Albatross (April 2010)
Here’s a band that started off as an independent studio project a few years ago, and which is now working with some fancy names in the world of international metal itself! Here’s Albatross, our Featured Band for the month of April on Headbangers India, talking about their latest collaboration, their upcoming album, the themes of their music and more…
HB: Hey, how are you guys doing? How’s work on ‘Dinner is you’ coming along?
ALBATROSS: Hey guys. As of now we’re really busting our asses to get the album out. Biprorshee just finished all his vocal parts, and so did Mihir Joshi, lead singer of the Works, who’d contacted me some time back to do some vocal parts on an Albatross song, back when it was still a studio project. In ‘Dinner is You’, I’d picked him to do a Vincent Price-esque kind of narrative for the album intro ‘The Great Plague of the 21st Century’, but he ended up doing some additional vocal harmonies as well, since his voice contrasts pretty well with Biprorshee. Raj is doing a phenomenal job mixing the album and it’s all shaping up well. As of now, only Raj’s solos are left…apart from the final mixing process. As the cannibal in the album would say, the album sounds delicious.
HB: First it was Bhoomi, and now Albatross, who’ve got some fancy names in their production line! Tell us… how did the collaboration with Andy LaRocque come about?
ALBATROSS: In many ways it’s a dream come true, I’ve been grinning like a small little girl for the past month or so. Anyone who knows me knows my life revolves around King Diamond, and I consider him the greatest artist in existence ahead of anyone else in any art form. I’ve been worshipping Andy LaRocque even since ‘Abigail’ blew me away all those years ago. Even Raj’s metal journey started so to speak with Death and we all know Andy was part of the album ‘Individual Thought Patterns’. So when Raj told me he’s willing to record and mix the album for free, if I find someone good to master it…I wrote a mail to Andy. I seriously did not think I’d be able to afford the amount he charges. And thankfully, when he responded it was an amount that although substantial was something we could afford. I can’t even begin to describe how amazingly excited I was when I spoke to Andy for the first time on the phone. I was as excited as Madam Curie when she won the Nobel Prize.
HB: How do you think working with LaRocque is going to change (for the better, of course) the sound of the band?
ALBATROSS: Well, we were all aiming for a King Diamond meets Death kind of sound. And who better than Andy LaRocque to give us the sound, right? You just have to check out any of the recordings on the Sonic Train Studios website to know how good he is. Who better than a master to do the mastering?
HB: ‘Dinner is you’ is a concept album, that supposedly narrates a horror story. Give us a little preview of that story!
ALBATROSS: I first got the idea of the Kuru Disease from a book called Cutthroat by an author called Michael Slade. I knew the concept was perfect to extend into a full fledged album the moment I read about the disease- a laughing disease which afflicts anyone who has human flesh. Any one who’s checked out ‘The Dining Table’ on www.soundclick.com/albatrossindia knows it’s the story of a man who goes to a dinner party and ends up being dinner himself. I’ve extended the concept in the following two songs as well- In the Court of Kuru, about the cannibal being tried in court when suddenly it all goes wrong. And in the final track of the album ‘Among the Cannibals’, I introduce a new character called the Prosecutor, who sets out to punish the cannibal by feeding him to a cannibal tribe. Can’t give too much away, check out the album when it’s out. Yeah, I know I’m being a bitch here.
HB: When can we expect the album to release?
ALBATROSS: Depends on the label actually which decides to sign us up. Things are moving smoothly forward, you should hear something on this front in the next month or so.
HB: Albatross was something that started off as a studio project, and now it has evolved into a full-fledged band. Let us in on how this entire transformation happened…
ALBATROSS: Very good question. Albatross, the band is not just about the music…it’s a mindset as well. While searching for different musicians back when it was still a collaborative project I discovered a lot of singers/musicians who wouldn’t mind doing a one off song for the band, but who wouldn’t be serious about this music. Plus I had plans to take the band live, and it doesn’t make sense to go live with 10 vocalists. Biprorshee fit the bill completely…not only in terms of the music he’s into, but also the mindset he’s in, the books he reads and the movies he watches. Plus he’s come a long, long way as a singer…he admits it himself that he’s a much better singer from the time he started recording ‘Dinner is You’ to how he’s singing now. I’ve always admired and respected Jay and always wanted to be in a band with him…he’s one of the few drummers I’ve met who listens to the entire band and not just the drumming. He’s one of the musicians I respect the most in Mumbai. Jimmy’s an enthusiastic kid with a willingness to learn and I’m sure he’ll go a long way. And Raj is probably the most fantastic musician I’ve ever played with. The only person who I can probably imagine doing a better job than Raj in Albatross is Andy LaRocque.
HB: How important is theatrics in Albatross’ music? Would you say it adds to the overall feel or distracts from the music?
ALBATROSS: I think it’s the concept and thereby theatrics which sets Albatross apart, which makes us different from a lot of metal bands out there. To me Albatross is a story that needs to be told, and the music is a medium which supports it. I’m always more pleased when someone says they felt excited or spooked out when they hear our music as compared to someone who says good guitar parts or good drum parts. The biggest compliment we’ve ever received is from one of my idols Nik from the band Wolf who heard the song ‘The Dining Table’ and told me he’d have loved to have thought of this concept himself. It was a WOW moment. When we eventually do go live, we’ll definitely be using actors to enhance the experience for the audience.
HB: How challenging is it to be a part of multiple bands, especially one that tours quite a bit (i.e. Workshop)? Don’t time constraints come in your way?
ALBATROSS: Haha, it’s not that taxing. Last time I checked Hamza was in 10234 bands. Thankfully my job is flexible and allows me to make time for my music. Workshop is a welcome change to the Albatross mindset at times and vice versa. I’ve also been yearning to start a Queen meets Avantasia kinda band. But I guess that’s just pushing my luck.
HB: Once the album is out, does Albatross have any touring plans? How about performing down south? I don’t think you guys have gone that side…
ALBATROSS: One of the biggest setbacks to our touring plans will be Raj quitting the band soon after the album’s out. Him earning 44 lakhs per annum is sort of a legend here in Mumbai. We’ve found an awesome replacement in this dude called Mrudul but we’ll need some time to get our footing together before we take the stage. We’d love to come down south, and I think Workshop should be there soon. The two best gigs I’ve seen were in the south…Maiden in Bangalore and Hammerfall in Chennai.
HB: Here’s your celebrity moment! Any words for fans and fellow metalheads out there?
ALBATROSS: I’d first like to thank everyone who’s ever believed in and supported Albatross. We’d need more of your support in the days to come. Support music that is bold, unconventional and conceptual and make us happy men. And as clichéd as this sounds, stay \m/etal. And remember kids, human flesh gives you a laughing disease…don’t become cannibals.
HB:Thanks for the interview, and good luck with the album. Cheers!