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Fractalline

  • Interview by: Madhav R
  • Date: April 5, 2011

After the kickass gig at B69, the exhausted band members of Fractalline were kind enough to let us interview them, and we were inconsiderate enough to stretch the interview as much as we could!(till we were forced to leave the venue by one of the B69 staff saying ‘we’re already late by half an hour’). So here we bring to you an interview where the band talks about its inception, gigging, and of course, their music and metal in general.

HB: Hey guys, good to have you here with us in India. Let’s start with each of you introducing yourselves along with the instruments you play for Fractalline.

Sandesh Nagaraj: I’m Sandy, I play bass.
KP Krishnamurthy: KP here, I play guitars.
Jordan Nally: Jordan here, I’m the vocalist.
Ray: I’m Ray, I play drums.

HB: Okay, tell us about the formation of the band. How did you meet?
KP: Well, firstly, Myndsnare, the band that Sandy and I were in for a long time in India, we left to the US to study at MI (Musician’s Institute). Over there, I wanted to put together a band which explored a few heavier aspects of what I was in to. We just started searching around for musicians at MI. Sandy wanted to play bass, so he jumped in. And Yasmin, who was walking down the corridors of MI, heard this guy pounding away on the kit, playing double bass and blast beats in a practice lab. She knocked on the door, got his phone number and passed in on to me. We also got 2 other drummer’s phone numbers, but Ray was first on the list and also the only guy who answered his phone and sounded like he was actually disciplined, haha. So we had a few jams with him and started feeling good about it. We actually had another vocalist and guitarist in the band as well, but after a while, the music evolved, and he wasn’t exactly fitting what the band was about. The vocalist also quit because he was interested in different styles of music and didn’t gel with us. Jordan heard us playing at school once and he really liked it, and I heard that he’s a pretty good vocalist and stuff. I asked him if he wanted to jam with us.
JN: It went well…
KP: Yes, it went well.

HB: And Fractalline was formed.
KP: Yeah, pretty much.

HB: Alright, so what’s Fractalline? The name. Define it.
KP: Well, the name sounds like crystalline, except with fractals instead of crystals; a fractal is basically an equation…
JN: An infinitely repeating pattern.
KP: Yeah, and the pattern is within the pattern itself, so however much you zoom in, you still see the same thing, which is made up of the same thing. So, we kind of relate that to the whole world as we see it, and how people relate to each other.

HB: So the band name explains the music as well.
JN: Yes, you can say that.

HB: What are the themes behind your music, on your EP Infinite Entropy and your upcoming full length?
JN: The EP is about connecting with your audience, taking your life forward and making a positive impact on everyone listening. This point on, everything’s changing a lot. We’re working on a concept album. Basically, there are 10 different worlds with 10 different presets on the way of life. We’ve written a song called Nucleus of Domination; it’s about a world where the rich rule over the poor by taking control of their brains. Basically, it’s a bunch of short stories with a problem and a solution in each song. Each one is about a different world that I’ve named based on a keyword which I’ve translated to another language. Flawless Design is about a world where everyone thinks logically, no one’s creative or acts on impulse. The world is called Mantik, which is logic in Turkish.
KP: There’s another one, a world where you don’t really appreciate art of anything of the sort and the society that results out of that. There’s no entertainment the way we see it, no perception of beauty. Imagine that kind of society…

HB: KP/Sandy, your old band Myndsnare was more straightforward death than technical. So how did you evolve into this?
KP: Well, we were actually trying to me a technical death/thrash kind of band with Myndsnare as well, but not everyone was into the same style of music. When Fractalline was formed, everyone liked the stuff and the music I write. Sandy and I do some collaborations for the crazier parts as well, so this is what I’ve always wanted to push towards, and its really awesome to play with these guys who share the same ideas.

HB: Tell me about how Fractalline compose their songs.
KP: Okay, haha, first I start putting down riffs on my computer using drum loops and stuff like that to play with, or sometimes I put down my own patterns and record guitar riffs over that. After stringing together a few riffs, when I feel it’s like I proper song, I ask these guys to check it out. There’s some rearranging of riffs once in a while, of required. If I’m stuck, Sandy comes in with a few ideas…

HB: Sandy’s an awesome guitar player. The intro of Recognise.Analyze (Extinct Reflections) blows me away every time.
KP: Yeah, extremely. His band Serotura is fantastic too. So, yeah, that’s how it is. Once we have the song down with programmed drums as a reference to know what the riffs are supposed to sound like, we take it to the jam room. Ray doesn’t play anything that I programmed and he composes his old stuff. Until now, that’s worked way better than the programmed stuff.

