A band like GUTSLIT, needs no introduction. One of the better known Brutal Death Metal bands from the Indian Metal circuit. We managed to catch up with the bassist and the only constant member of the band, Gurdip Singh Narang, who is popularly known as Brutal Sardar by his fans. Excerpts from the interview-
MJM. Hey Gurdip, thanks for taking time out to do this interview with us. Hope things are going good on your side.
Gurdip: Hey Harsha. Thank you for this opportunity and this interview. Things are great, Thank you! (Ending it short and sweet here because I know there are a dozen questions below that will sum up my reply).
MJM. Gutslit has been in the Indian Brutal Death Metal radar ever since it was formed. How do you think has this band, influenced you as a person over the years?
Gurdip: Having practically grown up with the band itself over the years, one thing I have learned is to be patient. Patient when it comes to people, music and everything related to the same. It has been a difficult journey from playing a genre never played before in the country and taking it to different countries. It has taught me how to work with people with different perceptions of music and life. It’s made me only stronger when appreciated and perseverant when criticized, to go beyond the usual.
MJM. How did you get into music initially? What interested you in the early years to pick up the bass?
Gurdip: Music happened when I started learning the guitar and one thing led to another. It started with my guitar tutor handing me some cassettes of his all-time favourite musicians and there was no looking back from there.
Having tried my hand on the guitar, for some reason the bass guitar intrigued me a lot and after saving up money for almost 6 months, I bought my first bass guitar. I later formed Gutslit and the rest is all history.
MJM. I have been a zealous fan of this band. What do you feel about this style of Death Metal in particular and its reception among the larger masses, at least in the early years?
Gurdip: Earlier years in India were bad. It was very difficult to even show people what you love and play. This genre for me is sheer love. It lets me speak my mind out. It lets me open up and execute all what I want and yet keeps me sane in real life. It’s a true form of expression of your aggression and issues that are present in the society, yet shied to be spoken about.
I’m happy that the larger mass is away from this. Cause its exclusivity is what makes it so special.
MJM. Who writes those sick lyrics? It’s dealt with murder, torture, gore, perversions and of course medical terminologies. How do you get those terms in place?
Gurdip: The lyrics for the last album had been written by me. Torture, Gore is all but part of the human nature and history. People have been tortured, executed, punished and made to go through everything possible all for either their selfish reasons or the unforgivable offence of the victim. Speaking about it, is all but reliving the glorious past of ingenious creations of weapons and torture devices.
There is so much love for pain in this world. There is so much that people want to do to make the other suffer and watching him go through the ordeal is all but entertainment that they are ready to pay for; With Wars. All fed by unimaginable amount of money and power.
Even today, the most powerful and feared person is the one who can hurt you the most, physically. We fear thieves, murderers, rapists and work hard to afford a system which empowers a few with guns and the right to protect you and we enjoy the sight of these people being beaten to death but when these armed saviours of humanity turn against us, we fear them too. Our brain just wants to kill these “pigs” of the society and watch them fall. It’s a vicious cycle and you are a part of it too.
We talk about it because we live in a world where we accept the present and embrace the future with a bullet proof vest.
MJM. Every Indian band that we know of have had their struggles, Gutslit has been through it too. How have you looked at the commercial domain of your music, keeping in mind the CDs/Merchandises etc? How difficult was it to sustain through it, considering quite a few merchandises were even printed/made abroad?
Gurdip: It’s a step at a time. Sometimes, you climb them smoothly, sometimes you fall down the stairs and start all over again. We are just balancing the same act since 8 years and trying to reach the top like everyone else. The difference with us is, we appreciate helping everyone around because the scene is made up of you and me together.
Commercially, we are doing enough to just make sure our music and merchandises reach people. At times, we have given them away for free. At times, we’ve sold them at just the cost price. We have been very particular with the quality. If we feel that any our merchandises aren’t up to the mark, we have quickly found other alternatives because whoever buys it, works equally hard to be able to afford it. We want their love and loyalty.
Printing merchandise abroad is for a reason. The quality then was difficult to achieve in India. Luckily we have found good sources here and next time we might give them a chance.
MJM. How hard was it to stick together as a band, even during the toughest of times? Besides, touring Europe and playing some prestigious festivals there is an achievement and a milestone in the band’s career.
Gurdip: It is the toughest thing. To keep the band together as a fist is the most difficult thing. It’s the real challenge. Music should come naturally and luckily for us, we love the genre, the zone and the whole experience it has to offer. What has kept me in it is this very love for the music. Rest everything is perishable.
Touring Europe was quite a challenge and playing festivals where they don’t even know where India is on the geographical map of the world was wonderful. They fell in love with the music and that’s what mattered to us. We just got invited to festivals and shows back to back and we successfully did the tour in 2015.
