In early 2007, an innovative, refreshing sound made Slain become one of the most sought-after live acts within India, now reputed as the country’s finest in Melodic Progressive Rock. Slain has performed alongside some of the biggest international sensations like Iron Maiden and Mr. Big. WTS got talking to band members Judah Sandhy, Bryden Stephen Lewis, Naresh Nathan, Jared Sandhy, Jonathan and Manek D’Silva and here’s what they had to share…
WTS: You started off in 2007 and have gained a lot of popularity in three years, tell us about the experience so far.
Naresh: April 2007 was when this line up came together and we started off by playing a lot of competitions within Bangalore and outside Bangalore. There have been quite a lot of memorable shows! It was fun nonetheless it was hard because we were a very new band. At that time we even hadn’t fixed on our genre. People started saying ‘You guys are very diverse, you have to fix up on a genre of sorts’. It was only during the first six months of Slain that we decided upon the genre, before that we were very diverse in what we used to play. Watching a lot of the other bands and getting a lot of criticism actually helped the band, because we didn’t take it in the wrong way whatsoever, we still kept at it. We had this desire to get onstage and give something different – like a mix of metal and rock, that’s how Judah puts it. That’s what we did and it’s been good since then. We’ve picked up a lot of pace, and popularity has come its way, so yeah, it’s been good for the past three years!
WTS: How long have you all known each other?
Manek: Too long! (laughs)
Bryden: Manek and I were band mates for a really long time. I don’t think we had a choice there! We started playing the guitar around the same time. The two of us were in a rival band. That was when Slain was a college band… we were all in college then. We competed and then I got a call from Judah who is the founder of Slain and he just wanted to take it to a whole new level. He started calling random people, all of us and different people from different bands! (laughs)
Manek: You make it sound so romantic! (laughs)
Naresh: In the beginning months he used to call me at least five times a day!
Bryden: (imitating Judah) Will you please play for me? (laughs) Even though we knew each other, I joined a little earlier, Manek came about 7-8 months later. That’s when the Slain guitarist quit. Slain totally had like twenty four members who came to be a part of it (laughs)
WTS: Every band has fallen prey to ego issues at some point or the other. How do you deal with them and stick together?
Naresh: We all use tranquilizer shots! (laughs)
Manek: What we all believe is that a band is more than just a few people coming together to play music. With all the bands that we look up to, there’s some amount of chemistry – them knowing each other is in fact half the reason that we like them, or when they’re on stage the amount of fun they have with each other, the jokes… you can see all that. That’s what inspires us so much, that these people are connected not only through their music but they also know and understand each other. Take a band like Aerosmith who were together for 34 years – when a band sticks together for that long, it just becomes such an inspiration.
Bryden: We’ve learnt to keep calm, it shouldn’t affect our music.
Manek: But fights do arise, arguments do arise. We know deepÂ inside that whatever it is, we need to solve it because we’re a band. Even if it’s the worst situation in the world, we’re a 6-piece band, its 6 of us and we need to solve it together. No one else is going to do that for us.
WTS: Do you have fans you keep in touch with?
Bryden: Of course, that’s like a daily thing we maintain.
Judah: At every show, we make sure that we collect email ids from everybody present if they’re interested in sharing their email ids, we add them onto our blogs, we keep in touch with them, we tell them about our shows in the future. Moreover, we make them feel very important.
Bryden: They know us too well, they take us for granted, I’m not kidding. Having personal interaction with the crowd is very good.
Naresh: These guys come to watch you, they come to support you and the least you could do is hang out with them before the show or after a show. We’re not anything greater than them, they’re taking time out to come watch us and support us, without them we wouldn’t be where we are.
Bryden: Yeah we wouldn’t have a platform to play if it weren’t for them. We’d just be a bedroom jam band!
WTS: Are you a Gospel band?
Naresh: The lyrics that we write are all Christian, from the Bible but what we try to do is give something positive.
Judah: All the band members are inspired by our individual influences. We would like to adapt the same things, the same lifestyle – not only living it onstage but also off stage and we like to adapt it in our lyrics. People who don’t come to watch us live, can connect to us through our lines, view our lyrics online and see what the band has to deliver to the fans. We also want them to be inspired by our lifestyle,what we believe in. Its not about religion, we’re just giving a positive message .And the best way that we could do this is not by talking to them directly but through our songs. With a beautiful tune to it as well as some lyrics that suit it.
WTS: Tell us about your debut album Here and Beyond. Have you experimented with something new and exciting? How will it differ from the EP you’ve released in the past?
Judah: For us to progress as a band we definitely need a hard copy of our music to reach out to people. Not only in our country but also the world. Technically the band has decided that the album will be out in our hands by month end and then there’s a lot of groundwork for us to probably market our album. We need to get the right record label, speak to the right people. Practically speaking, it should be out in the month of September. It’s got a fresher sound, it’s very modern, there’s not much of processing in it. It’s heavy. Even the softer songs, which probably a layman would say is the softest among Slain’s songs, technically, even that is made to sound a lot brighter and richer on the CD.
WTS: How was it performing alongside international bands like Iron Maiden and Mr. Big when they were touring in India?
Bryden: Yeah, it was ok! (laughs)
Judah: When we started out in college, they were our inspiration. It’s again a dream come true for us. When we were up there we had to accept the fact that we are rockstars. It’s a prayer which turned out to be a blessing again. Bands that we wished to hear live, we opened for. It was an awesome experience in fact – playing with the bands that we like to listen to!
WTS: What makes Slain different from other metal bands?
Manek: That we still listen to pop. I’m serious. What most people don’t realize about pop is why it’s called pop – it’s because its popular music, anyone can relate to it. Even though we’re playing metal, by playing metal that everyone can relate to we’re playing pop in a way. I think that’s what Slain takes seriously.
Bryden: As a band what makes us different is our sound. I can dare say that we are the only band probably in South India who make power metal, metal and rock in a very cool way and give it out to the crowd. It’s said openly that we’re different that way. You put us in a rock fest we’re different, put us in a metal fest, we’re different. People say that “Oh! You guys are like the icebreakers”. We’re the metal band who smile and play!
Manek: Yeah, and who eat ice cream.
WTS: What’s the ultimate direction for your band?
Naresh: I say we will keep on keeping on! Do what we love to do and hope for the best. Rock music may not pay you as much as what Bollywood music does and if you want to do music full time, you have to do commercial stuff. But I don’t think any of us will get into that no matter what.