A Candid Conversation With Solar Deity Mainman Aditya Mehta

By Aniruddh ‘Andrew’ Bansal

Within a span of one year, Mumbai-based black metal band Solar Deity have unleashed three crushing sets of studio recordings, the ‘In The Name Of Satan’ and ‘The Darkness Of Being’ albums, and the DSBM single ‘Snowless’. Till now the band was a mysterious entity that would make you imagine the dark landscapes they paint with their music and lyrics, but finally, they are getting ready for their first ever live ritual at this year’s Trendslaughter Fest at the No Limits Pub in Bangalore on February 10th, alongside Singapore’s Blood Division and India’s Dying Embrace, Shepherd, Witchgoat and Necrodeity. I caught up with mainman Aditya Mehta to discuss this upcoming show, amongst various other things. Read this candid, no-holds-barred conversation below, check out the band on their facebook, twitter, and on Aditya Mehta’s blog, and visit Trendslaughter Fest’s facebook landing page to book your tickets and get all the information you need about the festival. 

So, you’re finally going to play your first live show at Trendslaughter Fest III! How are you feeling at this point and what’s the preparation like?

We’re absolutely overwhelmed at being selected for TSF III, because a couple of years ago when the festival was born I hoped Exhumation would someday play an extreme metal festival like this – a show free of useless core bands –  and here is Solar Deity beginning its live journey from Trendslaughter Fest 2013!  We’ve been rehearsing like crazy and we’re getting our costumes from the tailor this evening so every jam from tonight onwards will be in our onstage look!

How will the live renditions of your material compare to the studio recordings? Do you think you’ll improvise on them a great deal, or play them note-for-note the same way?

We tend to play a lot faster during jams, so I think the excitement of playing before an audience will make Yash (and as a result, the rest of us) play even faster. I prefer playing the songs note-for-note because they were composed to be like that; if I wanted anything to sound different, I would have changed it during the recording process. Our bassist Animesh has this technical bug up his ass, so he does some extra stuff which sounds pretty cool. But we all in the band understand that black metal is not about showing what all you can do with your instrument, but elevating the listener to a higher plane, which can be done only by composing good songs and creating a pleasantly dark atmosphere. Everybody in Solar Deity knows very well that less is more.

Besides the performance, what else are you bringing to this show, in terms of merchandise and all that stuff?

Aakash Dwivedi, our logo/artwork designer who is now the owner of Nephalist Recordings and also our manager, is getting our first batch of CDs made. So we’ll have physical copies of In The Name Of Satan, Snowless and The Darkness Of Being, and since this is our first show Nephalist Recordings and Solar Deity are offering a special package of the three releases at a very reasonable price. This is also our way of raising the horns to Trendslaughter Fest and this special package will be available exclusively at TSF III.

What’s your impression of the lineup and how familiar are you with bands like Blood Division, Dying Embrace and the rest?

Dying Embrace I know because I’m actually a huge fan of Gruesome Malady and Conflicting Theories. I saw Conflicting Theories live when I played at NLS Strawberry Fields as a part of Demonic Resurrection many years ago. Those two guys (Vikram and Jimmy) blew all the other bands and the whole damn crowd away. Then I was shocked when I heard Gruesome Malady and found out the same duo was behind it. I couldn’t believe that kind of sickness could come out of India. I listen to quite a bit of goregrind and I’ll say ‘Infected With Virulent Seed’ is a truly unique album in terms of sound and songwriting and it is enjoyable as hell! Blood Division I’ve heard because Sandesh Shenoy and Vikram Bhat have been promoting them like crazy, so I think even the people who aren’t coming for TSF have heard them! It’ll be great to hear Blood Division play all that at the big show!

You’ve recorded quite a lot of the material yourself. But for the live show, are you hiring session guys to play those parts on stage?

Oh, we’ve got permanent members now! Akash Shah is on lead guitar and Animesh Das (also with the hardcore punk band The Riot Peddlers) is on bass. Things are the same for Yash (drums) but a lot simpler for me as having Akash on lead guitar allows me to handle the rhythm section and singing, and Animesh does some backing vocals as well. It’s so much fun playing with the right people!

I feel that black metal is more about creating the atmosphere, especially when it comes to live shows. Your studio recordings definitely succeed in this aspect, and I must commend you for that. Do you give as much importance to achieving the same with your live show as well?

Yes, of course! Which is why we’re getting costumes made and are planning other stage antics as well. The visual imagery is as important as the music, because I sure as shit don’t want to see any metal band dressed like they just walked out of their office for a coffee-and-smoke. There are very few bands who get this, so I’m saying it again: you wear appropriate clothing to weddings and funerals, so why not put some effort into looking like a metal band as well? Well, at least don’t look like a Normal Raju onstage whom eunuchs wouldn’t think twice about harassing!

Which are some of the black metal bands you’d most want to see performing live?

Burzum – but that’s never gonna happen. Weakling – but they’ve disbanded. I don’t know, man… I saw Guns N’ Roses in December 2012 and I don’t think anything will excite me like that again!

Talking of the Mumbai scene, almost all of the shows here are dominated by the modern extreme metal bands. Isn’t it ironic that the gig you found to be perfect for your live debut is in Bangalore and not in your hometown?

Bombay/Mumbai broke my heart, man. A lot of metalheads here still don’t know there’s this black metal in their city that’s put up a decent bit of music for free download because throughout 2012 these people were fed unnecessary hype about incompetent bands that are still struggling to release their material. People know of Solar Deity because of a few websites like yours whose idea of a band is based on the strength of its music.

While I was wondering what to do, Vikram and Sandesh asked us to play at TSF. We’re the first band that will be playing at Trendslaughter Fest without any prior live experience, and the fact that they like our music enough to think of us as deserving enough to perform at their event means a lot to us. I’m very touched, I’m very moved, and the others in the band know how much being asked to play this show means to me. It felt like someone said, ”Come home.”

Do you plan to, or at least want to play regular gigs after TSF III?

Yes, we will be playing shows, but not too often. We’re not going to take just anything that comes our way, because we don’t want to kill the fun and charm of our live performances for ourselves and the audiences. In any case, after kicking things off with a show as important as TSF, we’ll have to be extra-choosy!

I’d like to end the interview on a slightly un-metal note. I’ve read a couple of your recent beer reviews, and your ratings for those beers were 1.5 and 2 out of 5! Those must have been really bad beers then. What do you do to erase the taste and memory of bad beer?

Man, these beers are so expensive that I can’t even pour them down the drain! Even when a brew is really bad, I force myself to drink every last drop. Partly because it’s costly stuff, and partly because I’m a Gujarati (laughs). The only beer I couldn’t bring myself to finish was Victoria Bitter – it was that horrible! Fucking vile stuff that I wouldn’t offer even to my enemies! On second thought, maybe I should send a case of it to all the modern metal bands in Mumbai!

Interviews with the rest of the Trendslaughter Fest lineup:
Blood Division | Dying Embrace | Necrodeity | Shepherd | Witchgoat