Interview with guitarist Somesha
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: January 4, 2015
The Indian (underground) Metal scene has been going strong for many years now and many Indian Metal acts have succeed internationally (Demonic Resurrection and Kryptos are two good examples) but there's still more bubbling under the surface than can be seen by the naked eye.
Dhwesha is the name of a trio from Bangalore, India, that has a recording contract with German label Dunkelheit Productionen. The label was impressed with Dhwesha's promotional tape and signed the band, releasing their debut album, Sthoopa, in the fall of 2014. The record showcases Dhwesha's hunger for dark and pummeling old school Death Metal that they deliver with true mastery and dedication.
The Metal Crypt contacted the band and asked for some information about this powerful Indian Death Metal force. Guitarist Somesha kindly took care of the rest...
Luxi: How's it going mate? Is everything cool and nice in Bangalore, India?
Somesha: Greetings! Well, the weather at this point in time in our city is nice and pleasant. It does get cold but nothing close to the winter in European countries!
Luxi: Your debut album, Sthoopa, was just recently released by Germany's Dunkelheit Produktionen. What's the story behind your record deal with this label?
Somesha: We knew of Dunkelheit Produktionen as they had released Funeral in Heaven and Plecto Aliquem Capite's split album Pathogen and when they released Exhumation's Hymn to Your God we realized that the label might be interested in releasing Death Metal in the future. Around the same time we were recording the album so we sent a promo-CD to Bernd and immediately received a response stating his interest in working with us on the release of Sthoopa.
Luxi: Musically, Sthoopa represents the heavy end in extreme Metal where crushing and distorted riffs are nicely combined with strong melodies. In some ways your Death Metal flirts a bit with such names as Bolt Thrower, Asphyx Demigod and Hail of Bullets. How did you determine Dhwesha's approach to Death Metal? Do those aforementioned names ring any bells when it comes to your personal influences in Dhwesha?
Somesha: The bands you mentioned, especially Bolt Thrower, Asphyx, Demigod and early Amorphis, are some of our prime influences. We love to keep it simple and straightforward but, like you mentioned, we do try and add our own twist to the songs and in the course of writing the album it has sort of developed into our own sound, if I may say so.
Luxi: Dhwesha means "hate" or "revenge" in your native language, Kannada. Did you want to pick a name that would describe your musical approach to extreme Metal, hence the name Dhwesha was chosen?
Somesha: Though the literal translation of Dhwesha is "revenge" or "hatred" in English, in the context that the word is used in our language Kannada, the meaning is at times more in line with the word "vengeance." The first song we wrote, "Yuddhabhumi" (translation: "Battlefield"), is about a warrior slicing through hordes of enemies to avenge his father's death and based on the theme of this song, the band was named Dhwesha.
Luxi: Dhwesha started out as a duo in early 2008. How easy or difficult was it to find Tushar (drums) to complete the band line-up? Was it the result of a long, hard search or did he basically appear out of nowhere to join Dhwesha?
Somesha: Well, we did take some time to find the right fit. We found Tushar after quite a search and after trying out a few drummers. But when we met him, it all fell into place as he already knew how to play one of our songs and he played it really well too.
Luxi: You have chosen to use your own language when performing your Death Metal. Why did choose your own local language? People in other countries may have a hard time understanding what you guys are singing about, as you can obviously imagine...
Somesha: Well, the idea of writing in Kannada started as an experiment. We were keen on writing about our history/mythology and we tried it with the title track of the demo Yuddhabhumi. It was received quite well among our friends who encouraged us to continue and eventually we realized that the lyrics being in Kannada fit quite well with our theme and the riffs of the songs. Also, some of these mythological stories we wrote about are ones we first heard in our native language as kids and it felt quite natural to write in the same language.
Luxi: As far as your lyrics are concerned you seem to have a huge interest in Indian medieval warfare, mythology and history. I appreciate the way you differentiate Dhwesha from other Death Metal bands by using those lyrical concepts related to your country's history. Would you kindly tell us a bit more about the lyrics on Sthoopa?
Somesha: The idea of writing about Indian history and mythology started when we visited some of the historical places like Hampi, Halebidu and Badami in the state of Karnataka (India) and this keen interest in medieval Indian history led to the formation of Dhwesha in the first place. India is extremely rich in terms of history but we started with what was the closest to us that being South Indian history and mythology.
Our song "Hoy! Sala" is about how the Hoysala Empire got its name that, according to the legend, talks of a sage who while meditating with his disciple Sala, was attacked by a lion. The sage called on his apprentice (Sala) to strike (Hoy!) the lion. "Ugra Narasimha" is based on the story from ancient Hindu scriptures of Hiranyakashipu, an "asura" (Demon) who seeks immortality and during his attempt to kill his son Prahlada for opposing him in his thirst for power, is decapitated by Narasimha, the half-human/half-lion avatar of Vishnu. These are stories a lot of people in our country are familiar with and as children grew up hearing/reading about. Magic and rituals have always been practiced in parts of India since ancient times. The song "Sabhe" is a generalized take on this subject about a coven of witches congregating in a forest around a ritual fire.
Luxi: What's the album's title, Sthoopa, all about?
Somesha: Sthoopa, in Kannada, translates to a pillar or a tower and that is what the album title track is about. Also, the mystical tower this track talks about is seen on the cover.
