||INTERVIEW WITH DEMONSTEALER AND FARAZ HAIDER
Andy Millen and Roxy The Rock Dog
Here at MetalTalk Towers we are privileged to encounter some of the most creative and enquiring minds in music. These guys and gals don't just play or write, they create genres and bring it to new audiences. They are quite rightly The Beatles and Rolling Stones of their own times.
Sometimes these unique artists are already acquainted – sometimes not. So we thought - what would happen if we started networking some of these exceptional artists together?
The results are a fascinating insight into the mind of the artists and that they are probably all just one network connection apart. So: 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon or 1 degree of MetalTalk?
It is time to see what happened when Sahil Demonstealer Makhija met Faraz Haider.
Article continues below...
Sahil - meet Faraz and Faraz - meet Sahil.
Sahil - Hi Faraz, Nice to meet you. I play for a few bands here in India, namely Demonic Resurrection, Workshop and Reptilian Death. I run a small label/pr/booking agency called Demonstealer Records and host a Heavy Metal cooking show called Headbanger's Kitchen.
FARAZ: Hey what's up Sahil, good to see the rock side of India as very few people consider taking this genre seriously on this side of the world? I am a singer, music producer, film maker from Karachi, Pakistan.
1. What was it that attracted you to the heavier side of the music scene?
Sahil Makhija AKA Demonstealer
SAHIL: I would have to say my friends in school were responsible for turning me onto Heavy Metal by telling me what terrible taste I had in music and that I should listen to Metallica and Iron Maiden. Upon listening to the music I found myself enjoying it and before I knew it I was hooked.
I think it was the sound, the lifestyle, the ideology and the rebellion in the music that drew me to it and before I knew it I was listening to Strapping Young Lad, Cannibal Corpse, Emperor, Old Man's Child etc and those friends told me I was listening to noise at one point when I played Emperor for them. Quite ironic I would say.
I'm not surprised that I veered towards Metal because I grew up in a house where English music from the 60s and 70s/80s/90s was often played and everything from Hendrix to Abba to Duran Duran to Floyd to even popular Bollywood music so while no one in my family played music my Mom loved to listen to all kinds of music and I could say I got something out of it. The first Metal song that I recall hearing was 'Running Free' by Iron Maiden and then immediately after P'hantom Of The Opera' and my mind was blown.
FARAZ: I have been into music since I was 13. Music has played an important role in my life, from video games to movies and from pop, electronica to hard rock and industrial, I have been heavily influenced by it all. I started off with making break beats as a young lad learning from my mentor BT, music producer from Maryland. I later discovered rock and all other forms of guitar based genres through my friends and their favourite bands. Vocally, I am very influenced by singers like Robert Plant, Axl Rose and David Coverdale. I would say that Michael Jackson has mostly been a favourite since I was a child but hey, there is no one who can sing like him, not even me :) But if you look up Thriller tribute by Faraz Haider on Google, you should be able to find one.
SAHIL: Lovely to meet you Faraz. I have some cousins who were in Pakistan. I also worked with a few bands from there namely Dusk and Jangli Jagga and Autopsy Gothic. :)
FARAZ: The great thing about Autopsy gothic was Yasir Jalbani who I formed a band with called 'Andher' and ironically the vocalist of Autopsy Gothic 'Kami' was our drummer. Good times.
2. Did you grow up thinking you wanted to be a musician or did you find this route accidentally?
SAHIL: I had no real leaning towards music at all as a kid. I wanted to be an actor, then a chef and finally settled on computer engineer as my career choice till I discovered Metal. I recall my mother once suggesting that I learn guitar when I was younger and I was like nah I don't want to. Who would have thought I'd end up playing guitar years later and be in a band. So yeah I found the route myself so to speak. Of course living in India I've had to keep my day job. :)
FARAZ: When I was 16 I played my first gig with my band 'Andher' at Dunkin Donuts, we did some originals and Creed and Metallica covers back in the day. In the early 2000 the rock scene was pretty happening. All sorts of pop, rock and alternative bands were coming out from different parts of the country, even Metal had its niche listeners. After a while we made a whole album with original tracks and tried releasing them through a record label but we were told that we were too heavy for the masses which liked Bollywood soundtracks and Pakistani pop and to this day they still do. It took a while for the niche market to develop which was mostly teens listening to grunge and Metal.
