The Kids Are All Right
Bengaluru-based tween metallers Symphonic Eternity are done singing about bicycles and are now planning material that touches upon heavier subjects like “obstacles in life”
While most of their friends are out obsessing over the next new pop sensation or already face-deep in books preparing for the next exam, the adolescents in Bengaluru metal band Symphonic Eternity are figuring out what time signature and tuning their next composition should be written in. When we meet guitarists Rohan Raveesh and Anish Mukund [both 13], bassist Vijay Ganesan  and drummer Anagh Nayak  at their jam pad at music school Octavium, you can tell there are two sides to them ”“ the kids that fool around with each other and the musicians who are very serious about their craft. Says guitarist Rohan about “Hidden Shadows,” one of the first songs they wrote about bullying, “We thought it was too heavy for our age. I was 11 and Anagh was 9. We couldn’t play it at any recitals. We abandoned it for a while.”
Rohan picked up the guitar at the age of 5 and has been learning and playing it since then. Symphonic Eternity was formed when he and his childhood friend Anagh ”“ both of who used to jam together as a band called Diffusion ”“ met Anish at Octavium in August 2014. Bassist Vijay, a classmate of Anish, joined last, in February this year. Within a year, the band went onÂ to play gigs in Bengaluru, IIT Madras and released their EP titled Diffusion, which was recorded at Octavium. Says Rohan, “When we played IIT Saraang [cultural festival held in Chennai in December 2014], we came down after playing, there were a lot of people and they were like ”˜Selfie please!’” They even recently competed in the Bengaluru leg of Wacken Metal Battle, but didn’t have a chance to progress since the competition stipulated the winning band must have members over 20 years of age.
Although metal is their favorite kind of music, the boys like other styles too. Rohan loves to rap along to Eminem while Anagh is a fan of Canadian rockers Rush, and is currently digging prog rock outfit Porcupine Tree’s Steven Wilson. Vijay started out with Linkin Park and got introduced to Metallica through Anish – who is probably the only member to have his parents influence him; he heard Deep Purple first and got into more heavier stuff like Metallica and AC/DC.
The band admits the age barrier is still a big problem for them to get gigs. They’ve built a bit of a following though, including folk metallers The Down Troddence frontman Mithun Raj and Rohan’s guitar teacher, Thermal And A Quarter frontman Bruce Lee Mani. Vijay says about their fans, “We don’t get to see their faces so much as they’re always headbanging.” An excited Anagh proudly says how “all the ladies will be doing that,” signalling the devil horns. Fame is the easiest part, but the toughest foreseeable barrier is how studies might take precedence over practicing as Rohan, Anish and Vijay near the 10th standard. But the band says they can manage it. While Vijay says his mind gets cluttered, Anish says, “It’s not been that bad for me. I don’t know how I’m managing.” Of all the members, Anish seems to have it a bit lucky ”“ his parents aren’t exactly nosy about his listening preferences or wearing a Slayer T-shirt, and he’s gone quite high on the shredding level. Meanwhile, Anagh knows he can’t get into a lot of Lamb Of God or Slipknot and Rohan’s father ”“ Raveesh Satyanarayana, who also co-manages the band with Anagh’s father and Octavium founder Kedar Nayak ”“ changes the lyrics around before he gives the guitarist access to songs. Nayak, only half-jokingly says about one of Lamb of God’s songs, “’Walk With Me In Hell’? Why would you want to sing that?”
When you hear from members that they all started playing music early into their childhood, you can’t help but suspect there’s some helicopter parenting at work, but once you meet the band members’ parents, there’s a different story to tell. The parents say it was just about spotting and nurturing their childrens’ inclination towards music. Says Priya Mukund about her son Anish, “He started off with learning keyboard first. No push from us absolutely. Mukund [Anish’s father] and I listen to a lot of music, like classic rock. Somewhere down the line, he got interested in guitar. He’s found the right place and the right band and there’s been no looking back.” Anagh mentions with a lot of pride earlier that he picked up the idea of rhythm because of his father Kedar’s love for prog rock band Rush’s song “Red Barchetta.” Vijay’s mother Valli Ganesan adds, “I was very happy that he wanted to be in a band. He wanted to play music and I knew it was his hobby. We put him into classes to reduce his gadget timings. Now he’s into different kind of gadgets!”
While you have to agree with Nayak about the fact that what makes Symphonic Eternity special is their desire to write and play original music rather than throw in covers to emulate their idols, Diffusion does showcase their raw, somewhat naive attempt at metal. However, with theirÂ new tracks such as the prog-leaning “Time,” which Anish has written about “obstacles in life,” you can tell there’s some maturity setting in.
And it’s endearing to see just how proud they are to be playing metal and being part of the larger black T-shirt-wearing, metal-loving community. While Rohan happily says he’s turned one of his school friends into a metalhead and fan of the band, 11-year-old Anagh adds “My class has no idea about my band or what I do. Plus they ask me, ”˜What is this? Do you play metal kind of drums?” As adorable as it sounds to hear a 11-year-old complain about his friends’ ignorance about metal ”“ something that’s not going to stop any time soon ”“ it is also a sign of a welcome trend in indie music: that of young aspiring musicians taking the effort to learn and hone their craft, and working on their original material dedicatedly.
Kedar, Anagh’sÂ father, sums it up better than the kids as to why they love metal. He says, “It is very strange that these guys have picked up this genre, but retained their innocence. None of these kids have any hint of aggression among them. It’s not about rebellion. It’s just that they like the sound and the energy that comes with it.”
Listen to “Bicycle” fromÂ Diffusion EP here. Buy the EP on OKListen.Â