Mystixz, a progressive rock outfit from Bangalore recently put forth their debut EP titled Genesis to good reception. They cracked the top 3 in the reverbnation charts within a week of release and their song Fly Away is quite popular amongst the crowd. We caught up with their drummer Nitesh Iyer and here’s what he had to say to Indian Drummer:
Nitesh - Hey man!! Nothing much, catching up with friends and partying, composing new material, jamming during weekends, project work. That’s about it.
ID - Around a month back you guys released an EP titled Genesis, how has the reception been to that?
Nitesh - The reception has been wonderful. We reached the top three in reverbnation charts within a week of its release. That’s been really something special for us. When we played our first gig since our EP release at Purple Haze, Mysore, we were astonished to hear the crowd singing our songs along with us. That really captured our hearts.
ID - Tell us a bit about the writing that went into the EP?
Nitesh - The first track named Till the End was composed by our vocalist Tom with just the vocal lines and backing guitar chords. Then we all sat together and composed the leads and drum patterns for it. The second track Fly Away, which is a major hit, was composed initially by our guitarist Eshwaran. Then later on, me and him sat together and finished all the instrumental parts for it. The vocal lines were added in the last. The last track Voice of a Soul was also composed by Eshwaran and later on we sat together and finished off the instrumental parts and then added the vocal lines for it.
ID - How long did it take for you to track your parts?
Nitesh - Actually we didn’t hire the studio on a regular basis. Whenever we found time, we used to head there and record. So my parts took roughly around 12 hrs. I also played the keyboards for the tracks and I took about an hour and a half to finish off those.
Nitesh - Yeah man, we did. But it wasn’t the first time though for all of us. I previously had recording sessions, composing jingles for some advertising purposes, but the drum recording, yes it was my first time and was pretty much excited. I learnt a lot in terms of the drum miking and its tuning and one of the drummer’s challenges, to keep up with the metronome as well to play the groove accordingly in par with the LAYA and with the right feel. As a band, we learnt a lot in terms of cutting unnecessary slack time, practicing the tracks much in advance prior to recording them and also to keep our bellies filled before recording! Lol! This specially implies to me and my vocalist. Lol!
ID - Now that the EP is out, what are the gigs you’ve got coming up to promote it?
Nitesh - Well, we are headlining couple of college fests over here. [BIT on April 11th and AIT on April 12th] After that, our guitarist Eshwaran will be leaving for a tour and won’t be available till mid of June. So, we won’t be in action till then. After that we have to see as we are already composing new material for our album which we have planned to release by year end. So might well have to hit the studios again.
ID - From listening to the songs on ‘Genesis’, there seems to be some Opeth and Dream Theater influence. Do these 2 bands influence you guys a lot?
Nitesh - Yes, they have been one of our main influences for the band and we hope that we can keep up the good work and excel in it coz replicating something in their standards as well as making the audience to like ‘em is one of the most difficult tasks for us coz all our own comps are completely feel based.
Nitesh - We have our own jam room, so whenever I and my guitarist used to find time, we used to practice on Fly Away and Voice of a Soul. I used to have all the patterns I used printed in my memory itself. Lol. I don’t like writing them onto the pattern sheet. We were quite happy with the patterns once we finished composing and then Sagar, our other guitarist added the backing rhythms and his leads for them. For Till the End, I wanted it to have a different feel to it, so I used brushes for them to play the grooves. It’s hard to make that out as it was the first time in the studio and even though I did play with a lot of accents and styles, I was not happy with the quality of the output in the end.
ID - Tell us a bit about your journey as a drummer.
Nitesh - It has been 3 and a half years since I went to my friend’s jam room and suddenly started jamming on ‘Smoke on the Water’ after their drummer left for some urgent work. I was 16 back then. I hadn’t gone for any classes before that but I guess it’s in my blood since my father is also a drummer, actually a percussionist pretty famous here in Bangalore. Then I auditioned for my college band in B.I.T and got through. That band had two sides, one was a semi carnatic fusion band called Aathma, and the other one was a Vedic Metal band called River Sagittarius. With that band, we won in various regional fests including NIT Suratkal, VTU Fests [3 years in a row] and many other local fests in Bangalore I later met one vocalist who introduced me to Sagar. We both formed another band and during one of our shows, we met Eshwaran who was playing with another band. We three started jamming and one of Eshwaran’s friends introduced us to Tom and Vivek and voila, Mystixz was born. I did play for one of the best reputed flautists in India, Bhutto (Annada Prasanna Pattnaik) for a show in Ravindra Kalakshetra and I can say that was my best experience ever as I played alongside many of the other reputed musicians in Bangalore also.
ID - What’s your kit setup at the moment?
Nitesh - Kit: A blend of standard Premier and Pluto kit with Remo Encore Overheads for Snare and Tom Toms.
- 12″ x 9″ Tom
- 13″ x 10″ Tom
- 16″ x 16″ Floor Tom
- 22″ x 16″ Bass Drum
- 14″ x 5.5″ Snare
Pedals: Mapex P550 Double Bass Drum Pedals.
Cymbals set: Paiste Flat 20” Ride, HCS Meinl 18” Crash/Ride, HCS Meinl 18” China, Paiste Signature 8” Splash, HCS Meinl 14” Hi-Hats and two Pulse 18” Crash Medium.
Sticks: 2 pairs of Vic Firth 5A drumsticks, one pair of Zildjian 5A drumsticks, a pair of wired brush and hot rods drumsticks each.
Nitesh - My main influence or rather inspiration has been my father and will be always. Other drummers are Mike Portnoy, Gavin Harrison, Martin Axenrot “Axe”, Dennis Chambers, Neil Peart, Tony Royster Jr and his father Tony Williams, David Weckl and Buddy Rich.
ID - As an up and coming drummer and a part of a band on the rise, what are the key areas of focus for you at the moment?
Nitesh - Promoting our music by playing more gigs, practice as much as possible and coming up with new material for our album.
ID - On your profile on the Indian Drummer website, you’ve mentioned that you’re a session’s drummer as well. Who are the other artists you’ve played with in the past?
Nitesh - Esperanto, Baja, Nanda Kishore & Shekhar Sirin, who has been actively in the scene for composing a track, Ek Aag Ka Zarra, a song against corruption. The video has been broadcasted through several news channels including NDTV 24/7 and News 9. You can check that out on YouTube.
ID - Apart from drumming, what other activities keep you busy?
Nitesh - Football, Riding, Movies etc.
Nitesh - There has been a talk with the Radio Mirchi Head who has planned an 18 city tour for us for one whole month. We are waiting for the confirmation. This can be the best chance for us to go global if everything falls into place. The target is to release our new album by this year end and keep the music alive.
ID - This is your space Nitesh, feel free to pen down anything you want to say to your fans, family, friends, etc.
Nitesh - Hey guys, thanks a lot for all your support and your appreciation!! A special thanks to my parents who have stood by me all these years supporting me throughout my career!! And to my sister and my brother in law who have been my pillars for support!! To my whole band who are indeed an added inspiration to me!! A huge thank you to all my friends and other fans who have come down for our shows, been there and cheered for us!!
I would also like to add something to the other upcoming drummers as well!
I would like to say just follow your heart, the perfect groove is in there.
Practice it “RIGHT” as much as possible.
That’s about it!
Thanks a lot for doing this interview Nitesh!! Indian Drummer wishes you and the rest of the band the very best.
Nitesh - Thanks a lot to you too for your time and the interview!! Keep up the great work, indiandrummer.com has been the best place for all the drummers. Great to see a home for our Indian drummers. Keep it alive and happening!!