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  INTERVIEW WITH DIONYSUS

Andy Millen

andy millen



dionysus
L-R Umair, Waleed and Sheraz

Lahore based Dionysus have enjoyed a growing worldwide following over the past few years. Their debut EP, 'Hymn To The Dying' (reviewed in an earlier column of mine) had international success following its release on the Salute Record label.

The band have followed that up with the news that they have signed to India's Transcending Obscurity and are currently writing new material for a follow up.

I caught up with Sheraz, Umair and Waleed and they took time out to give me this interview.

Article continues below...



Please introduce yourself, what you play and how long have you been together.

Sheraz: Thanks man, I am Sheraz Ahmed. I play guitars and write drum parts for Dionysus. I founded the band in 2010 along with Umair. Waleed Ahmed joined in summer of 2011, later we incorporated Sam for playing live drums for us. We're all brothers trying to have a good time doing what we love.

About the gear, I am a sucker for old school sound so my gear only comprises of ADA-MP1 preamp that I bought from ex Dusk's guitarist Aman Durrani, he used it in the recording of Dead heart dawning EP. It's a pretty old piece of equipment but it sounds killer. And Marshall Valve State amplifier along with a Boss HM-2 pedal. I play an Ibanez RG 370 that I bought from Waleed some years back. That guitar has a bit of history too since it was first used by Waleed. haha.

Umair: I am Umair Ahmed. I play guitars in the band. We like to play different kinds of music so ADA Mp-1 kind of fulfil our needs. Haha. I've tried alot of processors and effects but since I played on ADA MP-1 I couldn't find anything better. I play an Ibanez RG350EX and a tuned down Strat that Sheraz usually uses for the Marwolaeth songs, we like to call it war-strat. haha.

Waleed: Hey this is Waleed Ahmed. I'm the lead vocalist/ Guitarist/ Bassist and the producer of Dionysus. I like to experiment a lot with sound so Les Paul is my first choice as far as guitars are concerned. I've changed the pickups to DiMarzio liquifire (neck) and DiMarzio D activator (bridge). I play a fender P bass besides that.

dionysus

What bands have been the biggest influence on you (both as Individuals and as a Band) also what was the Metal scene like when you were growing up?

Sheraz: The biggest influence? Well, my musical influences keep changing with time as I keep discovering new music every fucking day. haha. There is just a lot of different kinda music from 70s prog rock to old school heavy metal to death/doom to post rock to neoclassical shit to fucking electropop, there are no boudaries to the kinda music I find myself listening to, if its good I'll listen to it and I am not afraid to go out of the boundaries of metal when I write music, fuck standards!

That said, Dan Swano, Andrew Latimer, Jon Nodtveidt, Anders Nystrom, Chuck Schuldiner are the musicians that I can relate to the most in terms of the approach towards music. Only local metal band I knew when I was growing up was Dusk and I always loved what they did. I don't remember any local metal gigs happening when I was growing up, I didn't use to go out much anyway so I wouldn't know. The first show I went to was the one I was playing in.

Umair: I Can't name one band or an individual. There are a lot of musicians that have influenced me over the years. I listen to a lot of different kinda music, Jazz/Fusion/funk, Neo Classical metal, progressive rock apart from Dionysus' music. Talking about Dionysus' music, I am very much influenced by bands like Dissection, Dismember, Death, Agalloch, Anathema, Katatonia etc. As Sheraz said, when I was growing up, the only metal band we knew was Dusk. And, Faraz Anwar and Amir Zaki used to be my favourite Guitar players from Pakistan and still are. Haha.

Waleed: Ahh! Well I don't limit myself when it comes to music. I listen to all kind of genres, but if you ask me specifically, I love post/experimental/progressive kind of music. Steven Wilson is one of my favorite musicians and he has influenced me a lot throughout my musical journey. I grew up listening to bands such as Agalloch, Katatonia, Pelican, Explosions in the sky, Pink Floyd, Radiohead, Porcupine Tree, Anathema - the list goes on. These bands have inspired me a lot and have influenced my songwriting as well as production. Umm about the local scene, there was not enough music to explore at that time, and most of the underground bands that forced me to dive into this scene were friends.

