Srikanth Panaman of the Bangalore-based metal record label, Iron Fist, talksabout the cosmic rationale behind Motorhead Tribute India, a compilation featuring 12 metal artists from across India tipping their hat to the British band
Tributes and cover bands have usually been considered detrimental, or at least a step back to a music scene which wants to produce original, independent music. But in the last decade, cover bands have all found their place and the original bands stay differentiated. Then again, there’s no crime in occasionally paying tribute to the bands you draw influence from. That seems to be the main thought behind Motorhead Tribute India – a compilation featuring 12 metal artists from across India tipping their hat to one of the oldest, ballsiest band playing raucous, fast, heavy metal – British band Motorhead.
The compilation was released online on May 11 on Bangalore-based metal record label Iron Fist (which, interestingly, also takes its name from a Motorhead song). Motorhead formed in London in 1975, but there wasn’t any special landmark Iron Fist records wanted to mark or celebrate for their tribute album. “One evening, I was drinking beer while listening to Motorhead. The idea was apparently around with Ganesh (Krishnaswamy, part of Bangalore bands Bevar Sea and Witchgoat) and Nolan (Lewis, frontman of Kryptos and Witchgoat) late last year when they were doing the same. I just got the job done,” says Srikanth Panaman, who recorded Bangalore bands in his studio, The Doom Cave, and produced the album, with the main aim of promoting Indian bands. Bangalore’s well-known old school bands such as Dying Embrace and Millennium have contributed, alongside fresh rising acts such as 1833 AD, Mortar, Shepherd and Djinn and Miskatonic.
Indeed, the crossover perspective of it inspired Panaman the most. “Motorhead is one of the few heavy bands that appeal to hard rock, thrash, death metal, black metal, crust, grind, hardcore, punk, sludge, doom fans or whatever else heavy people are in to. It's just high energy rock 'n' roll and they've stuck to their guns for 35 years without deviating from that basic formula,” says Panaman.
“The original idea was to do a tribute gig, and then we thought if we're spending that kind of time and money working on it and rehearsing, we might as well release an album to back it up,” says Panaman, who took on the role of a project manager for the Motorhead Tribute India album.
Panaman made a post online and bands came forward themselves, putting suggesting songs they can play, from ‘The Game’, ‘God Was Never On Your Side’ and ‘Dead and Gone’ to more underrated numbers such as ‘Terminal Show’. The most famous Motorhead song, ‘Ace Of Spades’, was deliberately avoided. “I was pretty hell bent on not having anyone cover that song because it's just so badly overplayed. But in the end, we thought we'd surprise the listener by doing the song but with a different approach. We stripped it down, we made it into a metal hippie drum circle thing and put it as a hidden track. It's Bevar Sea's bassist Avinash singing, Chacko playing the guitars, and Deepak playing the djembe, with me mixing it,” says Panaman.
One of the major hurdles anything involving covers or tributes can be copyright issues. And though the CD pressing of Motorhead Tribute India is limited to 100 copies, Panaman says the band approves of fan made tributes. “We're hoping to hand over a copy (Motorhead frontman) Lemmy himself,” says Panaman.