, or having a beer for that matter….

Abbas (Skrypt): Yeah man. They need to understand that it’s all a part of the music. No one’s trying to hurt anybody, and there’s no violence involved. The real violence starts when they involve the bouncers and start threatening the fans when they headbang or mosh a little bit.

TDSR: It looks violent, but I’ve never seen anybody get hurt for real.

Abbas (Skrypt): yeah

TDSR: Or anybody trying to hurt someone intentionally.

Abbas (Skrypt): Even if someone accidentally gets hurt, there are no hard feelings. Its all good fun in the end

TDSR: But metal is so much of a sub-sub-culture here, its hard to get many people to appreciate that.

Abbas (Skrypt): Yeah true.

TDSR: Even when you guys played at NALSAR here, I got a lot of flak. People wanted to hear the same old same old classic rock.

Abbas (Skrypt): Yeah can imagine man. The same old Def Leppard, Eagles, Bon Jovi and Nirvana covers. That’s what most people want to hear.

 

TDSR: Yea. Right. I won’t be organizing anything in my college again. Hehe.

Abbas (Skrypt): Haha, it was still lots of fun man. We’d still love to come back and play there. Although, I’m sure you wouldn’t want to go through the hassle of organizing anything.

TDSR: No. I got a lot of abuse for getting a metal band on campus. But I enjoyed the hell outta of it all.

Abbas (Skrypt): Haha. were we like the first metal band to play there?

TDSR: You bet. Most people had never seen a metal act.

Abbas (Skrypt): Haha. Sweeeet. Feels good having popped their cherry.

TDSR: Thats why they couldn’t understand why Rajiv (drummer) would want 6 cymbals!

Abbas (Skrypt): Haha.

TDSR: Just a few more and we are good. So, what’s in the future for Skrypt?

Abbas (Skrypt): We’re working on new songs right now and are planning on releasing a full-length album, hopefully before the end of this year or early next year… And we want to push everything a notch higher

TDSR: Any big gigs coming up?

Abbas (Skrypt): Nothing definite yet. We’ll find out soon enough, though.

TDSR: How do you plan to publicize the band further? Facebook is well and good but something more is needed I guess?

Abbas (Skrypt): The same old method man. Playing gigs is the most important thing right now, all over the country. We played at Pune and Mumbai last month, and are working on a few more.

TDSR: Yea I know…

Abbas (Skrypt): We’re also a part of the Metal Hammer -Global Metal compilation, which will be out next month. So that’ll be a huge thing for us.

TDSR: Excellent. On a personal note, I am a big fan of Discord and your playing style in general. Abbas (Skrypt): Awesome. Thanx, man. Anyway I’ve gotta rush man.

TDSR: Sure man. Thanks a lot for your time. I really appreciate this.

VISIT SKRYPT ON REVERBNATION and FACEBOOK.

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- BABA T


MARCO RODI – Interview – 2011


A long overdue interview, that I should have posted a LONG-ass time back. A lot was going on back then. But now it’s here. Rejoice, MARCO RODI fans!

1.       Why the bass? Do you see the sound as ‘limiting’?

I didn’t really “Choose” to play the bass. It kinda came to me. When I was 15, I wanted to learn how to play electric guitar. So me and my friend went to the music store to check out the guitars. I then saw a 4-string instrument. I asked my friend what it was and he said: “It’s a bass. It’s like a guitar but instead of playing “diiiiiiiiiiii” you are playing “douuuuuuuuuuuuuu”. I found it pretty cool and bought a cheap Ibanez bass and a cheap amp. I loved it.

I don’t find the sound limiting. Nothing is limited unless you set your own limits.

2.       Do you try to make the bass sound like something that it is not?

Well for me, the bass is only a tool, like any other instrument, that let’s you express words you can’t say. Some people can think that it’s a groove instrument, others can think that it’s the drum’s best friend and others can think that it’s a slapping machine. You decide for yourself. I don’t really “try” to do anything in particular except to experiment this 4-string instrument in my purest emotions to push the boundaries of the instrument. To make look the bass like a fun, upfront instrument. 

