Bangalore Stormed out!
As Overture and Kingfisher presented the Summer Storm 2012
At the press release on 4th of Febuary at Hard Rock Café, Bangalore
It was worth waiting when the Swedish progressive rock & death metal Band Opeth arrived at Hard Rock Café, Bangalore. In a while Arpan Peter from Overture India opened the house for Media conference. All were present in their retro style dressing and explored the café for its collections and interiors -Lars Mikael Åkerfeldt (Voice, guitar, various), Martin Mendez (Bass guitar), Fredrik Åkesson (Guitar, Vocals), Martin Axenrot (Drums), Joakim Svalberg (Keys, vocals). Volley of questions were thrown by the media agencies which got some blunt answers by Åkerfeldt. There was Q&A sessions for half an hour which was followed by one to one interview session, a ceremony of autographing a guitar by OPETH (at HRC, Bangalore) and a closing note given by Gurpreet Singh from Kingfisher.
Exclusive interview with the Martin Axenrot
Martin : Exciting… well it’s great to be here we have been roaming around in Bangalore. I liked the city and tried spicy Indian Food.
ID : Did you like the food?
Martin: Ya… Spicy and hmm good (he giggles).
ID: Will this bring smile that you resemble with character Legolas from Lord of the Rings?
Martin : Hmm.. ya when I shaved my beard may be but I don’t think I resemble him.
ID: How do you feel to step into a great band like OPETH?
Martin: I don’t remember now how I felt, when I began it was lot of touring as they had come up with their new album Ghost Reveries so I was on tour for 2-3 months so there was lot of change I was never home, always on road trip or practicing.
ID: There would have been lot of expectation from the Band and fans right? Any obstacles?
Martin: It was tough to replace man of such stature but I was touring for 6-7 months in absence of Lopez before joining them so it was smooth process for me to become member of their band as I glued with the band very well and I got good reaction and welcome from all the band members too.
ID: Bloodbath, Witchery and now OPETH so how was the transition in terms of style of Music and as a drummer?
Martin: All play different style of music and I still play for Bloodbath and Witchery the difference is the style of composition itself because when the guitarist plays different style of music from metal to blues or to jazz I have to think differently to fill my part each time and that comes naturally.
Martin: Mainly it starts by Mikael writing and recording at his home in the way he wants the album to sound closely and getting lot of demos. Then I and Mendez (Bassist) rehearse on this recorded demos only on bass and drums for couple of months and work out to fill it with something we feel like and how we will like to play it together and then we enter studio then change things again and record again. We try different styles of playing and this is a process where we see technicality of music over mechanically just playing it, so we start from demos and we sit calmly to add our personal flavor to it by keeping the basic idea behind the song intact.
ID: Do you push other band members while composing and try to build a song with drums as central idea?
Martin: I don’t write music for Opeth but I try to understand the feel of the song and I’m given freedom to fill my part.
ID: Did you compose for any other band?
Martin: Hmm… Ya.. but it’s been so many years now, I used to pick guitar and compose then the guitarist had to learn it and I used to play drums. Scenario has changed a lot now when everyone is a better musician than just an instrument player and very good at what they do and play.
ID: Well you been playing for such a big name how do you improve to become more versatile?
Martin: I try to expose myself to different forms of music and extract something from each. All the new forms and old forms of music has lot of commonalities and certain novelties and this impacts me, inspires me and make me build my own form of music which helps me in development rather than just applying it once.
ID: Can you mention any thing which you picked recently?
Martin: Kate bush latest album and few lessons from Steve Gadd. These are very different because it taught me how to be subtle and quiet on drums and at the same time make an impact on the song.
Martin: I am brought up with blues, my father was guitar player and he used to jam at home. When I grew up I didn’t like blues much because I had listen to blues so many times and it sounded boring to me and wanted to drift away. I started as a blues rock player influenced by Michelle and Jim Hendrix.
ID: How is a typical day on a road trip with your band mates while touring?
Martin: Hahaha..we get up, we shit, try to find something to eat, may be shower and then try to figure out which town we are in and if possible we can explore it, go to some good places, record shops, restaurants etc.
ID: How do you manage time to practice before the gig when you are touring continuously for 2-3 months?
Martin: We rehearse before the tour and practice only while sound checks on the stage. We do not practice as such while on tour.
ID: How different is touring in Asian subcontinent in comparison to first World countries?
Martin: Crowd is different in different areas… hmm crowd in US has an attitude of “go forward” and they are there to be entertained, they care more about their own joy and have lot of rage in them and in here there is very less population listening to this kind of music and they comparatively quiet.
ID: You did your Watershed album in just seven days?
Martin: No, I like pressure and it is always there. I like to play intense for continuous 12-13 hours a day with my full energy and that is what I did while recording Watershed. I have even recorded an album for Bloodbath in just two days.
ID: Album Watershed and Heritage were more experimental and were missing that heavy vocals and “metal factor”. Was your fan base disappointed?
Martin: This depends what you are expecting out of a band. There is a difference when band composes, it does not play what you think they should play, a band plays what makes them feel good as an artist and sound better than earlier. We cannot cater to everybody and everyone has a different thinking so it is not about making popular music it is about making music your own way whether some one likes it or not.
ID: How was composing and recording of Heritage different than Watershed?
Martin: Well a lot different we practiced bass and drums together and even recorded the whole songs live together so it was a good feeling. We created them differently, we didn’t use too much of mixing and used lot of natural sound of instruments and wanted the songs to sound as if played in a room.
ID: You and Mendez lock in very well and make the foundation of every song. How important is it for a Drummer to stay tight with the bassist?
Martin: Bass and Drum are more important for any song than they sound. You can only produce clean Metal if bass and drums are locked in tightly .These two instruments go unnoticed a lot of times but they make a strong backbone of the song.
Choose one from the options given
Jazz or Metal
Hmm.. Tough one may be metal.
Pint of beer or drag of Cigarette
Shorts or Denims
If not a drummer than____
Fisherman may be.
ID: What gear do you use?
Martin: DW drums, DW and Tama pedals and Sabian cymbals.
ID: What are your plans for rest of 2012? Any new project?
Martin: No, it’s been lot of touring. No new project is foreseen but may be when I sit back at home for couple of weeks after touring something will turn up or a project of my own.
ID: Please share some advice to upcoming drummers of India?
Martin: Well I was very keen on learning Indian drums that are played with fingers but I always thought it is very hard to play. My advice to any drummer will be to go to the history and evolution of each style of drumming. Whether 60’s or 70’s every decade had its own way of making music and that’s a gift to drummers of today and one should take inspiration from each style of music.