Headbangers India caught up with Siva from Trojan Horse– the ‘Modern Progressive Ambient Doom Jazz core Death-grind metal band’ to talk about their upcoming EP, their gig at Insurrection in Bangalore, the Chennai live scene and more. Check it out!
HBI: Thanks for talking to Headbangers India! What’s been up ?
Trojan Horse: Always a pleasure, HBI. Other than the day to day shenanigans of life like work, family and everyone’s individual “scene”, we meet once or twice a week to spend some quality time. Jam or no jam, we talk about what we have been listening to and sharing anything we’ve composed. We have been recently focusing on building the band’s brand image and how to go about promoting ourselves to the bigger metal picture in India.
HBI: I read somewhere that Trojan Horse was just a two-man project, and that it evolved into a full-fledged band only a little later. Is this true? Tell us more about how the band came to be.
Trojan Horse: You would’ve read that everywhere, haha! ‘Cause we believe there is a certain element to how we began influencing how we are today. The band wasn’t a bunch of guys deciding to make a band over a party-talk. Siddharth and Hasnain were previously part of a Chennai based band called Carnage and after Carnage, Siddharth and Hasnain were composing music a little more on the modern side of metal (if I may say so?). Vishnu was already drumming for Crypted and I was doing vocals. Sidd is my senior from college and we’d often chat about jamming sometime. Over a period of time, Sidd and Hasnain had made some demo tracks ready and I was quite upbeat hearing them as they sounded very fresh to my ears and Vishnu’s. Getting our first gig wasn’t a hassle as we were already in touch with organizers in the scene through our other projects. Since then, we’ve been playing around the cities in India and every time we played, we’ve been improvising our tracks trying to mold it to a “just-about-right” state. In 2012-13, Siddharth, Hasnain and Vishnu joined Swarnabhoomi Academy of music, and that had really opened up the band’s understanding of the fundamentals of music itself. Using Konokol to understand time signatures was one of the best things the band got out of it, as we focus a lot of rhythm structuring and rhythm based progressions. Post-SAM we have re-worked our songs more, to make it tighter, sonically and we had also become a 5-piece band adding Karun (a fellow SAM student) on bass. Hasnain had taken up second guitar responsibilities which have allowed a fuller sound in our ambient sections.
HBI: Insurrection V.2. was your first gig in Bangalore, right? Though some of you might have played in the city with your other projects, were you curious about how the Bangalore audience would respond to your music?
Trojan Horse: Yes, first time in Bangalore. We all have played in Bangalore with our other projects and we had the same doubt every time one of our projects had played there, on how the crowd would respond. Being in a metal band, we feed off the energy of the crowd. It’s never fun for any band to play to a crowd that just stands and stares at you. But Bangalore has been exceptionally receptive to new types of music and unique sounds. We have friends and band mates living in Bangalore so we’re quite up-to-date with the scene there as well. We were very excited and a little nervous as well as we are quite dynamic in terms of shifts from heavy to clean sections and vice versa. We didn’t know how the crowd was going to respond to that. During those situations we have a simple plan.
“In case of doubt, go mental”.
HBI: “Life in Monochromatic Animation” sounds killer! Give us some background about the song.
Trojan Horse: I remember receiving a demo track named “LIMCA” from Sidd. I thought it was just a random save name he used while saving the riffs he had recorded. Oddly enough, Sidd was sipping on some Limca while making the demo. During Jam, I was curious and asked why Limca, and Hasnain spontaneously said “It means, Look! I Make Cool Amlette (Omlet)”. That’s when this song became truly chaotic. The name, over time, had a emotion stake with the band and we decided to keep LIMCA alive. Vishnu and Hasnain came up with “Life In MonoChromatic Animation” to keep the LIMCA part of it intact and hearing the name I got an idea for a theme to write some lyrics. The song has an abstract sort of a theme (lyrics are there in the Soundcloud page). Probably the song we’ve worked the most on and it’s also what we consider our tightest song. It’s quite dynamic with tempo changes, ambient layers, brutal vocals and some sexy grooves. We decided to make it a single merely for that reason that we all know this song the most and would help us judge the outcome of the production the best. After failed attempts at home recording (we did manage to scare the shit out of the neighbors trying to record vocals home having pillows stuffed on either side of my face for dampening. Fun times I tell you, fun times! We spoke to Lakshman, Dropline studios (Chennai). Lakshman is the mix/master-mind behind Blind Image’s album recordings. We planned to layeth the smacketh down and the magic happened. We’ve been receiving some amazing response for the production and the composition as most people haven’t heard us in that quality which helped them see what the individuals are actually doing in the song. Looking forward to completing the rest of the EP soon.
HBI: You call yourselves a progressive metal band, but the pig-squeals and the grooves and slam show a mix of other sub-genres as well. How would you accurately categorize Trojan Horse’s sound?
