Metalheads have a lot to look forward to. Starting with Finnish melodic death metallers Children of Bodom and the UK’s Cypher16 this weekend, followed by Slayer and Megadeth and culminating with the French Metal band Gojira, it is all happening in town. Anurag Tagat reports on the invasion
Up until 2009, Indians who wished to catch their favourite metal or hard rock band followed Dubai Desert Rock.In 2008, Rock in India was the new festival bringing the likes of Megadeth and Machine Head to India, organised by DNA Networks.
Its fifth edition takes place on October 20, featuring thrash metal stalwarts Slayer as the headlining band. Additionally, Megadeth returns for a performance at the Bacardi NH7 Weekender. Even better is the fact that most international artists – pop, rock, electronica or metal – prefer to perform in Bangalore. Rock in India has made the city India’s destination for metal, with appearances from Metallica and Iron Maiden. The Great Indian October Fest runs from October 12 – 14 and includes Finnish melodic death metallers Children of Bodom, and UK’s Cypher16, who are returning to the country for the fifth time.
Jack Doolan, the vocalist and lead guitarist of the London-based metal band says with a laugh, “We believe it could be a world record for any rock band visiting India! It’s a great feeling to be able to come back so many times to such a wonderful country and that we started to make our mark before the rock and metal scene exploded and everyone else began to flood in. It’s an incredible country full of amazing people - to be honest it feels like our second home.”
Poland’s black/death metal band Behemoth has just been confirmed to play at the Indian Music Conference on November 3. Only Much Louder (OML), organisers of the NH7 Weekender, is also bringing down progressive metal band Periphery to Bangalore on December 15 and 16. Fans become spoiled for choice since French eclectic metal band Gojira will be headlining the first annual Indian Metal Festival (IMF) also being held on December 15.
Somindra Hazari Jr, who overlooks the public relations and communications at Sweet Leaves, the event organisers involved with IMF says, “A lot of us at Sweet Leaves have always been metalheads. It’s our genre and so we wanted to do something big.”
After researching bands which were currently popular among Indian metal fans, they realised how varied tastes in metal sub-genres was a good sign for them. “Some people listen to black metal, a lot people are into thrash metal. But we also had to look at upcoming genres, and bands like Gojira, and Bloodshot Dawn, one of the other bands playing at the festival, are mellow death metal. Inner Guilt from Lebanon is more for the thrash fans. So they cater to their own audiences.”
Vijay Nair, OML’s CEO in charge of the Bacardi NH7 Weekender, is taking the festival to three cities this year, including Delhi and Bangalore in addition to their home ground in Pune. Nair assures that it’s more about the bands and giving fans what they want more than ticket sales.
“Over the years, we’ve started to experiment a whole lot more with music, especially since the internet really allows people to explore music across the world,” Nair says, adding that it’s not just about the old school of bands. “We’ve always got to watch acts in India when they’ve been past their prime, but that’s really changing now, and it’s great to be part of that revolution. We are fans of most of the bands we tour, so the incentive is much bigger than the ticket sales itself.”
It's safe to say that every act in the world is open to touring India. It has a lot do with the timing of their tour and logistics though. It's just a matter of time before all acts tour India regularly.”
Cypher16’s tour is being sponsored by UK magazine Metal Hammer, which promoted Demonic Resurrection in the UK after giving them the Golden God award for best International band in 2010. Regarding international perspective on playing in India, Doolan says, “When we first started touring in India it was very much a case of ‘Wow, you guys go to India? Why on earth would you go there to play heavy music?’, whereas now there is still a bit of shock and surprise attached to it, but people have usually heard a bit more about the scene and opportunities.”
Doolan says his band is proud to say they were “part of the international scene right from the beginning”.
He hopes bands come down to tour India rather than playing one-off shows would be the next favourable step towards having a larger number of artists visit the country. “Obviously this year in particular you're being inundated with almost more artists than the country can handle, but I think that it just shows that finally things are starting to take off in India,” he says. Till then, Bangalore gets the spoils.