IN HUMAN Live at BLACK MASS RITUAL
IN HUMAN returns at BLACK MASS RITUAL to be held at Sujata Sadan, Kolkata, on Saturday, 24th December, 2016 in conspiracy with The Hellion Distro and Putrid Ascendancy,
Formed as early as 2008, IN HUMAN can be touted as one of the earliest extreme metal bands of Kolkata. Known for their musicality, virtuosity, sheer aggression and a strong penchant for old school death and thrash metal bands, IN HUMAN had an unmistakably blazing aura in their live performances that quickly gained them enough accolades and high reputation for precision, remarkable arrangement and intensity. After releasing their critically acclaimed EP - ‘Voices’ the band unfortunately had undergone a long silent hiatus till very recently the band have revived itself with a fresh line up, with founder(guitarist and ex-vocalist) Ankit Mitra being only remaining member from the last known line-up, with vocal-duty handed down to the very talented Indranil Dasgupta of Kolkata Thrash Metal artillery ARMAMENT.
Recently, we had a chance to interview Ankit Mitra for BLACK MASS RITUAL promotion and we covered a lot of areas beside just music. Check it out.
PA: Greetings Ankit, for people new to Inhuman can you describe how the band got about to being formed and how were the early days? And what were the primary influences that made you take up a genre as dark and confrontational as Death Metal?
Ankit: 'In Human' came into existence when Korak Sarkar, my friend and erstwhile drummer, felt that it was time for us to play live, the music we enjoyed, which would keep us on our toes, and keep pushing our abilities. At that point, coincidentally, Metal was on the rise in Kolkata, but it was not the kind of Metal I was interested in or that which resonated with me.
I have always felt Metal was more than just playing with distorted guitars, fast lashing at the drums and extreme vocals. Most of what was happening back then was just that. At that time, a lot of Metal bands did only originals, which was fine, but when they did covers, their shortcomings in fields both technical and of basic musical foundations - which I feel is a necessary requirement for this genre - would get exposed. Much of what was being belted out as Metal was perfunctory 'evil' riffs on scales the guitarist couldnt even name and relentless beatings on the snare and single stroke double bass and ride cymbals spewed out as 'blast beats'. All this pretension topped off with the "redemption" of extreme vocals, which was the vocalist gargling and snarling non existent lyrics. Onomatopoeia at its twisted best.
So it was a combination of us wanting to play our own music - which was greatly influenced by the late 80s and 90's Metal bands like Megadeth, Slayer, Death, Morbid Angel, Carcass and Cynic - and also wanting to get it out there to people that the Kolkata Metal scene is not just misplaced brutality; that's what really pulled us out of being basement musicians to forming the band. 'Death Metal', as you can see from the influences, was a natural choice. Though to be honest, I wouldnt want to put any labels on our genre because at times it feels like a limiting factor as the audience may arrive with a preconceived notion about what we are supposed to sound like.
PA: I remember, IN HUMAN boycotted all band competitions taking place back in the day when it was a norm for bands to take part in battle of bands. It was very gutsy decisions for that time when there were no proper Metal gigs in city. Tell me what you felt about this topic.
Ankit: At that time I did so because I just felt that the entire band competition deal was pretty much a fallacy. Especially with the judges involved. Those days the competitions had judges who came with their preconceived notions and biases and oddly, the sense of competition was actually never positive. You guys will know what I mean. All that these competitions did was create more of a divide, or winners and losers, and sowed a lot of bitterness and spite among bands and musicians. Things which are just not needed. Plus, the competitions literally forced you to present your music with way too many limitations - horrible sound quality, uncooperative soundmen, complete lack of basic infrastructure among other things. All this made me feel it was not worth the trouble. In my opinion, unless you are dishonest and deluded by your own ego and social media, you will always be the best judge of your own music. And that's all that is required to work at your betterment. It's better to practice and get your own music up to the mark than deliberately retarding the process by playing at confidence shattering competitions.
PA: The thing I always wanted to ask you guys what was the main reason behind the band's hiatus? If it was for drummer moving to the other city, why could you not recruit a new drummer like how you did with new line up? Why this 6 year long break? What has this long break /hiatus teach you? Did you not feel disconnected with Metal and scene?
