IMR: Hails FUNERAL IN HEAVEN! Let us begin with a discussion of how the band was originally incepted and is there any key evolutions in the band since the early days? Also, you guys seem to be more influenced by Sri Lankan traditional and historical background then why is the band named in English instead of your mother-tongue?
FIH: Ayubo Pravin! FUNERAL IN HEAVEN was initiated back in 2003 by me and a few other colleagues who at that time shared an interest towards morbid and esoteric material. This included an interest towards the music genre Black Metal, at its purest form. Yes, there have been some key evolutions in the band’s history since the day it was conceived as in the early days, finding members who had musical and technological knowledge as we do now, was almost impossible. The evolution factor also reflects on the fact that we encourage experimentation within the unit by not sticking to one formula. The band name reflects the survival situation here in Sri Lanka compared to what it was or might have been as written in our historical chronicles. If we would’ve found a better way to express that we are in fact, witnessing a funeral, in heaven, in our own mother tongue, we would definitely have. So we just resorted to naming the project as mentioned above.
IMR: Who came up with the project and was it initially decided that the band will fall into the Black Metal genre?
FIH: Like I said before, it was myself and few other colleagues (now ex-members due to differences in directions) who came up with the idea of initiating such a project. But we never decided what we were going to play. We used to jam all sorts of music back then when we started out as it wasn’t a conscious decision to take the project this further. As we developed we basically found the whole Extreme Metal side of the genre, unique and interesting.
IMR: What instrument do you play and who plays what instruments in the band? Also, can you discuss some of the bands or artists, writers etc that have been influential for FUNERAL IN HEAVEN?
FIH: I am the vocalist and lyricist of the project, Joseph De Alwis and Ayesh Perera on Guitars, Dimmuthu Fernando on Bass, Visharadha Kasun Nawarathna on Drums, Violin and Esraj and Dineth Wanasinghe on Thabla. Since Joseph is working and currently residing in Dubai, we recruited Shamika Makalanda to take care of Guitar duties in Josephs absence.
As far as influences go, we have many. Living where we do is our main inspiration to write the material we write. Many have asked us why we don’t relocate to somewhere where the scene is better and theres more mutual understanding between us, our music and the other forces. But we wouldn’t be able to do what we do if we weren’t in Sri Lanka. Our other influences include philosopher, writers, archeologist such as Martin Wickramasinghe, Senerath Paranavithana, Robert Knox and Friedrcich Nietzsche. Music wise, we enjoy listening to musicians and projects such as Gunadasa Kapuge, Mohideen Beig, Jagjit Singh, Zakir Hussain, Jhon Anthony of KARNATRIXX, IMMORTAL, VENOM, MAYHEM, WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM, ABSU and MOTORHEAD.
IMR: For folks, who are unfamiliar to your style of music which you guys call it as HELA BLACK METAL, how will you key out the purpose, themes and philosophies of the band?
FIH: The purpose of the project is purely selfish. We create the music we like to listen to, and conveniently, we find a lot of people who share the same sentiments and tastes who are our fans. So we consider this a huge ‘bonus’ for us. Hela Black Metal was basically created to bring back our forgotten cultural values, traditions, and folklore stories, historical and demonic activities which have occurred in the past. There are simply too many trends flowing in from European countries and the United States into Sri Lanka, and the current generations have embraced it all, swallowing every bit of it to the extent that they consider anything truly Sri Lankan as old fashioned. Not only do they think that, but they shun all of it, just to be a part of the whole imaginary popularity contest. What we sing about and display in our theatrics is full on Sri Lankan culture, the darker more ominous side to it, which is rarely approached by any singer or any other figure in Sri Lankan society. Most importantly, it represents our middle fingers, to all dullard followers of bogus trends and to certain authorities figures and institutions who have flawlessly managed to manipulate and distract Sri Lankan society.
FUNERAL IN HEAVEN also encourages strict Anti-LTTE propaganda.
IMR: Tell me about your new E.P DAIWAYE HAASKAM SAHA PARALOWA SAPATHA, what does that mean (please translate)? Is there any theme or story that you want to convey through your musical arts and how does it sound in comparison to your past releases?
