Vishnu Reddy (September 2011)
Our Featured Artist for September is Vishnu Reddy, drummer with Crypted, Trojan Horse and The Mechanix. In this exclusive interview with Headbangers India, he tells us all about how he got into metal, Chennai’s “scene”, upcoming releases by his bands and much more!
HBI: Hey Vishnu, thanks for doing this interview with us! Tell us, what’s been keeping you busy of late?
Vishnu: Hello there! What’s keeping me busy right now is this interview. LOL just kidding. What usually keeps me busy is the three bands I play for and a lot of college work.
HBI: Going back to the beginning… tell us. What made you choose the drums? And how did you get into metal?
Vishnu: My first taste of Metal was way back in 2002 when I was ten years old. I was bored one day and searching through my dad’s old CD collection and I found Megadeth’s “Rust In Peace” and Pantera’s “Cowboys From Hell”. Needless to say, from then on I was hooked for life. I obviously went through the whole Linkin Park nu metal phase as well but then again, who hasn’t? It’s funny to see all these pretentious “metal” trolls online who claim to have never listened to nu metal because “it’s not true metal” or whatever. After that came death metal and me asking my aunt to bring Nile and Suffocation and other death metal albums whenever she came down from the States.
I started seriously playing drums in late 2007/2008. It was not until January 2009 that I made my debut as a drummer for a full time band (Crypted). Throughout my metal fanboy years, I had always been fascinated by the drummers more than the guitarists or vocalists because of the sheer power and energy they displayed. But the album that really inspired me to pick up a pair of drumsticks was Death’s “Symbolic”. That album is the pinnacle of death metal drumming in my opinion. Not a single blast beat used yet still so brutal. Gene Hoglan is a god to me and I cite him as my primary biggest influence till date.
HBI: Do you play any other instrument apart from the drums, or do you sing?
Vishnu: I can play the djembe to an extent. I’ve always wanted to play bass, but I’ve never actually tried giving it a shot. And no, I don’t sing. Except when I’m in the shower. Or driving alone and listening to music in my car. 😛 Jokes apart, I actually sometimes do backing vocals for Crypted.
HBI: Tell us a little about the equipment you use.
Vishnu: I use a standard 5 piece Pearl Forum kit which I’ve had for the past 2 years. I also use Pearl Demon Drive double bass pedals, which are by far the smoothest pedals I’ve laid my feet upon. For sticks, I use a different pair every month (stick breakages are unavoidable in my case) but I usually buy 5B Pro-Mark sticks. Cymbal breakages are also pretty common. The only cymbals I actually own right now are a Paiste-201 22″ ride, another Paiste-PST5 16″ China and a pair of Sabian-XsPro 14″ hi-hats. When I’m playing a show, I usually borrow splashes and crashes from other drummers.
HBI: Any drummers/ percussionists that you look up to?
Vishnu: As I mentioned earlier, Gene Hoglan is my biggest inspiration. Other drummers who I can cite as major influences include Gavin Harrison, Virgil Donati, Sean Reinert, Steve Smith, Witold “Vitek” Kieltyka, Terry Bozzio, Pete Sandoval, Jojo Mayer, Trey Williams, Brann Dailor, Neil Peart, Richard Christy, George Kollias, Keith Moon, Martin Lopez, Martin Axenrot, Mario Duplantier, Jose Pasillas, Derek Roddy, Marco Minneman, Mike Smith, Simon Philips, Tomas Haake, the list could go on forever. Lately, I try not to limit myself to drummers of just one subgenre. When it comes to drumming, I draw influences from everything from grindcore to jazz, from progressive rock to pop rock. But don’t worry, I’m still a big, hairy metalhead at heart. 😀
HBI: Crypted and Trojan Horse are Chennai based and The Mechanix was Bangalore based sometime back. Has the latter shifted base? If not, being the drummer for all three bands, how do you manage to juggle things?
Vishnu: Yes, The Mechanix have shifted base to Chennai, which was the main reason why they took me as a drummer. It’s actually not that difficult to juggle things between the three bands for me. None of the bands jam all that much, which gives us a lot of free time to focus on other things and which gives me a lot of free time too, to focus on college work, etc.
HBI: How would you differentiate between the bands, musically?
Vishnu: All are metal bands, but I guess you could place them in different subgenres if you wanted to. Crypted, I would classify as technical/progressive death metal similar to Death, Decapitated, Gorod etc. Fast paced, brutal riffs with a few melodic transitions thrown in for good measure and an odd time signature here and there. I think Trojan Horse could be classified as ambient/groove metal/djent. Think Meshuggah or Polars-era Textures with a little more ambience and samples. The Mechanix is just pure, in-your-face hardcore influenced metal, like Hatebreed or Throwdown.
