Touted as a supergroup when they started off, Hellwind underwent some lineup changes and are back with a fresh new song called Metal From Above. Transcending Obscurity gets to premiere it exclusively here and while we’re at it, we also asked the band a few questions about their formation, intentions and future. They’re apparently on the verge of releasing their debut full length. Current lineup:Akshay Deodhar (Spook, LHD) – Vocals
Rajarshi Bhattacharyya (Primitiv) – Guitar
Kiron Kumar (Primitiv) – Guitar
Aditya Kadam (LHD) – Bass
Pushkar Joshi (Primitiv, LHD) – Drums
Get a taste of what’s to come here –
Transcending Obscurity (Kunal Choksi): Can you tell us about the history of your band? As far as I know, it was something of a supergroup when you guys started off. Where does it stand now? What does the current lineup look like?
Hellwind: Riju and I once had a random conversation about doing a Mr. Big tribute, wherein he mentioned that Sahil had always wanted to restart his power metal act, RavenDark (how far this actually went, I have no idea). He asked if I was game to see what we could do. I was pretty much instantly on for it.
Despite having the whole Zephyr, Spook Xavier’s college blues and alt. rock tag, my first influences were Sabbath, Purple, Slayer, Sepultura, GnR, Metallica, Priest, Maiden, Tristania, Scorpions etc. so being given a chance to front a metal band, and one that actually needed a singer with decent vocal play and range, was pretty much something I jumped at.
I had met Raj once when he was with workshop and we were judging a band competition together, and I’m guessing it was just a matter of time before Raj and Riju got together for another project. Raj also has that showy playing style and talent for face melting solos and powerslamming riffs, so it made him a natural choice I guess. Plus, his songwriting chops were something that totally got the band afloat.
Kiron was just back from his masters in the UK, and he was raring to get back in the saddle, again, an ex-bandmate of Riju’s and another hard riffing in your face guitar player; thus, guitar player 2 was found.
After that Riju just had too many other commitments, namely Albatross going in a full length album and various studio involvements etc. Though it could have been us pushing him to play more than the standard glam metal root note bass lines :P, coupled with jams happening in Juhu. However, he was kind enough to replace himself with another Ogre of bass, Aditya Kadam.
Kadam is that kind of bass player who doesn’t say much during Jam discussions etc etc, but when he does, whatever he says just make sense and pulls us back on track. The only full time musician in Hellwind, he’s also that bass player who does form the absolute base of the band and let’s the rest of us do what we want.
Sahil was one of the founding members, but once again, too many commitments and other band made him take a step back. He’s still a close friend, ardent supporter, co-producer, studio engineer etc, and we’d be happy to bring him into guest now and then, but him backing off made way for Pushkar, who had evolved into this drumkit bludgeoning powerhouse.
TO: You guys play ball-busting heavy metal. What made you want to play in that style? Do you think heavy metal still has universal appeal?
Hellwind: Pushkar was already locked with Kadam, having played in a few bands together. Between the two of them forming that locked solid adamantium wall of drum and bass, Raj and Kiron with that devastating and harmonized guitar attack, and me throwing out some aggressive vocal lines, I think we’ve got quite the powered up battering ram going in terms of our sound.
Considering we were always shooting for heavy metal, and to be the kind of a live act that only brings the badassery and beast mode to the stage, there weren’t too many other options that we were interested in.
Good ‘ol heavy metal still very much does have it’s appeal in terms of being something that can really sway and energize an audience all across the spectrum.
The songwriting, drum work, guitar parts, bass lines, and vocal melodies have all to be crafted to perfection individually, and synchronous all at the same time, because each brings in its own element of melody, that anything bit of that recipe going out of sync makes for an unappealing song. However, when well crafted, listener and audience reactions are extremely rewarding
TO: Where does Hellwind go from here? When we can expect a debut release?
Hellwind: We did have a brief hiatus in 2014, I left the city, Raj got married and his work schedules went apeshit crazy. However, last year we took a decision to bring things back on track. Admittedly, it has been slow, and we might just be among the more promising metal bands in the country, but also among the laziest.
There is only one path to go down from here, keep evolving, keep writing, keep getting better as a band and a songwriting team, topped off by an insane live act.
We’ve actively started putting our heads together again, so hopefully, within the next 8 months there should be debut release from this camp.
