Metal Heroes: Misha Mansoor (Periphery)
Five Indian metal artists tell us about their biggest heroes, who shaped their music. We track down these iconic artists for their stories
Keshav Dhar, guitarist of prog metal band Skyharbor, talks about how Misha Mansoor of Periphery inspired his DIY approach to music and music production.
You picked Misha Mansoor and Periphery as your biggest influences. How did they impact your music?
They were a major influence both in their DIY approach to production and online promotion, as well as the way in which they combined unconventional and experimental progressive arrangements with pop sensibilities and memorable melodies. They struck the perfect balance, for me, with music that is equal parts accessible and intelligent.
Periphery, the album, was a turning point for you as well…
That album was a finished, polished culmination of all the ideas and demos that I had been devouring online for years. It really felt amazing when that album dropped, because it gave me massive amounts of inspiration to see that growth from DIY home producer to arena conquering band and see it succeed in such a unique way.
Misha Mansoor, Metal’s biggest DIY success story, on the musicians who shaped his sound.
American metal band Periphery, which pioneered the much-debated genre, djent, is the brainchild of Misha Mansoor’s influential solo project Bulb. Bulb began as an internet project on music hosting website SoundClick, where Mansoor uploaded his self-produced tracks to be streamed for free. Periphery was formed in 2005 and released their debut in 2010 after a series of lineup changes. Their second studio album, Periphery II: This Time It’s Personal, released in 2012 to critical acclaim. The ever-evolving social media scene has been key to Mansoor’s success and the band has been an important influence on artists like Keshav Dhar, whose project Skyharbor also reiterated that it’s possible to create a groundswell of fans and critics without stepping out of your home studio.
Growing up, who were your metal heroes?
I would say the first real metal heroes of mine were guitarists like John Petrucci, Fredrik Thordendal, Stephen Carpenter and James Hetfield.
How would you say these musicians have influenced your approach to music?
They shaped everything from how I approach riffng and practising to writing and arranging songs!
Did you ever get a chance to meet any of your heroes?
I have been fortunate enough to meet a lot of them. I have to say it was surreal for me. Touring with Dream Theater and Deftones and getting to hang and sometimes even jam with John Petrucci, it was just something that I will never forget! If there is one common thread, it’s that all of those guys are very genuine and good people. They all come off as very positive and pleasant.
You’ve influenced a whole new generation of guitarists by opening up the possibilities of what you could do with just a guitar and a computer. Looking back, did you ever see yourself at this stage?
Not at all! I was just having fun, I am honestly surprised we have made it this far, and I try to never take what we have for granted. It seems like I was just lucky, I don’t feel like I am special or deserving of any of this. I am just enjoying it while it lasts!
Take us through the making of Periphery and the ups and downs of making that album.
It was incredibly stressful for me because I was handling the great majority of the workload, having written pretty much everything and also producing the whole thing. The stress from all of that definitely took years off of my life. However, the satisfaction of getting it done and being truly proud of it made it completely worth it.
Do you have any advice for bands and musicians who look up to you?
Do what you believe in. Don’t bother trying to please anyone but yourself with what you write, because you won’t ever achieve that. However if you write for yourself, you can always be proud of what you make, regardless of what others think. Write all that you can, and don’t worry about how it will get used, or if it will ever be something that anyone else will hear. I think it’s healthy and therapeutic to write and get your ideas out.
Keshav Dhar from Skyharbor cites you as a major influence on his music and he had a question for you. How do you approach a situation where you have two choices on how to proceed, one of which will hurt your band’s progress and one of which will hurt your relationship with a band member?
This is a very tough question with perhaps no truly right answer. It really depends on your situation and what you value the most, and where your priorities lie. Personally, I have put so much work into this band. It is my priority, so I want to protect it from all harm and I want to see it progress. If someone is working against that, I would talk to them very candidly and try to find a solution that would benefit everyone and therefore the band. If, however, a solution or compromise could not be found, the band would always take priority, as it is my business, my livelihood and my priority above all. I can say this because everyone in my band not only understands this, but feels the same way. If that sounds dreary, please keep in mind that most of these kinds of problems can be solved with good and healthy communication between members!
This article appeared in the June 2013 issue of Rolling Stone India.