Apart from Catacombs and Aftermath, how much opportunity is there for live gigs locally?

Sheraz: Not many bro; no live scene over here in Lahore. Islamabad is doing pretty good in terms of live shows. But Lahore is dead. But fuck it, we get to spend more time in the studio writing/recording music so it's all cool. We don't whine about it and we don't want anyone to feel sympathetic about it either. I am not a very passionate live musician anyway, I love getting up on stage, but it's not what I started playing music for in the first place. I've never dreamed of playing big shows and touring around the world, this is not what I am in for. Converting my ideas into songs is what matters for me the most. Waleed lives in a Karachi now so we don't get to play live much as Dionysus but my other band Foreskin still plays live. Dionysus might play at Hellfest in January 2014 in Islamabad, looking forward to that.

dionysus

Umair: There used to be a time when there were a lot of gigs happening here in Lahore back in '10. Now, it's all dead. When we first started playing live, there were a lot of opportunities but suddenly, all is gone. Islamabad is doing pretty good. As Waleed has shifted to Karachi now, we can't perform live as Dionysus unless he is in town. But I get to play bass live with Foreskin, so that's kinda fun.

Waleed: A lot of live gigs happen here in Pakistan, even more than you can think of, but no metal shows.

'Hymn To The Dying' had a phenomenal reception worldwide , were you surprised at just how far the EP spread?

Sheraz: I appreciate the love and support we've got from our brothers from across the world and you too. And of course, my mind was blown when Tony Sundstrand contacted me for releasing Hymn to the Dying on CD format, it really felt like we've accomplished something. Although it was doing pretty good on internet when we released it for free download first but knowing that our music would be out on physical format and that too from a label from Sweden, was a real grand feeling, it's just the beginning but yeah we cherish every little memory. Tony played a big part in spreading our music and I've my utmost respect for that guy. We're now signed to Transcending Obscurity India, Kunal Choksi (the owner) is one of the most humble people I've ever come across and he knows his shit so I know this will work out for the better in future.

Umair: Thanks to Tony Sundstrand for releasing 'Hymn To the Dying'. I appreciate the support from everywhere, thanks to all the people who bought our EP. It feels really good to accomplish something like this. And the best part is having the CD released from Sweden. haha. And now we are signed to Transcending Obscurity thanks to Kunal Choksi. Now looking forward to working on some new stuff!

Waleed: With all the hard work that we put in writing/recording Hymn to the dying, we kinda knew it would do well. And we're happy to be satisfied with what we did although improvement is a never ending process. Cheers to all the labels/zines/PR people who have helped us in spreading our music in the dark corners of the world.

What do your families think of the music and the success/Transcending Obscurity deal?

Sheraz: Success? haha! they were pretty happy when they got to know that someone from Sweden released our crap on CD and when underground zines and vinyls/tapes etc started showing up in the mail from countries like Singapore, Sweden, Holland etc. My mother has always supported me in respect of music but we all take it as a hobby and completing studies and moving on with my life is primary for me. Music will always be a big part of my life, but there are other things that are more important.

dionysus

Umair: haha, they were pretty happy when they saw that the CD was released from Sweden. It was a big accomplishment for us. My mother supported me most in everything. Even in buying gear initally, lol.

Waleed: When my father got to know that his son has produced it, he made some copies of the EP and distributed 'em among his buddies. haha. He is proud of it!

What does that deal mean to you as a band - personally as well as musically ? (does this mean gigs in India might be on the cards)

Sheraz: It means a lot to me, since Transcending Obscurity is the biggest label in this region and with bands like The Dead, Drunk Honkey and Dormant Inferno on that label, I feel proud to be the part of the family. For the band, the deal means better promotion, better distribution and better quality of CDs and yes, if everything worked out we shall play in India one day as well.

Umair: I am really happy about this deal. And as some great bands are signed to TO, I feel honoured. Also, we might play in India someday so it's good.