TO: What’s the reasoning behind naming your band Hellwind?
Hellwind: We started out as performing old school pop-metalized covers, playing at HRCs etc, before all of us decided that we wanted to write beyond what comes across as just another glam track. We were searching for names to go with the whole Metal and Leather look that we had (ref. First set of Hellwind photos from 2012), something that sort of went with hellspawn, and old school views on how rock and metal were from the Devil etc etc (we even uses this as a thematic in Taste of Metal), there were several options, I can’t remember them now, but I guess Hellwind just fit as being a short name, not really used by anyone, and something that stuck and had a ring to it.
TO: Why do you think heavy metal can hold its own in this era of crowd-pleasing breakdowns and screamed/shouted vocals in metal music?
Hellwind: I love breakdowns, we have our own version of them in our songs, Heavy metal breakdowns can be the best kind, beastly, slow, sludgy and heavy as fuck.
But yeah, crowd-pleasers are a problem. They’re formulaic, everybody is now a ‘trend’ band and that’s just a problem. But we’re pretty sure that heavy metal has it’s own magic, which is probably dark enough to attract the right kind of crowd, who genuinely want to listen, and watch us live (along with our heavy metal acts), as opposed to the general idiots who want to be pleased (ref. – crowd pleasing breakdowns), and who will listen to a band because it’s in and because #epic #bro #shenanigans are hashtags that accompany that band(s)
Well, we have on several occasions been told that we weren’t heavy enough as a metal band, because we have a singer as a frontman. It’s that moment when you just look at each other, have a wtf moment, scratch your head and laugh. Although it does make me wonder if that holds the band back. That being said, that’s what we do, clean vocals, and we take a pride in it and focus on doing it well. I guess it just takes a metal brotherhood to appreciate differences in styles of bands, if they get that going, then the sky’s the limit. (Also, if i try growling, then there won’t be any heavy metal, just one riot of a coughing fit after about 1 verse)
We’re rejuvenated, very much alive, and on our way back from the pits of hell
TO: What are your influences, old and new?
Hellwind: This is an odd space for Hellwind, because all of us have the most weird and diverse influences across the board.
Pushkar was originally a tabla player, so there’s definitely something coming from there, Kiron is just an old school metalhead who won’t tolerate much besides Metal, old school hard rock and The Beatles. Kadam plays full time, so his influences are broad, however, his influences are mostly prog. Raj and I listen to a lot more varied forms of rock and metal, along with some pop that can be appreciated (and goes beyond crowd pleasing). I even tend to move toward a little Jazz now and then. So collectively, I guess the list looks something like this :
Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Metallica, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Rainbow, Orange Goblin, Megadeth, Poison, Wasp, Skid Row, ManOWar, Dream Evil, Alice in Chains, Soundgarden, RUSH, Alter Bridge, Guns n Roses, ACDC, Blue Oyster Cult, Testament, Dream Evil, Pain. (great, had to make the whole paragraph bold here – Ed)
TO: How difficult was it to step out of the shadow of the bands you cover at Hard Rock Cafe and other places, to create original music of your own?
Hellwind: I guess from the word go we were clear that we’d be writing and not just covering bands. While initially we were on the whole, same ‘ol same ‘ol glam riffs etc format, steadily enough with Raj, Kiron and I writing, there was a healthy mix of old school metal, progressive and contemporary stuff to be able to get on a path to finding our own sound in a way. While a place like Hard Rock doesn’t give us scope for reception of our originals, we play them anyway, and attempt to push them out. They aren’t always recognised, except for people who are looking for them, or listening when we talk. The real problem there is the set length, so we need to load up on covers, and the (low) frequency of our gigs, leaves us time enough to practice just that. Hence, the active push now toward spending time on writing, and not just rallying around a gig.
TO: Thank you very much for this interview. Here’s hoping Hellwind make a mark with their debut album. Last words are yours.
Hellwind: We’ve been slow, possibly lazy, all over the place, always just there, lurking at the edges, not quite in your face. More people have heard of us as opposed to experienced us as a live band. We’ve always played to be a force to reckon with, and are definitely making moves to changing the game now, and upping the ante.
We’re rejuvenated, very much alive, and on our way back from the pits of hell to emerge in beast mode once again. Here’s to the 5 man army of beasts that is Hellwind, we’re coming your way with a complete heavy metal assault.
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