Sri Lankan Black Metal band DHISHTI, made their second tour to India in the month of January and ending in the month of February, named Meditation Of Death Tour. An insight of the tour has been provided to us by the guitarist, Ramindu Sanka Deshapriya and the vocalist Jayakody Marlin. We would like to thank both of them for taking the time out for us and writing such elating words for us. We would also like to thank the whole band for helping us cover them. Here’s what the band has to say about their tour to India.
IMR: How old is DHISHTI and how popular are you guys in your motherland Sri Lanka?
DHISHTI: DHISHTI was started in early 2009 as a studio band by Jayakody and Deshapriya. So you could say DHISHTI is a rather young band. However, we have a strong underground fanbase in Sri Lanka. We have followers coming to our shows mainly from the suburbs of Colombo, Kandy and Gampaha as well as other areas around the country.
On the other hand would like to make it clear that we are not in this to make money or to get popular out of this. If it's popularity we want we wouldn't be doing what we do in the first place. We do music for our self satisfaction and that only. If people like what we do they can support us, if they share the same views as us they can come for our live shows and listen to our music.
IMR: How has Sri Lanka treated your band, over the years?
DHISHTI: Better than we could have ever hoped for. The response to our music has been enormous and has grown exponentially over the years. Although at our first gig people were quite put off by our style of music, they have grown to love Atmospheric/Depressive Black Metal which resulted in a huge wave of DSBM and Atmospheric Black Metal bands springing up from the Sri Lankan Metal scene. To this day, we have a loyal following of Sri Lankan fans who expect to see us perform at every gig in Sri Lanka and trip out to our music after consuming various intoxicants.
Our lyrical and musical themes have also been greatly appreciated in recent years. Our fans have grown along with the band, maturing in their appreciation of our music and the concepts we attempt to portray through it. More fans are asking for the lyrics to our songs, and in our opinion, this is a very important turning point, because finally our fans from Sri Lanka are understanding what DHISHTI stands for and the message we are trying to convey.
IMR: Black-Metal, a highly underrated genre. What made you guys go for it?
DHISHTI: Rather than us actually going for Black Metal, we believe that the Black Metal genre was chosen for us by who we are. Black Metal is based fundamentally around individualism and we are stoic supporters of that. Uniqueness and having something to believe in is very important for a Black Metal artist.
Although Black Metal is considered to be underrated, it must be said that Black Metal is a self-serving genre, rather than one which depends on a horde of supporters. However, there are large amounts of people who truly believe in Black Metal and are true to its core concepts around the world, and this following helps keep the scene active and interesting.
IMR: Your recent release, is in Sinhala, I presume. Has language ever created any barrier for you guys? What does DHISHTI mean and what message does the song NEECHA PAPA convey to people?
DHISHTI: Yes, NEECHA PAPA and all the songs on our upcoming LIFE IS SUFFERING album will be in Sinhala, our mother tongue. We primarily make music for our own pleasure so we would never consider language as a ‘barrier’, rather, what we feel is that these ideas so close to the culture of the Sinhalese people should be conveyed in the Sinhala language.
The name DHISHTI refers to an evil spirit in our culture. This spirit can be manifested in the form of an animal or a demon and be used to do one’s bidding. Generally the use of a "dhishti" is to bring misfortune and suffering upon those who have wronged you. In essence, the message we want to convey through our name is that of a "dhishti" which will bring doom to the various invaders who have ravaged the peaceful land of Sri Lanka over many millennia. The song NEECHA PAPA is an extension of this concept. NEECHA PAPA directly translates in to ‘abhorrent sin’, and we consider the atrocities committed on the Sri Lankan people by various European and other invaders throughout the years as the abhorrent sins which cannot be forgiven. NEECHA PAPA speaks of the pain and misery that will be visited upon these abhorrent sinners through the invocation of a "dhishti".
IMR: Being in our neighbouring country, how does it feel to get recognition in India?
DHISHTI: Since quite a while back, the Sri Lankan and Indian Metal scenes have been very closely linked. The biggest Sri Lankan bands are well-known and appreciated in India, just as the most popular Indian bands are well-known in Sri Lanka. As we have emphasized, we play music for our own pleasure but it is gratifying to know that there are people in India who enjoy our music and agree with our concepts.
IMR: How has Indian soil treated you, with your "Meditation Of Death Tour"?