HBI:If there is one genre that you would like to play, or consider the most challenging/ interesting to play, which would that be?
Vishnu: That would be ultra-br00tal-kvlt-technical-progressive-bossa-nova-tapaankoothu-death-djent-grind-jazz-fusion-core. 😛
On a more serious note, one genre I would really love to play would be jazz. I watched a lot of jazz drummers play and I’ve always been blown away every time. Drummers like Steve Smith, Jojo Mayer, Terry Bozzio.. The control they have over each of their limbs and the feel with which they play is just unmatchable. With such perfect clarity. I wish I could master the art of jazz drumming someday.
HBI: Crypted received quite a good response for ‘Equilibrium’. Have you guys come up with any new material after that? Any plans of a follow-up EP?
Vishnu: Yes of course, there has been a line-up change after the EP and we have made 5 new tracks since then. VG Pranav has replaced Arvind on guitars and bassist Avinash Raghuram has been replaced by his brother Adarsh, since the two former members had to leave to the States last year for their post-graduate course. Since then, we’ve evolved to a more progressive and heavier sound which is evident in tracks like “Distorted Thought Association” and “You Are All Diseased”. We have plans of recording a full-length as a follow up to Equilibrium, which we will start working on by January.
HBI: And what about Trojan Horse and The Mechanix? Any album or recording updates from there?
Vishnu: No plans as of now for Trojan Horse. Our only plan is to tour as much as we can and build up our fan base before we start working on an EP or whatever. The Mechanix however, will start work on our debut EP very soon. Further details will be revealed when the time is right. 😀
HBI: Chennai’s live music scene has seen a sudden revival after the re-opening of Star Rock. Do you think things are headed in a better direction of late or not? Your comments.
Vishnu: Re-opening of Star Rock? Star Rock had always been open. It’s just that gigs there had been stopped for a while. Yes, the scene has definitely improved since, but that’s not the end all. It still has loads of room for further improvement! Problem is, it’s still called a “scene”. It’s not yet an establishment. And it’s still not as established as cities like Bangalore and Mumbai for sure. But we’ve got the Score Magazine and Unseen Underground doing shows every week now so things are looking up!
Chennai has never been a metal city. We’ve had some pretty kickass metal bands come and go, like Fall Of Reason, NerveRek, Carnage, etc but the fact still remains that the scene in Chennai always was dominated by rock/funk bands. All brilliant bands nevertheless, with extremely talented musicians.
HBI: What do you do otherwise, when not the badass metal drummer on-stage? And do you have any hobbies apart from music?
Vishnu: College, yes. I’m doing my second year in Visual Communications in Loyola college (shout out to my VisCom fraands, hey guys). Other than music, I’m an amateur photographer. And when I say amateur photographer, I actually mean it, not like those pretentious wannabes who call themselves photographers just because they own a DSLR. You find a lot of those fellows these days!
HBI:What’s coming up for you in the next couple of months? Any more projects/ bands/ releases/ gigs?
Vishnu: Lots of gigs, surely! All three bands intend to play as many shows outside Chennai as possible. No more projects and bands for sure, three is more than enough at the moment. 😛 And as for releases, you will just have to wait and watch!
HBI: Finally, if there’s anything you’d like to say to fans and friends and other bandmates, go ahead and do so here! (This is like you own little award-speech moment, so feel free to rant!)
Vishnu: Oooh, is it ranting time already? Alright, I think I’m going to conclude by thanking the people who have helped me along the way. Starting off with my parents and grandmom, who have supported me throughout and put up with the noise for the past 4 years. I couldn’t ask for a better set of parents, seriously. Secondly, I thank Arvind Muralidharan and Avinash Raghuram, two amazing fellows without whom I wouldn’t have been who I am today. The two people who inducted me into the metal community and made me utilize my skills as a drummer in a band. I thank my grandfather, Director C.V. Sridhar (RIP), my inspiration to do something creative in life and be passionate about it, rather than joining the army of clones. I thank all the fans who have made it to every gig of ours, you guys are frigid’ awesome. Remember, the bands are nothing without their fans! Of course, I also thank my fellow bandmates in all three bands (VG, Adarsh, Sbk, Siddharth, Hasnain, Gross Mora, Neethu and Auri). You guys are the best. Jam soon, ok? And last but not least, I wind up by thanking Headbanger’s India for giving me this opportunity to be “Featured Artist”. I owe you big time! Cheers, fraands.