Waleed: I think it's a step forward and it will help our music spread around the world easily!

Pakistani Rock/Metal bands are beginning to get more attention world wide - how do you feel being part of that? Do you get as much attention at home?

Sheraz: I am not a part of that. We're just lone rangers. We've a big local/international fan base but I don't promote my music with my country's name on it. And I want people to listen to my music without thinking about the drones and all the other shit that goes down in Pakistan. I am sick of those metal bands from countries like Iran or Iraq and other Asian/Middle Eastern countries who try to get attention by showing how they're coming from a 'muslim country' and how hard they work to record a 'metal' song in that country, I say fuck off! If your music is not strong enough, fuck where you're coming from. Too bad your Dad is an extremist mullah who doesn't let you play a guitar, you're not getting my attention.

But Dionysus/my other projects do get a lot of exposure in the underground circle, which is a good thing. Dionysus' bathing in unholy blood has been featured Underground United compilation released by Formasi Dajjal and B tattoo productions on CD, one of the new songs is featured on Doom metal front zines compilation which will be released soon. Foreskin's Antikvlt was featured on Ghalazat split featuring other hardcore/sludge/grind bands from Nepal. Another song called Raid the Stage along with Multinational corporation's Salaab was featured on "Never mind the taqwacore, HERE IS THE REAL DEAL" Compilation released on 7" Vinyl by Tam 89 records. Marwolaeth's Death lives on was featured on Wartorn Record's 4 way split featuring 2 bands from India and 2 bands from Pakistan. I don't even remember all of the compilation appearances actually. It feels good when people who have respect for your music show their support, that's why I love the underground. People love the music, no matter where it's coming from or who's playing it or if its popular or not!

Umair: I don't care about the commercial rock/ pseudo metal bands over here. Dionysus do have a very loyal fan base, and we appreciate it but it was never about getting 'attention'. Knowing that my music reaches the right ear is what matters to me the most.

Waleed: It does feel when people know about your songs and when you see people doing covers of your songs. Its a great feeling knowing other people can relate to your music.

Pakistan appears to the outside world as a country beset with conflict (sectarian violence, Extremism etc) how much of that affects you as musicians - how much of that side do you write about, also have you ever been told that you shouldn't be making music?

Sheraz: No, I've never been told that. In fact my teachers, my parents and everyone else respects me for what I do. I once got saved from getting expelled from my college due to short attendance because the principle found out that I am in a band! Instead he asked me to play at a function the next month in order to save my ass, the other guy who was with me got expelled and he didn't have anything to back him up. I felt sorry for the poor guy. LOL. But yeah, since there are a lot of problems like load shedding, economic crises, crime situation etc. It gets really tough sometimes but fuck it, I am gonna act like a black dude and say "a nigga gotta do what a nigga gotta do". hahahah.

Umair: Hahaha. I got accepted in Art School because of my music. Everyone here appreciates music in one way or another. Some people are always crying about load shedding and all, but it's not going anywhere. You gotta live with it. And to be honest, we humans learn to live in every condition so yeah, fuck whining about it.

Waleed: Violence and extremism doesn't affect our lives that much. Karachi is known as the most dangerous cities in the world, I think it's not true in any sense. Of course there are crimes etc like in every other big city around the world. But nothing that affects our lives majorly. I think it is the media who's to blame for this propaganda. I do music just as a normal person living in any other country, yes people here do not appreciate much of the things we do musically, but they do not stop us from doing it either. So the best thing we can do is focus on it.

New recordings planned - how will you record this differently from 'Hymn ...'

Sheraz: its pretty different now since "Hymn to the dying". Waleed lives in Karachi now, so basically Umair and I record guitar/drums at our studio over here and then send files to Waleed and he edits them the way it sounds better and adds bass, vocals, acoustic guitars and additional guitar parts then send 'em back to us. We've written 2 songs till now which are planned to be featured on a split release with a really killer and my personal favourite death/doom band. I am not gonna disclose the name for now, but you'll get to know soon.

Umair: What Sheraz said.

