Shoi Sen (De Profundis)
Feb 2009. Rock In India, Bangalore. Ok, so what we were really waiting for was to hear Bruce Dickinson and the rest of the English heavy metal giants hit the stage and blow us away. But until that happened, we were entertained by a host of bands, Indian and International. One of the bands that played that day, De Profundis caught our eye and here we are today, presenting to you an interview with Shoi Sengupta, the guitarist of De Profundis.
HB: Tell us more about De Profundis. How long has the band been around, and how did the band get together?
SH: The band has been around since 2005, Craig (Vocals) and Roman (Guitars) got together in a pub after replying to an online add. The meeting didn’t last long because Roman was underage at the time so had a curfew to get home. But they discussed the essence of the band quick and then set on getting a line up together and start jamming. By the time I joined in 2006 we had a pretty solid line up that went to record the first album. So we got things moving pretty quickly. No point in sitting around for years to records your first album. We decided we would only go out gigging only once we had an album in our hands.
HB: What’s going on with the band right now?
SH: A lot actually. As you know, we have a second album ready for release and are currently finalizing release plans for February. We are also exploring different touring options at present including a return to India. So we are very busy behind the scene. I’d rather be busy performing but I guess the business side has to be looked after as well. We do have some good gigs coming up shortly, including a trip to Paris at the end of October.
HB: Sounds interesting! Ok, the ‘Beyond Redemption’ LP received loads of rave reviews online. Metal Review called it an ‘effective, mature, fine-sounding debut album ‘. Your comments about that?
SH: That is a very nice way of describing our debut album. We were really pleased about how the album was received because we didn’t have any expectations, as you commonly don’t with your first album. You dream that it will have some success but in our case we got so many good reviews, especially for a self release. We followed that through with very good live performance and I think that really helped us in establishing ourselves quickly. Within 4 months of the album being released, we ended on the top 10 list of unsigned bands by readers of UK’s Terrorizer Magazine!
HB: In Feb 2009, De Profundis played alongside heavy metal giants Iron Maiden, right here in India.What was going through your head before the show? What did you feel about the response from the crowds?
SH: A little bit nervous, actually. For me, that was proudest moment of my life. I am of Indian origin, so playing in India was always a dream. Then to top it up supporting Iron Maiden, that was the band that got me into metal many a moon ago! I had a tape with ‘Somewhere in Time’ on one side and Van Halen’s ‘1984’ on the other, and I used to listen to Maiden non stop! So to get to support them was like a childhood dream. Then to play in front of that many people (around 15,000 when we played) was pure bliss. The crowd went crazy, it really took us all by surprise. We didn’t expect a mosh pit of that size, and some really hot chicks digging our music at the front!
HB: What are your expectations from your second album, ‘A Bleak Reflections’? What can fans of ‘Beyond Redemption’ expect from this venture?
SH: We have a lot of expectation for “A Bleak Reflection”, we have worked very hard over the last 2 years on the live front and also on these songs. I think the leap between the first and second album is huge. So far people who have heard it have been really impressed by it, we have just signed with Kolony Records here in Europe and Sony will continue working with us in India. I think people who have liked ‘Beyond Redemption’ will like this one and appreciate the progression. I also think that this album is probably more accessible than the first one and therefore should open us to a larger audience.
HB: Tell us more about the song writing process on the albums. What are the centrals themes (if any) behind the music?