Luxi: Sthoopa has now been released both on CD and as a digital download. Do you have any plans to release it on vinyl for all the vinyl maniacs out there? How about a real old school cassette version of Sthoopa? Will that ever happen?
Somesha: Well, there were plans from Dunkelheit Produktionen to release it on vinyl. Maybe next year. Being Metal enthusiasts who love collecting tapes, we'd love to have it out on cassette as well.
Luxi: Do you have any plans for a promotional video to get more marketing power behind the released of your debut album?
Somesha: Well, there is already a short promo video of the album with clips from each song. Here it is; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nU-mP3dOfBw
Luxi: India has proved many times that Metal is doing well with all the Metal bands from that country. However, India is still often considered too far away from everything else and that's why people seem to have a hard time paying attention to your Metal scene properly. How could this situation be better from your point of view?
Somesha: There have always been a lot of bands starting out here but most of them are short lived. Only a handful of bands have stuck it out for years and are now touring internationally like Kryptos and also Bevar Sea, are playing Maryland Death Fest next year. However, the underground scene is getting stronger by the day. With fests like Trendslaughter Fest happening for the past four years, it's given us an opportunity to see a lot of underground bands from around the globe and in turn helped us spread the word of the underground scene/music here. There are a lot of promising bands coming up, especially from the city of Kolkata.
Luxi: Over the past few hours I myself have made some great discoveries from the Indian underground Metal scene. Infernal Wrath, Crypted, Fantom, Prestorika, Inner Sanctum and a few others are just a handful of names that made a positive impression on me while I was listening to them. In other words, no one really can deny your country's strong underground Metal scene; it's actually pretty amazing. I don't see any reason why you would disagree with me about this fact...
Somesha: Yes absolutely, it's only a matter of time now. In the next few years, you will be seeing a lot of quality Metal acts coming out of our country. Like I mentioned earlier, the city of Kolkata has some really young and brilliant bands with members who are extremely passionate about the music they play. The Indian bands we'd recommend checking out are Dying Embrace (primitive Doom/Death), Kryptos (Thrash), Bevar Sea (Stoner doom) and Shepherd (Sludge), all hailing from Bangalore. Necrodeity (Death Metal) and Armament (Thrash) are from Kolkata.
Luxi: Then again, many well-known bands come to India nowadays to play, which is a good thing. Just recently the Bangalore Open Air 2014 festival was held there on September 13th with bands like Germany's Thrash Metal pioneers Destruction and Greece's Rotting Christ making headlining appearances. Did you attend and how was this festival in your honest opinion?
Somesha: Yes, I did attend the show. Destruction destroyed the place! And Rotting Christ was amazing, too! It was organized and done well really. I hope they continue and get more bands.
Luxi: Are you happy with Dhwesha's gigging situation in your home country or do you think it could be better? Do you have to book your own gigs or do you have a booking agent?
Somesha: We are happy with the number of shows we play in our city. We like to give a good break in between shows so the crowd doesn't tire of seeing us, ha ha!! Most of the shows we play are organized by our friends.
Luxi: I am also kind of curious to know what some of the best places for metal gigs are in your area. How about in India overall?
Somesha: Well, there are no places/pubs in India where you could step right into a Metal gig at any point of time. Shows happen mostly in the cities of Bangalore, Mumbai and Kolkata.
Luxi: I came across this site called Headbangers India just a short while ago which seems to be a very good portal straight into the heart of the Indian Metal scene. One can find profiles of current Indian Metal bands including Dhwesha. Do you think Headbangers India covers the "hottest" Indian Metal or are there perhaps some other sites around the Internet that do it even better and more professionally?
Somesha: I think they do a pretty decent job at covering things pertaining to Indian Metal and events that happen around here. There are a few other sites as well like metalindiamagazine.com, though none are focused primarily at covering "underground" Metal exclusively, but they do try anyway.
Luxi: If we look into the future, now that Dhwesha's debut album has been released on Dunkelheit Produktionen, I would guess the label owner would like to see the band come to Europe for gigs someday. Has there been any talk about this yet?
Somesha: Well, it was something we did discuss with the label. Let's see if things work out. It'd be great to play in Europe sometime in the near future. Not only would playing in Europe be an experience in itself, we would to love to attend shows and hang out with the maniacs there!
Luxi: Are these some countries in particular where you personally would like to perform live with Dhwesha or would you be just happy if you got a chance to play outside your home country?
Somesha: At the moment, playing in Southeast Asian countries, like Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, and in the future in the European countries, especially Germany!
Luxi: Perhaps it's a bit too early to inquire yet but how much new material do you have ready for your second album? Have you already started writing for your next release?
Somesha: We do have a few riffs and parts for songs but it is going to take quite some time for us to finish writing enough material for the next album. Maybe in a few years; at this point we do not see any reason to rush into it at all.
Luxi: Naturally we all have goals and dreams that we would like to achieve at some point in our lives. What are some of your personal goals and dreams that you'd like to achieve with this band?
Somesha: To tour playing a series of shows across Europe and the US on a bill with bands that influenced us, ha ha!! Also, in the next couple of years, to try and play as many shows as possible in India's neighboring countries.
Luxi: That's it for now, I think. Thank you so much for your precious time spent talking to The Metal Crypt and I want to wish you all the best with Dhwesha in the future. May your path be full of pleasant surprises and gifts. Time for some closing comments, if you have any...
Somesha: Our gratitude to The Metal Crypt. Thank you very much for the support! Cheers!
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