Blood And Iron (April 09)
Chennai – the land of temples, dosas, carnatic music and Blood and Iron. Headbangers India catches up with the city’s most popular heavy metal band in this exclusive interview.
HB: Let’s begin with the traditional question. You may be bored answering it, but still tell us again… How did Blood and Iron get together? How long have you been with the current line-up?
Ashish: It began as an idea on Feb14th, 2005. Krishna (our ex-drummer and present drummer from Blind Image) and I were in the same college and we were both die-hard metalheads. He was more attuned to thrash while I preferred heavy metal so we wanted to form a band which fused these two great genres. Well, that was the initial plan anyway. We got friends, and then friends of friends – including Vivin, our keyboardist. By the end of the year we got Mark and Arun, our vocalist and bassist.
By August ’06 – We decided it’d be a good idea to get a second guitarist to play dual leads and harmonies – since our songs were screaming for ‘em, and we got Vikram Bains to do just that. He brought with him a rough, old school, thrash edge into the band.
After Krishna left we went through quite a few drummers – we finally got Manu in Dec ’07 and he’s made a huge difference to the sound. We’ve stuck with this line-up since then and it’s worked out pretty well for us. We’re all good buds, sharing a passion for metal – and having good fun playing it.
HB: The music of Blood and Iron is a little tricky to classify… Tell us about your most major influences. Also, which genre/category would you put the band under?
Vivin: It is a bit tricky to classify… So I’ll first tell you about our influences. It’s pretty diverse – Iron Maiden, Megadeth, Dream Theatre, Primal Fear, Hammerfall, Grave Digger, Kreator, pre-92 Metallica, Nightwish, Savatage and so many more. These bands cover a wide portion of the metal spectrum, and listening to our music one can easily say we’ve forged a new brand of metal – which is unique and hence, hard to classify. So we’ll just leave it at Heavy Metal. \m/
Vikram: Each song, and in fact parts within a song, might have a characteristic which can be associated with a certain sub-genre of metal. We’ve get orchestral sections, blast beats, clean/gruff vocals, dual leads, time signatures and a lot more. We don’t hesitate to use what we think would best suit the song in question, and more often than not it’s not just one thing. Another facet which we’ve never overlooked is the importance of good lyrics. Good music is obviously a prerequisite for success, but it’s the lyrics which have the potential to immortalize an idea.
We play exactly the kind of music we want. The scene here in India is pretty saturated with extreme metal bands and there’s a serious dearth of heavy metal bands – which is kind of odd considering how popular the genre is. It’s a lot more accessible, to both the eneral public as well as all kinds of metal fans.
HB: How has the not-so-prominent metal scene in Chennai helped/ not helped you guys?
Mark: The metal scene in Chennai is quite dismal. There’re only a handful of people who’re true metalheads and they’re really awesome. Very dedicated, and they go out of their way to support the scene. The crowds are relatively smaller when compared to other major cities, but the one bonus is that this crowd is discerning and quite educated (metal-wise ofcourse). So we’ve had it hard in our initial stages. There wasn’t and still isn’t any publicity as far as bands in Chennai are concerned. It really is the survival of the most dedicated and most die-hard.
There have been more than a few bands which would’ve become really big if they had been based somewhere in Mumbai or Bangalore, but they dissolve or fade away because the scene in Chennai just doesn’t make it worth their while. It’s quite a tragedy because there’s quite a lot of talent down there.
HB: Tell us all about your new album…
Ashish: We’re in the process of recording it right now. That’s the answer we’ve been giving everyone who’s asked, for ages now. We recorded all the songs in a studio last year, at great expense, but we were not satisfied for a variety of reasons. So we decided to do it ourselves. The investment we’ve put into gear and recording equipment is quite staggering, but the good news is that it’s all paying off. The songs are shaping up nicely and it should be ready by June-July this year.
Manu: As of now, we’re planning on naming the album as “Dynamite World”. It’s got about 6 songs in it: In Darkness, Dynamite World, Promised Lands, Altar Of Blood and Anarchy. It’s very different from our debut album. Be sure to check it out once it’s out.
HB: You played for and you were judged by Opeth in your own city. The crowd was all for you guys back then. Must’ve felt good…Tell us about the entire experience.
Mark: The show at IIT-Saarang was pretty good. We were the only metal band to qualify to the finals. This band is cursed in one aspect – when we pick lots, we usually pick the number one spot, and this time was no exception. We kick started the show and the show went quite well. The sound on stage was brilliant and the crowd was brilliant. All in all, a good show. I felt quite honoured when I was selected as the “Best Vocalist” by Opeth – we had quite a party after that show. ?
HB: How do you come up with your songs? Is all the music and lyrics written by one person or the work is done collectively? Do you follow a particular pattern of composition or song writing?
Vivin: Ashish or Vikram usually come up with a few riffs they think go well together and they bring it to the rest of us. We build a song from that point. So, as far as the music is concerned the whole band is involved. Lyrics are handled by Mark and Ashish, and Vikram chips in with ideas from time to time.
We follow absolutely no formulae as far as music or song structures are concerned. It’s probably the first thing one can notice when they listen to our songs. It’s not chaos, but it’s not rigid in any sense either.
Ashish: We place a great emphasis on quality lyrics. Every song has an idea behind it. Sub-standard lyrics just don’t pass muster as far as we’re concerned. I honestly believe one can put up the lyrics of this band and it would be as good as anything any other band on the international scene has to offer.
HB: Considering a country and a metal scene like ours, would you ever think of taking a step like Motherjane or Scribe, and allow all your music to be downloaded for free? What do you think our scene really needs?
Arun: We have considered it – free distribution of our music, for this new album. But the members of this band are quite split on this topic. We’re just not sure yet. So let’s see. And what does our scene really need? It’s probably the same as any scene… true fans. Fans willing to do what it takes, to get the music of their favourite bands out there, for the rest of the world to discover. This will probably help garner some much needed recognition by the international metal community.
HB: What would Blood and Iron consider to be their most metal moment so far?
Manu: We’ve had so many. It’s really, really hard to point out one particular time. We’ve had a blast everywhere from Kolkotta to Kerala. I guess I answer for the band when I say that every time we play for a crowd of music lovers and metalheads – it’s a metal moment right there. The feeling of being up on stage, playing the kind of music you love is special, and if the audience connects, it becomes so much more than that.
HB: What can we expect from Blood and Iron in the coming year?
Vikram: The new album is coming up pretty soon and of course some kickass shows. We’re hoping this album does great things for this band. We’ve put in loads of effort into it.
HB: Your last comments are…
Blood and Iron: Stay Metal \m/