Alongside Demonic Resurrection, Kryptos can be seen as one of the most longest standing Indian metal bands. Their music has been described as ” an amalgamation of aggressive riffing, melodic lines and ambient drumming”. I spoke to Nolan Lewis, guitarist/vocalist of this metal monster.
We are having an Indian Metal Special here on the Metalcast and we are hearing great things from India regarding new bands starting up and other bands like yourselves who have now been on the scene for many years. How is the current state of metal where you are in India?
Nolan – Hello to everyone at Metalcast and thanks for the interview.
Metal is really on an upswing here in India and has been on the rise for the last 5 years essentially. Although the metal scene started in the 90’s in India it was really small with just a few bands scattered all over the country. Sometime around 2005-2006 everything just exploded and there are more metal bands now than ever before in India. A lot of bands are releasing albums and gigging a lot and some bands like us and Demonic Resurrection recently toured Europe so things are moving really quickly. The scene is looking pretty healthy right now on the whole.
Many bands are surfacing from India playing all genres from thrash to death to grind. Would you say that there is an identifiable sound or philosophy that underlies Indian metal?
Nolan – I think it’ll take a while before Indian metal can really be called ‘Indian Metal’. There really isn’t a particular defining element that differentiates the bands here from the ones in Europe or the States although lyrically a lot of bands here tend to write more about what affects them in India. Probably in the next 5 – 10 years Indian metal will have more of an identity but as of right now it’s still early days.
You all name classic Heavy Metal bands as your favorite bands for example Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. Does this shape the particular brand of metal that you play?
Nolan – Oh yeah definitely. Those two bands in particular are our biggest influences. We all grew up listening to 80’s metal so it comes naturally to us. Everything from the denim and leather, the twin guitar licks, the songwriting etc all comes from the 80’s. That was definitely the golden era of metal for sure. But at the same time we are also influenced by thrash and doom bands like Kreator, Coroner, Candlemass etc so when we write we usually end up with a union of the melodic 80’s stuff and the heavier thrash elements, which pretty much give us our own sound in a strange way. It sounds familiar but different at the same time haha.
Your debut album Spiral Ascent was released in 2004 and cemented your reputation as serious metal hopefuls. The songwriting is quite complex on this as are the lyrics. Where did the lyrical inspiration come for some of these great titles like Expedition to Abnormalia and In Twilights Grace?
Nolan – The lyrics were actually written by our ex bassist/vocalist Ganesh K. He wrote some really great and pretty abstract lyrics for that album. If I’m not mistaken Expedition To Abnormalia was basically about someone searching for utopia but when he finally finds it, it eventually turns out to be just a façade and all his searching has been in vain. In Twilight’s Grace was about child abuse and how traumatic it can be, which is why that particular song is pretty somber and gloomy.
Of course we know that nothing can kill the metal. But what would you say are the major problems that you had to overcome whilst trying to get your metal out there? What would your advice be to other would-be bands that might be facing similar problems?
Nolan – We’ve had a lot of problems over the years. It was never easy being a metal band in India and it still isn’t. There was a time when we had terrible equipment, had to travel incredible distances to play a single gig, deal with shifty promoters, financial issues etc. Basically all the shit every band goes through but considering we live in such a huge country that only 4-5 years ago started advancing economically and technologically, we’ve had it really rough. Before that there was practically nothing. But anyway we pulled through and things are a lot better and easier nowadays. The only advice we can give other bands that go through the same thing is HANG IN THERE. If you really love what you do then don’t give up no matter what. What doesn’t break us only makes us stronger.
You signed with an American record label. How was it having to deal with business partners so far from India? How well do you feel that they caught on to the spirit of what you were trying to do with Kryptos?
Nolan – Yeah we signed with OSM Records from California in 2007. It’s been pretty great so far. The label boss Patrick is really cool and everything is very straightforward. We’re all fans of this sort of music first and foremost so it was a no brainer signing with them. Thanks to OSM our music has reached places around the world we never thought it would reach. We get people writing to us from countries like Argentina, Germany, Mexico, Australia etc, which is absolutely amazing.
The Ark of Gemini was another metal masterpiece and surfaced in 2008. How do you feel this improved on your debut album? Is there anything you would have done differently?
Nolan – I can’t really say if it improved on our debut since they both have their strengths but I would say it was closer to the sound we were trying to achieve. But yeah there are a lot of things I would’ve loved to change. For starters we didn’t have much money to record the album so the production suffered a bit although it still has a very raw charm to it. Also the band went through a lineup change just a few months before we hit the studios and I had to take over the vocals pretty quickly so things might have turned out a bit differently if we recorded the album about a year later. Either way it still turned out pretty damn good so no real complaints haha.
In the summer of 2010 you did a mini tour of Europe visiting Hungary, Germany and Switzerland. How were you received by these audiences? Generally speaking did you find that people were already aware of Indian metal?
Nolan – The response was fantastic. Most people there didn’t really know metal bands existed in India so they were pretty surprised when they saw us. I guess not many knew what to expect from us but once we got on stage we made sure we got everyone’s heads banging. We made a ton of new friends and of course drank a LOT of beer so it was definitely worth the effort to make it all the way there and we’ll be back in Europe next year for sure.
Your press pack states that you have now played over 300 gigs – how do you keep yourselves fresh and the music exciting for listeners?
Nolan – It might seem like a fair amount but 300 gigs over 10 years equates to around 2-3 gigs a month, which really isn’t much. With so much time on our hands between gigs it’s pretty easy to get bored and complacent so we try to write new music during the time off or do some other stuff so when we start getting ready for gigs we’re pretty relaxed and ready to rip. The most difficult part of course is keeping our gigs exciting, especially for people who have seen us many times. We’ve played quite a lot in our home city Bangalore so every now and then we change the set list or try and play something new we’ve been working on or something to that effect. Once our new album is done we should be able to deal with that particular problem quite comfortably.
Finally where do you think the future lies for Indian metal? Is illegal downloading a problem for Indian bands?
Nolan – Indian metal could really break through internationally over the next 5 years as long as bands here stick to what they’re doing and try and take a few risks. One thing the scene over here needs is more worldwide media exposure so that people outside India know about the bands here. It’s happening slowly, which is a good thing so hopefully it will really take off soon. As far as illegal downloading is concerned it’s not that big a problem since most Indian bands price their cds at a reasonably inexpensive price. I’d say the main problem bands have here is juggling music with all the day to day nonsense of a typical Indian society.
Thank you for taking time to talk to us at the Metalcast. We wish you success in the future. More metal to ya!!!