3. What was the rock and Heavy Metal scene like in your country as you were growing up; was it accessible and how did you and your friends identify with this?
SAHIL: As mentioned I got into the scene only after I finished my school and yeah it was fairly accessible but it was not huge or anything. We had one indoor venue, the occasionally battle of the bands and headliner shows at a university and one open air show called Independence rock. Me and my friends pretty much loved it, we saved our cash and we'd go and watch the bands and enjoy it. Over the years it's evolved into a scene where bands play original music, release albums, lots of festivals and venues and infrastructure for recording etc etc. However this is the 'Indie Scene' in India and Metal is still a part of that scene and it's only now that it is slowly trying to find it's footing and sort of break away but for certain aspects like venues etc we're still bound to share space.
FARAZ: The only way to share ideas was to jam it out. I was always equipped and ready to record. I have always been a gear head and its been nothing but beneficial for me and whoever has made music with me.
4. When you started out making your own music, what kind of reaction and support did your friends and families offer?
SAHIL: My family was always supportive of me playing music on the side as long as I had also paid attention to my studies which I of course did not and I even dropped out of college. I was able to sort of convince them that I knew what I was doing and showed them that sound engineering was a lucrative career and I could make a good living and so I managed to join a studio and start working. My friends some of them like some of my music but everyone pats me on the back for 'following my dream'. So yeah it's been a very supportive environment for me and I am extremely grateful for that.
FARAZ: My sister was the only one who motivated me to keep doing music and I would say she is my number one fan. My parents like I said got used to it but never thought I could make a living out of it. I can proudly say that they were wrong. But avoiding my studies is something I wish I had never done which will probably render me as a pistol whipping dad who will never let his children neglect their studies.
5. Was there an existing network of home grown rock and Metal artists for you to share ideas with and get creative writing and performing Heavy Metal with?
SAHIL: When I started it was very hard. We first had to change the audience mindset towards listening to original music. We've played shows where we got bottles, stones, burning cigarettes thrown at us because they did not understand our music. It was us and a bunch of bands that sort of pushed more to playing original music. Obviously there were bands who were doing it before us and even when we started out but it was a big movement that first changed the audience and then the bands mindsets. We as bands had many friends and we shared ideas and resources quite a bit. We had to however build everything from scratch. We managed though if I have to dive deeper into the history I'd be sitting here writing for hours. :)
FARAZ: There was always a cultural difference since rock or Metal was never a part of Pakistan's culture and of course the music I heard was way different from what my elders used to enjoy listening to.
6. What is your proudest moment?
SAHIL: I would say the year 2010 when Demonic Resurrection released 'The Return To Darkness'. We had not only survived ten years but that year we got signed to Candlelight Records for worldwide release of the album, we released our first music video, we won a Metal hammer golden god award, we played two international festivals and generally kicked some serious ass. :)
FARAZ: There are many moments when I was proud of my music. The best one would be seeing an actual CD released by a known record label in Pakistan under my own name which by the way was a childhood dream.
7. Have you had any times when you felt it was time to give up?
SAHIL: Oh many - every three weeks probably when shit goes wrong or I'm just banging my head on a brick wall. There are many instances but you just got to shake it off and move forward.
FARAZ: I think about it once every day because being unique and original is a thankless job at least here in Pakistan. People usually go for the selling out bit and I wish they burn in hell. Sorry I get really pissed when I see talent-less trend following jerks become the representatives of true art.
