Monday, February 3, 2014

Interview with Dr.Hex of Albatross


Dynamic,Powerful and Relentless -That's how one can describe Albatross's music. From 2008, these guys have been delivering a perfect amalgamation of thrash, heavy and doom metal which they have bracketed into their own genre-"horror metal". Come Thrashfest, these guys are all ready to deliver their unrelenting talent and energy upon the stage again
Metal Gallows talks to their founder and bassist Dr.Hex ahead of Thrashfest, about their plans and their future, as well as the gig.

MG:First of all,Albatross has had a great year.You guys have played at cities you’ve never been to,and also crossed borders to Australia.What do you expect of 2014?

Dr. Hex: Hey. Thank you for taking the time to interview us.

It’ll be very hard to top 2013, which was the best musical year of my decade long career. 2014’s already begun on a great note with a headlining show at IIT-BHU, Varanasi. We have Thrashfest lined up for February, and it promises to be a truly explosive lineup. The highlight for the year is definitely the album release, and 'Fear From the Skies' comprises of some of our most exciting, adventurous and explosive songwriting. Vignesh, Nishith and Jay are pushing me to play till my hands start aching, and Biprorshee’s really come into his own and become a vocalist with his own distinct style. So there’ll definitely be a tour to launch the album, and we hope to hit cities we’ve not been to, such as Delhi and Ahmedabad this time round. Promoters who’re reading this…please consider us for your fest!

There’s a special gig planned for March, on the outskirts of Mumbai…but more on that some other time. Keep checking our Facebook page for more details.

MG: So, going back to basics, what is the basic fundamental idea that makes Albatross i.e. how would you explain the band, the music and the ideology to someone who’s never heard of you guys?

Dr. Hex: Haha, our only ideology is that there’s no ideology, in the literal sense of the word. Our songs are rooted in horror stories, without only one message…be scared! It’s entertainment for entertainment’s sake. If you like heavy metal that is a little off kilter, such as King Diamond, Hell, Wolf, Manilla Road, Nevermore, or even Death…if you like soaring vocals, blistering lead guitars, masked bassists and topless drummers (and hopefully read the lyrics), chances are you’ll like our music.

MG: Both your releases,The Kissing Flies and Dinner is You,are  concept releases which follow independednt storylines.What about your new album,Fear from The Skies? Another independent concept? If so,can you please  give us a small synopsis of the storyline?

Dr. Hex: There are 3 stories in the album, spread across 7 songs. The first is based on a story I wrote, of which ‘In the Lair of Dr. Hex’ is the first song. If you’ve checked the song out (http://transcendingobscurityindia.bandcamp.com/album/fear-from-the-skies), it’s about Dr. Hex hard at work in his laboratory, at the end of a rebellion, creating a winged monster. The second story was written by our drummer Jay, and is far more classic horror, than the fantasy tinged story I’d written. If you’ve heard ‘Children of the Cloud’ from our live set; the song is the final track of that story. This one features a clown too, so one must wonder if it’s children of the cloud, or of the clown. The third is the only non original concept for a song we’ll partake in, because it’s written by one of my favourite writers- Mr. Jeff Vandermeer and it’s the most chilling part of his novel- Veniss Underground. It’s a love story mixed with…well a lot of gangrene, severed limbs and children plucking eyeballs. Jeff loved Kissing Flies, and gave us authority to use any of his stories to make into a metal song. Of course, the opportunity was too good to resist, since Raptorsville is derived to a certain level from Ambergris, his fictional town.

MG: For Dinner is You to Kissing Flies, you’ve,a distinct change in songwriting and song structure is to be observed. The latest split seems to be more urgent,fast paced and also some death metal riffs (and growls) and even a subtle black metal influence is observed. Is that due to the change in lineup or a shift in thought?

Dr. Hex: Well, every story borrows from the story it’s written around. But yes, changes in lineup (Shrikant, one of the best guitarists I’ve played with, making way for Nishith, the best guitarist in the world) and shifts in thought (making a split with Vestal Claret leading to a doomier sound) had a lot to do with it. I still believe Bipro doesn’t know 80% of the stuff he is capable of doing vocally, as schizophrenic as he sounds on our releases. He’s played a cannibal with a laughing disorder, a terrorized man who’s escaping a town infested with flies, and even a crazed Dr. Hex in the new single. He’s always claimed that he could never pull off a Halford-esque scream, which is why we cover a song like Night Crawler live, as opposed to something more demanding vocally such as say, ‘Rock Hard. Ride Free’. But when he was introducing 'Night Crawler' in Varanasi, he introduced the song in a note perfect Halford falsetto imitation, which left me stunned. Vignesh and Nishith are as different as chalk and cheese. Nishith’s riffs are dripping with testosterone, and Vignesh is more eccentric and contemplative. In ‘In the Lair of Dr. Hex’, the initial heavy metal bit was written by Nishith, and Vignesh wrote the more soulful end. Each soloed on the other’s parts. Together, these two are breaking new barriers in speed everyday, and yet I can hum each and every note of their guitar solos. Jay is innovation personified, and because of his highly progressive background, his ideas are not conventional at all. He puts in a lot of hard work and practice everyday, and is achieving a deadly mix of precision and innovation, with each passing day. It’s a lot of fun to write music with this lineup, and every new song is better than the last. This is what Albatross is…a bunch of folks who make music that surprises even us every subsequent week. Many people were disappointed that the song wasn’t a hard rocking number like 'Uncle Sunny at the Tavern'. Well, the subsequent songs won’t sound anything like ‘Uncle Sunny At the Tavern’, or even for that matter ‘In the Lair of Dr. Hex’.

MG: Going back to Thrashfest, some scene patrons(for the want of a better word) are complaining that Albatross, not being “pure thrash” and all,should not be playing at the Thrashfest. What’s your take on that?

Dr. Hex: That is the first thing I told Kunal, when he booked us. He told me it’s a thrash + heavy metal lineup, and we’d be perfect for it. To be quite honest, every band on the bill is a friend and all it’s going to be is a huge party. I don’t think any band, except for maybe Chaos and Deadbolt fit the pure thrash genre anyway. If anyone reading this doesn’t want to catch Albatross because we’re not their definition of ‘actinglikeamaniacwhiplash’ thrash, I’d recommend Akshay Bar across the street, or if they’re feeling affluent, Sheetal Grill right next door. Their starters are excellent.

MG: Thrashfest is certainly your first 2014 gig in Mumbai. Any surprises that we should look forward to?

Dr. Hex: During our third song, Kunal Choksi will do a somersault. We’ll do 3 covers, and hopefully have time for 3 originals too. 3 3 3, the number of Choksi!

MG: A message for all your fans please, particularly the ones attending Thrashfest

Dr. Hex: Thank you for all your support. We had an unbelievable 2013, and it was all thanks to you Albatross fans, friends and supporters across the world. Wherever we’ve gone, we’ve been greeted by metalheads in Albatross tshirts, asking us to sign their CDs. Thank you for everything. See you at Thrashfest, where we are going to have the party of our lives! Make sure to wear an Albatross tshirt or cap or a labcoat, because that’s going to spur us on to kick some serious ass. Stay evil! 

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