Tuning anger to music

Tuning anger to music

Although heavy metal bands have dotted the vibrant Indian rock and metal scene for decades, they have pretty much remained on the fringes with lack of exposure and professionalism. That was till a few years ago when audience for the genre, exposure and professionalism grew exponentially. Just before that happened, the Mumbai-based thrash and death metal band, Devoid, roared onto the stage in 2005.

Ripping through the early days, the band won Campus Rock Idols within a year of their existence. Taking it all head-on from there, they have gone on to open for major acts like Cradle of Filth, Decapitated and Sybreed when the bands toured India. Their debut album, A God’s Lie, released through Demonstealer Records, went on to get rave reviews and opened up a continually growing fan base for the band in India. The highlight of their performing career was, however, the recent gig at Wacken Open Air music festival in Germany which boasts of over 80,000 visitors, and where tickets are sold out a year in advance. This probably marks the band’s ambitious plan to take their music to the world at large.

The band started with Arun Iyer on vocals and rhythm guitars and drummer Shubham Kumar. They were joined shortly by lead guitarist Keshav Kumar. The three-member group met bassist Frank Pawar in 2006, which turned out to be the line-up for the larger part of the band’s career. Talking about the early days, Arun says, “After winning Campus Rock Idols, the fan base started increasing steadily, and we started touring with several indigenous acts in the scene like Demonic Resurrection, Bhayanak Maut, MyndSnare, Kryptos, Brute Force, Infernal Wrath among others. We performed in Pune, Hyderabad, New Delhi, Shillong and Mumbai. It wasn’t too long before the band moved from opening slots to headlining slots. We had always agreed on playing more original content than covers of songs. This helped us spread our music to all the people who had caught us live. With this, we could gauge the reaction of people to all the songs that we brought out, and that, in a way, shaped the songs for the better. After years of playing our music, we had enough material to start thinking about a full-length album.”

Teething troubles

Asked if it was a struggle to reach where they are, they answer with a resounding yes. “Like everything in this world, the journey towards being a ‘somebody’ is paved with hard knocks and horrible organisers. People who are near and dear to us also needed convincing of us being a band. During a time when music wasn’t considered a real profession, let alone being metal musicians, it took us quite a bit of time to prove ourselves. Although, as a career option, being a band is still not the wisest of decisions, we wanted to support ourselves to a point where we could play music for as long as possible. From sleepless nights practising our trade to unpaid shows or shows that housed five people in the audience, we have come a long way.”

The current line-up includes Sanju Aguiar, who filled in for Keshav Kumar, and in 2012, the band saw another change with the departure of bass guitarist Frank Pawar, whose place was then filled in by Abhishek Kamdar.

Described variously as aggressive, angry and fierce, the band calls its music downright thrash metal and pretty much anti-establishment. Talking extensively about the genre and the philosophy behind their music, Arun Iyer says, “Our music comes from the gut.

Traditionally, we fall in the thrash/death metal genre. To play our entire set makes us pretty tired because of all the strenuous hate we put in it, but by the end, it is really refreshing. Ironic? Yes, that is a metal band’s most used word. We believe in the idea of spreading a message through the strongest of emotions, which to us is anger. People in India remain pretty stoic unless they are shaken from their cushy existence, and nothing riles people up like music. It is one of the better mediums of bringing out emotions from even the most dead of people. Our music is angry and aggressive, and in our shows you can see that flowing through the public-fuelled circle pits. We want people to come to our shows and be as primal as possible because in our day-to-day society we have turned a blind eye to these emotions. We, as a part of society, have convinced ourselves that these are not a part of human experience. Nine-to-six jobs, more often than not, make people pretty uneasy. Through our music, we give them a place to shake off this uneasiness.”

Gigs to remember

On some of the band’s most memorable performances, they say, “Apart from the Wacken experience, the most memorable performance was in Shillong while playing open air to thousands of metal heads in the North East. Another open air show at Bangalore while opening for Cradle of Filth also ranks up as one of the better experiences not because of the sound and such, but because it rained heavily with thunder and lightning during our gig, and thousands of people got wet and opened up a pit. They didn’t care, as much as we didn’t, for the rain. The whole experience was pretty surreal.”

Talking about their best tracks, they say that they hate all their songs equally. “When we start writing for an album, we are in awe of how nicely songs shape up, almost like a divine intervention happened. After playing these songs a countless number of times, both live and in the practice room, we grow to hate each song intensely. The notion that bands love their songs is wrong. Bands that do haven’t practised enough. Although, while playing the same songs in front of an audience, that feeling of intense hate is turned around on its head, and each song takes its own form and you will see that all of us are collectively pretty satisfied.”

The band performed in Bangalore recently at the home-coming concert of Goethe-Institut, the first in a series featuring Indian metal bands at Wacken Open Air. Talking about Bangalore’s billing as the metal capital of India, the band agrees, “The moniker of India’s ‘metal capital’ for Bangalore is an apt one as it is home for a few of the country’s best metal festivals, namely BOA, Summer Storm and Rock ‘N India. Many metal heads all over the country have been able to witness huge bands like Metallica, Iron Maiden and Megadeth only because of the scene and culture in Bangalore. They undertake their holy pilgrimage to this state; to the temple of metal in India.”

While getting more proactive in all aspects of the band, Deviod is working on their next album along with jamming, and captures the sound we want people to hear. The band will continue in its quest to shake, shock and rock their fans into a frenzy of head-banging bliss, where they would be devoid of routine.

Comments (+)