Putrid Ascendancy unleashes an interview with Ankit Mitra: Vocalist/Guitarist for the Kolkata based IN HUMAN, perhaps city's the finest metal act!! a very gifted band deriving it's influences from the old school era death metal and thrash metal.
P.A: First of all I would like to congratulate you for your album which is indeed a brave yet artistic step, considering there is a little support for metal, in Kolkata.Since, many of us do not know ‘In Human’ yet; could you please give all of us a small introduction to your band?
Ankit: In Human are Korak Sarkar on the drums, Shiladitya Sengupta (aka Phish) on guitars, Anirush Goswami on bass and yours truly on vocals and guitars. We debuted around August of 2008 although the idea for the band was germinated almost a year earlier and so was the name. We are four unique individuals with our own personal tastes and influences in music, however when playing together in the band, we put in our all our effort to make honest metal music.
P.A: So how In Human was born?
Ankit: The very birth of In Human happened when I started playing music in the college scene with my college band (Shades of Gray) who coaxed me out from being just a bedroom guitarist. Thanks to them I met Korak in whom saw immense potential on the very day I met him. In Shades of Grey me and Korak played in a handful of competitions and our setlist were full of covers from Pink Floyd to Megadeth! Both of us really didn't want to be a pub band and wanted to do something new, different, and true to our abilities. At that time I was coaxing Korak and giving him various songs from Slayer to Led Zeppelin to pick up and strengthen his repertoire and stamina for the ideas to come in the future, while I started listening to more varied extreme metal bands than the usual favourites of mine, Death and Morbid Angel. This whole process was an effort to truly understand what we were trying to do and test our comprehension skills regarding the kind of music we wer planning to attempt. Sometimes Korak and me would start playing a Death song or two that we both had picked up while the rest of my college bandmates were taking a break. It was like one whole year while we served time in the college band while preparing for our idea to take shape.
Ankit: Absolutely! We were both very serious when we started out that the rest of the musicians we need to complete the lineup HAVE to be serious, because without true and sincere interest no one can ever achieve anything worthwhile. Also we push ourselves to become better and overcome our limitations, and we needed the other members to have that kind of a mind set too. We didn't need a virtuoso, anyone with serious interest and desire along with the willingness to put in whatever was required was welcome.
Getting the other members was tough, I had asked a LOT of people,some showed a lot of interest when approached, but never turned up when asked to or even care to get in touch. Actually most were like that. During that whole transitional time, me and Korak went on working on our individual abilities. I wanted a vocalist for the band, however there too no one turned up. Also what amazed me then was that with most 'metal musicians' I met at that point, with all their baggage most of them weren't even truly musicians. Someone who mugs up some uber songs by reading tabs but cant play a basic chordal rhythm or mostly have NO IDEA what he's playing is no musician in my book. Soon as practices with him and me were sounding lame I started to sing. I had to work on my playing and singing coordination.I really sucked at it! Those who have seen our first couple of practice videos will vouch for that (Thank God very few saw those and that too much later!) Shiladitya, also known 'Phish',came in by reference from another guitarist friend who I had also approached. He ended up joining another band but really did a huge favour to us by putting us in touch with Shiladitya. He was sincere and shared our vision and most importantly he too was honest about his limitations and was open to learn and work hard. Anirudh was a school junior of mine and when he heard about this band and the fact that we were still lacking a bassist, volunteered to play bass. At that time I was desperate for anyone as I was really raring to go.He fit in perfectly and that was the last piece of the puzzle.
Ankit: The 'In Human' was kept by me inspired by the Death song 'In Human'. Though we all have our personal favourites in music, Death's music was the primary inspiration for us. Chuck Schuldiner's lyrics, philosophy, music and overall impression on the band has been huge. I used to be in touch with Chuck's mother Jane Schuldiner over email, and used to ask general questions about him as a person, how his music affected them etc etc. She's an extremely nice lady and actually reads and replies to EVERY fan-mail. I think Death's influence is too apparent in our music, our lyrics, song names and by our set-list haha! Another really important influence specially very much for me is Megadeth. My favourite metal band, the first one I ever heard and the only one I took the trouble to see live. Its funny that both the bands that have a huge influence on our band have a lot in common. Both are 4 piece, have a charismatic vocalist or guitarist or songwriter.
Some of the greatest ever musicians have featured in their lineup, both are pioneers in their sub-genre, and both are timeless.Dave Mustaine, Chuck Schuldiner, two of the greatest vocalist/guitarists/musicians and all-round superheroes in music.
