Indian Extreme Metal is much of an unknown for us in the West but for DEMONIC RESURRECTION it is an unmistakeable way of life. Dripping with anticipation I crept into the demon’s lair to indulge in a quick human sacrifice with DEMONSTEALER…
For us in the West, the Indian metal scene is almost a complete unknown. Our only connections seem to be via film, with “Global metal” (in which Demonic Resurrection played a part) and also Iron Maiden’s “Flight 666” where multitudes of dedicated Indian Maiden fans are filmed in Mumbai flying the flag for metal. How would you describe the metal scene in India, and what would you say is your part in it?
Demonstealer: The metal scene in India is one that is evolving and just about getting in shape. We are getting an influx of international metal bands coming here like Lamb Of God, Meshuggah, Enslaved etc and each year there are more bands than the previous. There are a lot more bands and the focus for all bands is to write good original music and record it. Quality of recordings, performances, merchandise etc is also reaching a standard. We even have a few labels that are just about staying alive. But there is growth, there are good bands and there are now opportunities and avenues for bands to continue playing music. My part has been mainly with Demonic Resurrection, my record label Demonstealer Records that has released almost every major Indian metal band at some point in their career and a festival organized by myself and Husain from DR called the Resurrection festival. I’d done whatever I can to support Indian metal and promote it. It has been my life for the last decade.
Demonic Resurrection started life as a bunch of teenagers 10 years ago – how was the feel of the band then, and did you all have the same idea about how you should sound?
Demonstealer: Basically the band started with me writing music on my own and wanting musicians to play that music. So it was kind of me being a dominating force creatively so everyone who joined kind of knew the sound of the band already and we had like a a truckload of lineup changes over the 1st year. So everyone has joined the band knowing the sound of the band. Over the years the other members have had a significant contribution in the bands sound and it’s evolution. Like in 2003 when we reformed with a new lineup and in 2007-2008 when Viru and Daniel joined the band.
After a short period of success the band disbanded in 2002 – how do you personally come back from something like that and regain the strength to carry on (I believe you are now the only remaining member)?
Demonstealer: Demonic Resurrection has been my life for the last decade. I dropped out of college when I was 19 and just worked at a studio as a sound engineer. So I really gave myself no choice but to ensure that come hell or high-water Demonic Resurrection will live. Trust me it can get pretty depressing, not being people quit but because it is so hard to find good musicians. Especially drummers in India who can play fast double bass and blast beats and play it tight are very hard to come by. So all said and done I’ve had my low moments but its always been etched in my mind that we’ll survive anything and everything.
It wasn’t until October 2005 that the reformed Demonic Resurrection released the album “A Darkness Decends”, the first in what has become known as “The Darkness Trilogy”. How did the new sound differ from the old Demonic Resurreciton? What was it like trying to work on your own label, Demonstealer records, at the same time?
Demonstealer: The 1st album Demonstealer was a fairly amateur effort, considering I’d been playing guitar for barely 2 years and surprisingly not practiced too much because I originally wanted to be a vocalist. But we also had female vocals and there was a strong gothic vibe as well because I was into bands like Theatre of Tragedy, Lacuna Coil and Sin’s of Thy Beloved etc. However when the new line-up got together we said we’ll drop the old songs and write new music and we tried a female vocalist but it didn’t fit. Mephisto bought a more symphonic element to the sound while JP the drummer bought in a stronger death metal influence while my guitar playing style had evolved to a more fast tremolo picking black metal style. I also had a lot of power metal influences vocally and melodically and because my singing wasn’t upto the mark we got guest singers for the album so it was a huge change. About the label I just put the name down made a logo and took it from there and when I figured I was getting the hang of things and doing a good job I opened it to other bands as well.
Demonstealer: After ‘A Darkness Descends’ I wrote a bunch of songs which eventually became the EP. In fact one of the songs I wrote didn’t go into the EP and eventually went into my solo album. But I don’t know if it was really conscious decision but JP had left and I was listening to a lot of new music and was inspired to write something different from what we did on the album. When the EP released it actually did get some negative comments from fans but it was mostly from those who liked the black metal elements in DRs music so they weren’t really open to these new sounds and I think they probably don’t like the new album as well. 😛
Being featured on Sam Dunn’s “Global metal” was surely a milestone in the band’s history. In what ways did affect the international profile of the band, if any? Is there anything you regret about that experience?
