Kryptos Party On
Bengaluru old school metallers on their euphoric new album ‘Burn Up The Night’ and why there’s no point complaining about the music scene
It’s a laid-back Sunday afternoon when Nolan Lewis walks into Guzzlers Inn, a sort of dingy yet classy bar on Brigade Road, Bengaluru. The frontman of old school metallers Kryptos breezes straight into the smoking section of the bar even as bassist Ganesh Krishnaswamy and I wait for him. Krishnaswamy guesses his bandmate’s move and picks up his beer and we walk over to change tables.
Seated there, the two musicians singing along to nearly everything the bar’s speakers blare out— from Boney M to Iron Maiden and Rainbow—you can tell Kryptos love everything from the Seventies and the Eighties. They’re classic souls. And they embody that Eighties ethos without ripping it off. Says Lewis, “Back then, there was nothing else, just the music. No internet, no mobiles—there weren’t a million things to distract you. You just get a few drinks, get a few friends and listen to music.”
The same applies for their sound. On their fourth album, Burn Up The Night, there are the brightest guitar melodies bandied about, but set to Lewis’s evil snarl. It’s influenced by everything from traditional heavy metallers such as Judas Priest and Iron Maiden to the likes of Thin Lizzy and possibly, Def Leppard. “The riff is king,” as Lewis points out between sips.
Listen to “One Shot to Kill”
For a band that’s been channeling their love for Eighties’ heavy metal for 18 years now, Lewis knows they have detractors and people who accuse them of just peddling ‘nostalgia value’, but the band asserts that they’re not making music to please anyone. Says Lewis, “If we wanted to please these people, we’d be doing fusion music or getting on [music show] Coke Studio or some shit like that. You can be into anything, but as long as you’re completely into it, you’ll get your due eventually. If you’re half-assing it, you’re not going to get shit.”
And Kryptos, currently signed to German label AFM Records (who’ve got everyone from Danzig to U.D.O and Ministry on their roster) and touring Europe annually, have become more or less content with what they’ve got going for them. “We have cribs, but it’s mostly stuff like ‘Fuck, this beer is too flat’. It’s shit like that,” Krishnaswamy laughs.
Their most recent Europe tour in August, where the band played a mix of festival shows (this time, to smaller but more devoted heavy metal fans at Headbangers Open Air and Dong Open Air in Germany) and club gigs, was an exercise in finally finding comfort. Lewis adds, “I think we’re at a point where the picture is pretty clear in terms of what’s expected of us and how we need to do things.” They’ve also learned how to shake off typically European questions about why they don’t use a sitar. Krishnaswamy says, “Did we grow up listening to Indian music to include it in our music? No. If we went around doing that, it would sound stupid.”
The band is now prepping for the home stretch to promote Burn Up The Night in India, which released via AFM in Europe in September but is being self-released in India with a launch gig in Bengaluru on November 19th. They want more gigs, but they admit it’s difficult. But they’ve never been one to complain. Lewis says, “That’s one of the problems with Indian bands— they get on social media and just complain. Two years down the line, they’re still complaining about the same thing. They haven’t done anything to fix it. But we’d rather do something to figure out a way. It might or might not happen, but let’s work towards it.”
Krishnaswamy puts his glass down and says something quite sobering. “If we want to, we can be where Europe is in the next five years. But because we would much rather sit on our asses and crib about shit, it’s going to take 15 years to get there. And that’s the difference.” As for Kryptos, they’re at the front of the line in Indian metal right now, fists pumping to every time the cymbal crashes.
Kryptos performs at Heavy Metal Meltdown on November 19th, 2016, at No Limmits, Bengaluru. Event details here.
Watch the video for “Full Throttle”