P.A: Since I know you in person and have actually witnessed In Human from its very first gig, People have this notion that In Human are a ‘Death tribute’ Band. Do you agree to that? If not, what do you have to say about it?
Ankit: Haha, I think the tag has more to do with the fact that our live set is littered with Death covers than what we sound like. It doesn't really help that sometimes we have been even billed as a Death Tribute band. As much as I'm proud that people have accepted us the way we are, it is bothersome to be categorised as a tribute band.The problem I have seen is that a LOT of our audiences don't really know the Death song's enough and go with the word of the mouth. There have been times when even after playing an original a majority deemed it to be a Death cover! Haha may sound flattering but it doesn't really speak well of the overall knowledge of the audiences in the city. The release of 'Voices' will hopefully put all the ideas of us being a tribute band to rest and show a lot of people who never imagined or wanted to know that we have original songs.
Ankit: Competitions? As I said before going live with In Human both Korak and I had played in competitions with my college band. The overall idea about competitions kind of bothered me. First and foremost the very idea of choosing the 'best' band out of bands of so many varied genres seemed ridiculous to me. Then the time constraints set by all this proved to be detrimental to lots of bands, and let me tell you that a show ruined by technical difficulties puts a big dent in a bands confidence level. Also no matter how big the competitions the judges turn out to be older and sometimes even my peers. As conceited or weird it may sound Ill tell you Im in NO WAY going to be judged by a fellow In whose skill or ability I have no faith in. Then all the politics and inherent bitching etc etc that comes with the competitions. There have been times when the best band does win, but that happens quite rarely. Anyway the main deal was I wasn't looking to promote the band by playing shows where I would be 'graded'.
P.A: Since it might seem like a run-of-the-mill question, how many hours a week you guys practice?
P.A: Since it might seem like a run-of-the-mill question, how many hours a week you guys practice?
Ankit: Not much really, I have noticed that at the height of our joblessness it was once a week and we practice 3 consecutive days before any show. Thats it, the good thing is since I write all the arrangements and the music on Guitar Pro, whenever I need someone to do something or give his inputs all I need is to mail the score to them. So individually we work our parts out in our houses before we meet from practice. I have noticed songs been written and arranged in practice pads, but its too time consuming. Since we practiced for such little time every week, the major work had to be done by us individually. The day of practice only served the purpose of checking out how something was sounding when we played together.
Ankit: I never had much of a good opinion about the Metal scene in Kolkata in past so you can understand. However one thing I have seen is the spurt of audiences, mostly in it as a fad however the sheer strength by numbers means that there has been a general increase in the number of listeners. Now I cant really elaborate if its a good or a bad thing as I have never really though about it, but I do see that nowadays metal has become very accessible to everyone. Nowadays every kid wants to form a metal band... some have talent,most dont. However I have seen that during this time there have been some bands who do know their craft very well. Honestly if you ask me which band I like in the current scene Ill have to say Moshpit. I think they have a new name Yonsample or something now? Those guys were a very dedicated, and knowledgeable bunch from day one, and it exudes from their body language on stage. Iv heard some demos of new bands from time to time, but I dont really care about demos. Anyone can sound like Pat O Brien these days thanks to technology, so unless I see a band live and see what they are playing and how they are sounding I cannot and would rather not pass judgement. One thing though, like I said before, better mastery of technology has been detrimental to the scene by the release of albums and demos which have been grossly edited and refined to mislead audiences. Ive heard too many demos and an album where the band sound like absolute pros and when they play live they sound worse than abysmal.
P.A: What have been the best moments so far as a band?
Ankit: The Pit 1 & 2. Great experiences! Pit 1 was fun, innocent, spontaneous; a lot of those things which wasnt there in Pit 2 and the subsequent ones. By Pit 2 we realised a lot more about the machinations that happen with bands behind the scenes, all that disappointment, disillusionment and angst came out during our performance at Pit 2, by far the most aggressive show Ive played in. The recording and release of 'Voices', it was great to see our efforts take fruit!
P.A: Quick one, playing live or recording in studios?
Ankit: Live! The energy, the proximity with the audiences... these things cant be matched!
P.A: Now talking about the Album, Voices, It has been received so well by most of us, how would you describe the album?