SH: We have a very organic way of writing. For ‘A Bleak Reflection,’ either myself or Roman would come up with a riff, we would then jam it together as band, and see if it works. The greatest thing this time has been the input of Nick on drums. He was like a new toy for us, you know. We played a riff and told him can you do that and he would do it, so that made the writing process a real joy. I am very happy personally because I had a lot more input on the second album than on the first. The good as well in our writing is Craig’s input during the entire process. He doesn’t play any instrument but has a very good for what would sound good and arrangements. Sometime he’ll just let us play a riff for a while and not say anything. Then he’ll say what he doesn’t like and ask us to tweak this or that and funnily, 9 out of 10 times, he is right! One song on the new album came about like, we were trying this riff that I had which sounded a bit like old school thrash. Craig didn’t say anything the entire rehearsal but you could see he didn’t like it. So I dug my heels and we carried on playing it. The next rehearsal he said he didn’t like that riff. But I said ‘OK, perhaps if I play it this way’ (more black metal) and he loved it, and funnily that is his favourite song on the album. Craig writes the lyrics, which is also on an ongoing process, often when we are busy working on some riffs in the rehearsal studio he’ll be sitting there writing lyrics. Our themes generally revolves around the idea that existence is futile, that everything is dust and effectively humans are just an insignificant part of the universe.
I am really looking forward to writing for the next album because now that we have Arran on bass, it will introduce another dimension in our music. He joined the band a month prior to recording and within that space of time, he assimilated all the songs and put in his own flavour into it which has been awesome. Writing a full album with our new rhythm section will open our possibilities immensely, so I am really psyched about it.
HB: From what I hear, Fernando Pereira, who produced French metal band Misanthrope’s latest album IrremeDIABLE, is the mastermind behind the production of your second album. Tell us more about the experience of working with a world class producer.
SH: I am a big fan of Misanthrope and their last album is really fantastic and that was largely due to Fernando’s work. Fernando was very good at capturing the right sound for them and we wanted someone who could do the same for us. Actually SAS De L’argiliere (Misanthrope’s singer) is a good friend of mine and he introduced us to Fernando. Fernando came all the way from France to meet us some 9 months before the records to discuss the album. We thought that was an awesome sign of commitment. What was really amazing about him his how much he embraced the music and really took this project personally. He was fantastic in bringing his idea and also taking ours on board. We also drove him mad during the mixing period but he always kept his calm. It was during the mix that he heard his nickname “The Terminator” as he never sleeps! During 4 days of mixing, I think we saw him sleep for a total of 4 hours!!
HB: What equipment did the band use on the second album?
SH: I played on my ESPs with EMG pickups, and Roman on PRS and Gibson Les Paul. For amps, we basically used 2 heads , for me, a Peavey Triple X and for Roman, a vintage Mesa Boogie. We mic up to 1 4×12 cab and one 1×12 Engel cab so the sound of guitars is very thick! Arran played most of the album on his fretless Ibanez and Nick uses Tama drums. For the acoustic parts we used my friend’s Larrive acoustic guitar, it has a beautiful & warm sound. I am hoping to get myself one soon.
HB: Sounds like a dream setup! I wait to hear how this all on the album! Ok, Shoi, so what are you listening to nowadays? Any Indian bands that have caught your attention recently?
SH: I listen to a lot of varied stuff. Currently listening to the new Muse and Megadeth album. Planning to buy the new Rammstein album as well. But I have my iPod on shuffle and therefore have a lot of death metal like Unleashed playing. Been listening to ‘Dusk And Her Embrace’ (Cradle Of Filth) a lot as well lately for some reason. We like Kryptos a lot and I checked out Bhayanak Maut too. It’s pretty awesome.
HB: Where do you see yourself and De Profundis in 5 years from now?
SH: Well, our plan is to become a full time touring band, so five years from now I am hoping that we will be on our 3rd or 4th album and touring a lot, hopefully as a headlining act!
HB: Well, we hope you dome down to India again, this time, as a headlining act! Right, we’re coming to the end of the interview. Any words of wisdom to your fans in India?
SH: I am really impressed with Indian metalheads and especially their knowledge and appreciation of the underground scene. It’s really phenomenal. So, a word of wisdom would be to support metal and more importantly support your local bands. We need an Indian metal band to make it big internationally. Taiwan have just managed with Chthonic, so no reasons why India can’t produce a massive international metal band!
HB: We hope for that too. We’ve got the talent and we know it will pay off soon. Thank you for your time Shoi, we wish you and the band all the best for all your future endeavors.
SH: Thanks man, we appreciate your interest in De Profundis!