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Thrash & Burn: Premik Jolly

The Bengaluru-based thrash metal veterans Threinody’s guitarist Premik Jolly on balancing his metal allegiances with his love for electronica

Anurag Tagat May 14, 2014
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Jolly at his Area 51 Studio in Bengaluru. Photo: Courtesy of Premik Jolly

Jolly at his Area 51 Studio in Bengaluru. Photo: Courtesy of Premik Jolly

Bengaluru’s old school metalheads are known to swear by their leather vests and limited edition cassette tapes of obscure metal bands, but thrash metal band Thre­inody’s guitarist Premik Jolly is a study in contrast. Jolly has the distinction of being as much of a metalhead as he is a fan of electronica. This month, Jolly finishes pro­ducing Bengaluru sludge metal band Shep­herd’s debut full-length album Stereolithic Riffalocalypse and continues recording his band Threinody’s album at his own studio, Area 51, in Bengaluru

Jolly, a 31-year-old whose day job in­volves heading a construction firm based in Bengaluru, got into the Goa psy trance scene about the same time as Threinody was formed, in the mid Nineties. He got his first guitar at age seven and he picked a tape featuring psy trance DJ Goa Gil when he was just 10, which is when his EDM journey began. Jolly went from being an electronica fan to an artist when he launched Pre­matron in 2007, around when Threinody started their five-year break, after their former drum­mer Satish Raj moved to Goa.

Threinody were down to found­ing member and vocalist-bassist Siddharth Naidu and Jolly. Says the gui­tarist, “We were never off. We would meet, we would jam, but we would just never perform. Siddharth had a lot on his plate.” Those five years were certainly when the demand and supply of metal in India in­creased, but Threinody only returned in December 2012. They roped in drummer Shreyas Kamath and re-released their 2006 EP Trimetallicthreinonide. By then, there were many new metal bands getting booked to play.

The five-year break led to audiences shifting towards newer bands emerging in the Bengaluru metal scene, including ston­er/doom rock band Bevar Sea and thrash/death metal band Inner Sanctum. It helps that Bengalu­ru is still very much in love with its old school metal, but Jolly says in his experience, gigs were a lot better when they were organized by bands themselves. Says Jolly, “We did this gig back in 2000 with [old school metal band] Kryptos and [technical death metal band] Myndsnare called Encomium. I look at other places like Mumbai, Hyderabad and Kolkata and that’s what they’re doing [for gigs]. That’s not happening here ”“ we’re still dependent on a bunch of people who pick bands of their choice, their venue and their kind of promotion.”

(center) Jolly with vocalist Anushka Manchanda and electronica artist Ma Faiza at Sunburn 2012.

(center) Jolly with vocalist Anushka Manchanda and electronica artist Ma Faiza at Sunburn 2012.

Another reason for fewer metal gigs is the explosion of EDM over the last five years. But Jolly has little to complain about. As Prematron, Jolly performs about once every two months, varying his set. Says Jolly, “I’ll do a psy progressive set if it’s a party scene, I’ll play a chillout, downtempo set if it’s at a lounge, I’ll take my synthesizers and guitar ”“ I won’t DJ, but I’ll play [a live set]. I’ll play a full-blown two-hour set and all these fuckers will be standing on the dancefloor asking me, ”˜Where’s the beat?’”

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When Jolly performed alongside vocalist Anushka Manchanda and electronica DJ Ma Faiza at Sunburn in 2012, he took his signa­ture BC Rich V guitar with him on stage, riff­ing out as he handled synth and guitars. But Jolly says he’d never remix a Threinody song or any other metal track, simply because he doesn’t want to mix up the two worlds. Says Jolly, “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it. I see an instrument and see what it can do and stay within its boundaries. If you gave me a Tele­caster or a Strat, I’d still pick it up and slap some power riffs out of it. I won’t play some­thing cool and funky. I like to keep it in line.” Prematron branched off into a trip hop proj­ect late last year, featuring two Bengaluru vocalists ”“ Maria Tom and Priyanka Blah. In December 2013, one of his tracks with Tom, “Slipstream,” featured on Puma’s lim­ited edition vinyl LP compilation, alongside top electronica acts such as Kohra and Midi­val Punditz.

Both Prematron and Threinody meet at Jolly’s Area 51 studios, although the pro­ducer says he composes for his electroni­ca project “sitting alone with his head over a synth.” When he’s not working on either of his projects, Area 51 is booked by Benga­luru bands. That Jolly is a sought after pro­ducer is no surprise. Says Shepherd bassist Abhishek Michael, “Premik did [Bengalu­ru doom metal band] Djinn and Miskaton­ic’s album and we felt that he did a good job there. Plus, he’s an all-round fun and pro­fessional guy. He’s always keeping the mood in the studio light, which makes for a fun recording session.”

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Jolly is currently producing albums for metal bands such as Dying Embrace, Djinn and Miskatonic and Shepherd at Area 51 stu­dio in Bengaluru, which he set up in 2010. Last year, Jolly recorded Djinn and Miska­tonic for their debut full-length album, Forev­er In The Realm, which was one of his favor­ite experiences. Jolly recalls, “The concept we came up with last time was absolutely amaz­ing. They gave me the song and asked me to package it any way. The sound design was the best part ”“ screaming everywhere, throw­ing bottles, burning fire ”“ it was awesome.” Jolly wants to get Djinn and Miskatonic back into the studio for their next album, after wrapping up with Shepherd on their debut album and heavy metal band Lucidreams’ new material.

This article appeared in the May 2014 issue of ROLLING STONE India.

Steam Threinody’s latest single, “Surrender To the Blade”

Listen to Prematron’s new album, Fade, here

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