Metal Wire: Veil of Maya
The American modern metal band’s guitarist Marc Okubo on their India debut and working on their latest record ‘False Idol’
When fans ask of Chicago metallers Veil of Maya ask them why they can’t go back to the sound of their mid2000s, guitarist and founder member Marc Okubo has often shot back to say that those were albums which barely sold, whose promo tours were hardly attended.
Okubo says over the phone from Chicago, “We’ve continuously gotten bigger with each album. I guess we just don’t want to move backwards.” He also says that they’re a band who have never had “one big hit” to their name, which is true. Since 2004, with every one of their six albums, Veil of Maya have stayed away from gimmicks and stayed true to their strength of songwriting and crafting an album.
Their most recent albums—Matriarch (2015) and False Idol (2017)—featured clean vocals for the first time, which is one way to elicit a few groans from metalheads. Okubo, however, says, “I’m trying to create a live experience for people who are maybe not even into metal and can start to understand (our music).”
Over the years, Veil of Maya have gone from deathcore to metalcore and djent influences, before finally settling on a happy, crushing amalgam of modern metal, best heard on Matriarch and False Idol. They’re a band that’s toured with quite a range of heavy-hitters—from death metal veterans Cannibal Corpse to U.K.’s mainstream rock/metal band Asking Alexandria. In March, they tour Europe with American post-hardcore band Dance Gavin Dance. Okubo says both DGD and Veil of Maya have been friends for a while, so a tour was imminent. “I feel like we’ve toured with every kind of metal band there is and I feel like this is a new genre that’s actually doing very well, so I’m excited to share our music with new people,” the guitarist adds.
But before that, Veil of Maya will make their India debut tour, playing four cities in a tour organized by Bengaluru events company Bohemian Live. The band performs with local support in New Delhi, Mumbai, Guwahati and Chennai’s IIT Madras (headlining annual cultural festival Saarang’s Rock Show) between January 10th and 14th. Okubo mentions the expected—that he wants to try out the food and scout out a few places as part of sightseeing whenever they have time off. He adds, “I’m friends with few of the dudes from (prog metal band) Skyharbor and they’ve been telling me that I’m going to love it. I’ll just trust them.”
The reference is not lost on the band, surely. They take their name from Hindu idea and concept of Maya, which translates to illusion. They even had a song called “Namaste” on their 2010 album [id], but Okubo explains that this came from the time he spent watching T.V. series Lost and heard the word often repeated. Veil of Maya certainly take a fair amount of influence from pop culture. Matriarch, for example, wasn’t just drawing attention for its (then) new vocalist Lukas Magyar and his clean vocals, but also for the choice of song titles— “Daenerys” (from fantasy series Game of Thrones), “Mikasa” (from anime show Attack on Titan), “Leeloo” (from cult sci-fi film The Fifth Element) and more. Okubo says with a laugh that one of his first formative influences to become a musician was videogame Final Fantasy VII, so there’s always influences outside of music. “I’m just influenced by whatever is around me and say, if I get into a T.V. show and it’s really good, that might be an influence for me to write a song, as opposed to listening to a bunch of songs and taking parts from it. You’re taking the feeling you get from watching something and translate that into music,” he says.
While the band vows to bring out all the biggest songs from previous albums and also promote their new album during the India performances, they’re also just generally looking forward to hang out with fans for whom this tour may be a long time coming. Okubo says, “We enjoy making friends and so I really do hope we get to hang out with everyone and have a good time together.”
After this and the Dance Gavin Dance tour, there’s more in the works for 2018. He says, “We’ve got some big, big tours in the works. I don’t think I’m allowed to announce it yet, but very excited.”
This article appeared in the January 2018 issue of Rolling Stone India.
Veil Of Maya India Tour
January 10th – Turquoise Cottage, New Delhi w/Warwan
January 11th – O2, Panjabari, Guwahati w/Dymbur
January 13th – IIT Madras, Chennai (headlining Saarang Rock Show 2018 w/Agam)
January 14th – Todi Mill Social, Mumbai w/Yonsample