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Interview with Fractalline

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Fractalline is a 4-piece death metal band from LA with KP Krishnamoorthy on guitars, Jordan Nalley on vocals, Ray Rojo on drums and Sandesh Nagaraj on bass. WTS caught up with the band members after their recent show in Bangalore, where they spoke about their ‘Indianfestation’ tour , the Indian metal scene and their story so far…

WTS: How has your Indianfestation tour been so far?

KP: This tour was originally supposed to span six cities but there were a few changes in the plan. Nobody is going to turn up for anything when there’s a cricket match happening. So we are playing at four cities now. We’ve had a very good response from the cities where we’ve played so far – that’s Mumbai, Manipal and Bangalore and we will be playing in Delhi tomorrow, and we’ll fly back to LA the day after.

WTS: Tell us more about the shows you’ve done as part of this tour so far.

Jordan: Tonight was pretty amazing, but considering it (Bangalore) was their home town, I kinda expected it to be this way. But for Manipal, it was kinda last second, didn’t know what’s gonna happen, never heard of the place. We went out there, just knowing that we will be playing for a college crowd and that’s about it. I think nearly 300 people were there.

KP: Yeah. they sold more than 300 tickets before the show and had walk-ins as well.

Jordan: But there was no sound guy, I had to do sound for seven bands last night! (laughs) So I went early and did the sound for all the bands, on a piece-of-crap system. It was an old analog and everyone cranked all the way up and still everything was fed back and nothing was loud enough. It was a fun night though!

WTS: From Myndsnare to Fractalline, how has the sound evolved?

KP: There is some change that can be attributed to me wanting to try and get a heavier sound. I’m using an 8-string guitar now as compared to standard 6-string that I used earlier. That has definitely changed the tone. This has allowed Sandy to do a whole bunch of different stuff on the bass guitar.

WTS: How did you guys get to know each other at MI (Musicians Institute)?

Ray: KP was looking to form a heavier band and was looking for members. Sandy wanted to keep playing with him. Yasmin, the drummer of Myndsnare, heard me play some stuff and gave my number to KP and we got together, practiced and it went well. We had a vocalist before Jordan and that thing didn’t work out, Jordan heard us play in school and liked it. So, he came down to our practice and from there it’s been pretty good.

WTS: So the formation of the band can pretty much be attributed to MI?

KP: I wouldn’t probably give it that much credit, but yeah, if it was not for that then we wouldn’t have the band.

Jordan: It’s a great place to meet people. The biggest plus about MI is, you take the time to meet the people within this school and you’ll find people with similar interests and people with similar goals. We pretty much found each other that way. Actually we don’t have similar tastes in music. We write the same music that we enjoy – what’s coming out of it, all of us equally.

WTS: You’ve mentioned some of your influences as Death, Slayer and All Shall Perish. How do guy work it out, with such different tastes in music?

KP: Well, we don’t really look at our influences at all, we just make music based on what we feel like playing and that’s it. We don’t try to sound like a like a certain band or anything of that sort. In Fractalline, the portions of creativity that apply to the band fit in perfectly with the rest of the guys and what they want. So when I come up with the riffs, these guys like it. When he comes up the vocals parts and lyrics, we like it. The drums part, I think, is totally f**king awesome, without the stuff he plays we really wouldn’t sound like the way we do. The same goes to Sandy as well. I think in this band there has no specific instrument or person or musician taking the forefront because all of us contribute equally.

Jordan: Yea, the songs just happen. We don’t like to aim for certain genre or bands.

KP: Yeah, we seem to be actually letting the songs tell us what do they want us to sound like than making the sound come out of us and that seems to be working out for us.

WTS: A few weeks back you released your EP Infinite Entropy. How has the response been back in LA and India?

KP: The response in LA was not as big as in India, because we don’t have a presence over there like we had with Myndsnare. But we have been playing for people who loved the music and have picked up our CDs. We are going to be taking back some T-Shirts as well which we’ll be selling there. A lot of people have been buying our CDs over here. I think there’s not too much of a difference between the audience over there and the audience over here, and the amount of money they are willing to spend on a CD. It’s pretty much the same.

WTS: You guys have been working on a concept album. How has the progress been with that so far and when do you expect to complete it?

KP: Well, Jordan is working on all the concepts for the songs, he has a clear idea of what each song is supposed to be about. We will be writing music and it seems to be like, every three weeks to a month we’ve got enough material for a new song while working on it. We also have a lot of school work and other stuff to do. So it’s not fast as you know getting a band in studio and writing an album but I think this way there is certain organic progress to the way music is coming out of us, we will have time to shift a little bit between songs before we end up with five or six songs for lineup in a week. We should have a full length before the end of this year.

