'I feel malnutritioned without music'

Passionate Players

'I feel malnutritioned without music'

There are few musicians who take on the genre of instrumental metal. But ‘Animals As Leaders’ has been doing that for six years now and is more than content with the experimental nature of it.

The band, which started off as guitarist Tosin Abasi’s solo project, talks to
Metrolife while in the City for ‘Bangalore Open Air’.

“I think we’re going to stay instrumental. But we’ve toyed with the idea of using vocal samples — some sort of narrative or something. Maybe on the next one,” says Tosin, adding that the new album should be out by the end of the year. “I think a lot of the material’s mellower than before. There are new harmonic ideas but it’s essentially ‘Animals As Leaders’. It’s our first album with Matt (Garstka) and with real drums,” he adds.

In a non-egotistical way, Tosin explains that in many ways, the project still feels likes his own. “I don’t want to say it’s a solo project but my voice is probably the most prominent. I was approached to do ‘Animals As Leaders’ not as a band but as a solo release. It was my idea to have musicians because I didn’t want it to be self-focussed. I wanted to include musicians who could make the sound bigger. It’s been collaborative but also in a large percentage, a solo thing,” he shares.

Drummer Matt Garstka, the youngest and newest member in the band, says that playing music is the part of the day that he looks forward to most. “It’s almost like a dark day without playing. My life definitely reflects in the music that I come up with. That’s what I live for and it’s a part of me,” he says, elaborating, “it’s like eating. I feel malnutritioned without music everyday.”

For guitarist Javier Reyes, the connection with music was rekindled in his life after a short break from it. “I actually had an on-and-off relationship with the guitar. For a while, in my early 20s, I had a break from playing the guitar. I spent two or three years without playing and just trying to discover the rest of my life — going back to school, working with the family business, stuff like that,” he reminisces.

But it pulled him back? “Obviously! When I was 25, I started playing the guitar again and it just came back to me. I felt that I was like a unique player and it just became something that I knew I had to do,” smiles Javier.

They aren’t the types to sit in their hotel rooms, which is why their India trip itinerary also comprises visits to Hampi and Goa.

They also enjoyed Bangalore, not only for the crowd at the concert but for the sights, sounds and tastes they came across.

“We’ve been eating and shopping. We went to the Hare Krishna temple and chanted for a long time. We’re just mesmerised

because visually, it’s a very busy place. In the US, large cities are very aggressive places. But there’s a strange sense of calmness here,” notes Tosin.

“There aren’t many people that are at a high frequency. People here are just kind, open and calm,” wraps up Matt.

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