By Aniruddh ‘Andrew’ Bansal
Based out of Guwahati, India, death metal band Agnostic formed in 2009, and released their debut full-length album ‘Morbid Embracement’ earlier this year. Their album launch show was at the Undergrind Fest in Bangalore, where they shared the stage with Wormrot. Agnostic is making a return to Bangalore, this time as an opening act at the Indian Metal Festival, to be headlined by Gojira and set to take place on December 15th. Tickets can be purchased at IndianStage.in. Earlier today, I caught up with the band to discuss their participation in this festival, the debut album, and other things. Read our conversation below, and visit the band’s facebook page for more info. Also check out Indian Metal Festival’s facebook page for full line-up and more.
First of all, how does it feel to be part of the lineup for Indian Metal Festival and to get the opportunity to open for a band like Gojira?
Being a part of the line up for the Indian Metal Festival is the best thing that has happened to us in the 4 years of our existence. It is indeed an honor to play for such a festival with so many amazing bands! So when the offer came in, we were totally up for it in an instant.
Based on the music on your debut album, and the list of bands you’ve listed as influences, you seem to be have a greater liking for the old-school variety of death metal, than anything else. Gojira, on the other hand, has a more modern approach to extreme metal. Are you still able to appreciate their music, though?
(Laughs) With regards to the band members, we all are into different stuff. Mitul (drummer) is a huge fan of Gojira and he is damn excited about the event and of course he is looking forward to meet Mario as well. The rest of us are pretty much pumped for the event as a whole! Gojira are very good in their respective genre and will be amazing to be witnessed live as per what we have heard about their live shows. However we don’t really relate to that kind of music much though.
You launched your debut album ‘Morbid Embracement’ at the Undergrind Fest in Bangalore earlier this year, where you got to share the stage with Singapore grindmasters Wormrot. What was that experience like, and how was the gig overall?
Undergrind was a complete blast. We played outside of North-east for the very first time and that too we released our album at the gig. We had no idea how the people will react but it turned out to be one hell of a fruitful gig. We went there to have a good time and we did, indeed. People from Bangalore were really supportive towards is be it the time when we were performing or when it came to buying our cd’s. The crowd threw their constant support for the band. April 14th will always remain a vital day in our career.
You’ve been a band since 2009, and this album has seen the light of day in 2012, so I’m sure a lot of effort has gone into the making of this album. Can you briefly describe the writing and recording process behind ‘Morbid Embracement’?
Well, we had a lot of material for the record but we had to choose the best from it as we thought our earlier compositions were not up to the mark. We then won a local competition here in Guwahati and they gave us a recording deal. We knew it was the time when we needed to get the best out from each one of us. We sat down for few weeks wrote 5 songs (3 of them have been composed long ago). As for the recording process, we had our brothers from Lucid Recess Studios helping us out. For any band their first recording experience always haunts them. We were wondering about what it is going to be like and all that stuff. Barooa brothers (from Lucid Recess Studios) took care of that and when we were handed the final copy all of us were completely satisfied. It was a relief when it sounded exactly the way we wanted it to sound!
Just to clarify for the sake of people who’d be interested in buying your album, where exactly can it be purchased from?
Are you happy with the way the distribution of the album has been handled, or did you intend to reach more people across the country?
Well we released limited edition copies. It has been handled out well. We still have some copies left. Of course we did want to reach out to more number of people but the thing is we can’t do “Hey thanks for the add, check out my band, buy the cd. Support us blah blah”. For us that is against our ethics. We can’t really go and ask people to buy the album. We would be happy if they explore the band from anywhere they want, listen to it. And if they like it they can order it and get the cd. We then feel good and that will be called as a real buy, and we will feel that something has been paid to us from the heart. We grew up listening to metal. Whatever happened to the delight of holding a metal record in your hands and taking pride in it? We are an underground act and we like it that way. We choose to defy these baseless trends and stay true to our roots. We are against the ideologies of spamming and getting fans that way. That is the reason why we remain to stay underground. Stick to the ethics. Make music for ourselves and NOT to please anyone. If people like it then we will feel our efforts have been really paid off.
Being a Guwahati-based band, you obviously don’t get to play many shows in other parts of India, and very, very few bands, Indian or international, make the effort to go out to the North-East to play gigs. So, do you often feel isolated from the Indian metal scene?
Gigs do happen here regularly and we do play in quite a few of them. Yes, we don’t get many gigs outside of northeast. Not only us, there are a good number of bands who have done well here but they don’t get many gigs in the rest of the country. We do sometimes feel isolated from the Indian Metal scene, but that might be due to the fact that Northeast India is really far away from the most of the places where the bigger shows happen. It takes almost 3 days to reach Mumbai or Bangalore for us and that’s why it sometimes isn’t feasible for us to be associated with many shows from different parts of the country.
What is the main reason for the lack of gigs? Is it simply the cost of travel, or have you purposely made an effort to stay underground?
Cost of travel is one of the biggest reason why we don’t get shows outside Northeast. Most of the organizers are ready to get us to play at their respective events but cost of travel and the time involved in travelling makes things worse.
Coming back to the music, there are a huge number of death metal bands in India and around the world these days. The old bands are still going strong, and new bands are coming up almost every day. Does that put additional pressure on you to create music that stands out amongst those other bands in the genre?
Frankly speaking we don’t compete with other bands. Let the rest of the bands do what they want to, we will keep doing our stuff. If people like our music they will listen to us and keep supporting us.
After the release of ‘Morbid Embracement’, have you had a chance to work on new material for the next album?
Yes, we are working on our next full length. We are still on the composition process. This is going to be different from Morbid Embracement since we have added one more guitarist, David to our line-up, after the album release. All of us are working on it and its shaping up quite well.
Are you planning on doing any more gigs in the near future, after Indian Metal Festival?
As of now we haven’t been approached by anyone. We are hoping we get a few after we play at IMF.
You’ve played open-air gigs at IIT events, and you’ve also played smaller, underground shows like the Undergrind Fest for example. Which type of show do you honestly prefer playing?
Playing in a pub sometimes feels better as we have a good crowd connect. But Open Air shows undoubtedly do have an amazing vibe. At the same time it gives us a chance to spread our music to more people and the pleasure of mutilating thousands with our set is priceless as well. (laughs)