It has been almost two decades since their formation in 1999 by the Haley brothers. After a series of full length albums and endless national and international tours, the Tasmanian devils a.k.a Psycroptic, are now going to take over India for the very first time in their Indian Echoes to Come tour, with support from Indian death metal acts Godless and Fragarak . Psycroptic needs no introduction but sure as hell deserves one. They are a four-piece technical death metal band; unmatched in their abilities to make you crave for more of their music – the groovy riffs and the subtle co-existence of brutal and melodic tones. In an exclusive pre-tour interview, Psycroptic shared their interesting insights with us.
So at first, I want to tell you how happy we Indian fans are to have you touring India this August. We are curious though, were you randomly approached for the event out of the blue or did you have it on your list all along?
We are excited to come there finally! We have been talking about it for some time with Renu from Orka Networks, and now it’s finally happening. It will be fun!
I saw the tour schedule, and it is unbelievably hectic with most shows on consecutive dates, in different cities. You will be flying daily at odd hours, racing against time. Wouldn’t it take a toll on your practice routine or are you used to it by now?
We are kind of used to this, and to be honest I do it a lot as part of my other job as a tour manager. I’m not going to say it’s easy – unfortunately it is just a necessity.
You guys will be supported by Fragarak (Delhi) & Godless (Hyderabad) throughout the Indian Echoes to Come tour. Your thoughts on that?
Should be fun, meeting new bands from different cities is always cool! It will be good to tour with locals as well, so we get to experience India from both the tourist and local side.
Many South Asian countries like India still remain fairly unexplored territories for the ever expanding metal scene, and it’s not just the high profile artists either. What can we, the fans do to put India on the map among the other hot locations?
Keep supporting the shows that are on, and keep supporting the promoters who bring the bands to India. It’s a cycle that needs the support of everyone to continue. Bands want to tour there, so the more you can do to support those who bring acts there, the better it will be.
Since we are pretty much grilling you on India already, here is one more – Any bands from India that you follow, or have collaborated with in the past or simply have heard a few good things about?
I know of Godless and they are a great band. We will be touring with them. Joe (Guitarist) mixed their album I believe. I’m eager to hear and see more Indian bands though. The tour will be a good chance to check new bands out.
What exactly do you guys love so much about this genre that hooked you on to an extent where it has become your passion as well as the very definition of the prime years of your lives?
We love writing and performing music – Psycroptic gives us a vehicle to do this and tour a lot. I wouldn’t say we only listen to this style of music – far from it! We listen to as much different music as possible, and it helps us stay creative within Psycroptic.
If you ever meet a person entirely oblivious to Death metal, how would you describe it to him so that he gets the general idea?
Haha! Great questions, this actually happens a lot. Usually I just say ‘it’s pretty heavy music, check it out on Youtube’. I don’t try to explain it, as I’d rather change the subject haha.
Just wondering, what’s with the name Psycroptic? Who came up with this one? Any inside reference or hidden meaning? Any other names that you had in mind back then, but decided not to go ahead with?
Psycroptic doesn’t actually mean anything – it was created by an old friend of the band. I’ve actually not seen him in over 10 years – I have no idea what happened to him.
From the earliest days of Psycroptic, were there any bands in particular that greatly inspired you and helped you mould your style? Any mentors per se, that you partly owe your success to?
We’ve always listened to so many different bands; it’s hard to single out one band in particular. We’re style massive music fans, so we are continually inspired and motivated to create new music.
From your band’s inception, leading to your namesake album release in 2015, you guys have come a long way and are still going strong. What were the major changes in your style that you willingly implemented? Are you proud of the evolution in your style?
It’s all pretty natural to be honest – we never really sit down and say ‘we need to write a riff like this or that’. The more we learn about the recording process, the more it helps shape what we do. Since we do everything ourselves, it’s a constant process of learning and discovery.
What was the reason behind leaving Nuclear Blast and signing up with Prosthetic Records? Was there any conflict of interests, heated arguments or was it simply for better opportunities?
We were just contracted to do 2 albums with them, and after that we thought it might be cool checking out some other options. NB are a great label, and huge, but it was easy to get lost on their roster as they have so many bands on it.
Is there any fixed methodology that you follow while writing songs, so that the lyrics and the vocals work well with the riffs and beats that different members have in mind? How do you coordinate, is it mostly trial and error approach to get it right?
It’s pretty much trial and error these days. We have our own studio, so it plays a big part in the creative process. We’ll have skeletons of songs written, and we’ll flesh them out and develop them in the studio. In the early days we’d do more constructing in the rehearsal room – these days we spend that time in the studio developing ideas.
When it comes to dealing with the ever progressing style and evolving approach of their favourite bands, some ‘hardcore’ fans tend to get salty and whiny real fast. What do you feel is more important for a band – to continuously experiment with their music in order to produce something that their heart desires, or to stick with the same old tried and tested approach to manufacture songs just for the sake of pleasing fans?
There is a balance, as I feel as a musician I need to expand and develop. But on the other hand as a fan sometimes I get bummed out if a band changes and I don’t like their direction. At the end of the day, putting out the same album every time is not something I have any interest at all in…And to be honest I would get sick of a band if they continued to release the same music obviously for the money it generates.
Often most people are oblivious to the sheer hard work that goes into organising a flawless show and most of us take everything for granted. Have you ever had any show where the shit literally hit the fan at the very last moment and you had to improvise to save the show?
All the time this happens. When you tour a lot, you are forced to use different equipment and with that comes a lot of problems. Also being rushed for time in setting up creates lots of issues. But, what’s most important is that we forge on and play to the best of our abilities – whatever the circumstance.
Considering that straying too far from the band’s ‘core values’ and ‘established style’ often comes with a risk of severe criticism and backlash from the fans, how do you guys decide when and to what extent is it safe to experiment?
If it sounds cool to us, and it’s fun to play, then we do it. That’s pretty much how we work. We have a certain sound when we write as everyone is putting their input in. We do draw the line if a riff sounds too much like another band – then we will throw it away. But as long as we like it, we’ll use it.
I must admit I do have a sort of weird obsession with album artworks. I am of the view that it adds a whole new dimension to the overall experience. And I simply love the artworks that your albums have adorned in the past. A neat and balanced blend of Gothic/Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror elements that go well with the overall theme of the music. Do you as a band give the Album art as much priority as the other tasks that come under marketing and production, or do it usually take the back seat?
Artwork is very important. It helps to add a ‘feel’ to the music, and also its a chance for us to collaborate with other excellent artists from other fields to create something special. So yes, it’s very important to have artwork that sits alongside the music.
Are there any upcoming ‘secret’ side projects that you’ve been working on? something the fans don’t know about as of now?
Not really, but we are working on a new album at the moment. As in, we are in the studio at the moment, and the Indian tour happens right in the middle of the recording process.
Your journey so far is truly remarkable. Any advice you want to offer to the countless obscure amateur bands, some of which are struggling to find their place in this harsh and competitive environment of today’s music industry?
Just keep working hard, hard, and harder. As long as you are enjoying what you do, there is no reason to stop. As long as you are doing it for the right reasons, you will get everything you want from music. It’s a battle of course, but there are a lot worse things that you could be doing.
And finally, the Headtilts team wants to thank you for giving us your valuable time. Can’t wait to see you at Shillong on 5th August. Any message for your lovely fans in India?
We can’t wait to get there and play for the first time. It will be an awesome experience, and we’re already thankful to the supporters over there who want to see us. It will be a great time!
Stay tuned for more!