A few Indian bands have lasted as long as Kryptos. The Coils of Apollyon which was released through Iron Fist Records marked the band’s third release. The band’s drummer Ryan Colaco is one of India’s most experienced and sought after drummers. Ryan who has also helped Indian Drummer from the beginning dishes some information about the new album, teaching, his adoration for Nicko McBrain and a lot more in this interview.
ID – Hey Ryan!! How was the show in Chennai a few days back?
ID - We’ve seen a number of bands come and disappear, a few good bands at that. But you guys have been around for more than 10 years, released 3 albums and continue to give one good show after another. What’s kept the band going all this while?
Ryan - Well, we all like what we’re doing. It’s an important part of all of us at some level. And jamming has become a part of our daily routine without which we feel a little incomplete. Knowing this & coupled with the silent realization that we’ve got a chance that others don’t, I guess the least we can do is to keep it going & take our place in it!
ID – Was there any difficult phase that the band has had to tackle over the years?
Ryan - Well, money has always been an eternal challenge for the band! And I guess that holds good for a quite a few bands out there!! The only tough phases that come to mind are when practice time & concerts gets a little scarce & a few years back when we were scouting along for new recruits for the band! That required a little patience & looking around before being finally rewarded with Jayawant & Rohit.
ID – Now getting to The Coils of Apollyon, how did the writing for this album go about?
Ryan - The lyrical content to these songs came at the end for this album & credit for them goes to Nolan.
The songs themselves were a collective process. One of us comes up with an idea, we get to work on it & see what develops from it. Sometimes the songs write themselves out where we just have to do nothing but play & see the idea through. At other times, we pursue our ideas & add a couple of twists & turns to it in terms of the arrangement. Once the skeleton’s done we spend some our time doing our homework refining & fine tuning our respective parts. And finally, as part of the creative process, we also did have to chuck some parts out ‘cause they just weren’t fitting, sitting & sounding very well!
ID – Was there any sort of pressure going into this after putting out a stellar album like ‘The Ark of Gemini’?
Ryan - I personally didn’t feel any pressure like that! The excitement & eagerness to record again kept any unnecessary pressure or negative thoughts from creeping into my mind! That & also trying to play with a metronome, kept my mind quite busy prior to me hitting the studio!!
ID – This album is again very old school and has a lot of good melodies on it. Was a lot of attention stressed on it being more melody driven?
Ryan - As I’m almost 34 years old, old school comes to me quite naturally!!! Based on our individual musical tastes, we’ve all leaned towards a more melodious & harmonious sound. I also do remember once when we all looked at one another in a moment of inspiration & said ‘let’s make this album more kick-ass & melodious than the one before’. That was all the emphasis laid down on for it! After that, I guess we let the songs & our instinct decide for themselves what’s best suited.
ID – What’s the story behind the album title?
Ryan - I’d prefer if the listener does a little personal research & then put the pieces of the album title together along with the age that we live in! That would be more meaningful & will stay in the memory longer!!
Ryan - Some of the lyrics do touch upon secret societies a little & their deeds. Some others paint pictures of “what else, what now, what next, where to, from here” in our modern day construct of thinking & living! Knowing a little history about ancient Egyptian & Roman gods/culture & what they stood for would help in putting the lyrical meanings together. & finally some of the lyrics require you putting yourself in an another persons’ shoes & see things from a different angle. That’s my first impression when I finally read the lyrics. I’ll probably still read them a few more times to come to my own personal fuller interpretation.
ID – You worked with Anupam Roy on this record, how was it to work with him?
Ryan - That was good fun! Eye-opening! Quite thorough he was & I liked his attention to detail. He also knows his way round all that studio software!!! Besides that, he kept falling asleep!!! So I used to ask him to press the record button & I used to do multiple takes while he snoozed! Once woken up we used to figure out which takes were the best ones to work with. Yes, we had a good working relationship!!!
ID – Where was the album recorded?
Ryan - With ever improving technology the guitars were recorded in Rohit’s & Jayawant’s houses under the careful hi-tech scrutiny of Anupam! The drums were done at Control Room Studios here in Bangalore. & finally the vocals were done at Christortion Studios, in Bangalore again.
ID – A sound engineer sometimes wants to dominate your parts/sound, like how they want it to sound but at the same time you want it to according to the way you think it sounds cool? How do you or Kryptos tackle this problem?
Ryan - There is this bad word which isn’t a 4 letter one! “Compromise”! Well, I usually get a little ticked off! Following which I explain myself & ask them to listen to what’s going on again! Me in turn tries their suggestions out! & at the end of the day, where better sense prevails we come to some sort of understanding that suits the song best!
ID – A lot of good drum lines on the album, how do you go about writing your parts and how do you then take this and record it?
Ryan - Well, there are things that I can’t do & there are things that I can do! I just begin with what I can do & go with the song! I try playing the song again & again in my head & visualize what’s going on, on the drums. As I get more comfortable with what I’m playing, more internal space develops for me to fill in the blanks. Finally, spontaneity, learning from mistakes & the occasional band feed-back plays an important role in coming up with fuller parts to suit the songs. I’d like to best describe my drumming on all these albums as a work in progress!
ID – Listening to your drumming and watching you live reminds me a bit of Nicko McBrain, was he a major influence on your playing?
Ryan - For sure! Yes! Definitely!! Always felt I had a connection with him & that’s really helped me along the way. Most of my influences usually remind me of myself, with one important distinction/difference – I’m in the potential-cocoon stage while they’ve already spread their wings!!
ID – Do you improvise any of the parts while playing live?
Ryan - All the time, every time! The main body stays the same though. The fills, rolls keep changing depending on my personal progress, spontaneous inspiration & my comfort level playing on different drums on different stages.
