Interview with guitarist and vocalist Nolan Lewis
Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen
Date online: November 26, 2022
Indian heavy metallers Kryptos have come a long way since the band's debut album, Spiral Ascent, came out in 2004. After their next two albums, The Ark of Gemini (2008) and The Coils of Apollyon (2012), the band transformed their style into a very guitar-driven heavy metal attack on their next three albums, including their latest, Force of Danger, which was released on October 1, 2021. They have grown their fanbase steadily with each album over the past two decades and their hard and very dedicated work has seen them enjoy an increasing number of concerts around the world.
The Metal Crypt caught up with one of the original members, guitarist and vocalist Nolan Lewis, on their Nowhere to Run 2022 European tour when the band arrived in Helsinki, Finland, on November 9, 2022. We discussed many topics from the success of their ongoing tour to the current Indian underground metal scene, which has quite a few promising bands that may well make a breakthrough internationally.
Let's release Nolan from his metal cage at this point...
First off, welcome to Finland, Nolan.
Nolan: It's good to meet you.
This is your first time playing in Finland, right?
Nolan: Yes. It's our first time.
How was your gig in Tampere, Finland, yesterday?
Nolan: It was really good. It was a small pub, and it was a weekday, so the audience wasn't too big, but they were really enthusiastic, which was cool. We met a lot of cool people. Some people were supposed to go to the Paradise Lost gig, which was happening the same day, but they ditched it and came to watch us, which was also awesome. It's cool.
How much do you know about your support act The Hirvi, which is an old thrash metal band from our country?
Nolan: I just heard a little bit yesterday because we were backstage and we were gearing up and stuff, but they sounded pretty good. They sounded like a thrash/death type band. I won't get to listen to them completely because I'll be busy with our stuff but maybe today I can catch a catch some of their set.
NOWHERE TO RUN – EUROPE TOUR 2022
How would you sum up your ongoing European tour so far?
Nolan: It's been beyond our expectations actually, because in 2019 we came to Europe and things were going really well. We were building a lot of momentum and then COVID happened, and it put the brakes on everything for like three years. We weren't sure if when we came back to Europe people would remember us or would come to our shows and stuff. We decided to give it a shot and we were super surprised at all the gigs. Most have been either sold out or more people than we expected. Some people, they've been waiting for us since 2019 and people have been traveling from all over Europe to come and watch us, which is crazy. We never expected anything like that. It's amazing.
If you think back to 2013 when you got the opportunity to play at Wacken as the first Indian metal band, you have come a long way since then with six studio albums since. Did you ever think Kryptos would be still around in 2022 and doing tours and making new music or has that been your goal since the beginning, to keep Kryptos going no matter what?
Nolan: We never expected it to go this go for this long, but you don't think about things like that. You just take it month by month, year by year, and the years keep ticking by and then all of a sudden, it's like, "Whoa. We've been around for a really long time." I think next year we complete 25 years, which is pretty insane. It doesn't even feel like 25.
Time goes by really fast...
Nolan: We never expected it to last this long and, of course, the main thing is we need motivation to keep doing this. This tour is really motivating us to come back again, to release another album, do it all over again. That's what will keep this rolling.
Is this kind of a "normal cycle" for you; record an album, then tour for it and then after touring go back to the studio to repeat the same over and over again?
Nolan: Yes, but unfortunately for us, it's very difficult to travel from India to Europe. We can only do it maybe once or twice a year. This year we did it twice, which it's pretty expensive to do.
I know. Yes, buying visas, traveling costs, etc. add up to a remarkable pile of money indeed...
Nolan: Yes, and besides that we all have regular jobs, so it's very difficult to take leave from our jobs and all that stuff. We've got to balance it out somehow. I think next year should be okay. We'll space it out a bit better.
Both you and Ganesh K. are the original members who have been in the band since it was formed in 1998. In the very beginning, the band was called 8 on the Richter. Do you know where this name came from?
Nolan: I actually don't know because that was the band Ganesh was in. Then he asked me to join them. The band didn't even last a couple of months. I think Eight on the Richter refers to the Richter scale, which measures earthquakes and eight is the maximum. I guess that's what the name of the band meant. The band was pretty crappy, though.
Nolan: Then the band broke up, so it was just me and Ganesh left. We found a drummer and we decided to start a completely new band. We formed Kryptos.
ROOTS BLOODY ROOTS
Over the years, Kryptos has adopted more heavy metal elements into the sound. Do you think it's been natural to head in that direction musically because the band's true roots are deeply in the eighties heavy metal style, bands like Priest, Maiden, Saxon, Accept, and stuff like that?
Nolan: Yes, because that era of heavy metal, the eighties, has always been our roots. All our music is based on '80s heavy metal. Back when we started out, we were influenced by a lot of new music, a lot of thrash, a lot of death, a lot of doom, all that stuff. We were young and said, "Let's see what works." We started stuffing all this into our music. Then as we grew older, we were like, "We need to go back." We felt the need to go back to our roots and completely strip away all this other stuff because we didn't feel that way anymore. We felt like playing '80s music, the stuff that we grew up on, which is why we play that music right now and it feels right. That's the most important thing.
