Interview with Albatross
By: Nermin Habib - 2012-12-01
Albatross, the stars of the Indian metal scene have accomplished in a short time what most bands forming in the Eastern hemisphere can only aspire to. Their ambitions for the future are hardly sated though and they are making it perfectly clear that, in the century of anonymity, they are a force to be reckoned with. As a highlight of their national scene, it was only natural that we (and the rest of the world) should take notice. We had the pleasure of interviewing this amazing act to ask about their past, present, and future. 650-752 exam 70-506-VB exam
JZ: Albatross was formed in a country still relatively unexploited in terms of local acts gaining international exposure. What do you, as a band, think your music can contribute to the Indian as well as the international Metal community?
Ans(Riju): Hails to you, Nermin. 700-038 exam 70-513 exam India's slowly evolving into quite a metal hub, with bands from several metal subgenres emerging in the last few years and even, inter-genre wars, like in other parts of the world haha. We were recently featured in Metal Hammer, with a lot of other local bands, which was quite cool. Also, with the internet, geographical barriers are pretty much obsolete. We have friends and fans from across the world who’ve said nice things about our music. Our good friends in Demonic Resurrection also won the Metal Hammer Award for Best Global Band if I'm not mistaken. Loads of bands are playing gigs abroad, and we hope to fly across the world (no pun intended) with our nightmarish visions very soon. Vestal Claret, the band we’re releasing our forthcoming EP with, was keen to do a split with us because India’s soon going to become a very important metal destination. 700-302 exam 70-516 exam
We have no lofty ambitions such as changing the face of Indian metal. As long as we believe we can make good music, we’re happy to make it. Cisco 650-180 exam Microsoft 70-448 exam
JZ: Albatross identifies itself as Horror Metal. This genre is considered as a very visual one and relies heavily on live shows for the full effect. How have you attempted to carry those visual aspects onto an album? What differs when recording and playing live?
A(Biprorshee): Honestly speaking, at the end of the day, ‘Horror Metal’ is how we try to put together all that we do as a band. Take it literally. We love heavy metal and we try to marry it with elements of horror – stories that we come up with and weave it into a metal song. Cisco 650-256 exam Microsoft 70-462 exam
Having said that, right you are when you relate the genre to visual elements especially considering the bands we are influenced by and their live performances. When the band started working on ‘Dinner Is You’, we did entertain the idea of having an elaborate performance that is theatrical. So far it hasn’t worked out but somewhere Riju and I still hope we can pull it off. That would be our ‘Horror Metal’ coming full circle, what say? Cisco 650-294 exam Microsoft 70-467J exam
However, since you can’t see it, we try to put in that extra effort while composing our songs, recording and mixing them to make the music as ambient and relevant as possible. I would like to believe that when you listen to our songs, you will notice that difference.
The biggest difference between recording and playing live is the little margin for error. When you’re recording, you can always keep trying till you get the best take that would appear on the record and that isn’t the case when you’re onstage. We are pretty particular about playing our songs as precisely as possible trying to get every note right, the timing proper, so on and so forth.
While we do not feature very regularly on the gigging calendar, we enjoy ourselves to the fullest when live. It is a different thrill to go berserk on the stage and entertain. And the feedback is instant too. You can look at the audience and know if they are enjoying themselves as much as you are.
JZ: There are a lot of influences incorporated into your EP, ‘Dinner Is You’. The opening vocal lines in ‘The Dining Table’ were reminiscent of Dave Mustaine’s technique but in ‘Among the Cannibals’, the same ‘speak-snarl’ vocal style was used but in a completely original way. Was the development of the vocal line gradual in terms of trial-and-error or was it somehow accidental?
A(Biprorshee): A penny for each time I heard that ‘Dining Table’ was very similar to Megadeth’s work. And I don’t know how much you would believe when I say that it was not intentional. About the vocal technique on the song, maybe me being in a band that covered a lot of Megadeth, before Albatross had something to do with it.
Interesting is your comment on ‘Among the Cannibals’. I wouldn’t call it trial-and-error or accidental even. I don’t know if this is how bands normally go about recording their songs but most of the ‘Dinner Is You’ songs were composed as we were recording, particularly the vocal parts. Once the lyrics were in place and a rough structure recorded, Rajarshi (our first guitarist and the producer of the previous EP), Riju and I actually composed melodies and recorded as we did it. What seemed the best to us. Maybe that helped give the EP a certain raw, unpolished feel.
JZ: I've mentioned before how rare it is to find a 21st centry band playing Heavy Metal. What made you choose this specific genre (excluding the bands that influenced Albatross)?
A(Riju): I think your question answers itself, Nermin. We're all fans of the heavy metal genre and I personally have always considered myself a metal fan first. The slow death of traditional metal, especially in India, had reached a point where I had stopped attending local gigs since most bands were playing genres which weren’t totally my cup of tea. So I decided to form Albatross, first as a solo project...and later on as a full fledged band.
I guess the biggest deterrent to heavy metal is the lack of vocalists who can actually sing(with power). We're really lucky to have found Biprorshee. I know several old school sounding bands who'd switch to clean vocals if only their vocalists had the ability to sing with conviction. We’re really glad we have him on board.