WTS: Are you planning a comeback with Myndsnare anytime soon?

KP: Myndsnare is pretty much over. Probably no tours either. We frankly think it doesn’t make much sense to play again because we don’t have any new songs after the earlier album release. We play the songs for people who haven’t seen us live, but I doubt if it’s going to get enough ‘going’ in it to get approved or so. Sorry about that! (smiles)

Jordan: We will always figure ways to get back here with Fractalline. It’s been amazing, eye-opening, crazy! I also wanted to say that with the Indianfestation tour, all the bands we’ve played with have been amazing. I mean I haven’t really heard Indian metal before apart from Myndsnare and Extinct Reflections. Hearing about bands like Bhayanak Maut, Eccentric Pendulum and the time that they have already spent in the scene here. With the kind of online promotion and TV promotion that we have in the States, these Indian bands would definitely be doing really well. Even for the level that they are at here, still playing small venues and not having a worldwide name, they definitely equal the bands over there in the States. So that way, the bands that are out here are way better than the bands that play within the States. So playing with bands like that is really an honor and awesome to see. I’m thankful to them, they are all awesome.

WTS: Sandy and KP, you guys have seen bands like Dying Embrace, Myndsnare, Extinct Reflections and Kryptos emerge in the past and also the bands that are emerging now. How do you think the Indian metal scene has changed over the past 15 years?

KP: In the past 15 odd years, the internet has really doubled and social networking has started making a difference in the way bands promote their shows. Also, the internet has caused a bifurcation of people – those who bitch about everything all the time online and those who have been really supportive of music and buying CDs and things like that. I think the internet is the only real difference that happened in the music scene, everything else is a byproduct. Any scene would do good if it had money. Nowadays, you actually come across some guys and venues understanding what a metal band is. Like Kyra isn’t going to ask “When is the orchestra going to come?” you know? You don’t need to deal with rubbish like that anymore. It’s more like a mindset thing and now people are actually starting to understand what a pop or rock band is.

WTS: Has the musicianship changed over the years?

KP: Yeah! Very much. If I was playing how I was playing with Threinody and all now, people will be laughing me off. Now you can’t play a few power chords and a shitty cover of ‘Raining Blood‘.

WTS: How has the crowd changed? Are they more receptive to originals now?

KP: Definitely. Earlier you expected every band to play two or three covers to check out what the band is capable of and then you will listen to original music. Nowadays people don’t give a damn about covers especially in Bombay, Bangalore and Delhi and cities like that.

WTS: Where do you see the Indian metal scene going five years from now?

KP: Into smaller towns, to more cities and people. Kryptos is doing a really cool thing. They are planning a 35-city tour in India!

Jordan: That way it opens up possibilities for other bands to do the same thing and other cities to start expecting stuff like that.

KP: This is exactly how tours are done in US and it works .That’s the only way you can earn money in the US as a touring band. Over here, we are spending so much money flying between cities and doing all that kinda stuff that you can’t really afford to make living out of something like that. But if there are enough small crowds of about 100 to 300 in the cities for a band and you rent a bus and do that kinda stuff, its gonna be way easier. Renting a bus and a driver is not that expensive. So if you put that aside and see the profits you can make from merch sales and how much the venues will pay you for the shows , it’s actually going to be something feasible. If Kryptos and the other bands follow suit, it will open up our reach to smaller towns; they’ll really understand what this is about and start getting into it.

WTS: Do you think we’ll ever be as big as the metal scene in Europe in terms of number of releases? 

Jordan: The kids out here who have come to our clinics, (which were a part of our tours, hosted at Furtados), have been so passionate. With them writing lyrics and music, and knowing how the people they look up to play and write music… as long as they keep coming out of India, we definitely have high hopes in the Indian metal scene. The shows here have been amazing! LA is so talked up and over exaggerated, the only bands for which you see better crowds than what we have, are Slayer or other international bands. Other than that you have just a bunch of people sitting around and staring at you. The crowd here really loves their music.

KP: I think there are two sides to it. Over here, (Bangalore) a lot of people come to see us because of Myndsnare. In Delhi they don’t know us. So the kind of crowds we play to are not the same. While one side is factually and perfectly true, you can’t really hope to claim crowds like this unless we put in the hard work and pay up dues to build up a following.

Abhilash Achar

Abhilash Achar may be remembered as the (in)famous guy behind hits such as 'Extraterrestrial Human Being' and 'The guy who spent way too much time on the internet' or from his earlier works such as 'Serving justice in the mosh-pit'. He is currently working on his next big hit, 'Lounge Bedroom Music for a Metalhead' (You are welcome.) Find his musical misadventures at last.fm/user/humanethb

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