I can easily hear the '80s vibe and feeling come through your music nowadays. It's pretty fucking cool what you have been doing on your last four albums, I have to say.
Nolan: Thank you.
Your current stuff gives me this nostalgic feeling, guiding me back down memory lane.
Nolan: That's the main thing. We want to give the listeners the same feeling that we have when we listen to all these classic bands, like when you listen to your first Iron Maiden album, first Priest album, and you feel that sense of it's something special. We try and translate that into our music. People who listen to it are like, "Oh man, this reminds me of back when I was a kid."
Is this also part of the reason you have skipped the first two albums from your live set because they don't represent who Kryptos are nowadays?
Nolan: In fact, we've stopped playing stuff even from the third album because, in my opinion, our change happened right after that. It was Burn Up the Night onwards. Right now, we maybe play one song from the third album live and sometimes we don't even play that, it's like a bonus thing. Otherwise, it's exclusively from the last three albums because that represents us best.
Force of Danger, the band's sixth studio album, came out almost one year ago. Have you started the writing process for your next album?
Nolan: Not yet, but we need to get back quick and start writing. We have nothing yet but hopefully we should start in January next year because we need to release an album during the next year for sure.
I believe you have some skeletons of riffs and stuff lying around that could be used for building up the main structures for new songs, right?
Nolan: Yes, there are some lying about here and there.
Can you make your own plans of when you want to go to the studio? You aren't getting any strict deadlines from your label, right?
Nolan: No. Our label is pretty cool that way. Our label is not pushing us, but they do still give us a rough time frame. Maybe 2023, or 2024. "Sometime in that time frame, see if you guys can do something, put something together, then we'll figure out how to release it and all that stuff." It's a very relaxed thing. That's good.
You seem to have fans all over the world, but where is the band's strongest fanbase? Is it here in the northern part of Europe, in central Europe, or somewhere else?
Nolan: Strangely enough, it's in Scandinavia and America. I don't use Spotify personally, but considering our Spotify account, if you look at our top listeners, they're from the USA and Finland, which is crazy. I never expected that. In fact, the top three countries in Spotify for us are the USA, Finland, and Sweden. I think Norway is the fifth on that list and then India's fourth.
Maybe it's something to do with our DNA and that people in Northern European countries like a more traditional kind of metal...
Nolan: I have realized that. I mean, in 2019 when we played in Sweden everyone really took to our music really well. They heard us the first time and they were like, "Wow, this is what we like to listen to." We have so many gigs in Sweden. This is our first time here in Finland and the same thing yesterday in Tampere; everyone was like, "Oh man, this is the kind of music I like to listen to." Hopefully when we come back next year, there'll be more gigs in Finland. When we played in Oslo, it was the same kind of experience for us. A lot of people said, "Wow, this is the kind of stuff we love to hear."
That's cool. Maybe it's this snowball effect where the more you get to play live in front of people, the more people start knowing your band's name and buying your albums, which is probably the case with Kryptos as well.
Nolan: I hope so. [*chuckles*]
What will happen around the band next year?
Nolan: We are coming back to Europe around June 2023. We have a bunch of festivals and club gigs confirmed already. We'll be playing a couple of festivals in Germany. We're playing Muskelrock in Sweden. We will also be playing in Spain for the first time. We have about four or five dates in Spain and that's pretty cool. We'll go back to Malta again and maybe do some gigs in Italy and other places as well. That'll be an interesting year for us for sure.
Are you trying also get more festival slots booked to have a chance to play bigger audiences, festivals like Hellfest, Wacken, Brutal Assault, for example?
Nolan: Yes. I hope so. If we get invited to any of them, it'll be great. We keep trying, of course, every year. I think it will happen somewhere down the line.
The cool thing about these bigger festivals is that you get a chance to perform for a bigger crowd, which is the way to get some new fans for the band.
Nolan: Yes. It's always cool.
Even if the slots for smaller bands at the festivals are shorter, it really doesn't matter at the end of the day.
Nolan: I agree. It doesn't matter at all. We are cool with playing anywhere. We've played rooms that are the size of a phone booth for like 10-15 people and we've played for 5,000 people. We always give 100%. It's always fine wherever we play.
Is there something that you personally would like to achieve with the band, be it a slot at some special festival, or getting a Kryptos statue in a park somewhere in Bangalore when the band has ceased to exist?
Nolan: No, none of that stuff related to a Kryptos statue for sure. However, it would be nice to make a career out of this. If we could all give up our day jobs and do this full time, that would be great. That's every musician's dream at the end of the day. I'm just really glad right now that we are doing all the things we wanted to do. We are doing it on our own terms. That's what I'm really happy about. We aren't depending on anybody else to do it. Everything's done by us, through us. If we fail, it's all on us. If we succeed, it's all on us. It's great that way. I hope that continues.
THE UNDERGROUND METAL SCENE IN INDIA IN 2022?
There seems to be a good stream of new bands coming from your country that all have the same potential to become internationally acknowledged acts, just like Kryptos is today. Do you believe all the success that you have had with Kryptos over the years has paved the way for other Indian metal bands to get more recognition internationally from labels, media, and all that jazz?
