Here at MetalTalk Towers we like to aim to keep up with the movers and shakers Metalwise across the globe. Last year we were extraordinarily lucky to catch up with some of the real groundbreakers in terms of Metal from countries where this is a new form of musical expression embraced by homegrown talent.
Some of these artists have been amongst the very first Metal artists to be successful in their own countries and therefore are considered leaders in Metal in their own right. This month we have been able to catch up with one of the leaders of the Metal movement in India - they call him 'Demonstealer', here at the Towers we now call him 'friend' and ourselves 'lucky' to have been able to find this very busy and hugely successful artist in one place long enough feature him in MetalTalk.net.
Article continues below...
Who is Sahil 'Demonstealer' Makhija and what motivates you to create Metal?
"My journey into the world of Metal began about 16 years ago when a couple of my friends gave me some Iron Maiden and Metallica to listen to back in school and from there on my thirst for Metal music only grew. I quickly discovered a love for Pantera, Death, Sepultura, Fear Factory, SYL, White Zombie and Manson after which I discovered my love for black and death Metal and later on power Metal bands like Blind Guardian, Nightwish and Kamelot.
"I pretty much found bands in each Metal sub genre that I liked and could relate to. I started my first band, or rather attempted my first musical collaboration, right after school in 1998 with my friend Sunil who also introduced me to home recording at the time and we wrote a few songs but it was only in 2000 that I was able to form my own band, Demonic Resurrection. Since then I've been part of the Indian Metal scene with my bands Demonic Resurrection, Reptilian Death, Workshop, Hellwind and my solo material.
"I've been involved as a promoter doing the Resurrection Festival from 2004 till 2010. I ran India's only record label for extreme Metal called Demonstealer Records as well as a home studio setup for Metal bands to record in called Demonic Studios. More recently I've started DSR Booking and PR which is India's premier agency for Metal PR and booking all my bands and started an online Heavy Metal cooking show called Headbanger's Kitchen.
"I can't really explain what about Metal motivates me but 16 years ago I latched onto it and have never let go. I like to believe I live, breathe, sleep and eat Metal :)"
You first came to the attention of the media in 2000 when you created Demonic Resurrection – how were you received in India?
"The truth is back in 2000 there really was no 'media' per se for Metal and the scene here was all about cover bands and playing your own music was like not something bands took to naturally, they would always throw in one or two songs they wrote apologetically into their ten song setlist. I always knew I wanted to play my own music and not someone else's and that is exactly what I did.
"It was DR and a bunch of other bands like Kryptos, Zero, Pentagram, MyndSnare etc that kind of were playing original music despite audience resistance at times. I mean we've done shows where we were heckled, booed and even had bottles and stones thrown at us because people didn't want to hear original extreme Metal. We took all that in our stride and we released our music and just generally made a name for ourselves with our music and work ethic.
"We did receive a lot of support over the years from media world over and even our local press we've got more than favourable reviews. I think the industry here has grown with us, there isn't a full fledged Metal music industry as we're piggy backing on the indie scene in general but slowly as the average age of Metal heads is moving from 16-21 to include people who are older we're seeing signs of an independent industry.
"DR and Kryptos are probably the two oldest surviving and actively playing Metal bands and some bands like Millenium and Dying Embrace that started back in 1990 and had disbanded and been dormant for ten years are all making comebacks now. So the scene is thriving and growing here and we've been received well :)"
Tell us a bit about Demonic Resurrection – we hear you are working on your fourth studio album. How is that going?
"We've just about finished the songwriting process for the new album and we're planning to hit the studios in January and we're hoping to have the album out around middle of 2013. This album is going to be faster, more melodic, more brutal and just more demonic in general. Our sound has really progressed over the last 13 years with all the various lineup changes and obviously we've grown and improved as musicians.
"In 2000 when I wrote and released the first album I was a 16-year-old kid with a dream and some basic knowledge of guitar playing and home recording. Over the years I feel like I've become a musician now and I know what I'm doing and what I want to express. Mephisto who joined us on keys in 2003 is instrumental in bringing in the symphonic element to our music. Viru and Daniel who joined us on the last album also I think now are move involved and instrumental in the sound that has come about and we've got our new bassist Ashwin who joined us in Feb this year who just brings this awesome death Metal finger-style bass playing sound to the band and I think the new album will reflect a more coherent sound than the last album. It's definitely more physically challenging for Viru to play on the drums and we've really kind of pushed his limits on this."
You have created another band – Workshop – tell us a bit about them, including what your definition of 'humour Metal' is?
"Workshop has actually been around for a while now. It's beginnings were back in 2007/2008 when I jammed with a few local musicians to launch ESP Guitars in India at a guitar clinic and the drummer Hamza who I jammed with enjoyed the music we did for that clinic and pestered me for a while to play together in a band and we ended up doing a very spontaneous set at a college show here with impromtu lyrics and a really fun atmosphere on stage opposed to the more serious Metal image I have with DR.
"It was through this that Workshop was born (because we held a guitar workshop) and we kind of decided we wanted to be a fun band with a whacky image and generally write fun music and make people laugh since the three of us at that time were known to be quite the clowns of the scene (lots of bad jokes being cracked at social gatherings). We took this image forth and recorded our debut album in 2009 called 'Khooni Murga' which loosely translates to murderous chicken.
"Since then we've toured like crazy and had some ups and downs and line up changes and we're now ready with our second full-length album called 'Made Love To The Dragon'. You can say we're a blend of hard rock and stand up comedy. Workshop is my side project and I've always been one of those people who can't stick to one thing and likes to do everything so this is just another expression of me and my personality.
