Systemhouse33 Look Back at 15 Years of Thrashing
The Mumbai thrash/groove metal band recount their days in Nagpur, touring the U.S. and more
Originally bred in Nagpur, metallers Systemhouse33 still recall their last show in their hometown in 2009 was a very peculiar one. Frontman Samron Jude recalls, “This was in YMCA Nagpur and backed by a local politician who told me, ‘Hey man, I like your music. Let’s do this’.” And in true fashion, the gig poster even featured the politican’s mug as the band – active since 2003 – were busting out heavy grooves for around 500 people.
It was certainly familiar territory for the band, which currently comprises Jude, bassist Leon Quadros, drummer Mayank Sharma (both from metallers Zygnema) and guitarist Nishith Hegde (from instrumental metallers The Minerva Conduct). The frontman recalls that within a couple of years of forming, they went from competing in college band competitions in engineering institutes in and around Nagpur to headlining the competitions, and opening for rock veterans such as Parikrama and Pentagram. Jude adds about their gig promotion techniques, “I remember we went to friends’ houses and left notes, wrote letters saying, ‘This is the gig, please come’. We went to all the hangouts in the city and invited people. It was incredible because people were so passionate and it was something new.”
When it came to jamming, the band begged friends and family to let them use backyards or homes, but inevitably, the cops would show up. But Systemhouse33 clearly knew how to hustle, and it’s perhaps something that’s ensured their sustenance through the last 15 years. Jude recalls how the lack of music equipment stores in Nagpur (save for one that sold harmoniums and knock-off guitar brands like Givson) led him to buy and transport an entire drum kit from Mumbai – where his parents stayed – to Nagpur. “We started hiring out that drum kit to people so that we could make some money. We probably sold it at double the price we bought it at! It was old and probably had been through 50 shows. It probably wasn’t going to survive the next year,” Jude says with a laugh.
He agrees that in the days of limited Internet access, more people were willing to come out to shows and experience “something different and get excited” about the band, but playing metal also came with its familiar set of problems. The vocalist says, “Before us, there were no bands playing metal, so we would often doubt ourselves if we were doing things right. I thought, ‘Is this the devil’s music?’ Because my aunt said so. The priest once came to my grandmother’s house and he was like, ‘Don’t let him play this music, it’s the devil’s music.’”
Although the band had three releases to their name and then worked on Depths of Despair (2013), Jude says he’s planning to re-distribute early material online. He admits the band’s enthusiasm dipped a little before Depths of Despair but then they began working towards playing shows. “We realized that touring is the only thing that can do justice to what our musical abilities are. If you get a bunch of shows in a span of days, it makes a huge impact,” Jude says.
In 2013, Jude and the band began working their networks to tour and by the end of 2015, they bagged their first European tour with American death metal band Six Feet Under. A year later, after releasing 2016’s Regression, they were making their North American debut with death metallers Dying Fetus. Jude says the latter became etched in their memory instantly, considering the amount of attention they received.“A bunch of kids in the front row knew all the lyrics to ‘Detestable Idolatry’ and it felt so amazing. A lot of people probably read everything that we’d done and stuff that’s online and through media.” He adds that it “solidifies everything we’ve done in the last 15 years” and mentions that their next album – co-produced by Mumbai-based Vishal J. Singh – will also include a return to North America in mid-2019.
Until then, they’re raising a toast to past, present and future alongside Mumbai doom/death metallers Primitiv, rock act Hook and more. They’ve even invited guitarist Vigneshkumar Venkatraman (from heavy metallers Albatross) to join them on stage. Jude says, “We’re feeling our best right now. It’s exciting times.”
United We Groove ft Systemhouse33, Hook, Punkture, Primitiv and Kaarvaan takes place on October 12th at Above the Habitat, Mumbai. Entry: Rs 500. Event details here.