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The curious case of Alien Sky Cult and the strange beast that is Delhi's metal scene

features Jul 13, 11:49am

Alien Sky Cult have been the object of much internet curiosity due to their unexpected showing on the Rolling Stone Metal Awards polls. However, the Delhi-based metal band are neither

Alien Sky Cult have been the object of much internet curiosity due to their unexpected showing on the Rolling Stone Metal Awards polls. However, the Delhi-based metal band are neither too hot on the hype or Delhi as a destination for metal bands. They've barely played any gigs and they think the scene for the same sucks.


Better prospects. That is what the guys from Alien Sky Cult (ASC) had in their mind when they shifted to Delhi from Assam in 2008. Siddhartha, ASC’s drummer says, “I moved to New Delhi, especially because of what the scene was back then. The platform it would give a band, the audience it would garner. It was difficult for a North East band to be noticed back then. But, to be very honest, it has not changed much.” He speaks from experience; having been here for almost five years now, he speaks of how organizers still take musicians for granted, citing the example of Kirori Mal College who still owe them a considerable amount of money.  “They got infuriated when we demanded our cash prize and were abusive.”

“Delhi doesn’t have a David in the fight, one who thrives on making the scene better” he says while referring to David, owner of Rocka Rolla Events, who has been an active proponent of the underground scene in Guwahati, especially metal. But something that hit hard, as is evident from the usually reticent Siddhartha’s diatribe, is how hard it is to thrive on playing live gigs. “There have been so many instances we were unpaid or underpaid. Once we got paid just 500 bucks for a gig. Because they said the sales were only 5000. People don't come to local shows here. It’s not a part of their culture unless a major band happens to fall through.” To add to his rant, vocalist Akkshit says “The scene is not what it used to be during Joint Family/Superfuzz era. The college circuit we played this year had only a few active bands. Most of the organizers don't pay shit and their attitude towards the bands affects the stability of the scene.” “Metal is like a teenage syndrome here. Once you finish grads, it is over. Next, it is time for a corporate job they all wrote about in their songs or higher studies” adds Siddhartha. Ruing the fact that he does not have a “favourite Indian band” anymore, he recalls a particular moment of truth. “I met Clarence at a Rolling Stone Jim Morrison Tribute night, back in 2008-09 and asked him what happened to Joint Family. He took me to Akshay De and gestured to him. Apparently, Akshay's studies in Singapore are why the band went into hiatus” he says while adding that the short-lived nu-metal trailblazers were a huge inspiration to the, then-18 year old budding musician.

In fact the scarcity of gigs had almost prompted them to organize their own gigs, a plan that they had hatched along with Jehovah, another Delhi-based band; only, Jehovah called it quits and their entrepreneurial ambitions were nipped in the bud. Siddhartha says, “I am no Nostradamus but I really think we need someone to come up and handle the scene the way Amit Saigal did because people want gigs. They just don’t get proper ones.” Shung, the guitar player, points out that most bands don’t have a touring culture in India. He says, “We don’t even reach out to our Asian scene. Japan and Indonesia have huge scenes.” Siddhartha cuts in, “I wish we could change that. Because, I know many bands here want to tour the country. If we set a map right, bands will follow.”

Despite the fact that Alien Sky Cult had briefly led Skyharbor in the best song category in the recently concluded Rolling Stone Metal Awards public polls, they’re playing their first major gig in the city, and the excitement is palpable. Mohan, their bassist exclaims, “This is going to be a balls dropping gig!” Siddhartha, on a more serious note, added, “These pub gigs are way more intimate, cost-effective and manageable. I hope things will change again.”

Alien Sky Cult will be performing with Guillotine, Artillerie and Scribe at Blue Frog, Delhi on the 21st of July, 2013.

For more details, click here.

Check out their music here.

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