Almost a decade old in the Indian metal scene, this Death/Thrash metal band Inner Sanctum has managed to cross so many boundaries over the years and now standing as one of the most sought out bands in India. Here’s an exclusive interview with the guitarist Chintan Chinnappa.
MJM. Hello Chintan! How are things going in the ‘Inner Sanctum’ camp?
Chintan: A lot brewing in the Inner Sanctum camp. All of us are working really hard to ensure that we meet the deadlines we have set for each other. Plenty of shows, a full fledged tour to Europe and our new album. Quite choc a block.
MJM. Starting back in 2006, having won so many awards and opening for bands like Cradle of Filth, Metallica, Slayer and headlining quite a few festivals within the initial 5-6 years. How did you guys manage to pull off a huge feat in such a short duration?
Chintan: I think it’s a combination of making the right decisions and being at the right place at the right time.
MJM. Lets start with ‘Provenance’ which was your debut 4 track EP. Tell us about how it happened and your early times as a band.
Chintan: Well Provenance was a product of necessity. We had a lot of good tracks that we constantly played live but we had nothing that the fans could take back home. It was something that bugged us for years. So with the money we saved up by winning competitions and playing small clubs, we recorded and released Provenance. Though the finances were from great we collectively felt that anything that comes out of the Inner Sanctum camp should have the stamp of quality and there can be no room for compromise. Honestly, It was unheard of back then for local bands to commission engineers abroad for mixing and mastering and we felt that though it was an expensive affair we’d rather delay the release than put out something that wasn’t stellar. So we got Lasse Lammert on board and he gave us the Inner Sanctum sound that we were looking for. Six years hence and I am still very proud of the way Provenance turned out.
MJM. How does the songwriting process take place ?
Chintan: The tracks on Provenance were mostly written by me. A few of them i wrote even before the band was formed, at home and with programmed drums (though I must add that the drums on Provenance are ‘live’). The guys learnt or modified their respective parts and we performed them live.
Post Provenance, the songwriting process has moved from my home to the jam room. Abhinav and I usually work on songs together and once we have something that we like we show it to the rest and fine tune the entire track. The vocal parts are usually written once the riffs and the beats are finalized. We work together on the vocal delivery and style and Gaurav pens down the lyrics.
MJM. What techniques do you think young aspiring guitarists should do to improve their playing skills?
Chintan: The standards are so much higher these days! The modern guitarist is so overburdened with information that sometimes guitarists get stuck in the pursuit of perfection. I believe that the guitar is an instrument of expression and though technique/theory is important, a good guitarist is one who can not only play but also write. You can sharpen your playing skills via the internet and books etc but your writing skills will develop only when you jam with better musicians and you play to write complete songs and not just parts.
MJM. Any warm up routines you normally follow?
Chintan: None actually! I just need to play a couple of songs that we have on the set list just to wake my fingers and wrist up. Most often than not I just get on stage, plug in my guitar and play. No issues whatsoever! But that’s not case with my neck and back. Inner Sanctum shows are intense and are far more taxing on the neck and the back so I religiously do my stretching and warm up exercises.
MJM. So you guys played the Big69 festival recently. How was experience?
Chintan: Mumbai rarely has massive rock shows and metal festivals. For a long time it was just Independence Rock, Livewire and a few others. Big69 seems to be bringing about a change! An NH7 esque festival for metal bands is just perfect. Excellent production, a great crew and good bands. Enough said!
MJM. And you are also announced for ‘Inferno Metal Festival’, Norway 2015. Congratulations on the new feat. What are you looking forward to with it?
Chintan: Thank you! Inferno happened to us at the right time! With our new album releasing a few weeks before the event we expect Inferno to work out extremely well for us. I am quite confident that we will be able to give Norway a nice peek into what the Indian metal scene has to offer. Hopefully, other bigger festivals will follow suit and extend their support to Indian bands.
MJM. A new ‘Inner Sanctum’ video has been launched this week. Brief us about that.
Chintan: We’ve released a lyric video for one of our tracks, Wake of Destruction off the new album “Legions Awake”. Though the theme behind the video was conceptualised by us, the visuals were created by Igor Omodei from Uneven Structure, the French progressive metal band. He has incorporated the artwork that we have in our album with his own visuals and its just gorgeous! We have been very fortunate to be able to get Igor to work with us. He has worked with major record labels such as Basick Records, bands such as Xerath, Escape the Cult, The Dali Thundering Concept etc. Watch our new video here- Inner Sanctum- Wake of Destruction (Official Lyric Video)
MJM. Is there anything new you have tried with the new upcoming album? In terms of sound or anything of sorts.
Chintan: Unlike most death/thrash metal albums where the music drives the song and the vocals just add a different dimension, we have made a conscious effort to ensure that the vocals drive the tracks as much as the music. Fans can expect plenty of metal anthems in the new album. In terms of sound we have never had to worry because we have Lasse Lammert (LSD Studios) on our side and he sorts us out! Unlike Provenance, Lasse Lammert has been involved at the tracking stage itself. We flew him down to Bangalore just so that he gets exactly what he wants in terms of raw tracks. Its likely to release in April/May-2015.
MJM. How are you guys planning to release the new album?
Chintan: We are still in talks with a few people as to the method of release. Lets see how it pans out.
MJM. So what gears do you guys use/endorse?
Chintan: Inner Sanctum presently endorses Schecter India (Guitars), Ibanez India (Basses), Dark Glass Electronics, String Stretcha, Mono Guitar Cases, Intune Guitar Plectrums, Spectraflex Cables, Soultone Cymbals, to name a few.
MJM. ‘Inner Sanctum’ had a brief European tour in 2013. Any major tours this upcoming year?
Chintan: We are doing a European Tour around the Inferno Metal Festival, Norway. The dates have not yet been finalized but this time around it is going to be at least a month long.
MJM. Sounds exciting! What would be that dream stage, you would love to take?
Chintan: Wacken Open Air, Main stage, Headliner.
MJM. On a whole, how do you see the transition among the young Indian Metal scene?
Chintan: I am not too sure what transition you are referring to here but if you mean growth then I think the scene is improving by leaps and bounds. Metalheads are maturing in terms of their musical tastes and needs and this had led to a demand for tighter bands, better sound and stage act. It helps the better bands get noticed.
MJM. What advice would you like to give young bands?
Chintan: Have patience! Rome wasn’t built in a day. If you stick to what you are doing and you are good at what you do you will definitely find some amount of success.
MJM. Well, I had a good time talking to you Chintan! I wish you and Inner Sanctum the very best for the years to come!
Chintan: Thank You.
Harsha Vardhan (Metaljesus Magazine– Owner/Chief Editor)