Sceptre, one of the pioneers of thrash metal in the country of India, have just completed 17 years and to commemorate the same, they have released a new song and have professionally shot a video for it too. Of late, the band went through a drastic lineup change but have emerged strong. Going by the new track Hate Infested, Sceptre have proved that they have the chops that’s required to play hard-kicking thrash metal and remain relevant even after all these years. The song video can be streamed here –
Transcending Obscurity: How are things in the Sceptre camp? Please inform us about the lineup changes and your reasons for doing so. How would you describe the band’s sound now?
Sceptre: Things are looking very upbeat in the Sceptre camp and rightfully so. After the completion of the ‘Age of Calamity’ album and the departure of our previous vocalist, we got a lot of feedback from our fans and friends to go back to our thrash metal roots and add lead guitars into our setup. This was a thought that kept floating around for a while. We took some time to introspect and chart a direction we wanted to take the band towards. This is when we decided to conduct auditions for a front man. We were really overwhelmed with the response we got as we had variety to choose from. When we heard Gary Gracious, who was an old school metalhead himself, we immediately visualized where we could take Sceptre with him on board with his versatility. So choosing him was a no brainer. We carried on as a four piece band for a couple of months, we then went for another round of auditions for a lead guitarist until we came across Ronojoy Barooah (Ron) who is a MI graduate (Musicians Institute USA) and a friend of Gary’s. During the auditions he stood out from everyone else in his style of playing and the feel his lead work brought to the band. At this point we knew he was the next member of Sceptre’s new line up. With this new line up we have a lot more to choose from as far as song writing is concerned, and the possibilities are endless.
TO: Can you tell us about how you feel when you play live? Sceptre has always been a band that’s eager to play on stage and with good reason, given the music that’s supplemented with extra energy and vigour when performed live. How was the experience playing in Dubai and which have been your best live performances in recent memory?
Sceptre: Playing live for a metal band is what cocaine is to Cobain. The adrenaline rush experienced on stage is second to none. With Gary on vocals songs like Wrath of God, Age of Calamity to name a few really come out with immense ferocity as his vocal styles give it a new outlook , songs like 7 Seals where Ron has added his own feel now give another dimension to the song and stage experience. Sceptre with its new sound and image is sure to give its audience and fans something to scream about. Our most unforgettable gig in recent memory has to be the Dubai gig at ‘Legends’ sports bar which was our first international gig and it came to us at the perfect time. The crowd was insane and so were the other bands viz. Svengali and Serpent Dye, who shared stage with us. Our brothers from the band Nervecell , James and Barney made us feel completely at home with all their onstage help and pre-gig drinking sessions. All in all, we had the time of our lives.
TO: Going by your new song Hate Infested, Sceptre have gone for the old school sound, which is fair since thrash metal sounds best in that spirit. The addition of solos is a welcome touch. Please let me know if that’s what you guys were aiming for. Did you have anything specific in mind?
Sceptre: Through the years, Sceptre have gone through massive changes in terms of sound and song-writing. If you hear our first album, ‘Now or Never’ (2008) and then ‘Age of Calamity’ (2014) you will get the drift. With Ron on leads now, we knew we had to come up with something that does justice to his playing . We took a solid riff from Gilroy’s vault of riffs , matched it with Gary’s style and topped it up with Ron’s leads. The outcome was the song ‘Hate Infested’, a thrash metal gem!
TO: What can we expect from Sceptre in the coming year? Do you have any planned shows or releases? Time to spill the beans, guys.
Sceptre: With a lineup reshuffle and a brand new song in our hands, we wanted to hit back with massive impact and the best way to do that was come out with a visual appeal, thus a video for Hate Infested came about. It will be premature to talk about any gigs at this stage as they’re all in the pipeline for 2016. But we’re kicked about the video release of our new song on 1st December which will be also be featured on MTV Indies, Planet Radio City Metal, among other places such as our Facebook page Sceptre-India.
TO: Being one of the longest running bands in the country, my question is what’s keeping the flame alive? Surely with several lineup changes since the start there must be time when you guys must be feeling tempted to call it a day. How do you manage to keep up the enthusiasm? Does personal fitness become an issue in order to play energetically live?
Sceptre: Sceptre’s career has been through peaks and valleys, but the love of music and metal along with band members who have grown beyond friends into family, sharing the same zest keeps us driven (that’s as far as Aniket , Janus and Gilroy go). With Gary and Ron, young blood still pours into the band keeping Sceptre alive and hungry for more. There are times when managing one’s professional life, family life and the band, it takes an emotional as well as a physical toll on you. But none of us can imagine being detached from Sceptre as it’s now become an integral part of our lives. Obviously, playing this form of music requires certain levels of fitness. Gilroy is a professional footballer, which keeps him on his feet. Aniket and Janus have their own fitness regimes which they follow regularly. But above all that, the camaraderie and the insane levels of humor in the band keeps us all at the top of our game.
TO: Lastly, tell us about this video. How did you conceptualize it and where it was it shot?
Sceptre: We wanted to keep it pretty simple for the video and not take away the focus from the actual song with any special effects or visual gimmickry as such. We shot it at our friend Sheldon Pereira’s studio in Malad under the expert guidance of Rohan Ferreira who also edited the video. The idea was to just go nuts, which is what we do when we play live and thereby make a lasting impression in the mind of a first-time viewer. At the same time we would like to acknowledge the support of our friend Sheldon Dixon for being our Man Friday while recording, mixing, mastering and just being omnipresent. Also, Furtados Music for their continuous support over the years, Mapex Drums, ESP Guitars and Bhargavas Music for the Orange guitar amps. We owe you one!