Albatross Interview

Albatross is a Traditional Heavy Metal band from Mumbai, India and they play perhaps the finest old school 80s metal you will ever hear from the region, married with a love for literature and concept theme based songs. A heavily active band on the live circuit, they are inspired by all the great 80s metal acts – strains of Mercyful Fate, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Queensryche are all heard in their sound. They showcased their sound on their debut EP in 2010 and then put out a split with Doom band Vestal Claret that honed their skills further.  To put it simply – Albatross comes and kicks you in the face with their brilliant song compositions led by a blistering array of riffs and enigmatic vocal attack supplemented by an engaging rhythm section. They come off as a well rounded, well honed machine – and the lyrics are something to read over and over again too. One of those bands that just excites your senses. However, if their leader Dr. Hex’s words are to be paid attention to, there’s a lot more coming from his “Horror Metal” outfit. Read on for more.

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– Cheers from Pakistan! How’s everything?
Everything’s great Hassan. Thanks for those encouraging words on Facebook the other day. We’re quite happy, at least for the moment. We headline a college fest in Navi Mumbai, or New Bombay tomorrow called Rock Riot. It’s been a while since we’ve been on stage, so we’re really looking forward to kicking some butt. And soon after, we head to Australia in under 2 weeks time. We’ve been writing new material, and look forward to unleashing it upon the world at large.

 

– Albatross has been going on for 5 years now. How’s the journey been so far? How much has changed since those early days (other than the obvious rotating lineupo)? Notable highs and lows?
The journey’s been better than I expected, really. I remember thinking back in 2008 or so, that this band needs to go live, at least once. From there, to sharing the stage with bands like Wolf, and Kreator has really been a dream come true. The band has obviously become much more competent since the early days. I remember opening for Nervecell (Dubai) in Bangalore, at the Dinner is You launch, and hiding my face in shame, aghast at how bad we sounded. The band was drunk and all over the place. We sound significantly better now, and have grown as a unit. We perform well together, and more importantly, write well together. There are very few ego issues, and everyone comes up with songwriting ideas. We’re at our zenith, creatively, and the only bad news is, it can only go downhill from here haha.

Notable highs personally were 1. Sharing the stage with Kreator 2. Being joined on stage by Niklas from Wolf 3. Playing Nasik (a city on the outskirts of Mumbai)’s first metal fest 4. Being appreciated by bands such as Wolf, Hell, Al Atkins (first Judas Priest vocalist), Mark Shelton from Manilla Road, Denner + Timi from Mercyful Fate, etc.  5. Having Matt Thompson from King Diamond, my favourite band wear a ‘Dinner is You’ tee. Lows include 1. Having Burning Sea, Croatia cancelled days before we were setting out 2. Having a show in Ladakh cancelled because of political turmoil 3. Having a show in Shillong cancelled, while we were in the region because of alas…political turmoil 4. Having former members leave (it was saddening at the time) 5. Looking at the band’s bank account on a daily basis haha.

 

– You’re signed onto Transcending Obscurity now and from what I know, a full length album is slated for 2014. What other labels have you been on before and how does TO differ from them in their approach?
Dinner is You was released via Demonstealer Records, a label owned by Sahil Makhija, one of India’s metal’s best known figures; and Kissing Flies was released by Roadcrew Records, run by Madhav Ravindranath, one of the band’s best friends. Both Sahil and Madhav are very good friends, and were really competent at pushing the Albatross name to the best of their abilities. Kunal’s also been a friend for a really long time, and it’s great to see Transcending Obscurity make a foray into releasing bands across various subgenres of metal. What I like best about KC is that he doesn’t compromise on quality, even if he makes a smaller margin in the process. He’s going to be releasing our tshirt shortly, and if the sample print is anything to go by…it’s going to blow minds. KC’s always willing to listen to suggestions, which is another very admirable quality in a label owner. We’re sure our upcoming release will be our finest one yet.

