Interview with vocalist and guitarist Nolan Lewis
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: December 11, 2012
Kryptos, from Bangalore, India, have finally, and deservedly, made a breakthrough by signing a deal with Germany's AFM Records. This Indian melodic Thrash/Heavy Metal act's two previous albums, Spiral Ascent (2007) and The Ark of Gemini (2008) paved the way for the band, culminating with the AFM deal in August 2012. The first fruit is Kryptos' third full-length album, The Coils of Apollyon, and it showcases the band's potential.
Guitarist and vocalist Nolan Lewis tells us more about the band's deal with AFM and talks about his honest views of why it's so hard for Indian Metal bands...
Luxi: First of all, my sincere congrats on signing a worldwide deal with AFM Records. It must feel pretty awesome to get Kryptos signed to such a high profile label.
Nolan: Thanks a lot Luxi. Yeah, it feels fantastic to sign with a label of the stature of AFM Records. We've been working towards something like this for a long time now so it was awesome when everything finally fell into place.
Luxi: How long of a process has it been for Kryptos to reach this level, breaking out of India and away from the smaller labels, and getting into the international spotlight?
Nolan: It's been a long, long time. We've been around for close to 15 years now, so I like to think that we're finally getting our due after so many years of hard work. But I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason and certain things happen at a certain point in time for a reason, so even though it's been a long haul to get to this moment, it is exactly where we should be right now. If something like signing with a major label happened to us maybe 5 years ago I doubt we'd be anywhere as ready as we are now to make the most of it.
Luxi: Kryptos' third full-length album, The Coils of Apollyon, was actually fairly long in the making; 4 years before it was finally unleashed on Iron Fist Records in February 2012. Your previous album, The Ark of Gemini, was released on Old School Metal Records in 2008. Were you originally supposed to release The Coils of Apollyon on OSM Records or was it delayed due to the label's "inactive phase"?
Nolan: Not really. We were always looking for a European label for the third album since we really needed to get a foothold in Europe. OSM were absolutely great with us and they've been really supportive of everything. The reason our new album took a long while to come out was because we took our time to put all the material together. There's no point in hurrying things up and releasing a mediocre album. Our main priority is to write the best music that we possibly can, regardless of how long it takes and once we're completely satisfied with what we've got, only then will the recording process start. This time around we also managed to keep the rights for the album for India so we can distribute it here on our own through Iron Fist Records. This was important to us since we know how the scene works here better than just about anybody, so this way can get our album to the fans over here a lot quicker.
Luxi: Do you have an idea of how well The Ark of Gemini sold worldwide?
Nolan: I'm not really sure how much it sold, maybe about a thousand copies or so. We never really worried about that since we just wanted to get our music out to as many places as possible. OSM did a great job of distributing the album and once we started getting mail from people in countries like Argentina, Russia, Mexico, etc. telling us how much they loved our music, well that was all the reward we could ask for.
Luxi: It is safe to assume Kryptos left OSM Records on terms with Ramseier, didn't you?
Nolan: Yeah, Patrick (Ramseier, OSM owner) is great guy and I don't think we can thank him enough for all his support. He was always supportive and he's a genuinely nice guy and of course he took a chance on us, a band from India. So he has our utmost respect and gratitude for sure.
Luxi: Back to your latest album, The Coils of Apollyon. The band line-up on this release is exactly the same as the one that recorded The Ark of Gemini. This leads me to ask how important you feel it is for Kryptos to have a stable line-up of dedicated musicians.
Nolan: It's definitely important and you can hear the difference on the new album. Over the last 4-5 years we've managed to really tighten up as a band and, since we're all on the same page as far as our influences are concerned, the songwriting has become a lot easier and natural as well. Chemistry is something that can't be understated because without that, things definitely would not have turned out for the better.
Luxi: What about the recording process for The Coils of Apollyon? Would you share some details about it with us?
Nolan: The album was recorded and produced by a good friend of ours, Anupam Roy. He's one of India's best producers and he's a whiz at getting a great sound, whether it's in the studio or at gigs. He'll make you sound like a million bucks. It was pretty funny because he's more of a modern Metal fan who's into stuff like Meshuggah and bands like that so we literally had to lock him in a room and play him The Number of the Beast or Screaming for Vengeance nonstop, ha-ha-ha!!
The entire album was recorded in our home town Bangalore at various places and it took about a month and a half to complete. It was fucking tough on us both physically and mentally since we had to juggle recording sessions with our jobs and other things and as anyone from India will tell you, it's no small feat. But no pain no gain right?
Luxi: How would you compare the songs on this album to your previous albums? Which areas do you believe you have improved most and are there still things on The Coils of Apollyon that you might have even done a bit better, in your honest opinion?