Waleed: It's a lot different, we've been exposed to a lot of new music since we recorded Hymn to the dying. And we've recorded 2 new songs, they sound pretty good. I think we're progressing in the right direction, you'll get to know soon!

You all seem to be involved in other projects as well - different styles etc. Does working with them give you fresh ideas for Dionysus?

Sheraz: hahah yeah, since we cannot limit ourselves to one specific style of music, we've ended up with a lot of shit on our plate.

Besides Dionysus, here is the list of my other projects that are active at the moment:

Foreskin (crossover/thrash): http://foreskin.bandcamp.com/
Multinational Corporations (grindcore/crust): http://foreskin.bandcamp.com/
Marwolaeth (OSDM): http://marwolaeth.bandcamp.com/
Flaw (experimental rock): http://visionaire.bandcamp.com/album/flawloss
Irritum (funeral doom): http://irritum.bandcamp.com/

Umair: I am not involved much in other projects as Sheraz and Waleed are. haha. But I do play some different music on the side. I've been working on some Jazz/fusion music for a while now - am writing some songs. Maybe I'll release them someday.

Waleed: Oh yes! I love to experiment with sounds, whether it is metal or whatever genre. I've been involved in many other projects and have recently released a solo album called “WATERFORT” which mainly consists of progressive/ post rock elements, heres the link of the album: https://soundcloud.com/syed-waleed-ahmed/sets/waterfort-2-songs

Also check my previous post black metal project LOHIKARMA, Dreaming skies EP was released on CD by Moontone records (Thailand) earlier this year: http://lohikarma.bandcamp.com/

Thank you very much guys. Good luck with the new stuff, and we at Metaltalk.net look forward to reviewing it!




14.10.13











 

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alter bridge ALTER BRIDGE RELEASE NEW VIDEO AHEAD OF UK TOUR: WATCH IT HERE
Special guests on the tour include Danish rockers Volbeat, French progressive Metallers Gojira and up-and-comers, Like A Storm...

purson PURSON ANNOUNCE UK HEADLINE TOUR DATES
The band will also make bill-topping appearances at Norwich Sound + Vision Festival and the Brain Freeze Festival...

black star riders WAS BREAKING NEWS: BLACK STAR RIDERS UK TOUR DATES FOR MARCH 2017 ARE HERE
Black Star Riders will release their new album, 'Heavy Fire', in early 2017 and will be hitting the road in support of this in March...

pink floyd THE PINK FLOYD EXHIBITION: THEIR MORTAL REMAINS AT THE V&A IS UNPRECEDENTED AND INNOVATIVE
The Exhibition offers a unique insight into a group of world-class musicians who have always defied artistic boundaries...

ac dc phil rudd UK EXCLUSIVE: AC/DC'S PHIL RUDD SUFFERED A HEART ATTACK BUT IS NOW READY TO ROCK AGAIN. BUT NOT WITH AXL
"I sneaked out to the shop to get some cigarettes, then I realised I had no car, so I walked home to get the Ferrari, and drove back to the hospital..."

bloodstock BLOODSTOCK 2017 IS GO! DISCOUNTED EARLY BIRD TICKETS ON SALE HERE NOW
This price will not be available for long so grab your now before they sell out...

clutch CLUTCH DECEMBER UK HEADLINE DATES ARE HERE
A sure fire way to brighten up your holiday season, Clutch will be bringing the festive cheer to four UK cities...

sos festival SOS FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES FIRST NINE BANDS FOR ITS' 10TH EDITION IN 2017
"It's great for us that another Manchester band has the kudos to headline, just as Absolva did us proud on our Friday in 2016..."

tyr TÝR EUROPEAN TOUR UNDER THREAT OVER WHALE CONTROVERSY
Animal rights sympathisers, supporters and activists are in overdrive over this one with some pretty nasty comments being directed towards Heri and the band...

fm FM ANNOUNCE 'INDISCREET 30' NEW ALBUM AND UK TOUR DATES
"We have been asked many times if we would consider re-recording some of these tracks using today's modern technology..."

