Arun from Eccentric Pendulum (June 09)
He was one of the founding members of Extinct Reflections, and is currently the bassist for avant-garde metal band Eccentric Pendulum. He’s the friendly, down to earth metalhead who comes to life when he dons the avatar of a bassist on stage, exuding nothing but sheer skill. Headbangers India catches up with Arun, our Featured Artist this June…
HB: When did you begin the journey into metal? Confess-did you like any boy bands prior to the metal ones?
Arun: I began my journey when I was in the 9th standard, when I had come across a small clip of ‘The memory remains’ song by Metallica (Reload) from a PC Quest magazine’s free bonus CD. That turned the switch ‘on’ for me, as that surely was better than Backstreet Boys and Boyzone which were my favourites during that season! Firstly, I did love the way the video for that song was shot [i.e. with the swinging platform] and the vocals were really good. Additionally, that was the first time I ever heard the sweet sound of distortion from a guitar. From there on it got heavier, and I soon graduated to Megadeth. After that, it was probably Keator, and then, thanks to Music Gallery [R.I.P], I got to hear some Cannibal Corpse, Immolation, Coroner, Death and Slayer. Eternal thanks to Toto (R.I.P)…for getting me into more metal [Nile, Nevermore and all the obscure heavier killer stuff].
HB: About Extinct Reflections… Do you ever regret quitting?
Arun: About Extinct Reflections…I met Sandesh and Kishan when I was in the 10th standard they were in the 9th. We had some real solid fun! Our initial days were filled with seven hour long jams. We’d never played live until one day, Kishan’s brother told us that we need to get onstage and not just play in the house for seven hours! That was when I first tried vocals. We were called ‘Moral Collapse’ then. After 2 or 3 shows, we changed it to ‘Extinct Reflections’. From there on, the following couple of years were good…
I did not regret quitting initially, but some of the material that I made and played with Extinct was personal, and I had value for that. Hence, there are days that go by where I feel I should’ve practiced a little harder and stayed on. But it was a good thing for the band to have only one guitar player because no one could and can match Sandesh’s level of understanding the songs and his level of playing. He is unique, and no one can get close to what he’s achieved in these five years. Also, Prasad was a better frontman than I ever was and I’m really happy he took the band to another level. It all happened for the better!
Right now, after 3-4 years, I’m happy with Eccentric Pendulum. I’ve known Ashish for fifteen years, and he is a good composer. Vibhas has proved himself to be a solid drummer, and Nikhil… he sounds like Jens Kidman though people say he sounds like Randy Blythe ha ha! And Dheeru [DOS Prompt] too has been amazing on our EP. (Here’s thanks to him!)
HB: Why have you chosen to play bass now? Was it something you wanted to do, or something you settled for?
Arun: I settled for it! When Ashish and I met, we were to be the two guitarists of Eccentric Pendulum, but the song writing was so rhythm based that it didn’t really require for us to have two guitar players. Also, I wanted to re-explore the percussive side of my hobby- I used to play mrudangam for seven years before I tried a guitar. A bass guitar is like percussion on strings! So I took fancy in exploiting the taping technique which I had learnt earlier.
HB: We’ve seen you on stage, and you are one hell of a bass player! Tell us about the hard work and the background stories. Any special practice techniques?
Arun: (Laughs) I still consider myself as a guitar player who couldn’t do much, but it has been fun trying the bass guitar! I’m sure most of the true bass players out there will find my playing annoying, but I guess that at the end of the day, the dynamics of playing a bass with a pick is better off and clearer for this particular band.
About practice techniques- there are no special practice techniques, no solo practice, no hard work at all! Actually, it’s all fun and only jamming sessions render my practice.
HB: Who is your single most important musical/ bass influence, and why?
Arun: The one and the only Steve Di Gorgio because of his versatility and the number of bands he played with [Death, Testament, Sadus, Quo Vadis] and the quality of everything that he’s ever done… so rich (Goes into an elongated “Phewww”). I really like Alex Webster of Cannibal Corpse too.
HB: About Eccentric Pendulum. How it going so far?
