The subcontinent…hard not to get all poetic when you’re talking about the lands in Southern Asia that consist of countries like India, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Pakistan…all amazing and beautiful countries with thousands of years of history, culture and tradition.
Even with all these years of global influence, the one thing that has only RECENTLY been rearing its head finally has been India’s heavy music scene. Sure, like most places in the world, metal is king. It certainly is the case on Indian soil as it is everywhere…but the area of this world that we have been curious about has been the Indian punk rock and hardcore scene.
Today we are so excited to exclusively launch two EXPLOSIVE hardcore tracks by the Indian hardcore band Death by Fungi. To provide this band with a bigger platform for the world to get to know them better…we even conducted an interview with founding member Vrishank. Personally, I was intrigued with the inner workings of bands in India and so I asked about touring and releasing music, etc…more out of selfish reasons because I would LOVE to get King Ly Chee out there one day!
Enjoy the interview below…spread some love towards these hardcore kids out in Bombay on their FB page…hardcore always flies the flag of being a global movement – so let’s put some action behind those words!
What’s up buddy – where are you right now as you’re answering these questions?
Hey dude, I’m in my room in Bombay.
Awesome – so tell me more about your band and the scene that you guys are a part of.
So, Death By Fungi is a four-piece hardcore punk band from the suburbs of Bombay. It started when I was in my mid teens and used cheap microphones to record songs in my bedroom. We expanded to a band and played our first show a little more than a year ago and had a shift in sound. There isn’t a lot of punk rock happening in this city or in this country and the scene is more metallic and/or indie rock.
Let’s talk about that for a moment please…haha…from your perspective being immersed in India right now, why is it that punk rock/hardcore hasn’t caught on in places like India, Pakistan and Nepal?
Maybe cause that would betray indian values and customs. No, I kid. Both Nepal and Pakistan have been facility deprived (recording and venue-wise) and a lot of musicians embraced a very DIY attitude towards music and thus gravitated towards punk and hardcore. The Indian scene used to have that kind of ethic in the early 2000s but it sort of dissipated with the growing corporate influences and trends. Even though we pride ourselves on an “indie scene”, it’s mostly bands emulating radio-friendly MTV rock bands. Which is cool for them, I guess. It just doesn’t give rise to hardcore punk. Chaos Theory was probably India’s first hardcore punk band followed by The Riot Peddlers.
In terms of venues and a touring circuit – does one exist in India? We have a lot of bands on this website that are really interested in touring the area – is something like that feasible in India?
Touring is not very feasible, given that you can only play shows in the major cities which are not connected that well by roads. Also, if you’ve noticed, India is MASSIVE. Getting between cities might take forever and I don’t know how financially feasible it is either.
“Tour Culture” does not really exist in India.
So when foreign bands come over they’re basically coming for one off festival shows etc?
Yes, usually. Sometimes, they play two cities but mostly it’s just one-off shows.
Since you remain in the minority in terms of heavy music in India, because of your choice of playing in a punk/hardcore band, what is it about hardcore/punk that got you into it?
I got into punk rock through bands like Propagandhi and Strung Out and I was really young when I heard them. The first time I heard Suburban Teenage Wasteland Blues, I was like “Holy shit, this is the best thing I’ve ever heard.” It was fast energetic, chaotic and catchy. When I got into hardcore bands, I was taken aback by how accessible the music was. The artists were more “tangible” than the stuff our parents listened to. Like Guns N’ Roses wouldn’t play a basement show, you know? I was drawn in by the ethic and it gave a voice to a little kid who didn’t really know his right from his left. To be honest, I don’t think words could do it justice haha…
When and why did you decide to start Death by Fungi and why did you choose hardcore/punk to be the sound you guys created?
The origins of Death By Fungi are weird. I saved up and bought this stupid microphone and I would record drum tracks in one go and lay guitars over it and I did this for a good four years without actually being a band and releasing anything. So my hard drive is full of old songs I recorded. The songs ranged from emo/post-hardcore sounding stuff to straight up power violence. I didn’t have a sound but I knew I wanted to write fast and heavy songs. Our first set of demos are really “pop-punk” I guess, cause our old drummer who was playing with us hated hardcore, so I tried to isolate the melodic bits of the music and I recorded the first two demos with help from the fabulous Kamran Raza, who plays bass in Death By Fungi. Our old drummer stopped showing for practice and so when our new drummer, Aryaman Chatterjee joined, turns out he was huge into cross over, thrash and old school death metal. So, he integrated into the sound we were going for and everything was positive for us from there on out. We’re still playing with sounds but I’m happy where we’re at.
So with your second record the major change in sound is a result of the lineup change?
In a way. I was always wrote heavy songs but now I have folk I can play them with.
With the new record, once it’s out what is the route that Indian bands take to then promote a release?
Online press releases and promotion, I suppose. Bands usually tour and play shows to promote records but in India, records are to promote shows. Kinda weird.
So you guys will have a record release show I presume? Since there is a lack of Indian hardcore/punk bands, who do you guys usually perform with? And how often do you guys play out?
We’ve only played a couple of times since we became a full band. Our first show was actually with a shoe gazer band and hip hop duo. It’s unusual but it was kinda fun. Our band gets lumped into “metal”. We actually played a show with local pop punk bands once and the crowd kept yelling “Are you guys a metal band or something?”
Yeah, in most places where there isn’t a punk/hardcore scene, this type of music is totally misunderstood. So there’s actually a pop-punk scene?
There are a few bands that have a modern pop-punk type sound but I wouldn’t say it’s big enough to be classified as a separate pop-punk scene.
It’s a more radio friendly sound than the bands we’re influenced by.
I assume that in terms of picking up records, most of you guys stick to just downloading? Or are there record stores that carry good releases? CD’s or vinyl?
The rest of my band sticks to downloading but I’m an avid record collector (CDs and Vinyls). It’s not a very wise financial choice and being a student, I don’t make much money to begin with, but I feel the tangible content of owning records, reading sleeve inserts, lyrics booklets etc. is a very satisfying experience. Bands sell their CDs at shows but I haven’t been to a music store in bombay for maybe 12 years now hahahaha…so I buy online.
Let’s talk lyrics then real quick. What things do you tend to write about? Hardcore has always been a good way to let off some steam regardign socio-political shit going on – and I’m sure India has plenty of fodder.
My writing varies between angry political songs about the repressive culture we grew up in and the emotional anguish it causes in our personal lives. I feel it’s crucial to exercise our freedom of expression at this very moment in Indian history as right-wing fundamentalist groups undermine the democratic institution by suppressing opposition, denying the people civil liberties and invariably enforcing a conservative, misogynistic modern indian culture that seeks to spread homophobia and sexism and condones several forms of violence. India, in its current state, firmly believes that there is a group of privileged old men who know what’s best and can exercise control over the lives of it’s citizens. The best I can do, so far, is write songs about it, I guess.
Any last words as we wrap this up?
Ummmmmmm….don’t fall for the right-wing religious fundamentalist trap that is destroying our nation?