Nolan: Yes, it's possible. In India, things are a bit different than they are in Europe. In fact, we have a better fanbase in Europe than in India. In India, not many people listen to this kind of music. They listen to more modern metal and more extreme metal and stuff. We are on the edge of all that stuff. There are a lot of other bands in India who are, I would say as popular, maybe even more popular than us over there, but it's not the same outside. There are bands who come and tell us, "You are the reason we've started a band and we hope to tour like you guys someday and stuff."
The trouble is in India it's very difficult to do anything. It's complete chaos over there. You really need to stick it out. That's the biggest problem with many Indian (metal) bands. They don't last. They do it for like three, four, five years and then it gets too much. Then they break up. You need to really go the distance. There are only a few bands left that are willing to push the boundaries. Many of the newer bands, I don't know if they'll do that, because you need that drive; that inner drive to really work hard for your success.
There are a few bands who have been signed to good labels. Against Evil have signed to a German label. Amorphia from down south have signed to a Japanese label. They're doing some good stuff. There are a couple of other bands who are also in the works. It's not as much as it should be. Bands from India getting signed by labels, it depends on what music they're putting out. Is it good enough? That's the main thing. There are tons of metal bands in India, but in my opinion, most of them aren't really that good. The few that are really good are actually trying to do something, getting out to tour, doing everything in order to gain success at some level at least. I hope this part increases among the Indian metal bands. As of right now, it's looking okay. It's improved from the last five years. But let's just wait and see what will happen in the future.
Do you have venues in India where underground metal bands can play on a regular basis?
Nolan: That's a big issue in India. Many of the venues that used to host gigs and stuff have shut down, especially after COVID.
That happened in many places all over the world.
Nolan: Many of them shut down and many of them stopped hosting metal gigs because they needed to recover from losses and stuff. They complete revamped their entire thing. In our city, there used to be so many venues, and now there are only maybe one or two left. Even in the other cities, it's down to maybe one or two in each city. Even then, it's really difficult to get a gig going because the venues are like, "We have a metal gig. How many people are going to come? Will we make any money out of it? We can always get a DJ and we can have a dance techno night or something and get like 10 times the amount of people. Make more cash. Why should we have a metal gig?" You have to convince them and all that stuff.
It's rather sad, kind of a vicious circle if in the back of your head you need to think all the time about how much profit you can make by arranging a metal gig.
It's not any optimal situation, unfortunately. Well then, can you name two or three of the most promising Indian underground metal bands?
Nolan: At the moment, I think Amorphia has that opportunity. They're like Sodom-inspired thrash. They sound almost exactly like Sodom. The good thing is they're doing things the right way. They're releasing albums, booking tours, especially in Southeast Asia and stuff. We haven't played in Southeast Asia, but they have done it. That's so cool for them.
Another band is Against Evil. They play a very good traditional heavy metal. They've toured Europe a couple of times. They were actually supposed to tour at the same time as us, but they had issues with the visas and stuff like that. They couldn't make it, but I think they're planning to go out for a tour next year. You should watch out for them also.
There's a friend of mine, his name is Girish Pradhan. He has a band called Girish and the Chronicles. They're touring Switzerland right now. They play really good hard rock. He's an amazing singer. You should listen to him.
Is this band on some international label perhaps?
Nolan: Yes. They are on Frontiers Records. They just got signed.
That's a label from Italy.
Nolan: Yes. They just got signed a few months ago. They played their first European gigs last year and now they've got some more gigs in Switzerland this year. They are playing in the UK, I think also.
PREDICTING THE FUTURE
Where do you believe the band will be five years from now? No one's Nostradamus and it's really tough to predict the future, but still...
Nolan: Oh man.
Nolan: I hope we're still going to be doing this because it would be a shame if this went to waste at this point, you know?
Right, especially now when you have got six studio albums out already...
Nolan: Exactly. I'm hoping to have longevity for this band and in fact, it would be really nice if we did a lot more touring. Five years down the line, I'm really hoping that we can come to Europe and tour the US or something, doing like three full tours in a year at least. That would be great indeed. Especially if we can go to South America, the US, Canada, and Europe, like doing one tour of each of these aforementioned areas. Playing on each continent within one year would be something. I foresee that may even happen for us in five years because we're working towards that goal very hard. If it happens, it'll be awesome.
What about Australia?
Nolan: I would love playing there, too, but as of right now, it seems very difficult. I don't know, for some reason, we're trying it but it's not working out. Things don't seem to be falling into place like they seem to fall into the right places over here. I guess we still need to put a little bit more effort to make that happen someday.
Well, that was all from me this time, Nolan, so I want to thank you for sitting down with me and having this interesting conversation. I appreciate it. And, of course, all the best for your tonight's show, too.
Nolan: Thank you... thank you so much.
|Other information about Kryptos on this site|
|Review: The Coils of Apollyon|
|Review: The Coils of Apollyon|
|Review: Burn Up the Night|
|Review: Force of Danger|
|Interview with vocalist and guitarist Nolan Lewis on December 11, 2012 (Interviewed by Luxi Lahtinen)|
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