"It doesn't really come in the way of anything I do with Demonic Resurrection because the Indian scene still doesn't have a long drawn own cycle for bands writing and touring like in the west. We all have day jobs, write music all the time and record it when we can and most gigs are all through the year during the weekends.
Are you still involved with Reptillian Death? What are your plans for them?
"Reptilian Death started out as a spoof death Metal band with a five part song called '5 Easy Ways To Murder Someone' and I guess you can see by my spoofy attempt that this is where my funny bone for Workshop comes from. I took the band live in 2001 when DR couldn't go for a festival and I wanted to play the festival at any cost so I made RD a live band and since then it has sporadically been on and off and even released a full-length in 2004 and an EP again in 2006 with constant line-up changes to the band taking a more serious musical route.
"I can safely say that in 2013 the world will know Reptilian Death because we've done some crazy stuff in the last two years getting a new album together with a complete overhaul of the music, the image and everything. I can only say 'wait for it'.
You seem to be very busy – what are your priorities in life and how to you balance all your undertakings?
"As I mentioned previously I am part of five musical projects, I have a day job with Furtados Music (a local importer for musical instruments), I also run my label, booking agency, studio, PR and have that cooking show on YouTube as well.
"For me DR has always been my priority and it will remain that way. I am most grateful to my employers, Furtados Music, who allow me to work from home and give me enough free time to handle all the other stuff I do. I guess for me it is all about time management. I'm fortunate that I still live with my parents so family is always around me and I have an extremely supportive and understanding girlfriend.
"I'm pretty much working 24/7 and I shuffle between the studio and my bedroom. I guess one of the ways I balance all my bands is because everyone else in my various bands have day jobs and can only commit a certain number hours a week to doing music so it balances itself I guess."
We noticed you at Bloodstock this year – how did that go for you?
"Bloodstock was an awesome and much needed experience for us. As Metalheads we enjoyed our first camping trip, watching our heros and meeting a few of them as well. It was a fantastic experience. As a band we couldn't have asked for a better response to our set or a warmer welcome from the UK media. It was a great experience. We met a lot of fans and bands and it was a truly fantastic trip.
"We hope that 2013 will see us return to the UK to tour or to play some festivals but the trip is extremely expensive for us so we're going to weigh out our options and offers in 2013 and see what we can manage. We loved playing in the UK and we can't wait to come back."
Which other bands do you work with?
"We pretty much work on our own as a band and we're signed to Candlelight who released our last album worldwide and we work with a few booking agencies but no bands really. With Workshop I've had the pleasure of having Mattias Eklund (Freak Kitchen) and Christophe Godin (Metal Kartoon) each do a solo on the new album. I'm also hoping that on my solo album I'll be able to collaborate with a few different musicians."
Tell us a bit about what is going on in the Metal industry in India – who should we be keeping an eye out for?
"We've suddenly had a huge number of festivals pop up and tons of bands coming down. Last year alone we saw Gojira, Lamb Of God, Children Of Bodom, Slayer, Testament, Periphery etc and it's been a massive year for Metal in India. I expect this year is going to be much bigger.
"I'd say look out for Indian bands like Kryptos, Albatross, Bhayanak Maut, Undying Inc, Inner Sanctum, Zygnema, Skyharbor, Bevar Sea etc etc as there is some serious talent here and it's only a matter of time before it explodes onto a global level. We also had a bit of a humorous old school Metal vs new school Metal war going on for a while but like most things in India it's restricted to Facebook but yeah we hope that 2013 see's more Indian bands as well and it looks like a massive year coming up."
Who are your top five Indian Metal bands and why?
"Well that is a very tough question indeed but I'd say personally speaking I love Exhumation who are no longer active. I'm more of a fan of Prashant Shah, the guitarist who writes some killer riffs and he was also actually the first member of Demonic Resurrection and he now plays in Scribe.
"I'm a huge fan of Kryptos... and I have been since about 12 odd years now. I think musically there aren't too many bands I enjoy on a whole but I like select songs of each band and I think in general bands like Zygnema, Bhayanak Maut, Inner Sanctum, Albatross, Skyharbor, Undying Inc are all awesome at what they do and I listen to them from time to time and enjoy their live gigs too. I think people should check them out."
And you can do so at the bottom of this page...
What are your plans for 2013?
"Oh wow - 2013 is hopefully going to be MASSIVE for me personally as well. In January Workshop will release the second full-length album 'Made Love To The Dragon' and in Jan/Feb I will hopefully be busy touring to promote it.
"March will see a huge announcement hopefully from the DR camp and also the new album should be underway. I think in April I should be able to release the new Reptilian Death album and probably in June/July the DR album and hopefully be touring all the while somewhere or the other and maybe end of the year start working on my second solo album.
"I shall continue to do my cooking show and hopefully have some Metal celebrities on it as well in 2013 like I did in 2012 and hopefully I can just fill up 2013 with touring and writing and recording and more touring :)"
What are your all time top five favourite tracks and why?
"This is the mission impossible question and can never include all the songs I want to but I'll put my cult classics down as best I possibly can:"
1. Strapping Young Lad - Detox
2. Dimmu Borgir - In Death's Embrace
3. Death - Scavenger Of Human Sorrow
4. Blind Guardian - And Then There Was Silence
5. Behemoth - Conquer All
"I really wish I could add like twenty tracks more but since it has to be five I can only list the ones above and mainly because they just blew my mind when I heard them. Strapping Young Lad just had a mad angry energy that was infectious. Dimmu Borgir for the the amazing atmosphere the song has. Death for blowing my mind with those riffs and Richard Christy's godly drumming. Blind Guardian for writing an operatic experience like that song and Behemoth for just being fucking Behemoth :)"
We loved catching uwith Demonstealer and btw we think we know what they mean by Humour Metal...