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Interview

Kryptos Frontman Nolan Lewis Discusses New Album "Force Of Danger," The Pandemic And Indian Metal

Since the turn of the millenium, metal fans have been able to discover more bands from all across the globe and in turn, groups have had the opportunity to be heard by more people than ever before. Perhaps one of the most notable bands to benefit from a global metal community would be Kryptos, the quarter from Bangalore, India who have become their country's most well known, and well loved metal export.

Keeping the spirit of traditional and thrash metal alive since 1998, Kryptos has to date released five albums, with a sixth, "Force Of Danger," set to be unleashed on October 1st through AFM Records. The band has been able to break down barriers and become heroes for young metalheads in India and with their new album displaying a fiercer Kryptos than ever before, their reputation will only become bigger and more positive. To find out more about "Force Of Danger," Kryptos' long relationship with AFM Records, how the pandemic affected them and what it's like to be a metal band in India, we caught up with vocalist/guitarist Nolan Lewis. You can watch the interview in full below.

Diamond Oz: The new album, "Force Of Danger" is out very soon. It’s definitely an appropriate title for Kryptos, given that the band has always been a high energy force…

Nolan Lewis: And we get a bit dangerous when we drink too much! (laughs)

Oz: Well, for you, what does the title mean?

Nolan: It doesn't really mean too much. It’s kind of inspired by eighties and nineties sci-fi action movies such as Escape From New York and things like that. So it's kind of like, when you hear all this ominous sci-fi music and you see the bad guys showing up with guns, that kind of sounds like a force of danger and that title always kind of stuck in my head. I thought, "I need to use this as an album title or for a song one day." We actually got the artwork before we named the album and once we got the artwork I was like, "Yeah, I need to put this title in there!"

Oz: Speaking of the art, it does look very cool. How satisfied were you with it and who came up with it?

Nolan: It was done by a good friend from Visual Amnesia. He did the initial art, which actually didn't really look like what it does now. He’s the one behind the figure, but he gave us a very plain background with blue sky and stuff, which was kind of weird, like the Terminator was going to a picnic or something! We were already working with another artist from Colombia, she was designing our booklet and sleeve and everything. So we just asked her if she could touch it up. She understood what kind of theme we were going for and she did the background, gave it kind of an 80s sci-fi finish. So it was a combination of both really.

Oz: And musically, what separates "Force Of Danger" from "Afterburner"?

Nolan: There is quite a difference in production. We stripped it down a bit more on "Force Of Danger" because the songs on "Force Of Danger" have a lot more NWOBHM (New Wave Of British Heavy Metal) influences, so we wanted to really match the production to that. So, if you listen to our album and you listen to some of the really early NWOBHM bands like Jaguar and Angel Witch and Saxon, you’ll notice similarities between our production and those albums. Some people might find it a bit harsh but I think given the songs and the way we wanted to present them, it works really well. Especially if you listen to it multiple times, you get used to it and then you’re like, "Oh yeah man! That’s where it comes from!" I would say that's the biggest difference but sonically, musically, it’s pretty much in the same lines as "Afterburner" but more direct, more to the point, although I would say the solos are more elaborate on "Force Of Danger." Our guitarist Rohit, he was jamming a lot of Randy Rhoads and it all came out on this album.

Oz: Well this is also an important album for Kryptos, as it marks the first album with Rojit Singh on drums. How was it writing and recording with Vijit?

Nolan: We were so used to working with our last drummer Anthony, we had a great rapport with him and a great connection but unfortunately he had to move to Canada. So Vijit was recommended to us by a friend. He played in another local band who we all knew and he’s a really young guy. He’s just twenty four, not like us old farts in our forties! So he was kind of like the new kid on the block and he was thrown straight into the fire because he joined the band and we went on tour to Europe, so he went from playing to like, five people in a dingy garage to festivals in Europe.

But he really took to it like a duck to water and when he got into the studio he had a tough time because we wrote the album really quickly and because of COVID and everything, it made the situation really hard to move around our city, so we had to really plan our schedule. None of us had much time to learn the songs really well, we had to burn the midnight oil and get things as tight as possible. So he had the toughest time because his drum parts were the first up and he didn't have much time to learn them and he got into the studio and we just pushed him and ground him into the mud! We're going, "Do it again! Do it again!" and he’s like, "Dude, I don’t know the songs that well!" He pulled it off but I don't think he’s looking forward to the next album after this! (laughs)

Oz: Well at least next time he won't be thrown straight into the deep end! But from what I've heard he’s done a great job and specifically what I’ve heard is the single, "Hot Wired." Why was this track chosen for the music video treatment?

Nolan: This is the third single we put out, there were two singles before this but "Hot Wired" has so far got the best response, going by YouTube views. It’s already had like sixty thousand views in a couple of weeks, which is great for us. But I'm not surprised that that song took off really well because it’s a short song. It's simple, it's catchy. I think everyone can relate to the lyrics because of the pandemic and stuff, everyone wants to just get out and rage! I can picture someone getting out for the first time, putting it on in the car and driving straight into a wall or something!

Oz: There you go. Buy the album but don’t listen to it in the car! Once again, this album is released through AFM Records. How’s the relationship with AFM been so far?

Nolan: It's going great! We’ve been with them for close to ten years now. This is the fourth album we're releasing with them and they’ve been really supportive since day one. The great part about AFM is that they’re not really a traditional metal label. We're kind of an anomaly on AFM because there aren’t really any other bands that sound like us on there; very old school and traditional. A lot of the bands on there are more modern, power metal, stuff like that, but the key thing is they've never asked us to change our sound to fit in with their roster. They never told us to do things differently. They were always supportive of the way we do things, our outlook, who we are and it’s actually because of them that we've been getting so much attention over the last few years.

