Zygnema: Break The Walls Down
Mumbai thrash/groove metal band Zygnema on how Carnatic music has influenced their new album
Guitarist Sidharth Kadadi has been previously compared to American metal band Pantera’s axeman Dimebag Darrell, both in terms of delivering thrash/groove riffs with his band Zygnema and for bearing a resemblance to Dimebag, right from the curly long hair to the beard and the camouflage cargo pants. But on Zygnema’s second album, What Makes Us Human Is Obsolete, Kadadi is drawing from Carnatic music on the song “Reform Rebirth.” Says the guitarist, “After attending [Swedish guitarist] Mattias Eklundh’s Freak Guitar Camp [in 2014], I added a little bit of Carnatic influence that actually helped the whole band understand that we can have a different approach to rhythm and still keep it groovy. I’ve tried to do something I’ve never done before.”
Thematically, Kadadi mentioned in an earlier interview that the band wasn’t writing about political or social issues, like their 2010 album, Born of Unity, which drew lyrical influence from the November 26th Terrorist Attacks in Mumbai. But vocalist Jimmy Bhore mentions he’s just writing and raging about everything he sees around him. Says Bhore, “It’s not a conceptual album. There are a few songs that are social, few songs that are emotional and personal. I’ve written a song on fear, and there’s the title track, “What Makes Us Human Is Obsolete.” It’s more or less about us as humans and how we’re deteriorating as a race and how at the same time we’re corroding our surroundings, which are supposed to be our home. We are destroying it for us and others as well, you know?” Other tracks on the upcoming album include live staples such as “Invidious I,” which Kadadi has mentioned is about ego battles, “Shell Broken, Hell Loose,” which Bhore mentions is about standing up for oneself.
With that kind of message, it’s no surprise that Zygnema have fans that follow the band everywhere from the decade-old on-and-off metal venue Marine Center in Navi Mumbai to the Red Bull Tour Bus stage at Bacardi NH7 Weekender in Pune last November. Up next for them is the two-day annual metal festival BIG69 in Mumbai, which is being organized to pay tribute to now-shuttered Mumbai venue B69, which was a second home to several Mumbai metal bands, including Zygnema. Says Kadadi, “I practically lived there. I had the keys to that place.” Despite a less than desirable onstage sound at Weekender, the band says they’ve got enough feedback on the new songs to go ahead with playing only songs from their upcoming album instead of old favorites like “Machine State Hibernation,” “Scarface” and “59” at BIG69. Says Bhore, “You have to understand things from the listener’s perspective as well, but in the end, we do what we want to fucking do. We’re a fucking metal band, we’re not a pop band.”
Zygnema have spent the better part of 2014 recording their follow-up to Born of Unity. Kadadi jokes about how long they’ve been in the studio to finish the album saying, “Forever, I guess.” The newest member of the band, bassist Leon Quadros, who joined in 2013, gives us a more accurate timeline saying they’ve been going back to ArbitRandom studios in Mumbai for at least six months now, but are finally wrapping up their second album. Starting off with drummer Mayank Sharma’s live drum recording, the band are almost finished with recording Bhore’s overdubs. Bhore, who shuttles between his home town of Sangli, where he runs a restaurant and Mumbai, only cleared up enough time to record vocals in December 2014. Kadadi says he originally wanted to release the nine-track What Makes Us Human Is Obsolete in December. “But that was me being optimistic and trying to get everyone together. At this point, it looks like January or February .We don’t want to rush in. We just want to put out a good album, so that when we look back it, we’re really happy and that it’s a satisfying product.” The band is working with longtime friend and sound engineer Akash Sawant, considered as the band’s fifth member, to mix and master the album.
This article appeared in the January 2015 issue of ROLLING STONE India.
Zygnema performs at BIG69 at Richardson and Cruddas, Mumbai on January 18th, 2014. Buy tickets here.