1833 A.D. (July 2011)
For July, we have Delhi based black metal outfit (no pun intended) 1833 A.D. These guys have been quite a topic of conversation in recent times, for good reasons and otherwise. Here I chat with frontman Nishant Abraham Varghese as he talks about weather, food and kvltness.
HB: Hey how you doing?
NAV: Great! Thanks for featuring us on HBI.
HB: Tell me something about the band. Why do you guys choose to play black metal?
NAV: I’ve always had an inclination towards the genre. Shashank also played a vital role in this decision. Back in 2004, we were just a three piece outfit with Sushmit on Bass, Shashank on Drums and me doing Vocals and Guitars. We used to play all sorts of music just trying to figure out where we wanted to go with this. When we started hanging out more, I realized that Shashank and I share very similar music interests. We started sharing music, covering the Norwegian bands, etc. Most of those songs demanded dual guitar work, so we posted an ad online asking for guitarists interested in a Black Metal band. Rahul was the only guy who replied (laughs). It was destiny perhaps. Speaking of Destiny, if, hypothetically speaking, 1833 AD never existed; I would have been fronting a Power Metal band singing about dragons and fire.
HB: Speaking of black metal, it’s one the most obscure and underground forms of music there is. True black metal guys are really kvlt but you guys don’t seem so. You guys seem like regular people. Why is that?
NAV: That is such a misconception. People like to believe what they see on TV. Thanks to the internet I am in constant touch with most of the Black Metal musicians from Norway and they are such down to earth, simple and fun loving guys who lead regular lives. The music videos and documentaries are made that way to maintain that “kvlt” image. You think any of us would actually watch it if they sat around a park eating KFC? Probably few names in history would wanna make you think otherwise, but then that’s the truth. Of course there are people who lead such lives, but they are a minority. I am not at liberty to share the stories, so let the myth remain.
HB: You guys were seen sending your entries to the recently held Rolling stone Metal Awards. Now RS is a sell out magazine that mainly supports mainstream music, why send an entry when you’re a black metal band?
NAV: We have been hearing that a lot. More than a Black Metal band, we are a Black Metal band in India. So we are looking at a very limited audience. We need the visibility. There is only so much you can do by staying “underground”. Which does not mean we are selling out as a band. I think there is enough distance between being mainstream and being underground. I don’t wish to be either.
HB: Tell me something about your live act. You guys don’t wear face paint and dress in robes/spikes/leather pants and vests. Why’s that? Is that something we can expect in the future?
NAV: We always wore the spiked bands and leather. But not so much in excess that it stood out. Also the initial reason was accessibility. We didn’t have these spiked accessories or leather garments available that easily, especially something that looked good. Same thing goes for corpse paint. So maybe it is something that we could be doing in the future. I feel the live act for any band is as important as the music they play. It is essential that bands concentrate on their look too.
HB: Any black metal bands in India you look upto?
NAV: When we started playing we were the only band playing Black Metal in India. So there was no one to look up to with respect to Black Metal. Apart from that, I have great respect for Demonic Resurrection and Kryptos. They have struggled, survived and come up as India’s top metal acts. I mean these guys started playing even before I dreamt of being in a band. I will always support and respect them for their contribution.
HB: Do you like Dethklok? They’re phenomenal.
NAV: (laughs) I find their lyrics really funny. Music wise, not so much.
HB: What would you say to Varg Vikernes if you met him?
NAV: I would thank him for the great music. Apart from that, I don’t think he would even wanna talk to me.
HB: Moving on, tell me about the weather in Delhi. I mean it’s not cloudy and snowy like you see in black metal videos, so how does that fit in?
NAV: That’s why we don’t wear corpse paint and let it melt onto our clothes during our set (laughs). I’m just kidding. To be honest, it’s tough. Summers really take a toll on you. Also I feel it’s important to have an appropriate environment to write your songs. Which is why most of our songs are written at night. But then, there is always the winter to look forward to.
HB: What do you guys enjoy eating? Do you like parathas and rolls or do you stick to Papa John’s and Pizza Hut? Black metal people drink a lot of wine, do you? What places would you recommend to someone who visits Delhi?
NAV: Non vegetarian food is a must. We don’t care what we have it with, as long as there is a non-veg dish on the table. I follow this ritual of eating KFC before every gig. Without which I feel, I can’t perform (laughs). We drink lots and lots of red wine whenever we can. But subject to availability, we can manage with copious amounts of whiskey or beer too. If you are in Delhi, and love non-veg food, you can go to Pandara Road. You don’t have to go anywhere else.
HB: Tell me about your influences. Not just the bands but also non musical things. What kind of lyrics do you write? And what is the kind of message you want to pass on to the listeners?
NAV: Music wise I think it is pretty evident what most BM bands today grew up listening to. Other than that, darkness influences me. Night, I feel is my favorite companion. I can sit alone in a cold, dark spot with my guitar and spend hours. Nothing influences me more than darkness.
My lyrics are usually based on oppression and suffering. I never try and give out a message. I don’t say do this or do that. I talk about how pain, suffering and hatred surround us. I don’t have an answer to anything. Which adds up to the frustration and probably shows in my singing.
HB: Are you guys planning on an album anytime? Are you gonna record it in an abandoned cabin in a desolate jungle? Or in a dungeon of an ancient castle?
NAV: (laughs) Our debut album ‘My Dark Symphony’ is scheduled to release this September, if everything goes as planned. The recording was done in two studios. One, our very own 1833 AD Studios, owned and run by Rahul. The other at Grey Studios, run by Anupam Roy.
HB: Thanks a lot for doing this and please forgive my sense of humor. Any words for the readers?
NAV: No I really enjoyed this. You were great. I would like to request your readers to join us on Facebook and check out our songs and watch out for future updates. We will be announcing something huge shortly! Something about our album. But I guess it’ll have to wait. And for our fans, thanks for your support and kindness. We are doing this for you.