Their reach is really good, especially in Europe and South America, these are places we probably never would have got in touch with otherwise. So that was really important and also they get a lot of media coverage; magazines, reviews, interviews, stuff like that. I was actually a bit worried that when they heard the new album, they’d be put off by the sound but they didn't say anything so I guess they really liked it.

Oz: It's interesting because like you said, through AFM you’ve been able to reach metal fans in Europe and South America,North America as well. Kryptos is an interesting band in that if you ask most people if they can name a metal band from India, they’ll name Kryptos and for a country that big with so many people, there must be tonnes of great metal bands in India.

Nolan: Tonnes of bands, but I don’t know about great bands! There are lots of bands here. In each city, each town, you’ll find a shit tonne of bands but in my opinion most of them aren’t very good. Second of all, most of them don’t last the distance. They form, they maybe release an album or a few songs and then they break up after two or three years. Life in India does that to you. One minute you wake up, the next you’re spending two hours in traffic, then you're pushing a cow off the road or something, so by the time you get back from work you’re just fried and you can’t even think about making music.

I get it. I get why bands break up but there are a few bands out here that have been around for a long time and we’re still trying to keep it going. It's getting harder every day though and the pandemic hasn't helped. In our case, the band is everything for us. Unfortunately because of the pandemic we've had to cancel our last two European tours so that’s really put a dampener on things but we’re looking forward to next year.

Oz: Well, like you mentioned the pandemic has affected so much. Did it affect the recording of "Force Of Danger" at all?

Nolan: It didn't really affect the recording, because we had to schedule the sessions based on the lockdown situations and the curfews and all that stuff. There was a window in March when things opened up a bit, we started writing in January and recording in March when this window was open for about a month and we had to finish it off in that time frame because over here, things happen on the fly. One day the government says, "Go out and party and have fun" and the next they say, "Stay in your houses!" There’s no advance warning or anything, it just happens here. So we took a chance, we booked the entire month for the recording.

Once we finished the album, we were recording the video for the title track and on that particular day, we were shooting the video and we were almost at the end and then got a call saying the government has issued a curfew from nine thirty onwards and it was already eight P.M.! So we had to scramble to finish the video and get home, because if Indian cops catch you breaking curfew, they’ll beat your ass!

Oz: Going back to what we were talking about a minute ago, about there being a lot of bands in India. Obviously I don’t know how you’re perceived in India, but I would imagine that having been around for so long, you are held up as an inspiration for Indian metal fans and bands. So what’s been the driving force behind Kryptos for so long to overcome such difficulties?

Nolan: It’s just the music. We grew up with this music since we were kids. I got into this music more than thirty years ago.The music has been with us through thick and thin. For me, when I listen to Judas Priest or Maiden or whatever, I still feel the same as I felt when I was eight or nine years old. That feeling hasn’t gone away. I think we’ll know it’s time to hang up our boots when that feeling starts going away. Until then, we still have that fire inside to create music and put our own spin on the music that inspired us and get it out to the world.

Also, we take a lot of pride in being from a country which doesn’t really have a traditional metal scene. We’re kind of showing everyone that you know, even we can do it. We come from India but we can kick ass as much as the rest of the world. What’s also kind of a driving force is that every time we release something, every time we get reviewed or interviewed by media from abroad, we play festivals abroad and stuff, I see a lot of bands writing to us from here saying, "You’ve shown us that it can be done." We’re really happy that we’ve kind of given a lot of people in our country an option.

People think, you go to school, you go to college, you go to work, you get married and you die. That’s the Indian way of life, there’s nothing else. But then they see us doing what we love to do, kids think, "Wow. If they can do it, why can’t I?" More than anything, we want to make a change in the way people think over here, that you can do anything you want to do. You can work, you can take care of your family and you can do your music, especially now with the technology and the internet, it's much easier than it was when we started out.

Oz: Yeah. All these national scenes, they had to start somewhere. You think, thirty odd years ago, we wouldn’t have thought about hearing metal from Brazil and then Sepultura came out and we started hearing a lot more. And again, that’s a big country with a lot of people.

Nolan: Yeah, in fact, Sepultura's story was kind of inspiring for us. How they went out on tour with Sodom and blew everyone away and then people sat up and took notice of Brazilian metal because of them. I watch interviews with a lot of bands, documenting how they look up to Sepultura for opening the gates for everyone else so we kind of want to be like that.

Oz: I would imagine that’s the case for young headbangers in Bangalore and New Delhi. Just finally, like we said, we are still dealing with the pandemic but tours are starting to come back very slowly. What plans have Kryptos got to promote "Force Of Danger"?

Nolan: Well, we had a European tour for December 2021, but unfortunately we’ve had to postpone that again. Hopefully, next year, we might come over to make up for it. We might have a tour in March and April of Spain, Italy, France, the Iberian area. We have our first Russian gigs in July, doing a big festival there and hopefully we can get some gigs around that. The tour that we had planned for November, that’s been pushed to next November and that’s a long tour where we’ll be hitting a lot of countries for the first time like the Czech Republic, Poland, Finland, all these places, so it’s looking good so far! We have plans for the UK, we’re working on it.

Diamond Oz's avatar

Ollie Hynes has been a writer for Metal Underground.com since 2007 and a metal fan since 2001, going as far as to travel to other countries and continents for metal gigs.

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