The Grim Mage Interview

The Grim Mage are a really rad doom/sludge/stoner band from Bangalore, India. If that surprises you – well it shouldn’t in the first place, cuz the city is home to a number of sick doom bands and The Grim Mage is just one of the latest additions. Despite being fairly new, these lads have all the ingredients necessary to become a major band in the Asian Doom scene, if you read my review a few days back. I contacted the band’s founder Sashank to talk about gigs, weed, doom, and Paki pop sensation Taher Shah.

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– Hey guys. Hope your preparations for the upcoming gig are going good!

Sup’ Hassan, How you doin? And oh yeah things are going great. We have rehearsals everytime we can fit one into our really busy schedules. We like to laze around, but unfortunately there are colleges and jobs to go to.
The upcoming ones would be our 4th and 5th gig, Also both the gigs coming up this weekend are pretty big(Supercoven fest being a gig where we get to share the stage with some of the doomy people whose bands we like a lot and the other one, Impending Doom Fest, is a really big stage), So we are kinda trying to work our asses off to sound good on these stages.

 

 
– You guys pretty much came out of nowhere and not much about the history of the band is known. How was it formed, what were the influences/circumstances/quality of weed behind the band’s creation?

So once during our excursions we happened to find this dark doomy dungeon which later we came to know was the lair of a super weedian mage. And we saw him invoke some of the doomiest and stoned fiends from the land of the greens. And now we go under cover dressing up like those fiends and attend the shamanic bong rituals the High Mage conducts.
Hahahaha. Syed met me at an acoustic show a couple of our friends from a hard rock band were doing(it was at a restaurant with only 5 guests) and we got talking about heavy metal music and shit like that. Which led to him and me planning on forming a band that would play stuff like that, yeah. And then after i think about a month or two we actually started working on it. It used to jams on my terrace with just the both of us working out on riffs on the acoustic, the bass and the guitars. Once we were sure of the riffs and arrangements, we had a real tough time finding a line up. We went through a lot of mutual contacts and called a lot of friends and fellow musicians to try out and have jam sessions with us. It all turned better when i met with Vishnu and asked him to give a try and have a jam with just me and Syed. Vishnu was not into this music at all, but he hit it off well and enjoyed playing this stuff a lot(he still does, and surprisingly he is digging through a lot of the modern doom and sludge bands). And for a week or two we were seiously considering playing as a 3 piece band with the distorted bass and no guitars. But then i got in touch with Anway, again a super old friend of mine. We got talking, had a jam session and we played our first gig the next day.
So this is how we were actually formed.

 

 
– You put out your first demo “Worshipper” quite recently which has been well recieved in the local doom circuit. What was the recording process like for a rookie band as yourself?

When we were about 2 weeks old and were going to play our second gig, We seriously wanted to have a demo or some recorded samples of our material available at hand so that we could tell our friends and people who had watched us to spread it around and too see their reaction on how it is. So we went ahead and contacted a couple of recording studios and did a research on how to record the material with resources available at hand. And frankly, the studio thing worked out to a big fat huge amount which we couldnt arrange, neither wanted to. Just the same week, we were having a rehearsal at a jam room and came to know that the place has facilities enough to help us record a live jam session. We then got talking with the guys who were managing the studio. Which in our luck happened to be Jake from Dark Desolation and Grossty. He and Yogesh(he too works at the studio) had the right idea about stoner-doom-sludge metal and knew exactly what we wanted to sound like and immediately helped us record a live demo. Super thanks to them! The recording process was very very simple and we had absolutely no issues while we were at it.
It was an attempt to get in touch with the right doomsters from our town, and boy it did work out.

 

 

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– How have the live gigs and general reception been for you since coming into the scene?