3.       What is your approach to practicing? Do you have any fixed regimen? Or do you ‘wing it’ every time?

I discipline myself to play each day in a fun, constructive and cool way. The number one reason I play the bass is for fun. I love it so much. So when I practice, I improvise with my loop pedal, I jam on top of my favorite songs, I learn a song and change the bass line, I slap and tap, I experiment weird tuning, I write, I practice my solo bass compositions, I put a cheap drum track and lay down a fat groove with a cool solo etc.

Nothing is limited unless you set your own limits

4.       How and why did you start doing solo bass? Is it something you always want to pursue aside from your regular band Metazon?

When I was 19, I was walking in my school and I saw a poster of a talent contest. The rules were that you had 10 minutes to perform any form of art possible on stage. I decided to do a 10-minute bass solo. So for 5 months, I locked myself in my room hours per day to write this 10 minutes bass solo. I was getting inspired by Victor Wooten, Flea, Pastorius, Manring, Stuart Hamm etc. I won the competition and I was getting offered to play at tons of bars and clubs in Montreal. So I kept writing, 15-20-25-30 minutes of solo bass content. I found it so much fun. Because not many bassists choose to do so. It is a real challenge to be able to keep the audience entertained with only your 4 string instrument.

I will always pursue solo bass. No matter what project is going on in my life.

 5.       Your new band has come up with your debut album. Tell us about it and describe the sound of Metazon.

Metazon is my crazy funk jazz soul hip-hop groovy band. The band consists of 5 musicians who each bring a completely different musical sound and influence. I bring the funk-rock, the pianist bring the jazz, the drummer bring the gospel-soul and the 2 rappers bring the hip-hop. When you mix all this, you have a pretty cool 3 piece band with 2 mc’s on front. We just released our 12 track full record on our own label. The album is called World Class Buffet and you can check it out right here: http://metazon.bandcamp.com

6.      How did you compromise your ‘in your face’ live sound in the context of Metazon?

In Metazon, I dont try to play weird harmonics or loop bass solos. I first try to groove and to funk everything up. When the groove is set up, I add my own personal style by adding some cool funky experimental notes here and there.

There is a pianist and rappers who are doing other melodies. I cant play what I play when I solo bass because it will sound way too busy and it won’t even be groovy. When I solo bass, I have to play the bass drum guitar vocals solos on my bass. When I play in Metazon, I have to play the funky groovy madness.

7.       What is YOUR vision for where the bass is going in the future?

 Crazy bass players will continue to experiment this instrument. Bass is the youngest instrument in the gang. Drums existed with the dinosaurs (Percussions), piano and guitar existed thousand of years from now… and bass? Only 60 years. It is young and fresh. I think people in the future will recognize the bass as a solo instrument just like the piano or the guitar. It will continue to groove in bands but the solo approach will be a lot more developed.

 8.       Being only 25, you’re a big inspiration to bass players all over. So tell us, WHY should we pursue the bass?

I don’t think you all HAVE to pursue the bass. Just pick up the instrument that you are the most confortable with. If it’s the harmonica, pick the harmonica. If you feel confortable playing the trumpet, just do it. Just pick something you are passionate, excited and confortable about.

9.       Signing off, tell us about your future projects.

I have a lot of funk-hipHop projects going on which I can’t really talk right now. I have a lot of shows planned up in Montreal and I am currently writing a full new 30 minutes solo bass set. I will do a couple of solo shows in Vancouver, Toronto and Quebec city in the upcoming months. And this summer, I will start the production of my upcoming 2nd solo bass record.

-El Bajista

Marco Rodi reviews HERE.

http://www.marcorodi.com

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A/J


We at ThatDoesntSoundRight reviewed (and liked) A/J’s brainy brand of fusion-guitar music early last year. Now, he’s back with what seems to be an even denser and more thoroughly thought out album, called Colors, which he will be releasing later this year. Check out this very in-depth (and yes, intellectually stimulating) interview that we had with him.

