You there, playing your guitar or drums and you there, screaming out your lungs – give this interview a very careful read because we have the bassist of Chronic Xorn, Angshuman Majumder in a frank conversation discussing the positives and negatives of the current Kolkata Metal Scene. We tap into his past to get you connected with the time when Angshuman started fresh, with a dream to make metal music, focus on where he is today and discuss how metal music culture in this town developed over the years.
A large part of the discussion is aimed at helping startup bands and semi-established musical outfits of our city. We discuss how to develop a band over a period of time and place it on the path to success, what to avoid and why. The advice is free to read, so do give some thought to what an experienced metal musician has to say. Whether you follow the advice or find your own way, is totally up to you and we wish you all the success either way.
● Angshuman’s Moments ●
So, without further ado, here we have Angshuman Majumder from Chronic Xorn in a short conversation exploring his love for death metal music, Kolkata Deathfest and sharing some free tips to help you out!
BongRong: How did you find Metal music?
Angshuman: Well, I have been listening to Metal music since I was 11…
BongRong: Since 11?
Angshuman: My elder brother used to listen to English music and the 1st rock track I heard when I was 7-8 years old…
BongRong: What artist? Do you remember?
Angshuman: Yeah, yeah…Deep Purple. But I got into heavier stuff like Metallica, Iron Maiden when I turned 11-12. When I entered the scene, I was 16-17 actually. So back then loads of new metal bands were forming in the city. Amavasya, Nitric Dreams, Crystal and the Witches. So a personal interest grew – I wanted to play Metal.
Back then we used have 1 or 2 shows in a year and I used to go to those gigs and soon after, Chronic Xorn happened. I was 18.
BongRong: What do you think about the current Metal scene of Kolkata?
Angshuman: I look at it with a very positive approach. In 2009-10 the frequency of metal gigs in Kolkata increased exponentially than what it was like when I was just entering the scene. Now we have good bands from foreign countries coming here and playing. Like Megadeth will be playing in NH7, Funerus will be coming from US to play in KDF2 (Kolkata Death Fest 2), we hosted Defiled from Japan in KDF last year; loads of international bands, which we never thought we would see in Kolkata, are actually being seen in Kolkata.
The whole thing is really positive for me. Because, I went to gigs with 10 people and now I go to gigs with a thousand people in Kolkata. Even look at the ticketing – people are giving out 200,300 bucks to attend a gig.
BongRong: As a musician, what’s your mantra for success?
Angshuman: You have to do it man! At least for 4-5 years you have to do all the things that are required to make your band successful. If you stick to it for 4-5 years, people will start taking interest in you.
Honestly speaking, there are 20-30 bands starting out around the same time your band starts and you can’t really expect your band to flourish first. There are already established and semi-established bands ahead of you. So, you have put in a lot of work. You have to constantly work for 4 to 5 years to reach somewhere.
BongRong: Apart from music, is there anything a band should focus on?
Angshuman: Yeah. Promotion is one thing a band needs to concentrate on. Because I don’t see bands doing their PR well.
Aaa…one more thing. Metal bands should stop going to crappy band competitions. In maximum cases, the judges have a mental blockage regarding Metal. They haven’t listened to extreme or modern metal. So, you don’t win and frustration starts developing. Go to big band competitions where you get good PR. Apart from that you should organize your own gigs and that is very important. A band which is there for 3-4 years should try to do at least 6 gigs a year. I would suggest, rather that saving money to participate in a band competition, you should go to play a gig. Like, I don’t want anything; I am coming to play on your show on my own. That actually gives you more exposure than a band competition. What would you achieve by winning a pointless band competition?
BongRong: What do you see as the biggest problem with today’s musicians of Kolkata?
Angshuman: Trying to achieve something really fast. They want to insta-everything. Things don’t happen that easy. You have to tactfully plan your ways and constantly work for a minimum of 3 to 4 years.
The main problem is people think if they can play some good song from a good band, they are as good as them. That’s really not the case. Anybody can play a cover. Can you make a composition like that? No!
If you want your composition to reach that level, you need the musical maturity of your band to be at least 3 to 4 years. Say, I am a good bass player and I can supposedly cover Hammer Smashed Face by Cannibal Corpse. But I cannot make a song like that. To create that Cannibal Corpse needed at least 10 years. Most people don’t see those 10 years, they just do the cover. I think this creates a problem.
