Providence Powers On
Despite another lineup change, the Mumbai metal band plan to finish recording their album and set up
a Europe tour this year
Providence have had one break too many, and they’re now in the midst of another one. The Mumbai metal band is on a hiatus after drummer and founding member Aaron Pinto left the band in June for personal reasons. With bassist Shrikanth Rao also set to leave the country to study music at the Musicians Institute in Los Angeles, the band’s founding members and guitarists Shezan Shaikh and Charan Singh Pathania are taking a break, and also plotting their debut full-length album Embodiment and shortlisting replacements for Pinto and Rao.
With lineup changes, Providence, who formed in 2011, has also regularly taken on the challenge of finding new members, after vocalist Sunneith Revankar from metal band Bhayanak Maut, also from Mumbai, was replaced by Karan Pote from melodic death metal band Abraxas in 2012. Revankar joined the band for one-off shows, before Providence recruited Vivek Bhatt, from Mumbai thrash/groove metal band Asylum.
Guitarist Shaikh mentions that even though all members move on, they remain friends. Pote recently joined Providence once again on stage in June, at the metal edition of crowdfunded gig series Control Alt Delete in Mumbai. Now, with Pinto and Rao, the band is setting new rules. Says Shaikh, “The door is always open for Aaron and Rao because it’s their band at the end of the day.”
Members of Providence wrote new material even when they were on a break. Starting with 30-second riff outtakes from their debut EP Vanguard in 2011, the band now has seven songs that they want to include on Embodiment, their next album. Unlike Vanguard, the band’s new material is not limited to groove metal or hardcore. Says Shaikh, “I’d say we’re heavy metal. If we want to write a death metal song, we haven’t put ourselves in a spot by saying ‘We’re a hardcore band and we’re only going to appeal to hardcore fans’. Also, all of us love thrash metal and when we get a chance to include those fast beats, we do that. We can put in blast beats, too. We left room open.” Pathania explains the concept of Embodiment, saying, “What we’re trying to do is outdo ourselves. We’re taking our time. This has to be a work of art, this has to be madness, a killing machine.”
So far, with the band’s first single “Dante,” a five-minute intense mash of thrash, death and groove metal and their new demo “Divine Dragon Punch,” an all-out riff fest, with each groove better than the previous one, there’s something for every metalhead. Shaikh adds that the band has been influenced by metal bands such as Machine Head, Soilwork and death metallers Morbid Angel and Vader. Shaikh adds, “Embodiment is more speed-oriented. We’ve said ‘fuck it’ to breakdowns. We’ve done as many as we want in the past release. Earlier, we were like ‘Let’s insert a breakdown,’ but now we’re like, ‘Let’s not include a breakdown.’”
Thematically, Embodiment builds upon the band’s common love of video games and anime characters. While “Dante” takes its name from the central character in the action-adventure game series Devil May Cry, “Divine Dragon Punch” pays homage to Street Fighter character Ken Masters, including Ken’s voice samples and riffs straight out of a Nintendo game. Says Shaikh, “It’s about who you wanted to be as a kid, but couldn’t. As kids, we were like, ‘I want to fight aliens and be a giant mech with swords and Gattling guns’.” Other songs on Embodiment include “I Want DSP” and “Someone Fix My Appendix,” which Pathania wrote while he was recovering from appendicitis and dengue. Video game themes also allow “the massive room for artwork” according to Shaikh.
The rest of the year might be spent off the stage, but Providence have had their share of epic gigs so far, including opening for thrash metallers Megadeth in Delhi NCR in February and playing at Control Alt Delete: The Metal Chapter in June. Providence are also planning a Europe tour to coincide with their album release, including festival and club shows in Germany and Italy, but they’ve hit a roadblock now. Says Shaikh, “We got a mail from [festival] organizers saying ‘We just read this [news of Pinto leaving], so are you still going to play?’ So we’ve had to assure that we’ll figure something out and play the gig.”
Listen to “Dante” here