8. Lemmy from Motorhead gets annoyed if he hears his band referred to as a Heavy Metal band, he is quite insistent that they are a rock n' roll band. How do you describe your music and what would you recommend to one another from your own back catalogue?
SAHIL: I call Demonic Resurrection - Demonic Metal. Reptilian Death is Death Metal and Workshop is Comedy Rock/Humor Metal or Heavy Mental. I don't really stress too much on the genre. I mean I had someone find a connection between DR and System of a Down and one other reviewed compared Reptilian Death to Lamb Of God. I'd rather not lose any sleep over the genre details. As long as it's in relatively the same space.
FARAZ: I am a music producer first and then a singer and I enjoy producing mostly the music that I would like listening to. My music isn't just Metal and I am not saying this because I am ashamed of the genre. I love listening to Metal but maybe some of the tracks might have Metal-ish riffs but my genre cannot be defined by an existing category, don't believe me? Listen to the album. I prefer calling it Cinematic Rock but officially it's called 'Rock Fusion'.
Click here for a wide selection of Faraz's tracks...
SAHIL: I'd say these three songs would cover what I do.
Demonic Resurrection: 'The Unrelenting Surge Of Vengeance'
It's our first music video, first single from the last album. A good representation of the band.
Reptilian Death: 'O'
Again first single from the latest release. Best representation of the work.
Workshop: 'Gajanad Dhige'
Same logic as above :)
9. Faraz: Your songs are in Urdu, is that because meanings are easier to convey, or the fact that commercially (radio, cd sales etc) it is better than singing in English?
FARAZ: Yes it is definitely because many Pakistanis do not understand English and Urdu being my maternal language, it is my first priority. I do songs in English too but most of them are scrapped albums because I never got a good enough response from my country. But people like you have definitely encouraged me to give it one more shot. Maybe in the future, why not? :)
10. Sahil - what are your thoughts on this/do you have the same problem with the language barrier in India?
SAHIL: Well if it works for the artist then great. For me personally I speak English at home. I was in an English Medium school where Hindi was my second language. Also I'm Sindhi so that is my actual language which I don't speak so for me English is the language I speak and think in so I see no point singing in anything else. I do however sing in some Hindi in Workshop but that is due to the humor element so perhaps it's the comical element that allows me or gives me comfort to sing in Hindi in that project. With DR I can never imagine it.
11. Faraz - you are best known (so far) to MetalTalk readers as Taimur Tajik's producer, do you prefer producing or singing? Has working with him over the two albums influenced your own music?
FARAZ: I would say that Taimur Tajik is a recent project and the last 18 years of my life have been dedicated to many artists doing all sorts of music but I don't think MetalTalk would be interested in looking those up. I love singing, but producing music is a part of me that I will take with me to my grave. It was the first thing I was ever proud of accomplishing.
12. Sahil - you are a multi talented artist also, from all your ventures - music artist, producer, food show presenter, booking agent - what is your first preference from these?
SAHIL: Demonic Resurrection always because that was my dream since I was 16 year old :)
13. Finally - what would your advice be to youngsters growing up in India and Pakistan with ambitions of a music career in the Heavy Metal world?
FARAZ: I implore the young minds of Pakistan to accept art in its true form be it any genre. Make it really good and follow through, don't do a half assed job and expect the respect that you wish to gain. Many will say that you're insane to take up hard genres like Metal and it has no future, but anything can have a future if it has a meaning behind it. If you don't give your art it's meaning, you will fail.
SAHIL: Keep your day job and practice hard and don't give up.
FARAZ: Good luck with everything Sahil and the pleasure was mine. Cheers
SAHIL: It's been a pleasure Faraz. :) Speak soon :)
You can follow Sahil:
Twitter - https://twitter.com/TheDemonstealer
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/DemonstealerOfficial
Reverbnation - http://www.reverbnation.com/thedemonstealer
You can see Demonic Resurrection in the UK at next year's LesFest in Glasgow - http://www.les-fest.co.uk
You can follow Faraz: