Mephisto (September 2010)
Our Featured Artist for September is Jetesh Menon, better known as Mephisto- the keyboardist for Demonic Resurrection. Read on to find out more about the man behind the music- his journey from Hindustani classical to Demonic Metal, stories from the international tours and more. Exclusively on Headbangers India.
HB: Hey there, Mephisto. First of all, we’d like ‘Mephisto’ to introduce his alter ego outside DR…
Mephisto: Mephisto doesn’t have an alter ego. He is the alter ego.
HB: People usually have reasons behind choosing pseudonyms, how did you choose to be ‘Mephisto’? Something to do with Mephistopheles, perhaps?
Mephisto: You’re right, it is derived from Mephistopheles, who I came across in the Satanic Bible, listed under the infernal names. I officially became Mephisto on the eve of my first gig with DR at Razz. I remember Demonstealer putting up the new lineup on Gigpad (good ol days) and I instinctively asked him to list me as Mephisto. Mephisto brings out the demon in me on stage. It’s a very different personality from who I am otherwise. Besides which, Demonstealer was already taken J
HB: So now that the ‘hellos’ are done, how did you pick up keyboards, and when?
Mephisto: I started learning Hindustani classical music from the age of 5 or 6 and I have to thank my mom for that. I think around 10 I also started playing the harmonium. A “gulf return” relative gifted me a small Casio around the same time which I then began to carry to my classical performances. It wasn’t until I joined DR that I took keyboard playing seriously.
HB: Is there any band in particular that gave you the feeling “Screw everything else, I want to play in a metal band.”? Or are there several?
Mephisto: Yeah. I was completely off music after my X standard board exams. It was during my graduation years in college when a friend thrust a Slayer (Hell Awaits) tape in my hand n said “check this out”. I remember going ape shit just over the intro. Collecting albums and trading was the rage those days. In no time, thanks to my friends I was looking at Cradle of Filth and Dimmu Borgir videos. It was Dimmu’s prodigious use of keyboards in metal that probably inspired me the most. I knew I wanted to make evil music too haha.
HB: How did the deal with DR come about? Were there any other bands you played for before DR?
Mephisto: This is actually a funny story. DR was the most abused/hated/thrashed about band when I heard of them first in college. I saw them live as a three piece unit at Irock 2002 with (surprise surprise) Demonstealer on Vox/guitars, Husain on bass and Viru on drums! For whatever reason, it left an impression on me and a few months later, against all “friendly advice” I wrote an email to Demonstealer with more attitude than all members of Gorgoroth put together. The contents of that letter shall never be made public J (I hope) I knew Nikita was no longer with the band and the keyboard slot was open. After months of avoiding me I finally tracked him down at IIT Mood Indigo after he played with Husain and JP as Bombay Butchery. We fixed up an audition date and I turned up at his place with my Casio SA-21 J The rest as they say is history. I went back home beaming and said to my mom “I joined Demonic Resurrection” If she ever had a WTF moment, that was it.
HB: You’ve played to a hugely varied audience now. How has it been, playing in the kvltest of countries, especially the Scandinavian ones like Norway? Any incidents you’d like to share with us?
Mephisto: I’ve always been fascinated by Norway – the Vikings, fjords, aurora borealis, Stave churches, Paganism and the whole black metal history which I’ve followed rabidly over the years. So I made a solo trip to Bergen and did a little sightseeing. Husain and I even went on the Black Metal tour bus which took us to Helvete and other landmarks in Norwegian Black Metal. We even had some moonshine made by a local black metal musician. It was all KVLT!
Playing at Inferno was a dream come true and I’m not just saying this. I’ve literally dreamt of playing there. The audience was surprisingly receptive. We had people singing along, guys and girls from the front row coming and gushing “best band at Inferno so far” Next thing I know, a bunch of people were walking around in DR tees!
Another part to the festival was getting to see all these great bands (Marduk \m/) It was all very surreal. Imagine being introduced to Samoth by Anders from Celtic Frost over breakfast! Sadly, the members from Dimmu Borgir were nowhere to be found L but hey, there’s always next time!
HB: And compared to the response abroad, how does it feel to play in front of the headbangers back home?
Mephisto: It’s always good to play at home but it’s infuriating when bands send their fans to disrupt a show or distribute derogatory leaflets. It’s just juvenile to take out personal differences in this manner. Otherwise it’s a pleasure playing in Bombay. Last year we played at a lot of unconventional venues – Dhanbad, Indore, Jalandhar, Silchar and the response was overwhelming.
HB: And when Mephisto is Jetesh, what is he upto? Is there a regular job involved? And the all important – ‘What would you want to do apart from keyboards if given the chance?’
Mephisto: Jetesh is a slave, a shiny but another cog in the wheel in the nefarious advertising industry. Right now I’m at Rediffusion Y&R creating digital engagements for our clients.
HB: What do you think of the current state of the Indian metal scene, being a part of the band that is representing it all over the world?
Mephisto: I think it’s awesome that bands are finally recording and putting out albums of top quality. Kudos to Anupam and Demonstealer for making this possible (at least for bands on a tight budget) As part of ‘The Return To Darkness’ tour, we played with a lot of talented local bands in each city. I hope it continues to grow.
As for DR, we’ve evolved with every release (like any band ought to). Now thanks to Golden God and all the positive reviews worldwide, I guess there is a reputation to live up to and that’ll only help us push the bar higher.
HB: Considering that budding metal musicians look to DR as a source of inspiration when it comes to making it big in the scene, is there any advice you’d like to dish out? Your space, feel free to rant!
Mephisto: I’m gonna borrow a quote from a Trey Willams interview I read. (We hung out with him after he absolutely murdered the kit with Dying Fetus at Brutal Assault. A brilliant drummer and a gem of a person.)
“After you are done practicing, surround yourself with very motivated people. They will be your best bet at getting somewhere.”
HB: Thanks a lot Mephisto! Good luck with all your current and future musical endeavours.