Asim Searah: "The Two Male Vocalist Setting Could Be The New Wave Of Metal"
“Melodic death metal from Finland” may be one of the most commonly used phrases in the modern age of metal. With a slew of bands from the region with “similar sounds,” Damnation Plan have set its goals high with the release of the debut LP “The Wakening.” In what may seem easier than spiting into a hurricane force wind, the band employs the oft common “double vocalist,” however the more underutilized male/male (death/clean). Metal Underground.com caught up with the band’s Pakistani born vocalist Asim Searah to talk about the band’s approach, how hard it is to stay original in the face of genre tagging and the band’s plans to conquer the metal world.
CROMCarl: Damnation Plan was formed in 2004, releases a demo and then the lineup gets a shakedown in 2012 with three new members, two of which are vocalists, including you. Tell me how your involvement with the band came about?
A.S.: It was around 2008, that Damnation Plan was looking for a vocalist and I contacted the band and we had put down some vocals on demos to see what I could come up with. Our chemistry was really good, After that I got involved in many other projects till in 2011 Jarkko (Drummer of Damnation Plan) got back to me to set things in motion with the band, as my vocal exactly fitted the music of the band. So from there on we decided lets do this for real.
CROMCarl: And in doing so, you left Kiuas, who you were with for a couple of years, but hadn’t played on any studio releases. Why happened with that situation?
A.S.: Well I had great times with Kiuas, but the fact is that our professional chemistry was fading out near the point where I decided to leave the band. Meanwhile Damnation Plan had a stable plan and the chemistry was much better so I had to let go of Kiuas.
CROMCarl: Now I know you are also a guitarist, so as you switch to “vocal only” duties for Damnation Plan, do you still get an itch to play guitar – especially in the live setting?
A.S.: Personally im quite comfortable with or without the guitar on stage but rather of course I do get the itch to play guitars. Definitely---it’s something which is another part of me. Likely in some projects I was just a guitar player. May be in the future we might do something about that with Damnation Plan. So its more like cant live with or without situation.
CROMCarl: So which came first….the guitar or singing?
A.S.: I would say singing came first because way before I got my first guitar at the age of 12, I use to sing a lot and I remember winning some singing competitions as well at some events. Even though singing came first in my life, guitar playing is as close to me as singing.
CROMCarl: So you have just released the new album “The Wakening,” the debut with Coroner Records. Who is the main writing team in the band and were you involved in that process?
A.S.: The main writing team in the band for the album “THE WAKENING” was our drummer: Jarkko and brilliant guitar player Kalle. I was involved in creating the clean vocal for most of the songs and backing vocals.
CROMCarl: You had the mastermind Dan Swano do the mixing and mastering for the album, which really shows. What was it like working with Dan and how satisfied were you and with his results?
A.S.: Actually, Jarkko was taking the charge of being in working relation with Dan, I use to just give suggestions about tweaking few things here and there. I believe Dan did an amazing job, it came out to be better than expected. I would have to say that I'm indeed quite satisfied.
CROMCarl: “Melodic death metal from Finland” tag that is placed on so many bands coming from the region these days. How did the band try to keep the sound fresh to separate it from the sea of other bands? Was that the idea behind the album’s title?
A.S.: I believe we just aimed for being original as much as possible. From my side I experimented to sound something different than I use to sound before. As far as the title is concerned we want to give our listeners more of a clear picture of our surroundings which we live in these days, as well try to waken them up to start seeing things from a different prospective for betterment of all of us.
CROMCarl: How do you feel about “genre tagging” in general? Do you think it causes potential fans who would otherwise enjoy the band, especially a newer band, to skip out on buying an album?
A.S. I think it’s really hard a tag a band in a music genre because music is universal and it can have all the elements of so to speak tagged genres of today’s world. Well for sure there are people out there who are brand freaks or let’s say genre freaks, so genre tagging can cause potential fans likely particularly ones who would only listen to us because its meets their genre favoritism.
CROMCarl: I know that the male/female “beauty/beast” arrangement is a bit over saturated these days, so outside of a few bands like Scar Symmetry, the male/male – clean/growl team is still a pretty fresh and exciting combination, especially when you have such a lethal vocal partner Tommy Tuovinen along with your smooth clean vocal style. Do you think the two male vocalist setting is the next wave of popular metal? How is it working with Tommy?
A.S.: Absolutely the two male vocalist setting COULD BE the new wave of metal, but I must say that we didn’t have any intentions to follow an ongoing wave of whatever. We just did it so because it suited us and that’s what made us as we are “Damnation Plan” As well its gives an extra bit in a live act for the audience to experience different sides of an Act. Working with Tommy is great he’s a phenomenal guy and a fantastic screamer. I believe we get along well vocally and casually.
CROMCarl: Did you ever get the urge to belt out the death growls when you were recording “The Wakening”?
A.S.: Hahaha indeed I did, but rather after hearing what Tommy could bring in to that side, I rather let the best take over the charge! But likely in our live set, I’ll shift from clean to growl and so does Tommy vice versa to keep things interesting for our audience.
CROMCarl: The band just released a music video for the song “Blindsighted.” Tell me about the idea behind the song’s lyrics and a little about the video production and where it was filmed?
A.S.: Well it’s kind of rebellious song I would say. It’s a clear statement to the people who want us to be what they want us to be in this society for their own sake of control and what not. So it’s up to us to see the things through and be what we really want to be or become one of those puppets which are controlled. Also, it’s a message for the people to realize what they are becoming. It indeed was an interesting video shooting, as we shot the whole thing in an underground club. The club was pretty satisfying as it gave us more than what we were looking for. Generally, the ideas came from Jarkko, as well as the video was directed/edited and sometimes filmed by him.
CROMCarl: Are there any plans for a tour or have you been contacted to be part of any larger tours?
A.S.: Indeed! We do have plans in the future for touring, we have already been contacted twice by now to tour in Europe. So the future seems bright and we indeed are looking for more opportunities and possibilities to reach our goals, which are indeed higher than the limit but as we all know it’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock n roll...
CROMCarl: Now you were born in Pakistan, a country that has a metal scene, but not a very widely known one. I know bands that jump out at me are Mizraab and Black Warrant. What do you think about the current state of the metal scene in that region?
A.S.: I’m proud to represent METAL from my region country of birth, and glad that you know about the scene somehow as well. To what I have been recently getting to know about the metal scene in Pakistan, I’m surprised and glad that there are indeed good bands coming out from there. Actually, I‘m an acquaintance with the former member of the band Black Warrant, and definitely Mizraab is talented band and I would say the scene is getting better than before, but due to the circumstances it’s hard for the bands to come out totally upfront. I wish all the bands out there the best and hopefully they would be able to make it bigger someday soon :)
CROMCarl: Thank you so much for the interview, it was an honor. Best of luck with the album!
A.S.: It indeed was a pleasure to give the interview and thank you for wishing us luck. All the best to you as well and keep up the good work!
Carl Frederick is a staff writer for Metal Underground.com. From the early to mid-90's, Carl published his own fanzine called C.R.O.M. In 1997, he released a compilation entitled "CROM: The Resurrection of True Metal," which featured songs from bands from around the world, including the first U.S. release of any kind for bands like Italy's Rhapsody (n/k/a Rhapsody of Fire) and Brazil's Angra. Follow Carl on Facebook and Twitter: @CROMCarl.
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