Sceptre are one of India’s oldest Thrash bands and are still active today – currently in their 16th year since their founding. That enough is something that gets me curious. How the hell does a band survive for nearly 2 decades in one of the most inconsistent places in the world – South Asia? Their dedication hasn’t let up at all and their 2nd album, released last year entitled “The Age of Calamity” is a ferocious high-octane collection of thrash anthems that deal primarily with women’s rights in India. It’s a very unique take for a thrash band to have, especially in this part of the world. Honesty, integrity and consistency is what drives this band despite many line-up changes and I interview drummer and founding member Aniket ahead of their appearance in Thrashfest by Transcending Obscurity.
– Hey Aniket. How’s the preparations for Thrashfest comin’ along?
Hey buddy…greetings to our brothers in Pakistan! We are simply itching to set foot on stage for Thrashfest!
– Sceptre had its 15th anniversery in December of 2013. Despite so many lineup changes – including a change in vocalist – you’re still going strong. How does it feel? What have the prominent highs and lows been?
It sure feels awesome. I mean there have been a million times when we felt like hanging our boots, but we’ve realised whatever we have achieved as a band is too hard to ignore. We’ve had our share of great moments as well as some shitty ones. Our proudest moment was when we won Independence Rock in 2003. That was the beginning of something big for us…radio interviews, tv appearances, modelling for a local fashion brand etc…this apart from the numerous gigs we played all across the country. We’ve tackled a lot of problems, but the one that probably shook the boat a bit, was definitely our founder member and vocalist Teemeer quitting in 2010. But we’ve overcome that and completed our 15th anniversary!
– Usually, it’s the band’s guitarists who define the sound of the band. Keeping in mind the roting lineup of guitarist (and more recently, vocalist), has the band’s sound changed much?
Yes!! It has changed..and how. Every band has to give something new to it’s audience. We did just that. We changed the sound of the guitars, roped in a vocalist who has a totally different singing style than the one we had before and Voila!…we sounded pretty fucking heavy. A lot of people thought we went ‘metal-core’, but then we never really cared what we were labelled as.
– Despite being around for 15 years, you’ve only put out 2 albums in 2008 and 2013, including an EP in 1999. Any reason for the lack of studio activity? Do you plan on ammending this in the near future?
Fuck me sideways…that question has been haunting us since a while now! Hahaha…but seriously, we never gave recording albums a serious thought. We were so damn happy playing live and getting accolades from everyone, that somewhere i guess it slipped through our minds. Also, the band went through it’s own set of tribulations which also caused delay in recording an album. But yeah…we’ll try to record more frequently i guess!
– Sceptre’s latest album – Age of Calamity – seems to have 2 different artworks. The bandcamp one is different from the other ones floating around on the internet. Why’s that?
I’ll be very honest here. The first artwork didn’t come out the way we visualised it. But since we were in a hurry to release it for the album launch gig, we went ahead with it. Now for our 15th anniversary we chose a girl who could understand the concept better and she came out with a masterpiece. That’s the story.
– The band definitely has a humanitarian touch to it. While most bands are content with just screaming about social issues in their lyrics, Sceptre went one step further against women exploitation and actually sent proceedings of the sales to a girl’s orphanage. Where does that edge come from?
Allow me to correct you here..we are still in talks with an NGO regarding a part of the album sales being shared. In fact just today morning i was talking to them. It’s just a matter of days now before we officially announce it. That said, we have always discussed socially relevant issues in our songs. Be it ‘Charred’ …a song we wrote about the evils of smoking/doping (none of us smoke or dope in the band) or the recent ‘Lest we Forget’ which deals with the debacle of 26/11 . But the thought behind ‘Age of Calamity’ arose from some really disturbing incidents which women, specially in India, were prime victims of. What i found even more sickening was the indolence of the law-makers. Also, being a father of a 4 year old daughter gave more clarity to my thoughts!
– How does the songwriting process for the band usually work? How are the songs made?
The song-writing process is very open-for-all. Everybody brings something new to the table. Our guitarist , Gilroy Fernandes comes up with a riff. Sometimes it’s our bassist, Janus Sayal too who composes the main riff. Then it’s either me or Samron Jude, our vocalist who pen the words. Simple as that
– You’ve been around a long time and have seen a lot of bands come and go. What bands define Indian Metal for you from the current (and older) scene?
There were a lot of bands we started out with who have disbanded and have gone their own ways. But there are bands who have shown ‘metal’ is serious business. Bands like Bhayanak Maut, Demonic Ressurection, Zygnema etc have put India on the international front. I think these bands are doing a fabulous job and are continuing to do so.
– What do you think of endeavors like Thrashfest by Transcending Obscurity? Any particular band you’re looking forward to sharing the stage with?
I think it’s a pretty commendable job by Mr. Kunal Choksi to get all these kickass bands under one roof for Thrashfest. It’s the sheer professionalism which is associated with his gigs that separate him from other organisers. We are really looking forward to sharing stage with our old buddies from ‘Threinody’ from Bangalore. They started around the same year as us and are back after a long hiatus. We’ve heard a lot about ‘Chaos’ too and dig their stuff as well. It’s gonna be mad!
– Your top 5 Thrash Metal albums?
Wow!! Let me see : a) Slayer- Reign In Blood, b) Metallica – Master of Puppets, c) Megadeth – Rust in Peace, d) Sepultura – Roots and e) Metallica – The Black Album
– Thanks for the interview! Hope to see you perform in Pakistan some day!
Thanks for having us on-board. Cheers…and stay heavy \m/
Sceptre on Facebook
Sceptre on Bandcamp
Thrashfest Sponsored By Transcending Obscurity
– Hassan Dozakhi