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.
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.
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– BABA T