FIH: The basic translation of the title means ‘The miracles of destiny and the life after life’. Since the album will be a concept record based on some of the historical events in Sri Lanka, with the EP we wanted to direct the music and the concept to the present situation in Sri Lanka. We basically wanted to convey an array of feelings toward certain figures of high authority and parties who have changed how Sri Lankan society sees and treats each other at the present and musically, to revive the pain, misery and the memories of a few brave men who lost their lives during the process.
This record stands out in particular because we finally achieved our current goals with our music. We incorporated the Thabla, Esraj and classical Violin arrangements into the music and pushed a few boundaries a bit further.
IMR: The lyrics of the band seem to be influenced by the nation's history, demonology & astrology, who writes the lyrics for the band or is it a band effort? When you write music, what comes first – the melody, experiments or something else entirely?
FIH: I write the lyrics for the music. It’s most of the time either Joseph or Ayesh who composes the riffs and sends it to us. We then listen to all of it and build our ideas around it.
IMR: The bands music shows a great incorporation of symphonic sounds added to Black Metal, do you feel this is a positive degree of addition into the BM genre especially?
FIH: I wouldn’t go as far as calling it ‘symphonic’ but to a certain extent yes, it IS an addition to the genre. Considering the traditional instrumentation musically, and an entirely different scope of theatrics. The genre, Black Metal, as I see it is the most accommodating genre when it comes to experimentations. So it works out well for us.
IMR: Recently, you guys had a deal signed with LEGION OF DEATH RECORDS for the distribution of DAIWAYE HAASKAM SAHA PARALOWA SAPATHA E.P, how did the opportunity came about and what kind of feedback did you get for the album? Were there many other labels that approached you, and if so what made you choose LOD?
FIH: We were contacted by Shaxul of LOD, and I’ve exchanged many conversations with him for many years. He’s a great person to work with as he treated us with a lot of patience and understanding and we feel proud to have worked along with him on this release and we thank him profusely for the trust. We have gotten a lot of positive feedback for the release thanks to him and seeing and getting to know about the lands which the music is travelling to is very impressive. We are currently looking for a label who will be interested enough to release our debut album which will be finished recording by the end of this year.
IMR: Tell us something about the documentary ARISE which is about to be released soon, what is it all about?
FIH: ARISE is being put together by two ardent fans in the Sri Lankan Metal circle, namely Naveen Marasinghe and Dinesh Guneratne (DRG), and from what they’ve told me, the documentary is focused on the average life of a Sri Lankan metalhead, which is very different from the average life of a Metal fan in for example America or Europe. Final editing has been completed and the screening dates are about to be revealed for Sri Lanka, whereas a DVD version of the movie is slated to be released through Hela Distributions in a few weeks.
IMR: So let’s talk something about the religions, what are your opinions in relation with the religions or you guys don't give a FUCK about it and walk down the infidel path of darkness?
FIH: I do not think much of mainstream religion. We don’t need to be worshipping the devil in order to be against a religion such as Christianity because of the damage they have done since times of invasion centuries back, forcing our ancestors to adopt the path or give up necessities such as food and education. Evangelists piss me off, to be quite honest. It’s recognized as a major fault of being human to preach unto others what just one individual thinks is the right path, in hope to change the others beliefs. A selfish motive plays a major role in most situations; let me correct that, in ALL situations. Why does one have a relentless need to force their beliefs on the other? If blind faith is what builds up their morals, so be it. Why waste your time preaching about something as such, and even if you’re able to convert a mind or two, how successful do you think you will be, considering the millions of other followers around the globe of the same faith? I’d rather spend my time doing something productive like enjoying some of your Old Monk.
IMR: You guys have been in the Sri Lankan metal scene from quite a long time; it is obvious that you would have come across many talented bands in the local circuit. What bands (if any) have you guys seen or played with recently that you think deserved the potential to be recognized across the national boundaries?
