Originally published in The Hindu Metroplus in September 2011.
The band members from Cypher16 confess to being heavily jetlagged before their show in Mumbai, having arrived in the country on the same day of the gig. But their excitement outweighs the tiredness. With a four city tour spanning across Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Chennai – the London alternative metal band is out to establish a strong fanbase on their third visit to India. “We were a much younger band the first time we performed in India. It was more of an experience, but it turned out that there was a major metal scene here,” says vocalist and guitarist Jack Doolan. At the end of their 2009 tour, the band gathered contacts and hoped to return soon.
The Great Indian October Festival (GIOF) held last year in Bangalore included Cypher16 as a last minute international act alongside Lacuna Coil. The band believes that this kind of rushed planning can only be effective in India, due to the metal audiences. “If someone were to organise something like that in the UK, we would end up playing to the bar,” Doolan says, laughing.
The band recalls that as soon as they stepped off the GIOF stage last year, they knew that a tour of India was on their wish list. “We wanted to come back twice this year if we could. But we’ve been getting offers to play in India sometime around the start of the next year. So you might see us then!” says Doolan, explaining that their music has an “audience in India who are fans of our music” and that the October Fest was just “one show that got their music out to the whole of India.”
In comparison to previous tours, Cypher16 seem to have asked for a change in the performance atmosphere. After playing on big festival stages in India, the band’s current tour will see them playing at pubs and clubs. Does the band have a preference? “For us, it’s literally ‘give us whatever’. Inside clubs, it’s like a massive party, with an intimate atmosphere,” says bassist Carl Dawkins. However, he adds, “If you were to ask what we would like to play for the rest of our lives, I’d say festivals – because there is nothing better than walking out on stage and seeing 10,000 people in front of you.”
With influences drawn from bands such as Limp Bizkit, Nine Inch Nails and Sikth, to metal heavyweights Metallica and even more extreme acts like Gojira, the band members say that while they are influenced by them, they have never wanted to ape the styles. Stuart Deards, the other guitarist in the band, idolises pure rock and roll bands such as Foo Fighters. It was probably a dream come true for the band when former Sikth guitarist Dan Weller was signed on to produce their second EP ‘The Metaphorical Apocalypse’. And although the band has done away with the metal growls to bring in clean vocals, Doolan says the instrument tuning has dropped a few steps, and the bass is much more prominent, but none of this undermines the melodic guitars. As much as they enjoyed playing extreme metal, the latest EP features catchy solos as well as crushing breakdowns.
However, on this tour, the band will certainly oblige fans by songs old and new. “We’re going to be playing more songs, because we want to give fans their money’s worth,” laughs Doolan, while adding that there will be covers as well as special guests joining them on stage. Being supported by the country’s biggest bands such as Bhayanak Maut, Escher’s Knot and Undying INC in each city, Cypher16 promises that “everyone will get to see a nice range of stuff,” according to the frontman.
Being a recent entrant to the metal scene, they also know how to market themselves confidently. “You can’t take every show if it’s not going to pay you well, which is hard, but realistic,” says Doolan. Dawkins is feels differently, though. “Making a living (with the band) is the dream, everything else is a bonus,” he says, critiquing the current crop of mainstream, commercially-driven artistes – “There are bands out there that are bands and others that are solely businesses.”
Doolan looks at the change technology has brought in, and justifies why their latest release is being given away for free download. “The blueprint (of selling music) has changed. If you aren’t a massive band, people aren’t going to spend money buying your music,” he says, adding with a laugh, “If we could do everything for free, we would.”
With regard to future plans, the band seem to know their way ahead, and aren’t too worried. “A lot of people are starting to ask for a follow-up to the Metaphorical Apocalypse. We have got a bunch of shows in the UK in October, after which things just quiet down. We hope to be planning and writing new stuff during that period,” says Doolan.