Ankit: Well to be honest after we released our album 'Voices' in 2010 all the members were in individual crossroads of our professional lives. We had all finished being students and it was professional life that beckoned us. Geographical differences too were created. As for why I didnt get another drummer and keep playing is that I myself didnt play music at all for the 2 years since then, as I was literally negotiating the new changes in my life once I got into work. Plus after that, the deal was that I always liked to play music with friends, not professional sidemen who came to do the job. When you are in a band with friends the music and flow of ideas is unbridled and more importantly, without the bindings of personal interest first.
The long break helped me gather myself and bring together this second charge with a lot more experience under my belt. I didnt really feel disconnected from Metal, but yes, maybe the scene. Things have changed, so have people. New faces, new ideas. Its always good. Its like working from scratch again, and I enjoy that experience of creating something new from scratch immensely.
PA: I really appreciate the fact despite your interest in other genres of music and this long hiatus, you did not drift apart from Metal like many kolkata Metal musicians did,and like the infamous 'growing out of Metal' claims that many did.. you are back with In Human .. ..
Ankit: People who say 'I've grown out of Metal' were never really into it in the first place. Yes, I have a myriad of influences and my personal playlist is least dominated by Metal, but once you have actually had that Metal connection with you, it never goes away. Unless you actively work to reject it, or if it was just a fad.
I was into music from childhood. Played classical violin since 9 years of age, had heard a lot of great bands and music of other genres which really amped up my interest in music from quite early on(class 8 onwards) but it was finally 'Megadeth's Rust in Peace' which made me decide I wanted to play guitar and nothing else. So when your whole foundation for playing your primary instrument was because of Metal, I don't think its possible to dismiss it ever at any stage of your life.
Also I think a bit of this 'growing out' also has to do with peer outlooks. A lot of people are like sheep, they go with the trend. When its Metal that's turning heads around them, they become Metalheads, when they grow older and rub shoulders with the 'elderly, whiskey guzzling, cultured kaku' they suddenly see colours in Jazz, Blues, RnB etc etc. And then to cement how much more mature they have become, they too join in with the 'Metal is immature and angry' brigade.
I dont think I'll ever be able to 'grow out' of Metal, its too deeply entrenched in my taste and the fates conspire always to preserve it. Even my favourite Allan Holdswarth album is called 'Metal Fatigue' Ha ha! My condition is summed up best by a remark a friend made about me, that Im 'Metal A F!'
PA: Once you decided it was time to get back with the band how easy/difficult was it to find like-minded musicians? What are the most important qualities that you expect in an IN HUMAN member?
Ankit: Oh it wasnt easy! Im a very demanding person and I expect a lot of qualities in the people I want to play alongside, not limited to just their musical ability. However it was relatively easier than the first time since we already had a body of work in the first album , 'Voices', so interested and potential members would easily have a reference to what kind of sound we already had and were looking to develop on. Shiladitya, our erstwhile guitarist's place was taken by his younger brother. Which was the first and the best thing that could have happened for us. He and I had written some tunes already while we were looking for people willing to join us and share a similar vision. The members who came in next were Indranil (vocalist), Avishek (drummer) and Anurag (bass) in that order.
The most important quality I look for is honesty. You have to be honest about your own shortcomings and limitations. Its only when you are aware of those things can you push yourself to overcome them and get better. When you are honest you will look at playing the music legitimately and not try to hide in the mix of the other members. When you are honest you will know what you are expected to do, and will strive hard and not be swayed by audience approval. You have to be a musician who loves the music and solely the music, and not the excess baggage that is stereotypically assigned to it, to survive in In Human.
PA: I was always interested to know how this collaboration between In Human and Indranil happened? Was it an easy decision for both of you and how things worked out to IH's favour?
Ankit: Well this is kind of a long story. It had been a year since I had sat down with Prithviraj and we had written and arranged around 3/4 songs completely. At that time I had already decided that I didnt want to sing anymore, because even now, I still hate singing. People who knew me from back in the day knew I never wanted to be a vocalist/guitarist. Because I felt it was limiting to my guitar playing and also, I was not able to do justice to the vocals I wanted on the songs. At this point of time I was introduced to Indranil and his band Armament by some common friends and when I heard the song 'Chaos Prevails' or maybe 'Hammer of God' (can't remember exactly) I felt he was just the right kind of voice for the band. I know Armament is his band and I would never ask him to not give it priority over In Human and I'm glad we have managed to work out and adjust. The result makes the band quite happy and you will get a taste of it at the show.