TDSR: So, Hi there!

A/J: Hey

TDSR: You’ve been promoting your album online on Facebook for a while now, and I have heard a couple of your tracks. How far along is your album and when are you releasing it?

A/J: Yep, I realize its been about 3 months later than I originally thought I could release it. ;-) But, as the teaser video says, it’ll be around mid-September. I’m adding finishing touches. All tracks done

TDSR: Can’t wait, man, the teaser sounded great.

A/J: Will be 10 tracks in this one. Hey, thanks that’s very semi final, and only fews for some 4 of 5 tracks

TDSR: I see. Can you take us, in brief, through the concept behind the album and the tracks? [FOR THOSE INTERESTED, DOWNLOAD AJIT'S EXPLANATION SHEET FOR Colours]

A/J: Sure. It all started out as an abstract idea. It was obvious that music is emotional content for the listener. We all go thru this theoretical movement about various scales and modes and moods. So major scales are generally bright and happy and minors are more moody and dark. And certain modes like Lydian have a kind of ethereal feel to it while the mixolydian or dominants have a peppy feel and so on. Well, while getting on to learning em I was kinda thrown on this idea, what about musical keys? Are there any connections to emotions?

TDSR: yeah

A/J: I did not have an answer so I started searching and reading up was interesting to find some point of views from classical era

Mind it! each one had a different POV

TDSR: yeah

A/J: Some names: Schubart, Castel, Scryabin, Kircher

TDSR: Yeah. On the point of POV, I was reading a book by Kandinsky, in which he mentions how artists in the late 19th century used to use ‘violet’ instead of ‘blue’ as a point to reference for sadness. ‘Blue’ only came along later with early 20th century music. I find your attribution of blue as ‘reflection, nostalgia, neutrality and patience’ interesting, as it breaks from the ‘how blue can you get’ cliche. Comments?

A/J: Yep, meaning what the color red could be mean anger to one while just plain passion to the other. Yea, I found it quite a maze.

And not to forget, I wanted to connect the mood to color to KEY.

TDSR: So three things connected.

A/J: So that research on Colour to Key was a maze the only conclusion I could get to was to take similes and not get too anal with detail. So, the next work was to identify Colours to emotions

TDSR: ok

A/J: Well, that’s a subject that’s been more researched and automatically had more solid inferences.But hey, for this one I decided to keep out of the musical inferences completely, as I wanted a plain a simple “psychology of colours” perspective. That led me to a many colour chart, but a few of them especially by some art universities had similarities. So I amalgamated and used the most common “psychology of colours”

TDSR: wow.

A/J: the final trick was to find “common words” or thoughts between the three and CONNECT

There was of course a fourth complexity. You remember the demos I’d sent to you right?

TDSR: yes. You sent me “Violet”.

A/J: Not that. Before that, the 11 or 12 track ideas, rough ideas which you heard and wrote some kind words on your blog

TDSR: ill have to look back in my inbox :)

A/J: Yea they were forgettable ;-)

TDSR: Nah nah. It was just a while back. For our viewers, the link is as follows:

http://thatdoesntsoundright.wordpress.com/2011/01/24/promo-aj-colors/

A/J: well like a fool I thought it would be easier to work on existing ideas rather than come up with new ones. That’s when the dates went haywire, and I went bonkers.  ;-)

A/J: Yep. I took upon myself a task that had to connect that crazy alpha logic to my tracks ideas

A/J: The theory I came up with is from existing information, but its an amalgam of various sources. So its not original. The music is original, ‘cause so far people had THEORETICAL point of views on all three. But hey no one had the b#&* to actually try and execute it. Correct?

TDSR: Exactly, there are reams and reams of reading material on this, but few people apply it directly with intellectual rigour

A/J: Yep thanks for pointing that out

TDSR: Kudos, sir!