Trojan Horse: We’ve given us that tag only to satisfy some people’s need to categorize the music they listen to. Let’s get this right. We play metal, so we are a metal band (just stay with me on this one). We have some modern sounding riffs. That makes a modern metal band. We have some progressive influences. So, now we are a Modern Progressive Metal band. We have some blast beats here n there. Shit just got real, we are a modern progressive death metal band. What about the ambient sections? Can’t ignore that. That’d make us a Modern Progressive Ambient Death Metal band. We have some death growls and pig squeals going on. Modern Progressive Ambient Death-grind metal band. Anyone who has heard our full set knows we jazz it up at various sections. Ha! Getting a little tricky now going out of genre? Don’t worry. You can call us a Modern Progressive Ambient Jazz Death-grind metal band. We have certain doomy sections as well (I dunno if the old school gentlemen appreciate it when some calls its Doomy). Modern Progressive Ambient Doom Jazz Death-grind metal band. We have a kind of a “Core”ish feeling to some of our riffs as well. Modern Progressive Ambient Doom Jazz core Death-grind metal band.
So, yea. We are a “Modern Progressive Ambient Doom Jazz core Death-grind metal band”. It is ok to categorize to music for the sake of a library. But as musicians, we like to do what feels nice to our ears and what suits the flow of the song. You can call us a metal band to keep it simple!
HBI: Tell us a little about any fancy equipment that you guys use.
Trojan Horse: Let me put it this way. Equipment is to us like the ring to Gollum. It’s “our precious”. We don’t have the fanciest but we have what we need to sound what we want to sound like. Since we moved to being a 5 piece, we have been using two 7 stringers. A beautiful 1988 Ibanez RG7620 and a sexy hot Schecter Damien 7 FR. A 5 string ESP B100 FM Bass which has 6 packs n shit. 2 Line 6 POD HDs. They are twins and you know what that means. It’s ok if you don’t. Gear porn isn’t for everyone. Vishnu is endorsed by Soultone Cymbals. He also has a bunch of percussive stuff we use here n there. He uses a Pearl kit. Recently we gave birth to a Native Instruments Maschine Mikro Mk2. We are planning to use samples for playing live, to fill up the ambient parts and put the guitars on full throttle. But that will happen in due time. That’s pretty much our gear. We have always given attention to how we use a gear more than which gear we use. Each of us have sat with our equipment (not literally, not always) and tried to learn its possibilities and learn to compensate for its limitations to get what feels to our ears as a good sound and how it gels with the other things happening in the song. It has helped us a lot to shape our songs as well.
HBI: What can we expect from the EP? What’s it going to be called, when does it release and what’s the sound going to be like?
Trojan Horse: You can expect some new sounds, some interesting grooves, a whole lot more. We hope to bring out everyone’s instruments as much as possible and create a feel of crashing into a huge brick wall and have a light headed , a trippy sort of feeling right after the crash. When else will you experience the feeling of crashing into a brick wall and feeling good after it? We are trying to get that feeling out. At the same time, we are also looking to play gigs in more cities and make some funds to keep the engine running. Also, this is an EP mainly to get everyone a clear picture of what our music sounds like. To enable us to play more gigs making way for a full length album. With a bit of a financial constraint keeping us on hold, we aren’t still at the stage where we need to finalize on an EP name. We have few options in our head, but every discussion has ended in a massive laugh-fest making up complete absurd names to call the EP. Not productive, but you end up hearing the funniest shit.
HBI: I saw an update on your Facebook page about drum recording at Clementine Studios. Are you planning to release any videos?
Trojan Horse: Yes, Vishnu recorded two tracks at Clementine Studios. One was a cover of an Intronaut song. He’s already been receiving a whole lot of positive feedback on that including a word of appreciation from Danny Walker himself! We also tracked “LIMCA” for which we are taking a little bit more care in the production side. It sounds kickass and we will be putting it out soon.
HBI: How is the live scene in Chennai at the moment? Have there been any improvements in this for metal bands?
Trojan Horse: Chennai’s live scene has always been like a sine wave. The crest is that Chennai’s scene is that the crowd enjoys every type of music and most people enjoy all genres of music. Right from funk to alternative rock to indie to heavy metal. The trough is the lack of venues at the moment to have independent and periodical live music shows. Most gigs happen at pubs and there are a lot of things that need to be compromised for bands at such venues. Most organizers end up compromising on the quality of the sound equipment they hire for a show due to lack of sufficient funds. For a genre like metal, without proper sound equipment, however good the composition may be, without good sound, the music will never be understood by the crowd. Partly the reason why most people feel metal sounds like noise. This has been seriously affecting the new wave of bands that have been playing in the scene. Every wave of metal bands that come up in Chennai have been steadily setting the bar but what we call a ‘live music culture’ has not really been supportive, I feel. Without affordable venues, organizers are helpless as well. The scene is merely sustaining because bands have been compromising on a lot of factors just to be given a chance to get on stage. Chennai venues and organizers need to look up the live music culture in Mumbai and Bangalore on how to create a balance between running their business and making shows possible on a regular basis whist Chennai bands, especially metal bands, need to concentrate on improving their band image and getting professional in their approach to organizers and market themselves better.
HBI: What’s coming up for the band in 2014?
Trojan Horse: 2014. First on target is definitely getting done with the EP and marketing it the right way. We are quite keen on playing extensively across all the metal stages in India and also at major college fests. We are also working on some new material. We already have a new track in progress and everyone’s doing their home work. Compositionally, we are looking to surprise our fans as much as we could. Also we are expecting 2014 to throw some surprises our way as well.
HBI: Thanks for talking to us, and best of luck for the EP release and all other things that are lined up for Trojan Horse!