ID – The band indefinitely postponed an all India tour last year, is there any work going on which will take care of that?
Ryan - Yes, we are working on it this year. Fingers crossed, circumstances come together in our favour & away we go, with a little bit of luck!!!
ID – You’re involved in teaching drums, what’s your philosophy or method to impart education about drumming and rhythm to your students?
Ryan - I like to begin & stick with basics. I’d like to give all my students a firm foundation through those basics, be it, grip, posture, breathing, movements & motions, etc! Through this, one can branch out into further more intricate exercises & patterns. I also like to finally show my students how they can figure out & solve their own doubts through proper basics applications. In a nutshell, it’s something like learning what tools you first require, where & how you need to go get them from, how to use them & apply them in everyday situations for your own good.
ID – What keeps you busy while you’re not drumming?
Ryan - To be honest, I’m quite good at wasting time!! So when I’m not drumming, cycling, teaching, reading a little, watching documentaries, a little PSP, a little beer & talking with friends encompasses the rest of my day!
ID – This is the first record you’ve put out through Iron Fist Records, can you tell us a bit about Iron Fist Records?
Ryan - As far as I know it’s a combined effort between Salman (our manager), Nolan, Ganesh & Srikant (Bever Sea) to help launch, promote & distribute a new band’s material. Helping a band to find & to play more gigs & to help bands logistically in another city if the need arises, is another aim of Iron Fist Records as far as I know.
ID – What do you think of the music scene across the country at the moment? Which are the bands are you currently following?
Ryan - From what I’ve seen & heard across our metropolises, I do believe that there are a greater number of up & coming bands in the underground circuit! The talent & standard is definitely on the rise too! I’m also quite pleased to see more bands performing & recording their own songs & also coming out with their demos or full scale albums!
ID - What’s in store for you and Kryptos for the rest of the year? Will there be another European tour?
Ryan - Well, I’m definitely counting on a European tour & everyone in the band really has their eyes set on that! So we’ll try like crazy to get out butts over there! The fresh stout beer in Germany has my name on it! Good stage, lights, sound & surprised people wondering where the heck we came from & wondering what we’re all about also makes heading to Europe amusingly intriguing!
On our national frontier, we hope to reach more Indian cities & spread the good music! We however leave the decision to like us or leave us, up to you!! It would put a smile on my face to make some dough off our album sales but also, through those very sales, we can reach out to a couple of guys across our country & probably, just maybe, give them something to listen to, think about & make a difference!!!
ID - How do you deal with improvisation on live recording? How does your mind and muscle memory adapt to it? Do you have to re-write the whole rhythm in your head or you just go with it without any second thoughts?
Ryan - With difficulty!!! I sometimes hope for the best, & when I get excited about I really get into it & things work for me automatically from there on! & as for adapting towards something new, it kind of depends on my mood! When I’m in a good one I soak things up & carry on with no hic-cups! When I’m not in a good mood I usually take some time feeling it & visualizing the whole thing!
ID - You have been with Indian Drummer from scratch, how did that happen? What do you think future holds for Indian Drummer? Has it been able to help drummers?
Ryan - Well I met a guy once who held me at gun point to join Indian Drummer! He said it was the patriotic thing to do!!! Well actually, when Pawan approached me with this whole idea, it was a good one & with some good intentions!!! Things don’t any more simple or better than that! & our collective enthusiasm booked my ticket with I D!
As for our future, I would like to see ID be in a position of holding an annual or bi-annual event along the lines of DW, Vic Forth, Modern Drummer Magazine events! I’d like to see us reach & fulfil our little intention of service for the Indian drummer! There’s plenty of untapped talent in a land of population 1210193422!!!
We’ve definitely helped drummers address their doubts & weak points; we’ve provided inspiration through interviews of acclaimed international drummers. There should more & better things to come. The rest is up to all those drummers!
ID - Today a drummer’s scenario in India is pretty much restricted to a band/ teaching or at the most session drumming (which is less in India). But as an artist do you think we need to be more visible through social media or websites, online lessons, article or by any means which can put them front of lakhs of people just by using power of the internet. What you have to say about this & your suggestion to make it to the next level OR any words on how a person can survive by taking drumming as profession?
Ryan - Well, everything in life is a limitation & a chance/opportunity simultaneously! It’s best we treat them all as such & make the most of it for ourselves & for those who listen to us! I grew up at a time before the internet or cell phones! So thinking about being more visible didn’t occur to me much! I just wanted to play at the next gig! & come to think of it, you need the same attitude/feeling/thrill to play even today! After all, what will you post up on the internet if not, something that you are doing or going to do!
As far as taking things to the next level, I for one would like to take my playing to the next level first! Following which I do believe that good things will happen to those who try to better themselves in the form of more chances & opportunities. Keeping a look out for those things becomes another sensible extension to do.
For all of us Indian drummers, depending on what your musical reasons & inclinations are, do what’s best suited for you. Try different scenarios out, it’s wonderful playing with different people in different genres! & it’s wonderful playing along with friends! & since we do have the internet now, who knows who’s watching (besides the people behind the government!!).
ID – Let us wrap this up with some rapid fire questions:
Favourite Indian Drummer – Don’t have any, but names that come to mind are Jared, Veeru, Rahul, Yasmin, Roberto, Durga, Ranjit, Kishan
Iron Maiden is – one heck of a rock n role model!
Bangalore Open Air – hope they allow for beer & camping like Wacken Open Air!
ID - Thanks a lot for being a part if Indian Drummer. We wish you and the rest of Kryptos the very best. Hope to talk again soon.
Ryan - Thanks!! Hope to see Indian Drummer help the Indian drummer all through 2012 & beyond!!! I would like to thank vic firth drumsticks, mapex drums & furtafos music for their constant support!