Demonstealer: I definitely think it got us a lot of eyeballs and myspace hits and friends. I’m not sure there is any direct affect of it because it’s not like suddenly all the labels, booking agents and promoters came knocking on our doors. We still had to work a long time after that to get where we are but yeah it was great for us and we are really happy we got to represent Indian metal. There is nothing I regret at all about the experience except the fact that a few jealous Indian bands or their fans came out handing flyers saying ‘this is not the real scene and band xyz should be there’ and some other garbage and I’m glad Sam didn’t showcase that in the movie. I’ve never spoken about this incident in public before but you asked and I’m not always diplomatic. 🙂
2009 saw you touring quite extensively, and sharing stages with bands such as Opeth and Amon Amarth. Ia there any place you have not visited yet that you would really like to play?
Demonstealer: Wacken, Summer Breeze, Bloodstock, Party Sans, Hole In The Sky etc… I could go on and on. We have so many more place to go and play in the world and we’ve only just begun. Locally we’ve played a whole bunch of cities apart from the major metro’s where we never expected to play and I want to play every single city in India as well. India is huge so there are many places we’ve not played.
Finally in August 2009 you returned to the studio to record the last of the three Darkness records – “The Return to Darkness”. You initially did all this still on your own label, but before long you attracted the interest of Candlelight records. How did that come about? Has it changed the way the band works at all?
Demonstealer: Well in 2009 I released Behemoth’s album Evangelion in India through my label and while I did lose money on that because it didn’t sell as well as I hoped it definitely got a whole bunch of labels emailing me asking me if I wanted to license their catalog. Candlelight emailed me asking if wanted to release the new Ihsahn album and while I really would have loved to because I’m a huge fan I had to decline. However I sent them an email asking if they were interested in DR and they replied positively and that is how the deal came about. The band still functions the same way. DSR manages the band and handles all the management responsibilities so the band just focuses on making music.
The album was finally released worldwide in July 2010 on Candlelight. It seems to have genrated a great deal of critical acclaim. What for you is the highlight of that album?
Demonstealer: For me the highlight is the fact that our fans in India loved the album, the press here did as well and I was obviously very anxious and worried about how it would be received by the international metal press but we’ve got about 80% of good reviews and a few ok and maybe 2 bad reviews so far (can’t please everyone) but yeah Metal Hammer and Terrorizer rated it 8/10 and Scream Magazine Norway rated it 5/6 so that is a major highlight for us.
You have since played festivals in Europe, namely the Inferno festival in Norway and also one in the Czech republic. How have European audiences responded to your music? Is there anything you have learned from these experiences that you will take with you back to India?
Demonstealer: Yes definitely. I learnt how to run a festival and how much time it actually takes for change overs and how 2 stages is always better than 1. Not to mention the awesome hospitality and the fact that the amount of meat available in the catering section is just awesome 🙂
But getting to the way the audiences responded, it was un-fucking believable. I’ve attached a picture for you even. In Norway we were nervous. I mean this was Norway the home of black metal and here we are Indian’s trying to play some part of that music but they loved us, we got a great response the venue was packed and we had a few guys in front who knew the lyrics so we were just really stoked. As for Brutal Assault, what can I say, 5000 crazy metal fans and all those hands in the air. What a sight it was! We got a fantastic response and we are so grateful to everyone for it.
Your career so far has certainly been one of the longest for an Indian band so far (as far as we in the West know). Where do you see the future of Demonic Resurrection? Will we be seeing more international action from you guys?
Demonstealer: Almost the longest, our good friends in Kryptos have been at it for 12 years and kicking ass, not to mention the non metal bands in India who have lasted 15 odd years so there are a few. 🙂
We are definitely aiming for more international action, we’re hoping do to a round of festivals next year and we are working hard to make that a reality. January 2011 is the release date for the album in the US so we are looking forward to that but yeah we are going to work our asses off to improve musically, to tour more, to just kick some ass and maybe it will all pay off, and if not we keep trying till it does. 🙂
In conclusion, thanks very much for your time. We wish you the best in the future, and hope that every connection you make brings you more fans across the globe!!
Demonstealer: Thank you for this interview, it has been a pleasure
Cheers & Stay Demonic!
Interview by Si Smith