PA: Wasn't the new second guitarist's elder brother in IN HUMAN's previous lineup?
Ankit: Yes! Prithviraj is Shiladitya's younger brother. And it has helped as he was already familiar with our older material and his brother's parts before he started to write new songs with me for IN HUMAN.
PA: With this new line up with you only being the only member from past, what are the changes that are going to be imminent in the music that you will make from music you have made? Is song writing going to be in same approach the EP had? Who is writing the lyrics and with new drummer, 2nd guitarist and bassist recruited, I guess composition would be easier now?
Ankit: Well in the previous lineup I wrote all the music and lyrics. This time Prithviraj and I have been the primary song writers for 3/4 tunes already, tunes written before we had Avishek and Anurag join in. I still write/am writing all the lyrics, though the newer tunes will be a more collaborative effort the way things are going, as all of them are very aggressive about being creative. Ofcourse the music style will show some changes as the personnel are different now, Im older and different too! Our intent is to just be uncompromising about quality thats it. Not limiting our thoughts to play to the gallery is what I want us to remember when in the creative process. I would rather make the best album we can than bring out an album based on what people think we should sound like.
PA: I think you get this often, but let me ask you haha, are you a complete control freak .. (grins)
Ankit: Ha ha ha! I've been asked this question a lot of times before. I think I am quite rigid about the core value; things that I want the band to always revolve around and be steadfast upon. But I believe you have to be flexible too or else there is no point in playing music. Music is self expression; if you stifle someone's natural growth or creativity you will never get the best you can out of them.
PA: I recall last time you had mentioned you have enough music written for another album. Is it going to be a conceptual work like your EP - Voices? Is there going to be a thematic lineage from EP which is more evolved and explored or is it going to be a different story that was untold? Are you done with studio tracking?
Ankit: Yes I had, we had. But ever since Prithviraj came in, and as the newer guys joined, most of it has been thrown into the rejection pile. Reason being that we believe we can do better. Yes it will be conceptual like all our works.I think albums are a snapshot of a certain time frame, so it captures and freezes emotions, ideas and beliefs. Since its an album, stringing it together as an idea gives it that much depth. To be honest I believe almost all great albums are per se 'concept albums' where the songs enmesh with each other in such a way that you always have an experience when you hear the album as a whole and not just individual tracks.
This album will deal more deeply with human nature than the previous one. I feel human beings and their thoughts and actions are much more interesting and complex than most subjects. The human mind is capable of more brutality than that which can be expressed even by actions at times. Also, our personal experiences with people, both positive and negative. There is always a wealth of subjects to be inspired by to write songs about.
PA: What do you think of endorsements? Do you think it is very important to a band?
Ankit: Endorsements are great, as long as you feel like you are legitimately being valued by the brand and also that THAT is the brand YOU want. Its tough for an Indian artist to have a 'true endorsement' the way it 'actually' works. We always hear endorsements meaning that the brand is giving you a piece of equipment for free as they feel YOU are big enough to pull more consumers towards their brand. Endorsement deals in India are mostly 'mega discounts', and it helps because to be honest, the prices of any imported musical equipment is much much higher in India thanks to the excessive duty charges. But I also have reservations about how brands treat these musicians; for example we have many ESP guitar endorsees in India (mostly Metal musicians). They all play LTD guitars, which is basically the lower priced subsidiary of ESP, like the Squire model instead of the Fender branded ones. I would actually like to see the brand provide these artists with ESP makes and not LTD ones. I think in a way, its kind of disrespectful of the brand. But that's just my opinion and I sincerely hope things change over time and these brands can put a bit more 'love' for the artists who they are willing to give discounts, but only on their budget subsidiary imprint.
PA: Any recurring band dream? And what are your plans with the band?
Ankit: Well I just want the band to keep making good, honest music, stay true to ourselves and put it out to as many people as possible. Thats about it.
PA: Finally, last word of wisdom for all Kolkata underground brothers? Thanks for your time and this interview.
Ankit: I want to wish everyone my best for surviving and continuing to serve with passion, something that is not and will never be accepted en masse. Also and most importantly, always have your own opinion but after you have experienced or tried something out. It is dangerous to follow or keep blind preconceived notions. Also just try to be real with people. In this age of social media wankery and political correctness to garner more likes and validation it is even more imperative that you be who you are. Thank you! Its a pleasure and see you at Black Mass Ritual on December 24th!