Bhayanak Maut’s Love Letter to Amsterdam
The Mumbai metallers talk about recording a new set of songs that are inspired from peanut butter, the munchies and more
It’s the last time Mumbai metallers Bhayanak Maut gather at That Studio, the recording and rehearsal space set up by drummer Rahul Hariharan five years ago that became a home located on the top floor of Sion’s bus depot (of all the places) not just to his band, but to several other bands in the city. It was a business decision to close the studio, but the mood among one of Mumbai’s best-known metal bands isn’t very somber as such.
That’s probably because they’re saying a proper goodbye to That Studio, recording three songs that throwback to some wicked times the band ”“ Hariharan, vocalist Vinay Venkatesh and guitarists Aditya Gopinathan and R. Venkatraman ”“ had when they were in Amsterdam in late 2015. Hariharan says, “Our trip was by chance. I was going there to play a gig and I told them (the band) I was going to be in Amsterdam for a few days and asked if they wanted to work around something. So we planned a vacation out in Amsterdam, we were together for almost two weeks. We got a house to ourselves and these guys carried gear and came.”
With a portable rig to record riffs, BM now have three songs that are more or less inside jokes about their Amsterdam trip. When asked if there was a schedule the band adhered to, Venkatraman says, “We had planned a lot of things and we were going to go visit a lot of places.” Gopinathan cuts in, “Yeah, but none of that happened. Songwriting did happen, though.” At this point, Venkatesh adds, “And copious amounts of time was spent on eating peanut butter and chocolate milk.”
Why is this important? Because of “Pindakaas,” which is the Dutch word for peanut butter and also a song that’s about finding the best variety in the world. Other songs born out of the Amsterdam trip include “Attack of the Roachsmokers” and “Shoreline.” But the band is quick to say there’s no other concept or overarching theme, like on their gruesome third album Man, which released in 2014. Gopinathan says, “Each song is very different.There’s an epic sounding song; there’s a song with a very hardcore vibe, then there’s a song that’s a little more technical, death metal kind of song. It’s more focused on the songwriting than the individual parts.”
Bassist Ishaan Krishna and co-vocalist Sunneith Revankar weren’t part of the Amsterdam trip, but they’re still very much part of the writing process, one that started with riffs first. With drums and guitars in the can before That Studio closed, the vocalists are now working on their first set of lyrics since Man, which was, by their own admission, a universe they
painstakingly brought to life. Venkatesh says, “Sunneith and I have kind of frozen on a space to be in, a universe the lyrical content should focus on. We’ve got one song down and we’ve got more. We’re still in that process of putting content down.”
Never one to miss a chance on a piss-take, Revankar adds that lyrics are going to be more direct. “Without going the ”˜Fuck society. Get the fuck up and revolt the Aadhaar card, you cunts’ way. The concept is simple without it being one-dimensional. Some of it is very close to what Vinay wrote for some of the songs on the Red album.” Revankar is that one-sixth of Bhayanak Maut who’s telecommuting, ever since he moved to Bengaluru about two years ago. It’s not something the band exactly wants to talk about, but Revankar does say that it’s been difficult to miss out on the weekly rehearsals and not being as actively involved in writing.
But that doesn’t in any way indicate BM are unhappy. Their headquarters might shut, the band members might be in different places, but the band has always been one of the most comfortable acts in Indian metal. Revankar says, “I think that’s what we are like as individuals also. We’ve gone through the motions like most bands do. But I think we came to a point somewhere in the last decade where we said, ”˜Screw it. Let’s just do what we want to do’.” With the three Amsterdam songs that the band worked on with longtime producer Anupam Roy, the band plans to release them either as singles or as an EP in the coming months, with the songwriting process continuing. Venkatraman adds, “As long as the ideas are coming out and we’re making noise, we’ll put down those ideas and work on them. I don’t think the process will ever end.”
Click here to check out the story in the digital edition of Rolling Stone India.