Arun: It’s going pretty well considering that we are close to nine months since we started! We hope to release a full length with better production by the middle or the end of next year. (Actually, you must ask Ashish haha). That is my ultimate goal with the band, for which we need some moola to record in a good studio! So, right now, we’re trying to make some moola out of whatever gigs happen. I guess we’ll have to make enough to hit the studios again, and we should have 9 songs by the end of the year.
HB: You also write the lyrics for Eccentric Pendulum, and they’re all very abstract. Do you have any themes you deal with in particular? What’s your muse?
Arun: Hmm! Frankly speaking, quality in lyrics and chorus have always lacked, and I didn’t want that to happen with Eccentric Pendulum. So, I’ve tried my best to make both these aspects finer.
We, i.e. Eccentric Pendulum, are trying to kinda make a concept album with 9 songs and two or three samples. The concept revolves around a desperate young painter who is trying to make it big in the immensely large field of art. It deals with the various difficulties he faces,
the hardships he goes through, the various competitors that he continue to face, the hundred odd critiques the come along his path…In the end, would he be successful? Or would he just be the sculptor of negative emotions?
Of course, the lyrics are written in a very metaphorical sense and not the usual you die, I’ll eat your guts; I’ll rip your soul out sort of lyrics. My lyrical themes are: art, light, emotion, people, beauty, strength, betrayal, state of mind etc. Finally, it’s up to the person with the lyrics booklet in front of them to decipher whatever he wants to! That’s the beauty of writing nonsense! Lol!
HB: Which do you find more challenging- making the music or writing the lyrics? (Or doing the operatic vocals?)
Arun: Writing lyrics is simple- no one tells you what to write and what not to. Making the music is fun and spontaneous when all of us jam on some new material. Layering the vocal lines into a track i.e. deciding the chorus, pre-chorus, verse etc. is challenging and needs to be done right. And, no comments on the operatic vocals! Haha!
HB: Tell us a little about Arun when he’s not the brutal bassist on stage. Any hobbies apart from music? Any idealistic future plans?
Arun: Right now I’m trying to complete my course and get a Bachelors Degree in Architecture on time[which has become like a hobby because of the band!] Otherwise, all I do is eat, drink wine (sweet only not sour) smoke some hookah, play some poker with friends, buy a lot of original CDs ,and occasionally try to lose some amount of weight to make the people around me happy-truly futile!
I have no focus on anything particular and no idealistic future plans. Of course I’d like to throw away everything for the sake of the band if it pays for my living (this is every musicians dream, is it not? But I don’t see this happening, so guess I’ll go and work for someone, just like any one of you guys, or try and get into more trouble by trying to do a Masters course in architecture! (Goes into an elongated “Oooops”).
HB: Our bands are quite prone to being booed by Kannada music fans, or being shooed off stage. Have you had any of these awkward or funny stage moments?
Arun: We’ve never been booo-ed off yet! But our funniest and the most eccentric thing we’ve done is to play for a bunch of uncles and aunties along with their three year olds (who kept begging Ashish to play some ‘Rock On’ tunes) on New Years’ eve.
HB: Your views on the metal scene in India… Do you think metal bands will always be compared to the other ‘live bands’ or is there some hope for us in the future?
Arun: The Indian Metal Scene! Hmmm. Let me be frank… The Indian metal scene can be better- better venues can be found and better gigs can be arranged. The organizers must stop eating money and should recognize talent. Also, many more international bands should be invited to play in India. And the Indian bands have to pull their socks up if they want to get signed if they’ve to reach outside India, because the comparison in metal is global and it can’t be restricted to just one country. Remember metal is taboo/considered violent and shit, and the number of people who listen to metal is very limited. So even lesser are the chances for you to become as famous as Beyonce/ Timberlake.
We have some hope and chance for the future, but it’s like a flyover. What can be done in four years will take 15 years, and in this case, It may take India 50 years to have its own festival like Wacken or Download! So, I sincerely hope the metal culture and trend spreads fast in India and more people convert themselves from Bollywood/ Backstreet Boys to metal (Just like I did!) Also, it helps if not only the quantity, but even the quality among the listeners increase. A good educated crowd is always an enhancing experience for the players onstage.
HB: Thanks a ton for the interview. Is there anything you’d like to say that we haven’t covered?
Arun: Yeah! I’d like to say you guys are doing an excellent job with the site. That’s as wise as I can get! Cheers \m/