red hot chili peppers WAS BREAKING NEWS: RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS ANNOUNCE FIRST UK TOUR FOR FIVE YEARS
This exciting run kicks off with two nights at London's O2 on 5th and 6th December and takes in dates in Glasgow, Birmingham and Manchester...

motorhead MOTÖRHEAD IMMORTALISED IN WEST HOLLYWOOD AS THE IRON MAIDENS HEAD STAR-STUDDED ULTIMATE JAM
"I think it looks a lot like him. It's a compelling image. I think it will offer some closure. I think Lemmy is finally home."

korn KORN UNVEIL NEW VIDEO FOR 'INSANE': DON'T TRY THIS AT HOME
'Insane' appears on Korn's latest and twelfth studio album 'The Serenity Of Suffering' which you can pre-order here...

status quo STATUS QUO REVEAL ARTWORK AND TRACKLISTING FOR 'AQUOSTIC II - THAT'S A FACT!'
This is the sound of a band living in the present, embracing the future, whilst cherishing their past...

bruce dickinson EXCLUSIVE: SCREAM FOR ME SARAJEVO FEATURING BRUCE DICKINSON SCOOPS SARAJEVO FILM FESTIVAL AWARDS
The audience surveyed rated the film 4.98 out of a total of 5.00 while Al Jazeera awarded it the Best Documentary out of twenty two entrants...

wakrat WATCH RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE'S TIM COMMERFORD START NEW NATION IN PARLIAMENT SQUARE ON VIDEO HERE
"The current system is oppressive and elitist, promoting racist ideologies in order to push a self-serving agenda..."

led zeppelin LED ZEPPELIN GIVE YOU AN INSIDE LOOK AT 'THE COMPLETE BBC SESSIONS' SUPER DELUXE
Musical highlights on this new collection include the debut of a long-lost radio session that has achieved near-mythic status among fans...

saxon SAXON PRESENT A HOARD OF LIVE GLORY IN A BOX OF VINYL GOLD
"This is not going to be around again and with exclusive art work too. Bring it on - I think we'll play some of these tracks on tour in the Autumn."

journey toto JOURNEY AND TOTO LIVE SPECTACULARS ON THE WAY IN SEPTEMBER
"When I first listened back, the thought omnipresent in my mind was simply, 'That's that raw, sizzling energy we had in high school!'"

titanfest SKYCLAD, OLIVER/DAWSON SAXON AND MORE ANNOUNCED FOR TITANFEST
It's the 30th anniversary of Onslaught's 'The Force' and they requested that Titanfest be scheduled for November so that the album could be celebrated in style.

geoff tate GEOFF TATE'S OPERATION MINDCRIME UNVEIL TWO NEW TRACKS
"With the key finally in his possession, "H" has everything he needs to finally launch his long awaited project called The New Reality. Or does he..."

big country BIG COUNTRY HEADING OUT ON 'THE SEER' 30th ANNIVERSARY TOUR
Big Country will be performing 'The Seer' in its entirety when tbey hit the road for a 24-date UK tour starting on September 14th...

metallica UK EXCLUSIVE: METALLICA RELEASE 'HARDWIRED' - NEW VIDEO RIGHT HERE
"Has it really been eight years? Doesn't feel like it! We’re obviously beyond psyched to share new tunes with all our friends out there via MetalTalk...

manowar WAS BREAKING NEWS: MANOWAR TICKETS ON SALE FOR THE FINAL BATTLE WORLD TOUR
The Kings Of Metal are abdicating and our very last Call To Arms is coming...

opeth OPETH DETAIL WEMBLEY ARENA SHOW
"We'll only play this set list three times on the whole world tour so if you miss it, you'll have missed it..."

tank UPDATED: TANK RELEASE DIGITAL DELUXE VERSIONS OF 'WAR MACHINE' AND 'WAR NATION'
"Doogies vocals were exactly suited to this period of Tank and we're extremely proud of what we created in these two albums."

pete way PETE WAY LEAVES HOSPITAL AFTER HEART ATTACK
"Pete Way and I would like to thank you all for your messages, kind thoughts and prayers..."