Man, the live gigs are fun. Its fun to be on stage, be it for a bunch of five people or even frikkin one hundred people. The reception i’d say has been generally good. I mean the first gig we played, there were a lot of people who had no idea about what we were doing(cause may be we were super high) or they just never had heard to any of this music. Only about 5 out 40 people at the gig genuinely enjoyed us and were slightly nodding their heads in approval when our sludgey parts came on. They even spoke to us after the gig and told us they enjoyed us. But then we had our second gig which was super fun and there were only about 8 people in total watching us(all being our friends of course). The third being Operation Grindcore, where we shared stage with some of the finest Grindcore and Hardcore punk bands from Bangalore like Scally, Rip Off and the super fun Grossty. This gig was till date the best we have had.
So i’d say, we have had a decent time so far. There are a lot of people who do not approve of our music and consider it to be not something fun and great, but hey! who gives a flying fuck? As long as we have 10 likers among a hundred haters, we will keep going.

 

 
– Man, Bangalore seems to have a great music scene, from grindcore to doom metal. What is it about the city that draws more and more people towards heavy music? Or am I mistaken and the reality is a bit different from what foreigners like me understand?

I would say, what you see is something that is ten thousand times post processed and filtered of all the shitty stuff and is posted on the social media. I mean, its really too long to explain how the heavy metal music circuit sucks here. But in short i’d say, there are some really KICK ASS bands here that deserve some bigger and heavier platforms to play at and they are seriously not getting them. And yeah, there are a lot of new people getting into heavy music everyday in bangalore. There are the genuinely true fans and then there are lots and lots of exhibitionists. So in a nut shell, Bangalore has superb bands-Lots of fans(posers apart)-No stages and gigs happening to help them grow.

 

 
– So let’s say a Pakistani or European/American/Japenese/whatever is coming to Bangalore. How can he get the finest weed? Any tips when scoring from dealers in your city?

Weed kills. Hahahahaha, but yeah there are fine spots. You can always give Anway a buzz when you are around. He has a better idea than me when it comes to this.
I mean, i too get some fine stuff. And i have had a lot of floopy adventures as well. I can surely help you with that stuff when you are around. But be ready, i am going to state a disclaimer as well. Cant assure anything about the quality. Hahaha, it keeps fluctuating from good to bad.

 

 

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– Coming back to the music. Pedals and other equipment counts for a lot in Sludge/Stoner Doom. What stuff do you guys use to get your desired sound?

The weed mage gave us some magic staffs and holy strings that we use to make the super fuzzy music, hahahahahahaha.
The funny thing is we have no dedicated equipment or gear as such. I know stoner-sludge-doom requires a lot of that but we just dont have anything.
We use two super old multi effect pedals, digitech rp35 or zoom g1 or some shit like that. Its funny i know, and i use a guitar multi effects box for the bass. But as long as it is giving us that heavy heavy tone we like, we have no issues. A lot of people do not like the concept of distorted bass guitars, i was once among them too. But this heavy heavy tone works wonders.
Also a Gear upgrade is in the books. Only when we are financially set.

 

 
– Outside of Doom Metal, what other genres do you guys regularly listen to?

Now that is a tough one. Rather, its a biggie.
We as a band and together dig death metal, almost any kind of death metal(from the primitive bands to the new modern death metallers, every form of death metal). We collectively enjoy a lot of black metal, Anway and me being ardent fans of the genre.
We like a lot of hardcore punk, the early hardcore punk bands i mean. And then we have our individual preferences and likes. I personally like all kinds of music. I mean i like everything from country to 60s and 70s pop-rock-hard rock to 80s glam to reggae-hip hop-funk-grunge to brutal death grind and nasty music that can make your ears bleed.
All this influences my playing too, which influences The Grim Mage.
I LOVE THE PAKISTANI SENSATIONAL EYE TAHER SHAH TOO.
RESPECTS TO THAT GENIUS.

 

 
– Before we end this interview – any future plans? Splits, EP’s, full length albums? Or just taking it one joint at a time?

The Grandmage of Boom has advised us not to go on further exploits till we master our prowess on demonic 420 smoking fiend summoning rituals hahahahahahaha.
So, We already have 4 new songs(one 12 minute tale) ready apart from the demo stuff.
Planning on recording them as a garage demo again sometime super soon. Going to work on a full length after that, with the right financial backup and sound. Till then we are clueless and will keep playing live shows. Its always a joint at a time, you never rush into these things. But expect some stuff from us super soon. But not too soon. Hahahaha.

