Originally published in The Hindu Metroplus, Bangalore on October 13, 2012:
Bevar Sea’s lead guitarist and artwork designer Rahul Chacko has something interesting to add about his band’s debut album at the end of his interview: “We know that with songs freely available off file hosts and torrents these days (not to mention official digital downloads), sometimes people start questioning why they need a physical copy of the CD. That’s why we’ve put a lot of effort into the packaging, so that it feels good to hold in your hands and looks good in your collection. Hope it makes a difference for some people.”
The music matters just as much though, not just the mind-expanding album art that fills the album inlay of this Bangalore heavy metal band’s self-titled CD. But their rhythm guitarist, Srikanth Panaman, highlights another aspect. “Come out and watch us play, because however good the album is, this music is made to me performed live,” he says,
If you have seen the artwork – posted on their Facebook page as a teaser – and the band perform, you would have a tendency to agree with both Chacko and Panaman. Bevar Sea are all about the do-it-yourself ethic, and it’s not just because there’s nobody to help them out. Since their formation in 2010, the band brought back old school metal – think Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and Cathedral – to the Indian music scene.
“We have a lot of old timey rock and metal in our sound as well, so it does appeal to people who like the classic ‘70s stuff. They’re our main audience, but we stretch out our compositions, explore musical ideas and themes to the fullest, and as a result, have long songs, something we picked up from stoner and doom, so that’s where we differ from traditional hard rock and metal. At the end of the day it’s still catchy, groovy heavy music, so it could possibly appeal to those who don’t usually listen to stoner or doom,” Panaman explains.
Their sound is more widely categorised as stoner and doom metal, the kind that creates dark, psychedelic metal, which explains why they got veteran producer of the genre Billy Anderson to mix and master their album. Anderson has worked with several stoner/doom bands such as High on Fire, Sleep and the Melvins, and got on board after an email exchange with the band.
The band always wanted Anderson on board, according to Panaman, “because he knows this sound the best, and has been behind dozens of our favourite albums”. Returning to the essence of DIY, the internet seemed to have helped greatly as well. “Everyone’s online now, and everyone’s easily accessible. It’s easier and quicker now to exchange big files over the internet than ever before. Bands just need to save up that little extra, invest in good equipment, and plan their recordings properly,” Panaman says.
For their album launch at CounterCulture on October 19, they have been just as hard at work. For this highly-anticipated gig, the band will be playing a 90-minute set, which is their longest set yet. Panaman says, “We’re about to print posters and have them put up at cafés, bars, pubs, and bookstores all across Bangalore. Other than that we’re mostly working on getting all the physical merchandise we’ve planned and the online order infrastructure up and running. That’s an overwhelming amount of work.”
After releasing the album through Iron Fist Records – which also released Kryptos’ third album – the band hope to plot out a national tour. “Only thanks to the album, we’ve been able to put enough into playing outside our city and get a few gigs going,” Panaman says, adding that it’s not always easy when the music is a bit obscure.
Even despite all that, the band is all set to go forth and tell the world within Bangalore and beyond about their style of heavy metal. Panaman wants to look it at it as an album and tour cycle, after which the band will go back “write new material for the next album”. Being prolific when it comes to songwriting and albums is something Indian bands have always longed for.
And when they do everything exactly the way they want, there’s a certain feeling of satisfaction that will probably make bands want to embark on that journey again. Chacko says he incorporated his current preferred style of drawing nautical-themed art that parallels designs commissioned by the likes of Ogre and Baroness.
The mean time, getting one out of the way means “there’ll be pressure on ourselves to come up with new material and start playing them live,” according to Panaman. He adds: “That’s what an album does – it marks the end of an era, and begins a new one.”
Bevar Sea launch their self-titled album on October 19 at Counter Culture.