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Riding the Second Wind

Delhi thrashers Pretorika explore new sound on debut album

Deepti Unni Jun 21, 2009

Six years ago Prestorika wasn’t just any cover band. It was the band to call on if you wanted near-perfect renditions of all your favourite Metallica/Megadeth songs ”“ not a description the band is comfortable with today. Back in a new avatar, Prestorika is exploring new sounds and new audiences with the release of their first full-length album.

In its first iteration, Prestorika ”“ put together by guitarist Lokesh Bakshi with Vasav Vashisht on vocals, Nitesh Vasandani on drums and Rahul Lal on the bass ”“ was the quintessential thrash band. Heavily influenced by Metallica, Megadeth and Iron Maiden, the band played hard-edged shred-heavy metal that quickly made them popular on the college festival circuit. The turning point for the band, though, came in 2004 when they won the first ever Campus Rock Idols. The win gave them a chance to open for the Rasmus in Mumbai and Bengaluru in 2005, exposing them to a larger audience and bringing them greater recognition. They went on to back Wes Borland when he came to India for the Yamaha Roxx guitar clinic in 2007 and played an opening slot at Rock in India 2008 where Machine Head and Megadeth headlined. Everything seemed to be happening for the band at this point.

Before long though, Prestorika found itself in the throes of that universal malady of bands everywhere ”“ musical differences. The members found themselves moving in musically different directions and unable to reconcile to any one specific sound. The upshot was the departure of founding member Bakshi and a brief hiatus for the band. But Vasandani and Vashisht, intent on carrying the band forward, recruited Acrid Semblance guitarist Vikas Dharamsattu and second guitarist Nikhil Jhingon to complete the lineup and set about working on their debut album. The departure of Bakshi also meant a shift in the band’s sound, moving from its thrash origins into a more progressive speed-metal-based sound. “Vasav and I wrote most of the songs,” explains Vasandani. “Our sound was changing and maturing and we were experimenting with different tunings and stuff but Lokesh wasn’t very open to that. When he left, we moved to a heavier sound but kept the melody in.” They found the melody in Dharamsattu. “I’d seen Vikas play [with Acrid Semblance] when Prestorika started; he was pretty kick-ass then, he still is. When Vikas joined, everybody was pretty confident and open to everyone else’s sound. There was no communication gap whatsoever. We are more like a band of brothers now,” asserts Vasandani. The band poured their collective frustrations and experiences into the album, which they is loosely based around the role of a person in society. “It explores the expectations and responsibilities of a person in society today obstacles faced by him. It’s derived from our own experiences in life,” says Vashisht.

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As writing on the album progressed, the band found their influences playing a large part in their music. “I listen to all kinds of bands ”“ Porcupine Tree, Freak Kitchen, Meshuggah, Tool”¦ We have found out that by listening to different bands we can really open our minds to different music,” says Vasandani. It helped that Vashisht also saw the importance of melodies in the music and Dharamsattu blended it in with their trademark aggression. “Vikas has been a tremendous addition to the band ”“ he’s brought in melody while making our sound heavier and has some fantastic solos to add to it,” Vashisht beams.

The album was unofficially released at Canadian Music Week at Toronto on March 13, where they played a slot before metal’s latest resurgence story, Anvil. The band, though, is diffident when they talk about the show. “The Canada trip was a real eye-opener. Things are done very differently there; people are obviously way more professional. There were up to 500 artists performing over the few days that we were there and numerous promoters and label managers who’d come scouting for talent,” says Vashisht. Gaining enough confidence from the show, the band sent demos to various festivals across the world and landed a spot at an Australian music expo in Perth where they’re expected to play in October.

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In the meantime the band is looking to aggressively promote the album both in India and abroad. “Our idea is not to make money off the record. We first want to get as many people to listen to it as possible, so we’re looking at various deals where we can give the CD free or at a discount,” says Vasandani. Vashisht adds, “We’re in talks with producers in the UK and event companies in Australia where we’re looking at doing a possible tour while getting our CDs into music shops there. In India we’re planning an extensive tour because at the end of the day this is where our fan base is.”