DHISHTI: It has been a mixed bag, really. First of all we must say that the crowd that turned up for all 4 gigs on the tour were awesome. Although our brand of music was something totally new and alien to most of them, those who could appreciate our music enjoyed themselves and made it a point to express to us how much they did. Apart from a few minor hiccups, the organizers of the 4 concerts were highly professional, and in this respect we must give special mention to Kunal, Ajaya and Vignesh from Mumbai, Hozo from Darjeeling and David from Guwahati, and it was an honor to perform at gigs set up by such dedicated organizers.
India in general treated us very well other than the train rides, which were pretty hectic. We spent about 5 days in total on the train throughout the tour. That’s a lot when you consider sitting in a box with nothing to do and being harassed by various people. Other than the train rides, India was a great place to be in and the people from the Metal scene that we met were absolutely awesome, and they made it an unforgettable experience for us.
IMR: Are you guys happy with the turn-out in India? How were the sale, and the CD recognition here?
DHISHTI: We are very happy with the turn-out at the Mumbai, Darjeeling and Guwahati gigs. There were less people at the Bangalore gig, but we always say that we will perform even to 5 people who enjoy our music, so we were never really that concerned about how many people turned out for the gigs as long as they enjoyed themselves and appreciated what we were trying to say. In that respect it must be said that we met some awesome fans at the Bangalore gig as well. Some of our merchandise, which consisted of the Meditation Of Death Tour (Digipack) and T-shirt, got sold at every gig we played at.
IMR: What do you think is the reputation of your band in India (as perceived by you guys)?
DHISHTI: The feeling we got was that we are quite well known among fans of Black Metal and Depressive Metal. In many places we performed, especially Mumbai and Guwahati, groups of hardcore Depressive Suicidal Black Metal fans met and spoke with us, claiming that they are ardent fans of our music. In Darjeeling, it was their first taste of Depressive Black Metal, but our reputation preceded us and there were many fans who were quite interested to see us perform.
We think that in India we are recognized for what we are; the only Depressive/Atmospheric Black Metal band that performs live in this region. Our releases are known within the Underground Metal community of India. Of course, when we released the music video for NEECHA PAPA, we would have had an exponential increase of our popularity in India, but we like to believe that we have a hardcore following in your country that are very interested in the music we have to offer.
IMR: This is your second tour in India. How has the first tour been for you guys?
DHISHTI: We first toured India when we came to the first edition of Black Metal Kreig in Mumbai in 2010. That was a very interesting experience for us as we got to see what India has to offer in terms of Black Metal, and also the response that Indian Metal fans have for an all-Black Metal gig. In Sri Lanka we are used to having a Metal culture in which Black Metal plays a very prominent role, so we were rather disappointed to find that the scene in India was not that advanced.
On the other hand, we became acquainted with many interesting people while on that tour and made friends who have been with the band since those days and have supported us a lot on this tour as well. We also made friends with members of the bands from the Indian Black Metal scene and alliances were made which led to many interesting musical collaborations, including 1833 AD’s July 2011 tour of Sri Lanka.
We feel that we also matured a great deal as a band as a result of that tour. Of course, we have changed quite a bit and refined our sound a great deal during the past year or so before we went on our Meditation Of Death Tour.
IMR: Give us some insight of the second tour(Meditation Of Death Tour) in India?
DHISHTI: Our second tour of India, titled the Meditation Of Death Tour, was organized primarily through the efforts of FRAMESHIFT INITIATIVES, which is an artist management company based primarily in Mumbai, Maharashtra. The tour consisted of 4 gigs around India starting in Mumbai with Black Metal Kreig II on the 21st of January, then moving on to Darjeeling Meta-Legion Fest on the 27th of January, followed by Stormbringer II in Guwahati on the 30th of January and Metal Rage on the 4th of February in Bangalore.
To speak in very general terms about the tour, we are very happy about how it turned out; all 4 gigs went smoothly in terms of how we performed and the response from the crowd. There were a few minor hiccups along the way but we guess that is to be expected in tours of this magnitude.
IMR: In your second tour, you guys have covered almost the main states in India. How different has the experience been?
DHISHTI: It isn’t possible to think of our experiences on the two tours of India as even remotely related. Last time, we came to Mumbai and stayed for 4 days including the day of the gig. This time around, it was a roller-coaster ride of moving from location to location and performing at gigs in front of crowds who were completely different from each other. What we can say with absolute conviction is that we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves despite any problems we may have had along the way. Travelling to exotic destinations like Darjeeling and experiencing the different cultures within different states is an experience not to be forgotten. To put it in absolutely simple terms, it was the experience of a lifetime. This time around, we really felt India in bones rather than merely seeing it with our eyes.