A/J: Thanks man but this is an experiment, as I suddenly evolved while working on this and I realised how we (each one of us) FEEL cant’ be generalised. Names given in any lingo to emotions is a system. But “how exactly” do we feel can’t be that generalized; its individualistic.

TDSR: ok.

A/J: so I hope this album of mine throws more questions than answers

TDSR: What have you been up to between the last album and this one, that has changed your style of playing? (if at all)

A/J: Well i am a “constant learner”. The first album was done when I was about two and half years old in music :-)

TDSR: Whoa. You’ve come far, my friend.

A/J: In retrospect now that was a time I was HEAVILY into technique and flair oriented runs and licks. I went headlong with that for a while. But then I heard, I mean really intensely heard players like Alex Hutchings, Guthrie Govan and Scott Henderson. I was blown away, and so took a few steps back and started to learn “phrasing” and style, not just technique and scales. I also came to have a liking towards ringing chord tones, open string chords that kinda changed the game completely.

TDSR: right.

A/J: Now, I don’t know where I am

TDSR: But these were the influences between your first and second albums. What were your initial influences? If i may append further, why did you pick up the guitar and when?

A/J: To answer your first q: I had to study and imbibe those things into my playing, which was hard work but extremely enjoyable.

Oh original: David Gilmour, Mark Knopfler, John Petrucci, Paul Gilbert, Jeff Beck. Jeff Beck was singular in making a huge musical point in my mind

TDSR: Excellent. Do you plan to perform this material live?

A/J: Yea. This, and the older material. But I am not interested in just putting any band together to perform for the sake of performance.

I need to connect with the other musicians and the vice versa before we can make the music work. I’ve jammed with people off and on, but that connection eludes me so far.

TDSR: Have you considered joining a band aside from your solo material?

A/J: Yea. Again its about the kind of music that I would like to play.

TDSR: Which is….?

A/J: Cerebral rock or subtle fusion; not the usual take-out-your-sitar-or-tabla fusion.

TDSR: ok. Elucidate.

A/J: No offense to those doing it though.

Well, the melodic structures are important; that’s Indian.

The western way is about introducing harmonic structures to give more character to the melodies. The play of different rhythmic structures makes it more interesting. For example, I kinda love to jam on a ¾, teen taal but played in a western manner, and to mix polyrhythms.

TDSR: ok. Now. I know personally, that you work in marketing as your day job, and do music as your pet passion.

A/J: Yep

TDSR: How do you manage the life of a high flying marketing exec on the one hand, and the introspection that is required to come up with a complex music concept?

Not to mention take time out to practice.

A/J: Here’s a one liner: 24 hours is what we all have, so instead of saying, “I would like to practice” and then go and play politics, DO SOMETHING about it

It’s not so easy.

TDSR: Simple, but not easy :)

A/J: and actually, I have a great boss, so I do get time to work on material. Also, my work is about research and ideas, so in way, ideas kinda come to me every now and then. All I gotta do is make a note and work on ‘em.

TDSR: Right. It’s quite inspiring for a younger person such as myself seeing how you’ve started pretty much from scratch and managed to release two albums in a span of some three years.

A/J: Four. Not three. This October, I will be four

TDSR: Final question. Do you think there is value in exploring the tonalities in the colors between the colors you’ve explored? For instance, between red and yellow, there is a sort of vermillion.

A/J: From a perspective of emotional content, definitely (don’t know what emotion it leads to offhand tho), but from a “key” perspective, not really.

But hell, I’ve discovered different sounds of the guitar while playing on different keys. So if I keep the exploration going and work on it, it should lead somewhere (I guess)

TDSR: Right. Well, this was truly an inspiring talk with you.

A/J: My pleasure

TDSR: I hope you had half as much fun responding to it as I did in asking you questions!

A/J: How about double?

TDSR: :) Epic. feels good.

A/J: Great

TDSR: Great, we wrap up here, then.

A/J: Yep

Check out A/J’s website HERE.

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