Exclusive Interview with Dr Hex (Albatross)

Albatross is Mumbai-based traditional heavy metal quintet that combines bone-chilling stories with bone-crushing metal. The band started out as a solo project of bassist Riju Dasgupta aka Dr Hex who wanted to unify his love of literature with his other love: Metal. The current line up features  Biprorshee Das (vocals), Vignesh (guitars), Jay Thacker (drums), Nishith (guitars) and bassist Dr. Hex. Their critically acclaimed concept EP  'Dinner is You' was emphatically received by the fans. It was mastered by
Grammy nominated Swedish producer Andy LaRocque from King Diamond. Since then the band has been a regular in India's live circuit. They have released two albums so far "The Kissing Flies" and 'Children of the Cloud". Metalhead Spotted own Navneet Singh Sandhu had a chance to talk to bands bassist/founder Dr Hex about their music, recent album, future plans and many general things.

Navneet: Hi doc, How are you?
Dr Hex: Hi I’m feeling good to talk with you finally!

Navneet: First and foremost how did you guys come across the band name?
Dr Hex: So the idea of a band which does traditional & power metal like me and Bipro thought of creating a band which does traditional heavy metal and it didn't work out because we couldn't come up with a name. And then I thought of 5 names and then he thought of five names, and then no one concluded with us. And then my brother one year later came up with this name, and then I turned the tables and called up Bipro and told him I’m starting a band called Albatross, and then you can think one song and then Bipro agreed with that and that is how the band came about! The albatross is a sea bird and it is considered a symbol of bad luck

Navneet: So What led you guys to establish yourself as a metal band?
Dr Hex: (laughs) uh I like heavy metal, and all of us like heavy metal sol I guess that was the reason. I have played in a few non-metal bands before this. I was in a band called Workshop which is humor, rocks lightly metalish kind of band. Before that old monk which has traces of metal but it is still more hard rock, glam rock than it is metal. But my favorite bands are always slighter heavier than the styles that I was saying so I wanted to start a metal band and that too a traditional metal band because I love the concept of growling but I prefer singing in metal, I like melodies in metal, I like understanding the words as I hear them. And nobody at that point at least in 2007-08 there were very few bands doing this style of music. I think there wasn’t anybody who was doing heavy metal with clean vocals back then! I wanted a band with two lead guitarists also which I don’t think was the case back then with any of the bands probably.

Navneet: So would you like to tell me about the initial phase of Albatross.
Dr Hex: Albatross actually started as a solo project. And this was in 2007-08. And the idea back then was to get different musicians, different trends of minds and the whole concept was I’ll write lyrics, I’ll write the basic blueprint of the song and I’ll present it to different musicians and they will come up with different ideas and all that ,but there were two main problems with this whole setup. The first is, it was my project, the people weren't as interested as Bipro. i don’t think any of the other musicians were interested. And secondly going live would have been a problem. But going live with so many 30-40 musicians would have been a problem back then. So back then the guitarist of workshop, Raj he said that you have some cool stuff in Albatross, why don’t I come on board and we can do some kind off EP. I was like yeah sounds pretty fantastic and that’s how we got the whole band along! Our drummer Jay, I have known him for 10 years and he’s probably been my oldest, like I have known Bipro for 20 years but we were not friends until recently but Jay has been my closest friend for 10 years. I asked him 2007 like do u want to play for albatross and he said NO!!! I was like ‘bajaa na!’ He said, ‘nai, nai, nai bajaane ka!’we spoke to a lot of other drummers, but they were in a different phase altogether! Then I asked Jay again after one year, would you like to play for the band? So he said ‘achaa chal dekhte hai’ and then he came on board. There have been many lineups before we have arrived here, but we have the best lasting lineup! It has lasted 2 years so far.

Navneet: What inspires and influences you the most while making music.
Dr Hex: I am a huge fan of lyrics. I do a lot of reading. I love fantasy, science fiction, horror! Even with my other band primitive, I don’t like the idea of riffs coming before the music, to me riffs and music are way of painting the mood of the words that I have written. I am a writer by profession and this is my favorite kind of writing. I love writing about monsters, and about god and people getting massacred and people getting beaten alive. I love writing stories. And in both the bands my writing outlets has been this way! And my biggest inspiration would have to be this Danish band called King Diamond. There are a lot of bands out there who write concept albums, but the level that Albatross goes down to in describing the stories it almost becomes a narrative! If you are reading the lyrics and listening to the music it creates like a movie in your head. King diamond is the only other band who is doing something of that nature!

Navneet: How do you guys choose the lyrical themes? What is your approach towards writing?

