• Sat, Apr 20, 2024

Indian metal music scene holds promise - BEAR

interviews Apr 22, 02:37pm

Belgian band BEAR in talks with Rock Street Journal before heading back home after a successful Indian outing.

After the launch of their recent album ‘///’ Belgian metal band BEAR set on to the next logical step - an album tour. The album tour eventually brought the musicians to India and the buzz gradually escalated as their debut outing approached. The Indian leg of the tour lasted two weeks. Rock Street Journal attended BEAR's performance in Delhi's Cafe Turquoise Cottage and interviewed the musicians to understand their review of the Indian  tour. Comprising vocalist Maarten Albrechts, guitarist James Patrick Falck, drummer Serch Carriere and bassist Dries Verhaert, the band discussed the tour, the response to the album and Indian music scene.


BEAR released its debut EP ‘ABSTRACTIONS’ in 2010. Followed by the album Doradus in the same year and Noumenon, two years later. Comprising of eleven blistering tracks of crushingly heavy rhythms, distorted harmonies and demonic growls, ‘///’ is BEAR’s most evocative and vitriolic recent album. 


"The name ‘BEAR’ came up randomly," informed Dries Verhaert. “We were looking for a name to the band that describes us. That’s when one of us randomly said ‘BEAR’ and that convinced us. It represents: heavy, in-your-face and an unpredictable personality and "Hey, he can be cute too".” Following their love for music, the band was formed in 2010. “The band started when Serch, our ex-guitarist Leander and I decided to start a project together. We had all been playing in other bands or sometimes, together, but we wanted to go for a more aggressive sound, say with Vein of Converge or The Dillinger Escape Plan. Soon our vocalist, Maarten, joined the band. Since then, we’ve released 3 full length albums, 1 EP and played on a lot of stages and festivals around Europe, and now we’re here,” added Dries Verhaert.


BEAR performed across the globe and successfully created music, but the eight-year long journey was never a cakewalk for them. “Irrespective of the good music scene in Belgium we pursue other professions. Because not everybody can sustain themselves only through music. And BEAR is a fairly new band, we still have a long way to go. Everybody in the band works fulltime. I am a graphic designer and photographer for first Division Basketball team in Belgium. Maarten Albrechts is also a graphic designer and graphic coordinator for a newspaper, James Falck works in retail with a subsidiary of L'oreal and Dries (Verhaert) is a mathematics and music teacher in a school,” elaborates Serch Carriere.


On their passionate display on stage that they're also quite popular for, the band answers, “The music we make is processed to create an ideal product that we have to deliver. Live performances on the other hand are more in the moment. If you see our performance live, none of us stand still during the live performances. In fact there are very few who would do that, barring the new ones trying to get used to the live acts. It comes with time, I guess.”

James further added, “Stage performance is a serious outlet for every one of us. It’s a therapy for us to get rid of all the frustration and emotions. It's catharsis for everyone and we think it really helps.” Expressing their satisfaction concerning the outcome of the four-city tour - Bangalore, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Delhi and comparing it to other countries, Verhaert said, “Mumbai blew our minds. The response in Mumbai was overwhelming. People were singing along and headbanging, and, were full of energy. Honestly, we were not expecting this at all: the entire experience right from Unscene’s co-founder Ramakrishnan Krishnan organising a tour for a small band from Belgium in India and performing live in different cities in India. When you are touring in Europe, you still know what to expect as you know the music scene in the neighbouring countries. But India is almost the other side of the world. None of us knew what’s happening in India, music-wise. When people heard that we will be touring India, the usual reaction was, “What? You are going to play metal in India? Do people even listen to metal in India?” We wondered about the difference in our cultures and would that stop people from relating to us? And then the Mumbai gig shut down all of our concerns.  Experiences in each city was different, yet, great. So yes, we kept our expectations not too high but we were awestruck.”


The band's tour received support from six Indian bands for opening act duties, and the members of BEAR eventually grew a strong opinion of what they noticed. “We were all surprised to see the level of precision with which the fellow bands performed. Right from Escher's knot, False Flag, Primal Abuse, Tangents, Warwan and Rectified Spirit, they're well-versed with their genre both as a band as well as individuals, unlike some local bands in Belgium."


Comparing Indian music scene with other countries like UK, France, Switzerland, Italy etc where they have performed in the past, James said, “First and foremost, these are mostly neighbouring countries - so you know what to expect. Sometimes people showup and sometimes when your show is clashing with other big band, you won’t see people coming to your gigs. People are spoilt in these countries, as they have too many choices. And sometimes people attending the gig are reluctant and laid back with zero energy. But in terms of opportunity there are many. Belgium is a home to several music festivals. Like from the end of April to September, you will see bands performing every weekend in every little town and village. But still, we collectively think that we can’t take music as a profession, because underground scene in Belgium is still growing unlike India where people are full of energy and enthusiastic when it comes to music. They are dedicated to make a change and working towards making thing happen. We spoke to the bands here, most of them are full time musicians and can survive playing with different bands. But in our case, as mentioned earlier, things are different.”


Talking about few good bands from their hometown, the band informs, “Belgium is known for its music festivals and musicians get ample opportunities to perform. But in the population of merely 11 million, where thousand bands try to make a mark makes the scene very competitive. However there are some bands from Belgium that really stand out. Bands like Leng T’che, Brutus, Slow Crush, Oathbreaker, Cyclus, Off The Cross, Aborted, Atmospheres, Strains, Amenra are really good. You should listen to them.”


Summing up the overall experience, Maarten Albrechts concluded, “Both as a tourist and musician, India has left us speechless. We had the privilege to meet a lot of individuals who were interesting in their own ways - the organisers of shows to the tour guide at Taj Mahal. Everyone was extremely friendly."


The band will resume writing new songs for the next album, and assures a similar Indian outing next year. 

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