FIH: There are many bands down here that have great potential and who more than deserve it and are in DIRE need to be recognized overseas. We have associated with many of them and are proud to have performed with them on many occasions. These are bands such as FALLEN GRACE, PARANOID EARTHLING (who has toured India 2 times now), SPLEEN SAINT, PARIAH DEMISE, RAAKSHA, FORSAKEN, INFERNAL, PLECTO ALIQUEM CAPITE, UNHOLY SERMON, CANNABIS, MERLOCK, HOLLOW and THRILOKHA.
IMR: What do you hope fans will take away from listening to the new album aside from enjoying it? Could you give the readers three reasons why they should buy E.P DAIWAYE HAASKAM SAHA PARALOWA SAPATHA?
FIH: Fans can take whatever they want from it as our views are open for interpretation, and though motives and reasons may vary, people who want to purchase will do so and we thank them for doing so.
IMR: How is the metal community out there in Sri Lanka is it growing? Could you tell us, which was the bands most intense live show that you guys ever played?
FIH: We don’t give a shit about the mainstream acts here although the underground community, which includes the bands mentioned above, is a very close knit one. The fans and bands interact without any boundaries whatsoever. We are very proud of our homegrown talent so we support each and every other by lending drum and guitar pedals, sharing rehearsal and recording studios, inviting each other to perform at shows and so on. And yes, the community is definitely growing, we have a lot of new faces at shows and a few new and talented acts here who are striving to find their own sound and make a difference. Bands such as M.O.T, SINISTER ASYLUM, DYING DECLARATION and INFERNAL will be definitely carrying the torch of Sri Lankan metal in the future.
There have been a few intense shows that we’ve taken part of but so far I think last month’s RISE AND ASSAULT was one of the most intense shows ever. That crowd was just fucking crazy.
IMR: Within these past years, one thing I have keenly observed is that the band is going more on the traditional side rather than getting raw for example, the song title's being more influenced from your native tongue and also the last two cover-art of the album shows that the band is pretty much influenced from their native soil which is obviously a good sign, any specific reasons?
FIH: It’s what we’ve always wanted to do and we’re glad we’re finally doing it. The word ‘raw’ can refer to more than one thing. If we went ‘raw’, like the hundreds and thousands of other bands who decided to do the same thing, we wouldn’t be any different from them. But it has to be made clear that the decision to be different was not made for sake of being different. We wanted to build up something of our own likings and contribute to the realm of Heavy Metal.
IMR: What is the next platter on the FUNERAL IN HEAVEN's menu, are there any future recordings planned? Does the band have any close affiliations with any of the international act, if yes then do you have any future splits in your mind at this point?
FIH: Well, the album is being recorded as we speak, and we have completed the demo sessions. About 10 songs have already been written and are on the verge on been completed, some of the tracks include The Winds of Uva, Janaani Janmabhumisca Swargadapi Gariyasi, Awaiting the Gara Yaka Spectre, Towards Sinharaja and Pura Sanda Yata (Under a Poya Moon). We have many ideas as far as experimentations go so let’s see how things turn out. And yes we do have affiliations with many international acts but I don’t think we have any splits scheduled for this year.
IMR: Thanks for the interview! Anything else you would like to add to this interview for FUNERAL IN HEAVEN fans?
FIH: Thank YOU, good sir, for taking interest in us. For our fans, a humble thank you for all you has been in our name. Eswah to you, neighbor!
- Funeral in Heaven
- Pravin Prajapati
- Fallen Grace
- Sri Lanka
- WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM
- HELA BLACK METAL
- DAIWAYE HAASKAM SAHA PARALOWA SAPATHA
- PARANOID EARTHLING
- SPLEEN SAINT
- PARIAH DEMISE
- PLECTO ALIQUEM CAPITE
- UNHOLY SERMON
Pravin Prajapati, also the co-founder at IMR is an avid Underground Music follower. Basically, he likes listening to al the good/creative music around that can please/blast his ear drums such as Metal, Rock, Carnatic, Classical, Alternactive, Jazz, Soul, Avant-Garde, Country, Folk, New-Age and Trance.
In his free time, he loves listening music, photography, playing football and lil-bit of bird-watching. He is a psychic thinker when it comes to innovative thinking and also a crazy arguer when it comes to debate. Besides these, he is also the Founder at LUBUS(Web-Development,Graphic Designing & SoftwareDevelopment) freelancing group.
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