He’s accomplished a lot over the past few years, from releasing a successful EP to sharing the stage with some of the best bands in the business, becoming one of the finest drummers in the Indian Metal scene. Here’s our interview with Abhinav Yogesh of Inner Sanctum.
ID :: Hey Abhinav! Thank you for doing this interview. How’ve you been?
Abhinav- It’s my pleasure. I have been busy and loving every bit of it. Balancing college, practice, teaching and jamming with Sanctum.
Abhinav – The Mighty Riff was the best indoor gig I have played in Bangalore. It was organized really well. Playing to a near full house and considering that it was Rajeev’s last gig with us (hopefully we have one more with him before he leaves). It was indeed a gig to remember.
ID :: Going back to the start of it all, when did you first get behind the kit? How did that come about?
Abhinav – I was a Kathakali dancer before I started Drumming. Have to thank my mom for inspiring me to take up Kathakali. She was a professional dancer!! I loved the art..every bit of it, then I eventually got attracted to the rhythms that were involved in it like the Maddalam and Chenda. So on my 12th birthday my parents bought me a drum kit. Never looked back since. I did continue Kathakali and drums but then had to give up the former when we shifted to Bangalore.
ID :: What were your early music influences? Any particular drummer you used to imitate?
Abhinav – .When I started playing the drums it was Metallica all the way. I remember imitating Lars Ulrich by sticking my tongue out. He was and still is an inspiration.
ID :: Who are your major drumming inspirations? Anything in particular you’ve learnt from their drumming?
Abhinav – These days many drummers inspire me-Billy Combham, Tommy Igoe, Mario Duplantier, Benny Greb and a lot more. I am learning a lot from drum dvds. I highly recommend Tommy Igoe and Benny Greb. They are amazing teachers.
ID :: Now getting to Inner Sanctum, give us a brief description of how the band got together?
Abhinav – Inner Sanctum was formed in the early months of 2007. Chintan and Michael, the founding members having played with each other for several years decided to form a band that would best express their influences in music. Tejas who previously played with Chintan for an old school thrash metal outfit, Premonition returned to Bangalore and was roped in as a second guitar player. In search of drummer and a vocalist they found me and Gaurav, thus completing the line up.In the summer of 2008, Tejas left the band to complete his higher education enabling Rajeev (ex Inviktus) to take up guitar duties. Since then the band has had its strongest line up.
Abhinav – Yeah that gig was an eye opener and in the 4 years we have been together we have definitely grown as a band. Releasing Provenance in 2009 was a breakthrough. Since then I have had the time of my life with the Sanctum, Meeting and sharing stages with bands that I could only dream of in school.
ID :: As a drummer what do you think are the major obstacles or weaknesses you’ve overcome over the years?
Abhinav – Accepting the fact that Tinnitus is here to stay and getting used to it was definitely an obstacle. Doing much better now.
ID :: You tracked the drums live in the studio on your EP ‘Provenance’ while most people preferred to program their drum parts, how was it recording in the studio? Was that your first time tracking drums in the studio?
Abhinav – It was something that we all wanted to do. We had a brainstorm session about programming or going for live drums. Eventually decided to go for the latter. It was fun and challenging. Was recording in a studio after 5 years, the last time I had recorded was in Delhi with my band Illusion. I was a kid then. Don’t remember shit. So taking my kit there, buying new skins, practicing with a click a million times, tuning the kit etc etc..I loved it. Kishan and Yasmin helped me out as well!!
ID :: What are the most important things that a drummer must keep in mind while heading to the studio?
Abhinav – Well the most important thing would be to have nailed the songs with a click or without. But to make sure of what you’re playing. You save studio time you see. A well tuned kit, sticks (of course!!), EAR PLUGS (drummers with tinnitus), moon gel and O rings in case, decent set of cymbals and a good heart.
ID :: You were affected by tinnitus a few years back, how do you manage to keep that in check? What would your advice be to drummers or musicians to avoid this?
Abhinav – Well it was unexpected when I woke up one day to hear the ringing sound in my left ear. I tried playing the drums and could not bear the sound. It echoed in my ears. The only way I could get over Tinnitus was to accept it and understand the fact that it was here to stay. Since then I play the drums with Ear plugs and Head muffs on top. I cannot imagine playing it without them. Only if I had realized that earlier. Well the obvious thing that I am going to say is. PROTECT YOUR EARS. Especially drummers. I’m sure many people hear the ringing in the ears after a gig but it slowly dies away. If you’re not careful you might wake up with the ringing to be there forever. I can still hear that god damn thing while typing this.
ID :: Give us a description of your drums setup.