BongRong: We have seen bands going through lineup changes constantly and in most cases , it’s due to ego problem. Someone thinks he is the best musician in the band and all hell breaks loose. What do you think?
Angshuman: I will put it this way – If you look at a football jersey, the logo comes in the front and the name comes at the back. So, what the logo represents is more important than what is written at the back. The band is more important than the musicians. If you want to be a solo player, that is something very different. When you are playing in a band, the logo matters more than your name at the back and your band is the logo here. So don’t think you are superior to others because you are a better musician.
Today a lot less people probably would have known about Dimebag Darrell if Pantera didn’t exist. Zack Wylde started his career from Ozzy Osbourne; that’s where he started becoming famous as a musician. The name James Hetfield is smaller than Metallica. Your thought process needs to give your band the first priority.
BongRong: Guys who are forming new bands, what should be their first step?
Angshuman: Practice! Make at least two compositions and keep on practicing. The more you practice the more you understand where you need to make changes to get better. Generally, the first composition is never really good. It happened with Spinal Tap, but won’t happen with everyone.
So, as you keep on practicing and compose your 3rd, 4th songs, that will be good. But, to achieve that, you need self-practice and to practice with your band constantly with the first two compositions. Or your 3rd and 4th track will be worse than the first two. You need to understand that just because you have composed a song, it’s not the best song in the world. So practice 9-10 hours together in a week and self practice as much as you can.
If you are listening to international bands and trying to emulate those things, you will have to be as good as them. May be not right now, but you have to try to be. You can’t just aim for the moon, you have to do the work to get there.
BongRong: What’s the biggest problem you see in upcoming Kolkata bands?
Angshuman: The major problem is that they don’t see the band as their day job. If you are serious, you have to take it as a job.
Apart from self-practice we practice together at least three days a week. That’s when we don’t have a gig. We take two one month breaks in a year and we don’t practice together that time. It’s like a holiday for us but during that time also we compose, do PR, establish contacts, do music videos, make live footages. We don’t practice then but we still do loads of things which are required and related to Chronic Xorn.
So, until you get to that level of professionalism, you will be in trouble.
BongRong: According to you, what is the rule of thumb to keep the chemistry alive in a band?
Angshuman: Firstly, if you are doping, always stay within the limit. Because most of the problems starts within a band after you dope. When you get too high you talk shit and hurt your people. He is your bandmate, not your brother. You can’t say anything you want.
Secondly, there should never be women problems within the band which happens in a lot of bands. Sounds pretty lame but I have actually seen this happening!
Thirdly, you have to have the approach that you are a part of the team and you are working with people. Your band is not your personal property. If you are having some problem with someone in the band, you need to sort it out within yourselves. You should not create a permanent problem. But if you are the one who is the problem for your other bandmates, you need to sort yourself out.
Most important thing of all, you have to keep on making things happen. EP’s, gigs and whatever strategy you have for your band, you have to constantly chase it.
BongRong: Kolkata Deathfest, what’s so special about this particular event?
Angshuman: Well, Chronic Xorn was a death metal band when we started out. Then, we had lineup changes and people from other influences got into the band. So our music went more towards Melodic Death Metal or Groove Metal style and we are right now playing a completely different sound than what we started with.
But the first extreme metal genre I listened to was Death Metal and it has always influenced me as a musician and that’s one genre I am always into.
I grew up listening to Death Metal, especially Cannibal Corpse, Obituary, Carcass – all these bands. So, personally, death metal plays a very vital role for me. Thrash metal and Death Metal are the two primary genres that influence me most as a musician.
I found out from Samit that he wants to do a Death Metal gig and I was like, “Ok, man. I will help you out with what I can.” That’s how KDF started.
See, there are loads of metal fests happening where mix genre bands are playing. In the eastern zone, at least Kolkata Deathfest is the only festival where bands with the Death Metal tag get to play. So, it’s very special to me.
BongRong: Thank you for your time Angshuman and we will see you at the next edition of Kolkata Death Fest.
# Angshuman is endorsed by ESP Guitars & Basses #
– disclaimer –
Photos used in this article were provided by Angshuman Majumdar. The copyright of each photograph stays with the individual photographer. If any photographer wants their name to be mentioned contact us immediately.