It was like a marriage when you dont feel like seeing each others face for a while. This is how Cyrus Gorimar,the drummer of Indias foremost metal band Brahma,explains their three-year hiatus. Having focussed on their individual lives for a few years,the band will have their first multi-city tour this month after their reunion in 2011 at the 26th Independence Rock in Mumbai. Since then,they have spent their time writing new material,some of which,their fans will hear at their gigs this month at Opus,Bangalore,on April 20,and Blue Frog,Mumbai,on April 29.
Interestingly,both these concerts will be entirely unplugged sets. Therefore,a heavy metal band thats known for their typically loud sound,will play a two-hour set with box guitars as opposed to electric guitars and without microphones for the drums. Were playing a fully acoustic set for the first time, says Devraj Sanyal,the vocalist,adding that possibly no other Indian metal act has done anything similar. Gorimar,the drummer,says the idea has been with them for a while. I was averse to the idea when Devraj suggested an acoustic set in the 2000s. But then,we did some songs with just Devraj and John (Ferns,the lead guitarist) on the guitar and it sounded really good,so we decided to do something in the long run, adds Gorimar.
The story of how Brahma came together is much like that of most others. In 1993,Gorimar and Dean Lazarus were already playing together and looking for a vocalist and a guitar player. They chanced upon Devraj Sanyal,who was,at the time,the vocalist of his college band. Two more joined them Max Shetty on rhythm guitar and Vince Thevor on bass and the first line-up of Brahma was complete. Shetty left in less than a year,however,and was replaced by John Ferns,completing the line-up that brought them all the initial fame.
Many things have set Brahma apart as a band in the 19 years that they have been together. When they came together in 1993-94,they became one of the few prominent metal bands on the Indian music scene apart from Millenium,which had been playing since 1988.
At the time Brahma was at their peak,in the late 1990s and early 2000s,nearly every band went on stage for a gig under the influence of either alcohol or drugs. Part of an international organisation Rock Against Drugs,Brahma was an exception to the rule.
We drank enough after a show for an entire state,of course,but never before, says Sanyal with a laugh.
Today,Sanyal is the managing director of Universal Music for India and SAARC,a position that keeps him in constant contact with a majority of musicians in the country. Back in the day,however,most of them didnt get along due to ego issues. There was Agnee,Rock Machine (now known as Indus Creed) and Millennium already on the scene when Brahma started; Parikrama formed around the same time and soon after,Pentagram. There were major ego clashes, says Sanyal,adding,We respected each other a great deal as musicians,but we often hated each other anyway. Thats all in the past though,and now Sanyal counts many of his former rivals among his closest friends.