I have the pleasure of talking every now and then with Jayaprakash Satyamurthy, one of the few people from the Indian metal scene that I actually like. JP is a great guy, a fantastic writer, and the bassist of Djinn & Miskatonic – the doom metal band whose upcoming album gave me this opportunity to throw a few questions at him.
Congratulations on the new album! How’s it all coming along?
Thanks! Well, the mixes are moving along at a good pace and the next stage is mastering. This time, Sandeep Kumar KH, a very talented Bangalore-based guitarist and studio engineer is doing the production. He’s been in a few bands with me and knows my aesthetics, besides being a mean guitarist who looks and sounds a bit like Kim Thayil.
The cover art is splendid. What can those who’ve enjoyed Forever In The Realm expect from Even Gods Must Die?
More variety, more songs. We had two trudging epics, one midtempo rocker and a minimalist blues dirge on Forever In The Realm. This time there’s more songs and more textures. The production is a bit different – the guitars are more vintage sounding, the kit sounds more 70s and the bass will pop out at you more. Apart from Black Sabbath, Electric Wizard and the like I think this time you’ll hear traces of epic metal, NWOBHM and 70s hard rock. Raveen Panday of the Chronic Blues Circus, ex-Soulmate, plays Hammond organ on one song. The mood is just as dark and ritualistic, so don’t worry that we’ve gone prog or groovy.
The cover art is by two Bangalore artists whose work you can find on Facebook on the pages The Imposter Of Oz and Fabled.
I’m curious to know how Djinn & Miskatonic goes about the songwriting process.
The lyrics are written by either our singer Gautham Khandige or me. Gautham usually works out the lyrics while jamming while I usually write them at home and bring them to the jamroom. Most of the music is by me. I usually noodle about on the bass at home, put together 4 or 5 parts and then demo them live to the band. I sometimes add on to the structure afterwards, or remove bits that are not working. Lately I’ve occasionally improvised riffs and melodies while jamming. Our guitarists, Sriram and Mushaf, have also started bringing riffs and melodies to the jamroom. Sriram has a few tasty riffs thrown into the mix on the second album.
Please tell me how a nice, sensible, rational, caring and generally chilled-out person like you makes enemies so effortlessly. I’ve always had to work hard for it.
Because my ideals mean more to me than scene acceptance. And this is only getting more pronounced over time. I don’t see the distinction between the ethical, political and personal dimensions in life and I don’t want to be part of this stupid metal fraternity ethos where we condone sexism and crazy right wing ideals because metal.
Weird Tales Of A Bangalorean absolutely knocked me out with the sucker punches. I read it twice over several whisky sessions with lots of boondi raita. Tell me something about your next, which I will carry everywhere and start reading only when I have in front of me a huge bowl of vegan boondi raita.
Thanks for reading my weird tales. My next book should come out early next year, from the same publisher. It is called A Volume Of Sleep. This time around, I have not explored the weird byways of Bangalore so much as of the mind, I think. There are stories about murder victims finding eternal oblivion, nostalgia as a deadly trap and welcome pyre and, well, all sorts of other things. Dave Felton is providing a cover painting and interior illustrations, which has me excited because he is a fantastic artist who has done great work for a lot of other weird fiction writers.
I’ve been writing a lot more poetry lately. It’s a way to process the world. And the world in 2016 has given thinking human beings a lot to process. I would love to have my poetry published – people seem to respond to them well – but poetry is an even poorer prospect for publication than short fiction.
Back to Djinn & Miskatonic. I’m glad you guys are playing shows again. And you seem to be content with the new lineup.
Yes. It’s not quite a new lineup, but Mushaf Nazeer has helped round out our live sound and is quickly becoming a good addition to the songwriting team. We’ve all spent a lot of time on other projects, or just life, in the last year and I think getting back into the jamroom and feeling the energy we have together has brought home the fact that this set-up has an undeniable chemistry of its own. We’ve only done one gig this year, but it was after a huge hiatus and it was good to see we can still bring the riffs and connect with an audience.
And how do you plan on recovering all that you spent on recording this album? Not wanting to deal with the business side of it and letting go of the money invested in making music as a good spend makes even musically inferior bands think of my band as an unambitious “hobby band”. Do you have a strategy?
Not really. I’m willing to spend money on making the music I believe in. Other people buy cars, a second home, a home entertainment system, stock market shares…people spend crores on getting married, I am lucky enough to not be broke all the time and I’m happy to have my music out there as an artistic expression rather than a career. Of course, our label boss Kunal Choksi has to make up his costs, and it’s possible to break even on our recording and production costs, but all that is secondary to what my bandmates and me are in this for. When it comes to music as a paying proposition, we should be playing Bollywood music or whispy ‘indie’ if we really want to show we have business smarts. As it stands, our drummer who is the only full time musician in the band, makes his money teaching and with tribute acts while the rest of us have jobs and shit like that to keep afloat. It’s actually less intelligent to be a rock or metal musician in India and think you can be businesslike about it.
I completely understand that you have a doom metal band, but do you need to look miserable all the time? You don’t even upload food pics like the other vegans, and food is the most important thing in the world after cats! Is there anything that makes you happy? Do you smile on Sunday mornings? Or do you mope about like a goth on a picnic in Cubbon Park?
Smiling is for clowns and Batman villains. On a more serious note, I have struggled with depression much of my life and, while I am not currently in the grip of chronic depression, the long years of tussling with the black dog have probably left a mark on my body language and demeanour. In truth I am quite content with my lot and cats, dogs, heavy music, weird literature and my wife all make me happy with life. Can I have my Grammy now?
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