Ankit: Honestly I started writing voices before Pit 2, which would be around February or March of 2008. Two songs from the album, 'In Human Morality' and 'Vicious Cycle' were played live in Pit 2 as a bonus to the audiences who at that point generally expected us to only play Death covers. With voices I wanted to pursue a refined traditional approach to make an album as raw as possible with as little electronic manipulation. The drums had to be programmed as drum recording in studios in the city are NEVER that good or meets my expectations. The balancing and recording for the type of drum sounds I want is just not viable in Kolkata studios. This has more to do with the lack of an engineer with a clear understanding of the sound we are expecting. Engineer in studios here have very little idea about the completely different setup and balancing required to record a metal album. Also as I like the traditional method I played the guitars with minimal breaks, and NO COPY pasting was dont even in the parts of repetition of riffs. I wanted Voices to be as organic as possible, as nowadays the production of metal albums here and abroad sound too 'polished' 'crystal clear' to my liking. I prefer the more raw and untouched and aggressive sound that a cleaner digitized sound, and tried my best to incorporate it in the album. I hope the listeners can feel the difference.
|Artwork courtesy Mr. Sauvik Biswas|
Ankit: Lyrics are as essential as the music. Every great song has great lyrics too, rather I believe a song becomes great due to its lyrics and music coming together as a great package. As you all know Death's music plays a big role in ours, and Chuck's lyrics are legendary for its mature social commentary. His lyrics played a large part in my lyric writing, I tried to make the lyrics be meaningful and fit relevantly with the music.
|The Cover Art of 'Voices' - The debut album of IN HUMAN|
Ankit: The Songwriting was started around February/March of 2008, the recording happened in August 2009 in the hostel of IIT Kharagpur where our engineer, Sauvik Biswas' resided. He's a super talented guy and a really creative person. The two days that we spent recording the album out there was the most fun days we had as a band together. The mastering took from August 2009 to February 2010. Sauvikda's personal commitments kept him very busy, inspite of that he would send us little basic mixes of one song and wait for our feedback and then incorporate the changes. This went on for over 10 months, and finally me and Korak went to Kharagpur again during February to fine tune the parts that could only be possible in our presence. The release of the album finally took place on July 21st 2010 at 'The Basement' in Kolkata's better known hotel 'The Samilton'
P.A: What is the most important thing you concentrate on when you are writing a song?
Ankit: The overall effect. I always think what kind of an impact any listener will have when they hear the song. When I hear a Death, Megadeth, Morbid Angel, Pink Floyd etc etc song I know it grips me. It inspires me. It makes a lasting impression. The ultimate aim is to try invoke a similar response from our audiences. Its a difficult thing to achieve but the objective is exactly that. When someone will come upto me and say that one of my songs has inspired them in someway, I will know that I have achieved a little bit of what I set out for.
Ankit: In Human will dismantle when I think In Human doesn't have anything worthwhile to give to the audiences and its members. At this moment Im already sitting on potentially enough material for another album, so I think dismantling is in my plans yet, or in the near future. In Human hasn't played live gigs since July 2010 simply because of geographical differences. Korak is in IISc Bangalore doing his MS and in that year me and Shiladitya had out respective professional exams. The previous year as well as now are vital for our professional careers so I think the priority is justifiably higher in our personal lives. However we are all in touch and hopefully when Korak comes down in this years 3rd Quarter I believe we can get together and discuss the viability and logistics and the planning to record, master, produce and release the next album. Don't ask about why we didn't do gigs with a replacement drummer. The answer is simply because I have little faith in most drummers in our circle to pull off Korak's parts and even in those I may have some confidence, I doubt they have the interest.
|Message from The Band|
Ankit: Make it a little more democratic? Haha! lot of people believe I am a control freak and the dictator in the band! However like I always discussed with the other guys in the band, Id surely enjoy it if they spend more time composing for the band, or would one day suddenly surprise me with a fully composed and arranged song!
P.A: So what is coming next from In Human?
Ankit: More honest, no frills, music. Hopefully a second album, which would be bigger, better and overall better sounding than 'Voices'
Ankit: The pleasure is mine! I would also commend both of you guys for investing so much time in promoting so many talented and great bands from the obscure to the infamous. The effort you both put in is nothing short of astonishing. It takes serious dedication to a cause to relentlessly pursue a thing like you both have been doing. You both are the kind of music listeners every band should be proud of if they found themselves in your playlist. Last but not the least I would like to thank all our friends and listeners who have believed in us over the times and continue till date. You inspire us to do our best! Thank You!
IN HUMAN (Kolkata)
Ankit Mitra - Guitars/Vocals
Korak Sarkar - Drums
Shiladitya Sengupta - Guitars
Anirudh Goswami - Bass