vader WAS BREAKING NEWS: VADER ANNOUNCE NOVEMBER LONDON GIG
Vader will be touring in support of their recently announced new studio album 'The Empire' which is due for release this autumn...

dead daisies THE DEAD DAISIES RELEASE NEW VIDEO FOR 'JOIN TOGETHER' AS 'MAKE SOME NOISE' CRASHES INTO WORLDWIDE CHARTS
"We want to thank all of our fans and friends around the world for the amazing support of our new record 'Make Some Noise'!"

bloodstock POLICE APPEAL FOR INFORMATION REGARDING SEXUAL ASSAULT AT BLOODSTOCK
"Police are appealing for anyone with information to get in touch and are asking people to share this appeal..."

guns n roses EXCLUSIVE: GUNS N' ROSES DOWNLOAD ANNOUNCEMENT ON THE WAY WITH AUSTRALIAN AND JAPANESE DATES CONFIRMED
Other possibles for the remaining two headline slots are Aerosmith, Def Leppard and Metallica...

roger dean URIAH HEEP, BUDGIE AND ATOMIC ROOSTER ARTISTS WORK TO BE IMMORTALISED ON STAMPS
Roger Dean has designed over 100 album covers for artists including Yes, Asia, London Symphony Orchestra, Nightwing, It Bites and Snafu.

evil scarecrow WAS BREAKING NEWS: EVIL SCARECROW ANNOUNCE 'ROCK YOU LIKE A HURRICANADO' TOUR
"We'll be bringing our biggest, silliest show yet along with some brand new, probably never heard before, music 'genius'..."

blaze bayley BLAZE BAYLEY TO BE FEATURED IN MULTI-PART CANADIAN DOCUMENTARY
"I'm excited to be returning to Canada and I look forward to meeting my fans, with the opportunity for them to be a part of the documentary."

last in line LAST IN LINE ADDED TO WINTER STORM LINE-UP
Winter Storm, the festival that will take place over the weekend of 25th and 26th November in Troon, South Ayrshire, have already announced an exciting line-up...

tony iommi GREAT NEWS FROM TONY IOMMI: CANCER IS IN REMISSION
"The chemotherapy and the follow-up treatment appear to have done the trick — but I'm aware that it could come back one day."

suicide silence SUICIDE SILENCE ANNOUNCE NOVEMBER 2016 UK TOUR
"Hold on to your butts cause we will be headbanging our way through your town! Bring your A game cause we will be bringing ours..."

ac dc AC/DC IN FULL FLIGHT: QUALITY LIMITED EDITION BOOK IS A MUST FOR COLLECTORS
All of the photographs have been carefully processed and digitally restored to optimise reproduction quality.

ozzy osbourne BOB DAISLEY FILES LAWSUIT AGAINST OZZY OSBOURNE, WHO RESPONDS
"We would have hoped that after 36 years that Mr Daisley would have lost his unhealthy personal obsession and resentment towards Mr Osbourne's success."

70 tons of metal 70000 TONS OF METAL: SIXTY BANDS, BARS THAT NEVER CLOSE AND MUCH MORE
Heavy Metal bands from around the globe playing concerts on four different stages...

lamb of god WAS BREAKING NEWS: LAMB OF GOD REVEAL NEW MUSIC VIDEO FOR 'EMBERS': MARK MORTON HAS SOME DEEPLY PERSONAL WORDS
"Nearly a decade after 'Walk With Me In Hell' it was happening yet again. Art was imitating life..."

iron maiden WAS BREAKING NEWS: IRON MAIDEN RELEASE "THANK YOU" VIDEO - WATCH IT HERE
Now it's break time for Iron Maiden but they will be back for a full scale UK Tour in 2017...

meat loaf WAS BREAKING NEWS: MEAT LOAF RELEASES SECOND TRACK FROM FORTHCOMING NEW ALBUM WITH JIM STEINMAN - LISTEN HERE
"Now psychologist and psychiatrists all over America are giving it to their patients..."

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