Rudra is a Vedic Metal band hailing from Singapore formed in 1992. The band released its critically acclaimed self titled debut album in 1998. We recently had a chat with band, here it is :
MJ: For people who don’t know you, introduce yourself and what you do in the band?
Kathir: I am Kathir I play the bass, do the vocals and write the lyrics.
Vinod: I am Vinod and I play the guitars.
Simon: I am Simon and I play the guitars.
MJ: Your music incorporates black metal along with death, how did you guys come up with your signature sound ?
Kathir: Our signature sound lies in writing black and death metal with a cultural influence to it. We do spend a great deal of time writing riffs that incorporate unique drone riff patterns that replicate the indian classical string instruments and ragas.
MJ: Lyrically your inspired by Sanskrit, philosophy and ancient mantras , what was the idea behind doing so?
Kathir: I think we do this because we are genuinely interested in the sanskrit corpus, especially the philosophical ones. I personally take interest in the philosophical literature on Advaita Vedanta. Almost all of Rudra’s songs take inspiration from Advaita Vedanta literature. Only the last album ‘RTA’ was a departure from the usual where we took off to explore the sanskrit epic Ramayana.
MJ: How is Rudra different from all the other metal bands out there? What defines you ?
Kathir: The fact that we write a unique form of metal music and lyrics surrounding Advaita Vedanta. The other thing is that we represent whatever we do with authenticity. It is not that other bands don’t but that fact that we are quite particular about what we write and what we do. Cognitive dissonance is not a pleasant thing at least for me.
Vinod: To add on to what Kathir mentioned, we do heavily compose our riffs with various indian scales and we greatly utilize a ‘droning’ guitar riffing style which give that signature sound of ours. The droning picking pattern replicates the tanpura instrument.
MJ: Do you guys have any warm up routines?
Kathir: No, I don’t.
Vinod: Usually 2 weeks prior the show, I would frequently go for runs just to stay fit on stage and not tire too easily. And generally I would create a playlist on my iPhone with the set list order and be listening to the songs for at least a week before the show just to keep myself familiarized.
Simon: Apart from constantly playing the setlist on my Phone, I would also do mental practice on the songs everyday even while lying in bed.
Also, Coffee and/or any energy drinks is a must just before hitting the stage.
MJ: Explain briefly the early days and the formation of the band.
Kathir: Rudra’s early days go back to 1991 where the band was formed in a local polytechnic. I met Shiva there while studying and that led to the birth of Rudra. One thing that connected both of us was that we were big fans of Motley Crue. ha ha .
MJ: If a statue were to be made of you , what would be your signature pose ?
Kathir: Sporting the Cinmudra.
Vinod: I would like just a casual pose, cross-legged. Just like that classic photo of Al-Pacino as the God Father, sitting on the sofa.
Simon: Doing the Sign of the Horns. \m/
MJ: In August 2010, Rudra headlined the first day of Baybeats , an annual 3-day alternative music festival, held in Singapore. This was probably one of the rarest moments in history where an Extreme Metal band headlines a non-metal music festival, your thoughts on that gig and how it came about?
Kathir: Yes when we were invited we were thrilled and at the same time apprehensive. We were wondering if we would be accepted in an indie festival known to be one of the biggest in South East Asia. Surprisingly it went down well and we did rock the stage and the audience.
Vinod: We were excited and at the same time, didn’t know how the non-rock/metal audience would react to band with loud and heavy music and a vocalist that sounded like a monster. As we were on stage, shorty did we realize that the ground was fully packed and the crowd was full of support. It was heart-warming when some from the crowd approached us after the show telling it was their first time at a metal show and enjoyed it. The experience was simply amazing.
MJ: There was a change in the song writing process In Brahmavidya: Primordial I, which aimed towards pure black metal. What was the though process while writing the album and the Brahmavidya trilogy ?
Kathir: I don’t see it as pure black metal. To me pure black metal is the defining sounds of early Emperor, Bathory, Enslaved, Mayhem and Marduk etc. But we were rather an amalgamation of both Black and Death metal. And I don’t think we consciously choose a genre to write the album. It just flowed when we wrote the songs. But I must say that Primordial I is definitely a leap from Kurukshetra in terms of a strong theme and song diversity.
MJ: What does this band mean to you?
Kathir: A serious note in mundane life.
Vinod: Just like how my limbs are important to me to function with my everyday life, the band is as important. Without the band, I probably have to find new meaning in life.
Simon: It breathes within me.
Music Video for Hymns from the Blazing Chariot:
MJ: Thoughts on Vedic metal as a genre?
Kathir: I am glad to see this genre growing with new bands on board like Dying Out Flame, Purvaja, Kartikeya, Aryadeva, Bhairav and others.
MJ: What would be your dream stage?
Kathir: None. I dislike playing shows and touring. The best part of live shows is meeting fans of the band. That’s the high point for me where I get to thank people who have supported Rudra.
Vinod: Wacken, Bloodstock or Maryland Deathfest. It’s always been a dream since the day I picked up the guitar, to play on one of those main stages for a major metal music festival.
Simon: I dream of any and every stage. I love playing shows.
MJ: Biggest misconception of the band?
Kathir: That we are Indian NRIs.
Vinod: We are full-time musicians. I wished that was the case, sadly we have our own businesses/day jobs to support ourselves and family.
MJ: Your funeral song and what would you like to be written on your tombstone ?
Kathir: I do not care about what happens after death. I am not sure if I could listen to the funeral tunes as my body lies still and useless. And no tombstones please. Feed my body to the five elements.
Vinod: If the ‘Dead can dance’, then The Godfather’s theme music for the funeral. I’d rather be cremated. I would like my body to be returned and part of earth.
Simon: ‘With Strength I Burn’ – Emperor. My body shall return to where it belongs. “Finally Free” may be something that might be written but I doubt I would want a Tombstone.
MJ: When can we hear a new RUDRA record?
Kathir: We plan to release the new album in the 2nd quarter of 2016.
Vinod: We’re currently in the process on recording the 8th album. Drum recording is currently completed and guitars are about to commence in Nov end, 2015.
MJ: Any upcoming tour updates or any news from the band camp?
Kathir: We hope to start touring again right after the new album release.
Vinod: We’ve put shows aside to concentrate on the album recording. We’re targeting to tour Europe and North America after the release of the 8th album.
Interviewed by Ab Verma (MetalJesus Magazine)