HB: Jordan and Ray, have either of you played for any bands before Fractalline?
RY: Yeah, I played for a couple of bands in Mexico. But they were mainly cover bands. There were a bunch of death metal covers, but not too many originals. Nothing like Fractalline.
JN: Umm, I’ve been singing since I was 5 or 6 but that was mostly choir stuff. I didn’t start doing bands until I was 12; I started my first punk-ska band. Sang a little alternative rock, then I got into hard rock. I was about 17 when I started getting into metal, thinking there was no way I could get sounds like that come out of my mouth. My first metal band would’ve been when I was in Hawaii, senior high school. My band there was really terrible.

HB: Yeah, everyone’s first band is pretty terrible.
JN: Oh yeah, we were bad. Very Fear Factory-esque. The most I’d gone with a band before these guys was when I lived in Japan. I’d played with a death metal band called Girth. It was kind of a joke name, joke band. The album was called ‘Girth of the Iron Cobra,’ haha.

HB: Interesting. Is the album available anywhere now?
JN: I have it. The band guys have it, I guess. That’s probably it. We gigged a bit around Tokyo with the other death metal bands there but nothing big. The music was along the lines of Himsa meets Killswitch Engage, something like that.

HB: So, after singing music like that, how do you feel about being in Fractalline?\
JN: Actually, right before I joined Fractalline, I was singing with a band called Son of Apollo, which is now called Portrait of Gray. They’ve just recorded an EP as well. They wanted to do generic metalcore, like Misery Signals and that kind of stuff. My vocal styles, my personality didn’t fit even a little bit, so that ended. About two months after that, I met these guys, and what a relief! Everything I always wanted to do in a band, they like! And every band I’d ever been in before, I used to do my thing and the band used to go, “no, not that, do this,” or “try to sound like this guy, or that guy.” With Fractalline, the band was, “yes, awesome, keep doing that.” It was a big relief joining Fractalline from any other band before. And the funny thing is that, I’ve had more stuff in common, musically, like the bands I listen to, with my other bands than with Fractalline. Like, we like The Faceless and Meshuggah, and that’s probably it.
KP: Yeah, I don’t like the Black Dahlia Murder…
JN: Yeah and they’re one of my favourite bands.

HB: So, does the fact that all of you have different interests play a part in making Fractalline sound like it does?
JN: Yeah, for sure. It gives us our unique style. Like, a lot of bands that I hear coming out these days, it’s so obvious where their influences come from. Like, you can listen to the music and say, “the vocalist likes this guy, the drummer likes that guy…” I think that is very important in making us sound so original.
KP: Yeah frankly, none of us give a shit about sounding like any other musician or band like we look up to. We get inspiration from other musicians, like I get inspiration from Death. But I’m not going to listen to their albums and try to sound like them.

HB: Myndsnare was a three instrument band; single guitar, bass and drums. Fractalline is along the same lines. Any plans to induct someone else, mayve another guitar player to add to the sound?
KP: Guitarists suck, dude! They have too much of an ego.

HB: Says the guitarist!
KP: Haha, the reason we don’t have another guitarist is because we don’t need someone else. Another musician wouldn’t probably move the band forward because it’s working very well as it is. We actually tried to get another guitarist from MI but it didn’t really work. Now, getting another guy into the equation is not required. I don’t think so and neither do the band.

HB: Alright, what are each of you doing at MI right?
SN: I’m studying GIT, guitars, basically.
KP: I finished my GIT course and I’m doing my audio engineering course now.
JN: I’ve completed my audio engineering and live sound course, I’m now in the vocal program.
RY: I’m doing my bachelor’s degree for performance in percussion.

HB: What are you listening to nowadays?
KP: Well, right now, I’m listening to a lot of phone calls about the gigs, haha and not getting much sleep. Two and a half weeks! Not for the last two and a half weeks. I listen to a lot of The Faceless, and a lot of old (Judas) Priest, I’d say that’s my favourite band (Hell yeah!) and, umm, I’ve also been trying a lot of bands that Sandy has been recommending. One band that I’ve recently gotten into is the Canadian band Martyr, yeah, they’re very good.
SN: I’m listening to Karnivool, the new album ‘Sound Awake.’ A lot of jazz as well. Not too much metal, really.
JN: I just started getting into this band called Harvard. Indie rock, not heavy at all. I’m super excited about the new Between The Buried And Me. They’re my favourite band of all time. I like the new Protest The Hero, amazing vocalist. I like the new Amon Amarth as well, Surtur Rising. All Shall Perish, they just switched to 8 strings, they sound brutal, brutal brutal brutal! Whitechapel as well, they’ve switched to 8 strings, so we’ve be listening to that in the next couple of months. That’s becoming a trend now, I guess. So we’re not going to be original any more, haha.
KP: Well, what to do…

HB: You can always push the limits…
KP: Probably not. There are a couple of guys I know who play 9 string guitars. One of them teaches at MI and he’s fucking awesome.