MJM. You have been the only constant member of the band. How did the alterations effect the band’s growth?
Gurdip: They hamper the growth a lot. More than anything, what truly affects is the vision. You grow with people in the band with a mindset and vision. When any one person leaves, the whole tempo and progression and the vision breaks. Something good on the other hand is that the new member who comes in, either adds something incredible to it or has a new thought process all together. The scary part is the stop in the flow of work and music. Music as I’ve said is something one feels and to be on the same wave length with the opposite person might take years.
MJM. What has been that lowest point of your life? How did you manage to get through it?
Gurdip: Every single time someone leaves; I feel like I’ve lost it all. I sit down with the broken pieces and try to mix and match it all in my head. I zone out from the scene and the music all together. I find it really difficult to understand how can people be so selfish and just walk away, leaving the others in the band in the middle of so much.
How I find my way out of it is simply by more music. Music is my saviour.
MJM. Brutal Death Metal has been well accepted among the USA, Indonesia and parts of South America as well. How do you see this popularity among vague regions? What’s your take on it? How different do you think is the Indian Death metal crowd?
Gurdip: Brutal Death Metal is a language. If you like it, you learn it. Be it USA, Europe or Indonesia.
India has been quite good at embracing this. Everything takes its time. Every language has a different dialect as per region. India has its own interpretation and version of Brutal Death Metal and Metal as a whole.
MJM. A lot of bands from the international shores too have spoken about the dipping CD sales/Merchs etc., and that fans prefer downloading them/streaming them rather than actually buying one’s music. What do you sense could be the reason behind it? How do you think would it affect the band’s career?
Gurdip: Physical CD sales are seeing their downfall just like cassettes and vinyl did. Then again, there are people who still prefer Vinyl, Cassettes or CDs over anything digital. It’s a big market out there. You just have to be smart how to place your music and who to market it too. Serious appreciators and collectors will buy your physical CDs over anything else, if they like it. Digital music has its own advantage. You reach more people thanks to digital media and somewhere even due to Piracy. Though you lose money because people don’t buy your music and support you directly, but then again if they like it, they might just show up at your show and you might just get a loyal fan out of that person.
For people who might not know, there are serious Bootleg collectors out there too. They buy only bootleg merchandise of the band. They are proud of it too.
MJM. Tell us about some of the most memorable shows you have played with Gutslit.
Gurdip: Might sound clichéd but every show is a memory in itself. Good days, bad days, good shows, bad shows, every show have its own charm. The crowd majorly makes up for a great show.
MJM. Do you listen to any Indian bands?
Gurdip: Yes and I’ve followed many of them around. Even been vocal about my liking and fan following towards them.
MJM. You were recently a part of the Blood and Roots tour. How was the experience of playing in the North East?
Gurdip: North East has been more difficult for me to plan than Europe as a whole. Even after all the flawless planning and execution, Nature played spoilt sport and ruined one of the two shows we were supposed to play but then again, it gives us more reasons to visit again and play a show in the North East.
North East is one of the most beautiful places in India and just the experience of being there is beautiful. I hope we can tour that part of India extensively.
MJM. The legendary Third Sovereign was also part of the tour and they released a new album recently through Transcending Obscurity. Did you get to listen to it?
Gurdip: Played it almost a dozen times when I got the CD as a gift from the band. I honestly love the band, its members and the music they make. They according to me have made the BEST Death Metal album by an Indian Band, ever.
It’s perfect in all its execution and composition. According to me, no Death Metal band from India can even touch their level of perfection in music.
MJM. A few remarks were made by the members of a couple of bands there, regarding the tour’s management. There were many speculations surrounding it. What exactly happened? Could you please enlighten us?
Gurdip: It was like a pack of cards. One falls and the whole castle comes falling down. Shit happens. They know better what happened.
We went, we played and we loved the response, reception and the hospitality.
MJM. From your view point, what do you believe could be the problems of pulling of an actual full fledged tour, for a metal band in India?
Gurdip: Logistics, how far our cities are and the costs involved in commuting between them. In places like Europe, one can cover 6-8 countries by travelling a total of 3000 kilometres and commute between cities and countries at a nonstop speed.
Major metal appreciating Indian cities are far away from each other and our highways aren’t reliable. Flights are expensive and one just ends up wasting days in between transit. Every stop over costs either the organizer or the band.
Listen to Scaphism instrumental here-
MJM. Finally, any last words for our readers and the Gutslit fans?
Gurdip: Stick to your guns and chainsaws and fight your battle the real way. Believe in your dream and work every day on it. I will be there to support you always.
MJM. Thanks for your time and speaking frankly Gurdip! Good luck with your endeavours!
Gurdip: Thank you so much.
All picture by- Rafal Kotylak
Connect with the band-
Harsha Vardhan (Metaljesus Magazine– Owner/Chief Editor)