IMR: Has India welcomed you as you guys anticipated?
DHISHTI: We were never expecting a massive reception and apart from basic amenities we weren’t expecting a lot of luxury on our tour either. However, it must be said that the people we met everywhere we met, especially people from the Metal community, were absolutely hospitable and welcoming. We are glad to have seen the brotherhood and friendship within the Indian Metal hordes, and to have been able to experience it first hand.
IMR: Any personal hilarious experience ?
DHISHTI: We travelled to to the different states we were performing in by train, which gave us a total of about 5 days of train travel throughout the whole tour. We travelled sleeper class, and it was quite an experience. The transvestites on the train was something we never expected. Knowing we were foreigners, they seemed to enjoy annoying us as much as possible, especially Alles! Towards the end we ended up dreading the clapping noise they made which signalled their arrival. Anyway, it was not such a big deal as by giving them the ‘stink-eye’ we could always make them go away, eventually.
IMR: How was the onstage experience here, different from that in Sri-Lanka ?
DHISHTI: It wouldn’t be wise to compare the onstage experiences at the 4 gigs we played in India, let alone comparing them to the on-stage experience in Sri Lanka. We don’t think we can generalize in terms of the onstage experience in India, because we played at venues where the people listening to our music were completely different from each other culturally and in terms of the music they follow. The physical conditions on each stage were completely different from each other as well. In Mumbai we performed at a professional gig venue with a killer sound setup, in Darjeeling we performed at a temperature below 5 degree celcius at a venue that is probably the most underground venue we have seen so far, in Guwahati and Bangalore we performed at small venues designed to suit other purposes than Metal gigs. The on-stage experience varied along with these factors. It must be said, though, that the crowd at all these venues were very supportive and responded to our music similarly to the crowds in Sri Lanka.
IMR: Any special mention about people? Anyone you want to thank?
DHISHTI: There are so many people who helped us in many different ways throughout the tour.
Ajaya Bhat and Vignesh Iyer from FRAMESHIFT INITIATIVES, who set up the whole tour and managed everything from gigs to where we stayed.
Kunal, Felix, Souvik and Ruark from STARK DENIAL, for working so hard to organize Black Metal Krieg II in Mumbai.
Hozo and the Darjeeling Meta-Legion, they are a hardcore crowd who would do anything for Metal. They were the organizers of the Darjeeling Meta-Legion Fest in Darjeeling.
David from Guwahati who did such a great job organizing Stormbringer II.
Sandesh Shenoy and all the guys who helped us.
Victor from De’Sat for giving us a place to stay while we were in Bangalore.
Gurdip and the members of GUTSLIT for an awesome night of drinking and for arranging for us to stay at a fantastic hotel.
Rupsa Das and her friends for looking after us for a whole day in Kolkata, while we waited to switch trains.
Sharnya Natrajan and Aishwarya Tipnis, two very good friends from Mumbai who have stayed in touch with us since our tour in 2010.
Aishwarya Basangar for being such a reliable friend and for looking after us when we returned to Mumbai after the gig in Bangalore.
Imran, whom we met on the train to Kolkata, who cheered us up considerably when we were down and making the hardships on the train seem funny rather than painful.
IMR: Has your tour been a successful endeavour? What message would you like to give India?
DHISHTI: It has been one hell of a tour, and there is no doubt in our minds that it was successful. We just hope that the people who witnessed us perform understood the message we were trying to put across. More than anything, we hope that the many interesting individuals we met on our journey had something to gain from it.
The Indian Black Metal scene is growing fast and we hope that the great bands we met and performed alongside will keep up their good work and strive to take the message of Black Metal to every metalhead in the country.
The final message we’d like to give is: be true to yourself; have the backbone to follow your own path, and take responsibility for it. Celebrate your individuality and uniqueness.
She female from Kolkata having a strong love towards Death Metal. Currently, she is doing Computer Science engineering. She started listening to legends like Deep Purple, WhiteSnake and Pink Floyd as early as when she was just little kid.
In the meanwhile, exploring this arena made her to like more underground forms such as Old school death metal and has formed immense love towards it. She admires and loves music and despises pseudo-genres and trend, having a special love for Indian Music scene and have firm belief that they would go a very very very long way towards success, in the years to come!
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