HB: You probably thought the same when you played a 6 string.
KP: Ah, a 9 string is a little too much, pretty extreme.
SN: I’ll quit the band, haha!

HB: Yeah, Ray, what are you listening to?
RY: A lot of Faceless, a lot of Nile. Planet X as well. Obscura is coming out with a new album as well this year.

HB: Sandy/KP, you guys played for Myndsnare, which was and probably is one of India’s biggest metal bands. What’s the difference you see after going to the US, in terms of audiences, organizers, other bands etc.
KP: It’s like night and day, but not in a good or bad way. There are plus points in both. Like here, in India, you’re provided drum kits and amps at every gig. You’re not expected to bring your own kits and amps. In the US, no one does that. If you want to play, you’d better have your drumkit, your amps, cables, everything. All that’s given is a PA. Another issue here in India is that there are not enough cities to play at. Beyond the metros, barely anything. Yes, it will probably build up but it will probably take another 10 years. Kryptos is planning a huge tour for their next album, that should be good.

HB: Yeah, it will be great for the scene to actually have a band play at so many cities. It will open up so much…
KP: Myndsnare once played a gig at this place called Shimoga in Karnataka. We were trying to play ‘Raining Blood’ and the crowds were asking for Enrique Iglesias and Hotel California! Basically, no one knew what to expect. It was advertised as ‘Shimoga’s first rock and pop show.’ It will be interesting, if Kryptos manage to do that, it will lead to people listening to that stuff, which equates to more black t-shirts in those places which is awesome.

HB: Any Indian bands you guys are aware of, and are actively following?
KP: I check up a lot of stuff on Facebook, I listen to songs which people link me up to but I don’t actively follow any band, simply because I have no time.
JN: I will be, after tonight. BM and Vizia were fucking awesome!

HB: Bhayanak Maut is playing at Inferno this year, in Norway. Demonic Resurrection did that last year.
KP: Another thing is, all these bands going abroad, playing in front of people, its going to make a big difference to the kind of perception people abroad have about Indian bands.

HB: What equipment do each of you use?
SN: I use an ESP B1005 series.
KP: I use an ESP FM-418 8 string guitar with EMG pickups and a POD HD500. I’m endorsed by ESP in India.
JN: Well, I use a microphone. Sennheiser. I like it a lot, thank you.
RY: I have Paiste, I have Zildjian, I have Sabian… I have a little bit of everything. And Iron Cobra pedals.

HB: What are your expectations from your whole Indiafestation tour?
KP: I want to keep my connection with the scene here. It’s going to be impossible to come back in the next year or so, and if we didn’t come down now, it would’ve been impossible to come for that much time. I grew up playing with and because of the guys here, started playing the guitar because I watched Moksha (RIP Leon Ireland) play Nightcrawler at NLS 1996. So, yeah, try give back the scene a little bit and retain a link.

HB: Right, so KP, you’ve lived here, played here, you know the scene we have, plus you’ve probably learnt a lot in MI as well. What advice would you give upcoming bands and musicians here?
KP: Well, firstly, get your shit together in terms of discipline and work. A lot of bands don’t do all that they say they will do. Some bands don’t even get to a jam on time. We don’t do that, we hold each other accountable if someone’s 5 minutes late.
JN: KP, you’re always 5 minutes late.
KP: Haha, I told you guitarists suck dude! Yeah, but we hold each other to account with punctuality and getting stuff done on time, communicating with people and stuff like that. What I’ve noticed with bands that don’t have too much experience is that they’re pretty loose on these areas. They just want to get on stage and have a great time, which is great but they ignore the irritatingly boring work that needs to go on before that.

HB: Alright guys, thanks a lot for the interview. Anything else you’d like to add?
KP: We’re tired! Haha.

HB: Haha, sure! Good luck with the Indianfestation tour!

Current photograph courtesy Krishna Ravi. Gig photos will be up soon.