Abhinav – Drum kit- Tama Imperial Star
Hardware- Pearl Demon Drive Pedals
Cymbals- Zildjian K china 19″
Zildjian A custom Splash 8″
Zildjian A splash 10″
Zildian K Dark thin crash 16″
Zildjian Rock crash 18″
Zildjian Zill Bell 8″
Sabian AAxtreme China 17″
Sabian AAxposion crash 16″
Sabian B8 Pro hats 14″
Sabian Crash Ride 18″
Sabian HH raw bell dry ride 21″
Meinl Byzance medium thin crash 16″
Meinl HCS splash 12″
Meinl HCS splash 10″
Paiste alpha crash ride 18″
Wuhan China 12″
Wuhan China 14″
Wuhan China 16″
Wuhan Splash 8″
Wuhan Splash 10″
Abhinav – Yeah I bought the Wuhan cymbals. Been craving for them a while now and are definitely worth the money. Especially the Chinas, sounds amazing!!
ID :: How do go about tuning your kit?
Abhinav – Started using the Drum Dial these days. It’s definitely a more convenient way to go about tuning. Otherwise I do it by ear; Kishan had helped me a lot regarding tuning.
ID :: Any common mistakes you’ve seen people make while it comes to tuning?
Abhinav – Well I am not going to go into the technicality of it but neglecting tuning completely thinking that it’s not important. I have only recently started taking tuning seriously. Wish I had thought about it earlier, well it’s never too late!!
ID :: What’s your daily practice routine like? What’s does your warm up consist of?
Abhinav – For the past 2 years I have been putting a lot into my practice schedule. I usually practice around 8 hours a day (when I don’t have exams).Ordered quite a few dvds from Amazon. Benny Greb-Language of Drumming, Tommy Igoe-Groove Essentials and Great Hands For a Lifetime and John Riley’s- The Master Drummer to name a few. I highly recommend these. Helping me a lot!!.I go to the gym for a bit, run on the treadmill for half an hour or more, come back home and get down with the Derek Roddy double bass exercise for half an hour…and then work on the Dvds for hours. I plan to start learning the Mridangam very soon. Have a lot to do before I leave for Music!!
ID :: Any exercises you regularly do to build endurance? What’s your approach to gaining speed over the kit?
Abhinav – THE DEREK RODDY double bass exercise. It’s a half an hour exercise where you play 4 on each foot,8,12 and then 16 for 2 minutes each at above 180 bpm, then the hands for the same and the feet and hands together. Eventually fool around with double bass beats at whatever BPM you’re at. Been doing it for the past year regularly and it has helped me a lot. I had developed a back problem last year so I also do my daily chores of back exercises before practice.
ID :: Now while writing songs in Inner Sanctum how do you go about writing your parts? To you what’s the most important thing while writing your parts?
Abhinav – When we work on new material its Chintan and me who do most of it. We just keep jamming and bounce ideas off each other. I sometimes record the riff he came up with and work on it during the week before the next jam session. To me the most important thing would be to make sure the song flows and grooves hard.
ID :: You’ve shared the stage with a lot of big bands, what’s your most memorable gig?
Abhinav – Sharing the stage with Amon Amarth. That’s been my most memorable gig!! I am HUGE fan. One of the first metal bands that I got hooked on too, been following them since I was in the 9th grade.
Abhinav – Off late I make it a point to warm up my hands and feet. Twenty minutes or so before the gig I would sit and beat around my practice pad.
ID :: You’ll be leaving the country soon to study music abroad, have you decided upon which school you’ll be heading to?
Abhinav – Yeah have been planning this for a while now. Thought I would leave after my 12th grade but then decided to get a degree under my name and then push and I would have more time with Sanctum as well!! I am just deciding between Berklee School of Music and Musicians Institute for the Bachelors in Music Degree. It would be an intensive 3 or 4 year course, really looking forward to it.
ID :: You’ve been playing for quite a few years now, what advice would you give to all the young and aspiring drummers out there?
Abhinav – All I could tell them is to practice hard and protect their ears.
ID :: Now let us just do a quick set of rapid fire questions to wrap up this interview?
Gojira is- A band that I am emotionally connected too musically and a band that makes me want to MOVE, every fucking day.
Your favourite Indian drummer - Reuben Narain
One festival you’d love to headline - HELLFEST
Gavin Harrison or Danny Carey – Gavin Harrison
Favourite rudiment- Paradiddle
ID :: This is your space, anything you’d like to say to your fans, family, friends, etc.
Abhinav – All I would like to say to the fans is to keep supporting the scene and THANK YOU to my parents. The only reason I am able to do what I do is because of them.
Thanks a lot for doing this interview Abhinav! Take care and we wish you the best.
Abhinav – Thank you!!
Photos Courtesy – Prateek Biswas