 

 
– Cheers dudes, thanks for the time. Hails from Pakistan.

The dudes had no time, so i had to myself get to do this hahahaha. It was super fun. Hails from India. Much respect to the land of Taher Shah. Hahahahahahahahaha.
Stay metal, cheers! \m/

 

 

 

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The Grim Mage on Facebook

Worshipper Demo on Soundcloud

My review

– Hassan Dozakhi

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The Grim Mage – Worshipper (2014)

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The weed must be really good in Bangalore, India, because the city keeps churning out one quality doom band after the other. Following in the footsteps of the likes of Djinn & Miskatonic and Shepherd, the aptly named The Grim Mage is the latest in a line of Bangalore based doom bands… and boy, these lads do kick up quite a fucking gust of smoke with their first demo entitled “Worshipper.”

 

On the surface, The Grim Mage fall prey to, or rather consciously adhere to all the obvious stereotypes of Stoner and Sludge doom of the modern era. It’s there in the band name, it’s there in the choice of the demo title, even there in the artwork and rears its stoned, misanthropic head once again when you look at the tracklist and spot the Electric Wizard / Eyehategod covers. You can’t avoid those blatant homages to the stoner cult even when you start the demo – movie samples dominate the music between the heavy riffing and psychopathic screams. It’s safe to say that this band wears its influences on its sleeves – depending on which side of the divide you lay on, that could be either a massive turn on or a colossal turn off.

 

The choice of cover tracks is interesting, because the music appears to be primarily indebted to “Dopesick” (and onwards) era Eyehategod and “Dopethrone” (and onwards) era Electric Wizard – a mixture that is by no means uncommon in the doom world of today, but the way in which this ensemble blends those two primary markers together is of more interest to this reviewer. In terms of the riffs and vocals, the Sludge element remains more prominent than the Stoner element. The vocals especially seem to bow at the altar of Mike Williams, save for the final track – where he should have continued prostrating at the same altar, rather than attempting the singing style. However, key proponents of sludge style riffing – the crushing, percussive stops and the faster hardcore-influenced sections – are never triggered, and the band ends up relying on stoner grooves to keep the music going – and keep the joints rolling. Their original songs “Sweet Demon Sugar,” “Worshipper” and “I Am Not Dead” are very well composed, from the bass-breaks coming in at the right time too to amp up the psychedelia, to the vocalist’s vocal delivery, and the group ends up concocting three very memorable tracks – even if the craving of a little tempo upcharge in the vein of Melvins, Iron Monkey or even “Holy Mountain” era Sleep lingers on til’ the end.

 

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Though many may be put off by the production, I personally love it. Frankly, there is nothing more suiting to this kind of Sludge/Stoner Doom than basement level production. The heaviness of the riffs is not at all downplayed or relegated, it just takes on an altogether different form. A mundane wall-of-sound style heavy doom tone would have stripped all identity from this demo, to be honest. Instead, the in-your-face sound here, highlighted well by the garage vibe of the drums, makes the music even more nefarious and evil – as if a satanic ritual were occurring as you light your afghan hashish blunt. Not too dissimilar to the effect conjured up by most of Ramesses’ material.

 

Individual performances are great here, but the vocal performance drops as the tracks go on, perhaps the vocalist should give his throat a little rest before assuming control of the microphone. The samples are a little overdone here, and there are moments such as in “I Am Not Dead” where the sample just drags on and distracts from the crushing weight of the music on display. Overall this is a nice little demo, with some amazing original tracks showcasing the potential of these lads to go on and do some nice things in the scope of Indian Doom Metal. Less focus on covers and more focus on honing their own craft would help take them a level higher and really stomp some ears.

 

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The Grim Mage Official Facebook

Listen to their demo on Soundcloud

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