Speaking to one of India’s most familiar front man Sahil ‘Demonstealer’ Makhija of his upcoming shows, his band Demonic Resurrection, his solo project Demonstealer and lots more about the Indie scene-
MJM. 15 years and going strong as ever. What keeps you motivated so much?
DS: My absolute undying love and passion for metal music. I honestly could not ever imagine not being a metal musician or playing music with DR.
MJM. You played in Domination- The Death Fest back in 2000 (First edition) with ‘Demonic Resurrection’ as an opening band. Now you return to the seventh edition as the headlining band. How does it feel now?
DS: It feels great and it’s amazing to see the festival make a comeback as well. The first edition of Deathfest was a really a really memorable gig and even though DR had some hilarious mistakes at our show the festival vibe was amazing and it was the first time I think I met Kryptos and Threinody and it was a really nice brotherhood of metal vibe. It does bring a smile to my face to recall being the first band on the bill back in 2000 and now headlining the same festival.
MJM. You are a well known ESP guitars endorser. What is it that keeps you hooked on to it ?
DS: I remember being a big fan of BC Rich guitars for the longest time and I was positively geared towards buying a Warlock guitar till I stumbled on the ESP website and found the AX series. No one was selling ESP in India at that time but I knew I had to have that guitar and so through a friend of a friend I managed to get my first ESP in 2005 the AX-400. Needless to say I fell in love with the brand and when I joined Furtados in 2006 I spoke to my boss and convinced him to start importing ESP Guitars. In 2007/2008 I was signed on as an ESP artist and it was like a dream come true for me. The truth is I love the guitars they make. It’s just that simple. Nothing else works for me.
MJM. DR released ‘The Demon King’ last year and received great reviews from all over. Infact, it was pretty much different from the ‘Darkness Trilogy’. What was the concept behind ‘The Demon King’?
DS: We initially started with an idea of telling the story of Ravan from his own perspective, this was the idea suggested by Mephisto along with the titled ‘The Demon King’ but I wanted to write my own story. So the story very vaguely is about the resurrection of The Demon King and how that disrupts the balance of good and evil in the world which forces God who is a silent spectator normally to intervene and of course the album ends with an epic battle between God and the Demon King and I’ll leave people to read the lyrics and find out the ending.
MJM. Any possibilities of a trilogy to the last album or is it one of a kind?
DS: To be honest the trilogy was never planned and while we did leave room at the end of this album as well to have a follow up it’s just a standalone album for now.
MJM. Personally, I loved the artworks for the last album. What is the first and foremost thing a band needs to keep in mind while they work on new materials, with respect to artworks or presentations etc.,?
DS: I don’t know about other bands but for us artwork plays a very important part and that is why we work with someone as talented as Michal Xaay. We kind of have a visual idea to represent our music and then we speak to him and he creates these masterpieces.
MJM. If you compare how the scene was in India, when DR started initially to how it is now. What is the most striking change you see today?
DS: The fact that people form bands to write their own music instead of playing their favorite covers.
MJM. A lot of Indian bands, have taken a bold step of writing and selfproducing a full length album. What ways do you think would be advisable for bands to release their material ?
DS: I think these days it’s best to release it digitally with a few limited edition physical copies for diehard fans.
MJM. On a more positive aspect, we do have a lot of young and talented organizers/promoters who are involved with gigs throughout. But honestly, India does lack proper infrastructures for ‘Touring Agencies’ involving bands, like how it’s in the west. What do you think could be the reason behind it?
DS: Wow! I would take 2 hours to answer this and cram in all the information I have. Well for starters going to concerts is an activity that is fairly new to India; it’s not part of the normal lifestyle in most cities. The average age and spending ability of metal heads in India isn’t conducive for business and therefore you have no ‘metal’ venues. It’s only a matter of time perhaps but once going to concerts becomes a regular thing in tier 3 and 4 cities then you have audience. Once you have an audience you will find things changing and when that audience has disposable income you will find even better changes. This is why the ‘indie’ scene has developed faster than the metal scene because the audience there is older and has better spending power. It explains why most venues have indie gigs through the week and allow 1 metal night on a Sunday once a month or something like that.
MJM. It’s not just lack of actual touring agencies but we also don’t have many indigenous record labels except for 2-3 very active ones currently, which naturally forces many Indian bands to hunt foreign labels. Do you think, ‘self-release’ is a safer and profitable way for bands to release material?
DS: Self release is better. The thing is the record industry has collapsed and because India was still growing a dying industry will never take off in a new country. So while there are some nice underground labels in India for metal for the large part the whole industry is moving to direct fan to artist relationships with crowd funding, digital platforms like bandcamp and so on and so forth.
MJM. Let’s talk about your upcoming solo album (Demonstealer). How is it coming up?
DS: The album is shaping up nicely, it’s very different from the DR stuff, and it’s a lot more melodic. Also George Kollias is playing drums and it’s a lot slower than the stuff he plays normally so it’s going to be very interesting.
MJM. When is it due?
DS: I hope to have it out by June this year.
MJM. DR toured UK last year, played some major metal festivals too. What’s in store for DR in the coming days on the international level?
DS: We’re playing Metaldays in Slovenia this year and Brutal Assault in Czech Republic. We’re also trying to book some more dates while we are there which we will announce when we have some info on hand.
MJM. You also did the ‘Resurrection Festival’ a few years ago in India. Any plans to revive it?
DS: We did the festival mainly because there was nothing else at the time. Now there are many festivals and organizers so we are happy to just focus on making music and touring and leaving this aspect to someone who is in the business.
MJM. What are the other shows DR has in India ?
DS: We’ve got a gig in Mumbai on 23rd April, Bangalore 26th April and possibly something in Indore on 24th May.
MJM. Let’s get back to ‘Domination- The Death Fest – Hyderabad – 2015. What’s your setlist going to be like?
DS: We’re going to do a set that consists of songs spanning our 15 year career so this will definitely be fun.
MJM. Really wish you the very best Sahil! Thanks for taking time with us!
DS: My pleasure.
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Harsha Vardhan (Metaljesus Magazine– Chief Editor)