Dr Hex: It’s very different from Ep to Ep. Like our last ep “The kissing flies” what had happened is one of my biggest musical inspirations another one of my favorite lyricist and vocalist this guy called Phil Swanson who sings for a lot of bands from the USA Like ‘hour of 13’ is his most popular band. I wrote an entire short story, I presented it to the band, divided it into 3 diff parts and hence we came up with an EP like that.so the story came first then the lyrics and then the music. I wrote most of the music and Raj say wrote 40% of the music.so out there I wrote a riff and I thought of a story around the whole riff. Our new album is going to be titled “fear from the skies” is a lot more collaborative, so everybody comes in with ideas and everybody has different views.so for the first time we are going to be releasing a full length album.it has 3 different parts: the first story has been written by me, the second story has been written by our drummer Jay and the third story has been written by one of my favorite writers called Jeff Vandermeer. He is like a huge authority on the whole genre! Unlike the two EP’s it is not like the story which came first, the story came after the music in this particular case and it pretty much worked out! So it retains the same albatross flavor. So coming back to your question there is no formula as such! We do what comes naturally and we all jam and write music together.

Navneet: Your lyrical themes suggest that you guys are very well read, any authors/literature which inspire you particularly?
Dr Hex: I am always reading. I read one book every 4 days. The first part of the album is very inspired by this writer called M.John Harrison. So M.John Harrison has this series called as ‘Viriconium’ which is about a world which is continuously changing and there has been a nuclear holocaust and man is rediscovering himself and there are traces of ancient technology and there are robots and there are monsters and stuff like that. The second part of our new album ‘Children of the Cloud’, Jay had thought of it is on the lines of an 80’s horror movie! I am the only person who reads regularly but Bipro, Jay and Vignesh watch movies regularly! They love horror movies.

Navneet: Albatross played along SuidAkra, Wolf and the mighty Kreator and you guys played with some of the best bands in India. How was the Experience playing alongside with them?
Dr Hex: Playing alongside Kreator in particular was like unbelievable Man! When we got the call and got to know that we’re sharing the stage with Kreator we’re like , I guess that was the turning point of Albatross! From that point onwards we became a lot more successful. We have been called to bigger shows after that. I have been listening to Kreator since 2005-06.To be able to finally play with them was pretty insane! And I still think that the Bangalore Open Air, the first year was the best lineup we have ever been a part of! All the bands were Kick ass out there! It was quite unbelievable! It was a dream come true! We had been to Australia after this and we shared the stage with a band called ‘Wolf’. Wolf is another one of our biggest inspirations.

Navneet:You recently came back from the humongous Australian tour, how was the experience?
Dr Hex: It was probably the best experience of my life honestly! The fact is when Albatross is put in a lineup in Bangalore or Bombay or any part of the country, we stand out because we don’t sound like any other band in India. I doubt that there are any other bands in India which sound remotely like us! We are like the black sheep of the metal fraternity (laughs)!
But out there we were paired with many melodic metal bands and a lot of traditional metal bands and thrash metal bands. Even though none of the bands sounded like Albatross, it was like lot closer to our genre. ‘Andy’ our tour manager told us later on that people had come up to him and asked him where did u find these guys? That was like the best experience ever! The appreciation was pretty great! We had Behemoth travelling with us on the same plane! You don’t expect to run into behemoth so randomly! That was pretty insane!

Navneet: Which one band, you would want to share the stage with?
Dr Hex: (laughs) there are so many Indian bands with who we’d like to go on tour with. Demonic Resurrection will be soon coming up with an album so if we can do a combined thing together that will be pretty cool. Our friends from Australia Lord, the bassist of lord Andy, had got us down to Australia, so I’ll have to return the favor and get them down to India. Wolf Of course! we all love wolf and it would be great to hopefully share the stage with them! There are so many bands but right now On the top of my head King diamond, Judas Priest, Manilla Road, Iron Maiden, Ghost, Metallica, Slayer and many more.
We are on a label called Transcending Obscurity sharing stage with any of those bands is a lot of fun. Cosmic Infusion, Orion, Gutslit, Devoid are pretty cool bands!

Navneet: Now, coming to Thrashfest, what fans can expect from Albatross this time?Any new composition? Or you want to keep it a surprise until the gig day?
Dr Hex: We wrote a song and i asked vignesh and nishith, weather we will be able to play this live on thrashfest. we would probably debut that song there and we gonna cover a Megadeth song. we were thinking of covering a testament cover but then i decided that its more important to wrote the new album than to learn new cover

Navneet:. Lastly, would you like to give any message for your fans and our readers?
Dr Hex: Thank you for supporting Albatross. It’s been a long journey,really long one.I am very flattered by the fact that you spend your money in buying our CD’S and T-Shirts If you do,if you don’t then Fuckoff!(laughs)!I hope our music has made your day a little more pleasant then it was!So thank you and keep supporting our music.Buy our tshirts!our caps are sold out already so you don’t need to buy them. Thanks!

Navneet:Well Dr.Hex Good luck for the thrashfest!!!Thankyou for your time
Dr Hex: Was nice chatting with you man.

Albatross have just released their track 'In the Lair of Dr Hex' from the upcoming album  'Fear from the Skies'

Edited by   :  Mercy Thoras

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