Nolan: Everything is a lot better this time around. The production is killer, the songwriting is top notch and everything is a complete step up from our previous album. I can't really think of anything we could have done to make this album better since it sounds exactly like we imagined even before we started recording, so no qualms there. We just sound way more confident and way more powerful now and it clearly shows on the new album.
Luxi: The Coils of Apollyon will be released on AFM Records on September 21st 2012. What kind of expectations do you have regarding that?
Nolan: I expect it to do quite well actually. Monetarily, I don't really know because that's not the important thing. I mean yeah it will be great if we can make some money off it but we're really looking at making a mark with this album. We want this album to remind people of what made them fall in love with Metal music in the first place. You know that feeling when we were all kids and we heard our first Priest or Maiden albums and we'd feel the hair stand up on the back of our necks. THAT'S the feeling we want to give people because nowadays the soul is missing in a lot of Heavy Metal so we're bringing some of that back. Be proud to put on your leather jacket and your hi tops and torn jeans. Who cares what anyone else says or thinks?
Luxi: Will the AFM version contain any bonus tracks, and how much has the CD layout changed from the original release? You told me earlier that it will look quite different compared to the version that you already put out in India.
Nolan: No bonus tracks but it will look a bit different. The one we put out in India is a digipak version while AFM will release the album in a jewel case format. Some of the inner artwork has been rearranged and there are probably some extra panels in the AFM version, but on the whole nothing drastically different.
Luxi: Are you satisfied with both versions? How much influence did you have on the final layout on the AFM version?
Nolan: Of course, the AFM version will be of a higher quality, design-wise, since in India it's pretty tough to meet those standards, but the digipak is pretty good as well. It could've been better but it was the best we could manage with what we had. AFM gave us full freedom to design the layout whichever way we thought best so that was no problem at all.
Luxi: The world famous horror and gore artist Mark Riddick is responsible for the album artwork. How did you get in touch with him and how well would you say the album artwork represents what Kryptos' third album is all about?
Nolan: I've been a big fan of his artwork for a long time and even though it's a bit on the horror side of things, I thought it would be a good fit for our album since I wanted to go for a contrast between the album cover and the music inside. The cover is more Death Metal than anything else so it's a pretty interesting contrast to the retro melodic Metal/Thrash inside. Kind of like the Killers album cover with Eddie holding a bloody axe. It's a pretty 'brutal' album cover but the music inside is pure Heavy Metal gold.
Luxi: After your third album has been released worldwide, I would think AFM Records would want to fly Kryptos to Europe for some gigs to promote the album. Are you ready and motivated for some extensive gigging?
Nolan: Yeah we're totally ready. We've been dying to come back to Europe and tour ever since we first played a few gigs and festivals in 2010. The main issue is money, as always. It's incredibly expensive for us to travel to Europe but we're prepared to save up and make whatever sacrifices need to be made to get our asses over there. We're working on it so who knows, 2013 just might be our year.
Luxi: Have you played outside of India thus far, by the way? If not, obviously that's something that may both scare and excite you at the same time, yes?
Nolan: We played a couple of festivals in Germany and Hungary in 2010 as well as a few club gigs in Germany and Switzerland. That was a pretty awesome experience. It was really exciting but not really scary since we deal with more scary shit right here in India, ha-ha! We played in Nepal a couple of years ago as well and that was pretty amazing too.
Luxi: Are there some places in this world where you'd especially like to perform with Kryptos?
Nolan: We'd love to play in South America for sure. The people there are so passionate about metal music and we'd love to perform for people like that. Of course we'd also love to come back to Germany and play there since we were so warmly received the last time and probably Greece as well. They seem to have some of the most rabid Metal fans on the planet. Actually we'll play anywhere, we don't care, ha-ha!
Luxi: Kryptos were supposed to play on May 5th 2012 at Summer Blaze festival in New Delhi, where Nile was the headlining act. You had a chance to share the stage with them, plus three other Indian metal bands, Demonic Resurrection being one of them. How was that experience and did you get to promote Kryptos quite a bit, maybe even getting in contact with the guys in Nile?
Nolan: The festival got cancelled a few weeks before it could happen because Nile was apparently denied visas to India. I'm not sure why that happened but I'm not surprised considering the high-handedness of our government agencies. That would have been a good festival to play at, so that kind of sucked.
Luxi: You also had to postpone a Kryptos tour across India that was supposed to happen at the end of last year. What happened, and will there be some new Indian dates announced soon?
Nolan: We couldn't really get enough sponsorship to make the tour happen. To pull off something like that costs a lot of money, so rather than do it half-baked we just decided to postpone it indefinitely. We still plan on doing it but it might take a little while longer now.