JZ: What were the difficulties Albatross encountered since its formation? What were (if any) the political and social deterrents?
A(Biprorshee): Well, to be honest and this could be a very personal opinion, if there were any deterrents at all, they were far from being political or social.
While the music that we choose to make might not be very mainstream or commercially acceptable at large, we never really had to face any problem when it came to acceptance. We have a devoted set of listeners (and I am not referring to just the ones who listen to Albatross but the metalheads at large) who share music, buy CDs, attend gigs and are pretty serious about the metal they choose. And it is by no means a small number.
We have supportive families who are cool with the fact that we are doing something beyond the mundane day jobs, maybe are even proud of us. There are friends who might not listen to our music but at the same time love it that we do what we do. “This is my good buddy, XYZ. Oh by the way, he is part of an awesome band”…. We are introduced like that sometimes. It’s kinda cool.
When it comes to Albatross, the challenges we face are the regular ones. Not that we consider them to be insignificant. A huge problem is to keep the band line-up permanent. We’ve had our share of guitarists join and leave. It definitely isn’t something anybody in a band would appreciate. Hopefully our current line-up, which if I may dare say looks to be the best that we’ve had since we started out, is here to stay.
Then there are issues that are financial, like getting good gigs where we’d be paid reasonably, raising money for touring, recording etc. Money can be a bitch!
JZ: In your own opinion, what can be said about the present state of Metal, on an international scale? Where is Albatross in the scheme of things? Are there any future plans?
Ans(Riju): No one but the absolutely biggest bands are making money off metal, so I guess the state is pretty shitty haha. But the whole revival of old school bands is a very heartening thing to see. Albatross is steadily developing our own fan base, and spreading our unique brand of metal across the globe. We’re very lucky that a great percentage of our fans are from the old school mindset, where owning something from the band ie. CDs, tees, etc means something to them.
In the future, we're releasing a split EP with our friends in the US- Vestal Claret. We also plan to release a kickass tshirt, play in cities in India and abroad we've not played in before and NOT cover Hotel California.
JZ: It was stated in Albatross' biography that band was originally a "studio project." Was the beginning intention behind the members of Albatross gathering just to jam or was it to record albums as an official band?
A(Biprorshee): Riju and I tried forming a power metal project before but it didn’t work out. Albatross began as a studio project after Riju and I collaborated with other musicians from the local scene like Sahil ‘The Demonstealer’ Makhija (Demonic Resurrection/Workshop/Reptilian Death) and Keshav Kumar (ex-Devoid) to record a song called ‘Gigi’. It was released online and was well received. Riju then hit upon this idea to continue the project as one where he’d work with other musicians, compose and record songs and release them online. ‘Dining Table’ happened initially with Arjun Dhanraj (Nerverek) on vocals and then re recorded with me singing it and Rajarshi on guitars.
When ‘Dining Table’ worked well too, Riju decided to take Albatross ahead as a live band. This was back in January 2010. One EP and a few gigs later, here we are ready with our next effort.
JZ: Many bands (in the East especially) find the recording process an especially difficult procedure to execute, for a variety of reasons. Were there any obstacles that Albatross encountered during recording? How was the experience overall, what would you advise for a new band recording their first demo/EP?
A(Riju): We’re honoured to have worked with some of the biggest names in metal in a very short period of time. Dinner is you was home recorded, at our previous guitarist Rajarshi Bhattacharyya’s place and mastered by King Diamond’s Andy LaRocque. This time, we wanted to up the ante and recorded with our good friend and previous label owner, Sahil ‘The Demonstealer’ Makhija, forgoing Line 6 processors for an analog, straight through the amplifier sound. It was a lot more professional than last time, though no one goofs off during recording sessions as much as Sahil does. We knew that the only person qualified to handle the mix was Niklas Stalvind from Wolf, not only because he’s been one of our biggest inspirations...but because he’s also been one of our biggest supporters, and understands the aesthetics of Albatross better than most others do. Simon Tuozolli, from Vestal Claret, mastered our EP. I love the fact that he did not make the music sound, well modern(see how I use modern as a cuss word haha), but kept it ambient and scary, in keeping with our theme.
If you’re a new band and you’re recording your first demo:-
Do not cut costs
Get someone who understands your music to produce it
Do not cut costs
Did I mention, do not cut costs?
JZ: Albatross opened for Nervecell during their tour in India, how did this experience affect the band members' ambitions and psyche? Is Albatross planning any future shows that we can look forward to?
Ans(Riju): The guys in Nervecell are brilliant musicians and really nice guys, and it was a pleasure sharing the stage with them. I remember, in particular, James(the vocalist) telling us incidents from life on the road- such as opening for Cradle of Filth and Deicide. The response they received during their India tour, especially in Mumbai, was thoroughly well deserved.
We have a large number of shows planned for 2012. Details shall be unveiled as and when they transpire.
JZ: Thanks so much for your time, feel free to add anything that you would like propagated.
A(Riju): This is a shoutout to everyone in the world who’s keeping traditional forms of metal alive. Also a big middle finger to everyone who’s ever said music that doesn’t evolve with the times becomes dated. Thanks for supporting our dreams. Stay heavy!