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Scribe: Analyze This

How an unassuming band of musicians schooled Indian metal in the art of cool

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Deepti Unni Jul 11, 2013
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Scribe. Photo: Hashim Badani

Scribe. Photo: Hashim Badani

The world of Indian metal, “the scene” as it were, is not always a pretty place. It’s full of jagged edges, made of people waiting to take offence at the slightest taint on the sacred altars of the genre. There are bands and audiences alike who believe that there’s no place for humor in metal, or lightheartedness; that it’s “underground” for a reason. But then, there are those that believe very firmly in wearing a panda hat to a show. That a gig isn’t successful until at least half the audience is on stage with the band. That it’s not just okay to bring (gasp!) Bollywood into the sacred realms of metal but that you have to celebrate its greatest excesses in song. There is, in effect, Scribe.

It’s tough to put Scribe in context, in a scene where the metal bands take themselves too seriously, for the most part. Scribe don’t wear black on stage and they aren’t venting anger during a performance. But the same audience that moshed until they bled during, say, Bhayanak Maut’s set earlier, is now on stage attempting a dance at vocalist Vishwesh Krishnamoorthy’s request. The audience isn’t taking themselves as seriously anymore because Scribe really don’t give a shit who you are, or what your ideology is, or what genre of metal you listen to, so long as you’re having fun.

The five members of Scribe have distinct personas: garrulous frontman Vishwesh is the voice and face of the band, self-confessed class clown and guitarist Akshay Rajpurohit is the gear-head, guitarist Prashant Shah is the “sensible one” says bassist Srinivas ”˜Vaas’ Sunderrajan who describes himself as the “suave” one (which gets a few guffaws), and drummer Virendra ”˜Viru’ Kaith is the quietest in the band, but with a wicked sense of humor that he unleashes when least expected. But it’s these personalities that are the key to the near-miraculous synergy of the band. “We’re all idiots in the band,” says Prashant. “We all have our quirks, strengths and shortcomings but we find a way to make it work.”

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Scribe has a huge and unexpected surprise in store for fans with their upcoming third album, Hail Mogambo, which guitarist Prashant describes as “more groovy, with more songs, layers and textures, with a complexity and intensity we haven’t attempted before.” The second instalment in what is to be a trilogy story arc, a sort of Mr India meets Terminator Salvation, will see the band include a new member into the line-up, prog metal band Petrichor’s vocalist Gagan Gill. When rumors of Gill playing with the band first surfaced, everyone assumed that Vishwesh was quitting, but interestingly it was Vishwesh’s idea to include Gagan in the band. But for a band whose sound seems complete right now, where do they see Gill fitting in? “Our songs go through a lot of improvization from the computer to the studio. And when I’m in the studio, I go a little nuts. There’s a lot of stuff that’s physically impossible for one person to do. It may work in the studio but it doesn’t live. We wanted to ensure a different vocal feel. I actually don’t like bands with two vocalists, because I feel both end up doing the same thing, unless it’s a band like Sikth. Sikth had two vocalists but it sounded like they had six! That’s what I’m hoping is in the future for Scribe.” Though Gagan will only be heard on a song or two on this album, his voice will add a significantly different texture to the songs says Vishwesh. Scribe also plans to rope Gagan in on electronics and samples, which promises another quantum leap for the band in terms of their sound. Adds Gagan, “I’m pretty known on the Pune scene for the heavier stuff and though Vishwesh is doing a lot on the album ”“ singing, screeching, rapping ”“ they wanted to add something that contributed to the heaviness of the album. So they wanted to incorporate heavier, guttural vocals, like Whitechapel-ish, deathcore stuff.”

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So for someone with no prior frame of reference for Scribe’s music, what will the new album sound like? “Dance,” says Prashant. “We generally have a tendency to shake our asses a lot, so we like the bounce, the groove when we’re writing music too,” he adds, mysteriously. 

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