Luxi: How easy, or difficult, is it for an Indian Metal band to get gigs booked in your country? What are some of those places in India that have become even sort of famous for their Metal concerts over the recent years?
Nolan: The way things work in India is pretty different from most of the world. Basically there are a lot of 'Battle Of The Bands' type of things that a lot of new bands play and these contests usually happen at major universities around India and are usually headlined by some of the bigger bands in the Indian Metal scene. But lately a lot of bands from abroad headline these shows and there seems to be a bit of competition between the organizers of these events to get as many well-known Metal/Rock acts down to India as possible, which in turn affects a lot of the more established bands here in India because they end up losing out on a lot of gigs. This includes us as well, so right now we've just got to ride it out and play wherever we possibly can and also do some of our own DIY gigs every now and then.
Bangalore though has always been THE place for Heavy Metal in India since the local scene has been going since the eighties and this is where every huge Metal band comes to play at from Metallica to Iron Maiden to Slayer to Kreator, etc. It all happens here most of the time. Other cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Shillong, etc. do see their fair share of gigs from time to time but so far Bangalore has yet to be beat.
Luxi: Do you have someone to help Kryptos get gigs or do you have to get them on your own?
Nolan: We don't really have anyone helping us get gigs here in India but usually if anyone wants us to play a gig somewhere they get in touch with our manager and work out a deal. Every now and then our manager also looks out for any gigs or festivals we could play so it's a bit of a two way street at the moment.
Luxi: Apparently, India has a relatively solid Metal scene, although it's very tough for bands from your country to make the breakthrough to the international markets. Apart from Kryptos, the only Indian Metal band that I can really think of, that has gained some international notoriety, is Demonic Resurrection, a Black/Death Metal band from Mumbai. Undoubtedly, there are quite a few reasons for this dilemma. What is your point of view as to why it takes so much time for Indian Metal bands to make an impact on people outside India?
Nolan: There are a whole lot of reasons for that actually. The Indian Metal scene is still really young. Sure, there have been bands scattered all over the country since the 80's and 90's, but it was nothing like how it is in Europe because basically there was nothing. The whole thing only started picking up steam around six or seven years ago so things are still in its infancy. The trouble is everything is happening way too fast in a really short span of time, mostly due to improved technology and the quick rate of 'progress' India has made economically over the last decade or so. Because of this there really isn't enough time for a scene to nurture itself because everyone's hopping on to the next big thing in the blink of an eye. Also a lot of bands here usually comprised of teenagers so there is incredible societal pressure on them to become doctors or engineers or things like that and a lot of bands break up after a couple of years. Plus there are other factors like our idiotic government who love clamping down on 'western culture' every now and then as well as a severe lack of venues to play at. It's basically an uphill struggle right from the start. Some bands like us, Demonic Resurrection and a few others have managed to survive all these years through sheer grit but others haven't been so fortunate.
Luxi: What about Kryptos' relationship with other Indian Metal bands? Do you support each other, helping the best you can as far as promotional aspects and stuff are concerned?
Nolan: Yeah, we get along well with quite a few bands around the country and we do help some of them whenever possible, whether it's at a gig or helping with promoting their albums or merch or whatever. But it's just like in real life. You usually stick with people who you have something in common with and it's no different with bands here, so you'll see a lot of the old school bands hanging out or the Death Metal/Grind crowd doing their own thing, etc.
Luxi: Can you name some of the Indian Metal bands that people should keep their eyes open for?
Nolan: Bands like Bevar Sea, Dying Embrace, Armament, Mortar, Purgation, Agnostic, etc. are all bands I'd recommend people check out. Dying Embrace have been around since 1991 and they have some great material already out and Bevar Sea's debut album, which should be out soon is also going to be something to look out for if you're into Doom/Stoner stuff.
Luxi: We are not too far away from 2013, so what are your hopes for Kryptos during that year?
Nolan: We hope to tour Europe for a longer period and I think that should be a very real possibility since we're working towards it and we also hope to have some new material ready by the end of 2013 for our next release. And we hope not to get hit by a bus or a stray cow anytime soon, ha-ha!
Luxi: I guess that's all I had in my mind right now, so I want to thank you, Nolan, for the time that you spent answering my questions and to wish you all the best in the future with Kryptos. If there's still something that you'd like to add to this interview, feel free to do so, sir...
Nolan: Thank you very much Luxi and thanks for all your support. To everyone who loves eighties Metal with as much passion as we do, run out and get yourself a copy of our album The Coils of Apollyon. We guarantee you won't be disappointed, but just in case you are, at least you'll have an interesting beer coaster on your hands.
|Other information about Kryptos on this site|
|Review: The Coils of Apollyon|
|Review: The Coils of Apollyon|
|Review: Burn Up the Night|
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