Siddharth Basrur On Metal, Punk And Goddess Gagged
The alternative metal band will perform at the Blue Frog metal night this weekend
I’m not your quintessential metalhead; never have been, and probably never will be. I’m not saying that I don’t like listening to heavy music. I love listening to everything from Slipknot and Meshuggah to newer bands like Exotic Animal Petting Zoo and Tesseract. In fact, some days, that’s all I listen to.
Yes, I sing for a ”˜Metal’ band, but how metal is it, anyway? With Goddess Gagged, we all love wearing bright, colourful clothes. We’re also generally very colourful people who listen to a lot of other stuff apart from Metal. In fact, we’re probably the most non-metal Metal band in the scene. If you’re familiar with our music, you’ll know that there is barely any growling or screaming involved. Of course, we do have some very heavy parts in our songs, but there are some really chilled out sections too. Most of the hardcore growls and screams have been handled by the awesome Sunny Revankar. I’ve always wanted to be able to do what he does, but every time I try, I end up sounding like a stuck piglet.
I keep explaining to folks who don’t know me very well, that I didn’t grow up listening to Metal music. They seem shocked every time I tell them I’m not a Metallica or Iron Maiden fan. But it’s kind of fun to watch their jaws drop and say “Hai la, tu Metallica nahin sunta, kya?”. I just give them a wry smile, because I have now become used to it.
The fact is, I love singing; and singing with a band like Goddess Gagged has opened up a whole new range of possibilities for me. I get to explore new ideas and have grown a lot as a musician. I constantly push my limits to see how long I can hold a note or how high I can go. It has definitely made me a better, stronger musician.
But here’s a little something you probably didn’t know about me. When I was about 17, I was a wannabe growler/metal vocalist. I tried my hand at it and joined this band called Reign of Terror (ROT). That was probably my most ”˜metchul’ phase, when I listened to a lot of Sepultura, Black Sabbath, Megadeth, Type O Negative and the likes. We covered Sepultura’s version of “Symptom of the Universe”, Megadeth’s “A Tout Le Monde” and a bunch of other stuff. We sucked pretty bad, and I almost lost my voice, trying to growl, so I decided to move on and get back to what I did best ”“ drugs. And I did that for a while, till I knew I’d had enough and have been sober for almost 11 years, now.
I’ve always had a little bit of punk in me; and punk and metal aren’t actually that far apart, so maybe that’s why I found it so easy to hang out with metal heads. Of course, that wasn’t always the case. As part of Kinky Ski Munky, for which I sang from 2000-02, I’ve been heckled, verbally abused, shown pubes and have even dodged the occasional bottle. Back then, the crowd really loved their metal covers and we were an alternative/punk band that preferred playing originals and covering bands like Stone Temple Pilots, Blink 182 and Alice in Chains, so the audience didn’t always cut us too much slack. We did have our loyal followers, but not all the people who came to our gigs liked us.
Even today, there are some people who just don’t understand that you don’t have to wear black Â and have long hair to be a metalhead. For instance, I was wearing these sunglasses with blue arms when Goddess Gagged opened for Guns ”˜n’ Roses in Mumbai, and I actually got flack from a couple of the audience members for it. I distinctly even remember getting a few middle fingers at the gig. Wow. On the other hand, Goddess Gagged has had some of the most hardcore metalheads appreciate our music. When we were selected to compete at the Wacken Metal Battle, in Bangalore, three years ago, we were really apprehensive, because we knew that the crowd coming for that gig would be tough to please. But we pulled off a great gig and the crowd cheered pretty hard, so we knew it was a successful one. Of course, we didn’t get through, because we weren’t ”˜Wacken Material’. Can I get an LOL?
But the scene has changed a lot, now, and is more about brotherhood. Everyone tries to help each other out. String broke on stage, no problem, here’s my guitar, while I change your string for you. This has actually happened with Goddess Gagged a couple of times. How does it matter whether you’re a musician who plays metal or punk or acoustic? We’re all in this together and I’m glad the scene is getting to be a place where people appreciate what others do. It makes things a whole lot easier.
Siddharth Basrur is the lead vocalist of Â Mumbai alternative metal band Goddess Gagged, who will take stage at the Blue Frog Metal Night on September 1st. Anthracite, Petrichor and Reverrse Polarity will also perform at this show. Entry: Free