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– In terms of songwriting there’s been a considerable leap from the material on the first EP to the stuff on the split with Vestal Claret. The newer material comes off as being more daring and intricate while maintaining the zest and flair – in fact building upon it. With that in mind – how do you see the band’s sound evolving on the next release?
We were just finding our footing in Dinner is You. We went all out in Kissing Flies. ‘Fear From the Skies’ will be a marriage of both worlds, it’s daring but more restrained at the same time. It’s eccentric, and far more listenable at the same time. It’s probably the most heavy metal album we’ve done, but it is anything but a heavy metal album. Just when you think you have the sound figured out, there’s going to be a surprise, and voila…you were mistaken, and it’s anything but how you thought the song would sound. Hope this is useful info, Hassan haha…

 

– You were on the Motorhead India compilation with a cover of “God Was Never On That Side” which showed off the sublime vocal talents of Biporshee. Any chance of more covers in the future, at the live front at least?
Definitely. We have already performed Holy Diver (Dio, check youtube for link) and Nightcrawler (Judas Priest, on http://www.soundcloud.com/albatrosshorror), We had this intra band activity recently, where we each had to pick one cover to perform, and Nishith picked Tornado of Souls by Megadeth. We were recently thinking of putting our own spin on a Metallica song as well. But the priority as of now, is to write as much new music as we can.

 

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– The band appears to be well-read; and it shows in the lyrics and themes that accompany the haunting music. What are some of your favorite authors?
Haha, I think I’m the only regular reader in the band. My favourite writers are China Mieville, Jeff Vandermeer, Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, Peter Straub, Patrick Rothfuss, Peter V. Brett, M John Harrison, HP Lovecraft, Edgar Allen Poe. Ray Bradbury, Trudi Canavan, etc. Of course, I think King Diamond is the best writer alive, but obviously he doesn’t write books…

 

– Traditional Heavy Metal is well-loved by almost every metalhead. How come there aren’t many bands of that style present in India right now?
I think clean vocals have gone out of vogue. When we started out, we were often asked why we don’t have growling in our music. I mean, no offense to growlers (I love growls/distorted vocals), but from the invention of music to around 1980 there was no growling in music. Bhoomi is a great band with clean style vocals, and you must also check out Hellwind and Blood and Iron. But to answer your question, I think musicians/music lovers overthinking about (the bogus concept of) evolution in music; somehow consider this style being synonymous with ‘being stuck in the 80s’. But fuck that, everything was better in the old school.

 

– Albatross has done 2 nation-wide tours. Which begs this important question: which city has the best food?? And of course, the best metal fans in India?
Bangalore for food. No questions asked. We look forward to breakfast as much as we look forward to playing Bangalore shows, whenever we are booked there. I guess in terms of responsiveness, nothing beats the show we played at Nasik. This was a crowd which had been dying for a metal gig, and hence they showed up in droves to support us. But all the festivals we’ve played have been in Bangalore, and hence, I’m quite partial to the city haha.

 

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– You’re touring Australia starting from the 16th of this month. How’d that come about, and what are you expecting from the land down under? Who are the bands you’re playing with?
My friend Andy, bassist of Lord and head of Dominus Entertainment, booked us for 3 shows down under earlier this year.We’re very excited to be taking Albatross to another country. The lineups are as follows:

Friday, 25th October, Melbourne: https://www.facebook.com/events/527260727346243/?fref=ts
Saturday, 26th October, Sydney: https://www.facebook.com/events/187787378044205/?fref=ts
Sunday, 27th October, Wollongong: https://www.facebook.com/events/626711910684222/?fref=ts

 

– You’ve been around for 5 years and the Indian scene has grown a lot in that time. What are 5 Indian Metal bands that you would recommend to the reader?
These are my 5 favourite Indian bands

1. Bevar Sea (Bangalore)
2. Kryptos (Bangalore)
3. Djinn and Miskatonic (Bangalore)
4. Dying Embrace (Bangalore)
5. Gaia’s Throne (Pune)

But readers should totally check out all the band’s on Kunal’s label. Each of them kicks butt.

 

– Thank you for answering these questions. I hope one day when the security situation in Pakistan is resolved and our two countries’ ties improved, we can have Albatross play here.
That’s a no brainer. It’s practically the same country, divided by two silly concepts called politics and religion. I really hope Albatross can tour Pakistan, at least one during my lifetime; as I don’t think metalheads care too much for either concept. I’ve attended metal gigs outside India, and metal lovers are the same everywhere in the world. Let’s hope we share the stage someday.

 

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Albatross

Transcending Obscurity

– Hassan Dozakhi

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