Having gone into an indefinite hiatus two years ago, this Mumbai based progressive outfit left everyone in the lurch just as they were about to release their debut EP. It was especially saddening after having releasing a great track named ‘Abeyance’, that really gave listeners a taste of all the wonderful things to come. Now, quite like a phoenix rising from the ashes, this outfit has resurrected. With a lineup consisting of Sandesh Rao & Desikan Gopalan on guitars, Vivian D’souza on bass, Shweta Venkatramani on vocals and Nachiket Karekar on drums, Protocol is back and for the good, as is clearly evident from their recent release ‘Alive’. Staying true to their core influences, the song is filled with a dark ambient tone and powerful guitar progressions with an overall charming prog-metal appeal to it. Shewta brings with her a fresh wave of intriguing yet chilling vocal melodies and noteworthy lyrics that touch the soul. There’s a palpable sense of excitement with the return of Protocol. The band feels strong, uniform and fresh with the new lineup. There have been rumors of new material on the way which has left me and their fans, both young and old, on the edge of our seats. I simply can’t wait for what this young band has to offer.
IB got to speak with Desikan on a variety of topics. Here’s how it went:
Q) Why ‘Protocol’? What are the origins behind the band?
The message that we wanted to send out to the people who listen to our music needed belief in a certain kind of emotional and physical transformation of oneself. This would be a kind of Protocol that one would follow to create (what we believe) an ideal world. The project was named by Swati, who was the vocalist who wrote the lines for Abeyance our first single release.
Sandy and I first met and we had Sujit on drums. Subsequently, we got Pratik to play bass for us. Swati would head the band back then. About an year back after performing various gigs with us as guest vocalist, Shweta joined as a permanent replacement. Varun Kodolikar was a part of the project during this transitional phase. We started jamming with Nachiket and Vivian about 5 months back and it finally feels like the band is complete.
Q) You guys had been inactive for two years. You guys are clearly back for the good. Will there be a conscious shift in sound with this return?
We are evolving as musicians and I believe sound is one of the most important prerequisites for creating an optimal product. The difference in quality between first and the second song that we have released is massive. As we continue in this journey, we will never be shy to try something new though it might be boldly experimental. The idea is to take each day as it comes but we would continue to stay progressive in our songwriting.
Q) You recently released your single ‘Alive’. Could you guys tell us about that song?
Alive is the story of hundreds around the world who are kept away from each other because of the unnecessary involvement of the society. The song aims to spread the message of humanity as the world’s greatest religion and creates a platform for people to make their own choices in life without thinking about the misgivings of the people around them.
Q) What is it like to be a progressive metal outfit in India? What do you guys think about the music scene in the country, especially regarding the genre?
Progressive music is quickly becoming one of the most interesting scenes in the country. There are a lot of bands that are moving close to modernizing the culture of progressive metal playing in the Indian metal/rock scene. There is adequate infrastructure and events happening all around the country to cater to the needs but there is no portal to help connect these events to bands like us where we can pitch ourselves and attempt to play gigs.
Bands like Aberrant, Chronic Xorn, Undying Inc., Noiseware is what we listen to and consider as the torch bearers for our side of the paradigm.
Q) For a band who has returned after two long years, is there anything new about the scene? Are you particularly excited about something you’re your return?
There is a really good vibe about the new material that we are working on. The scene has better avenues for exposure but there is very less that can be done before we release new music. The EP is a challenge and one of the most exciting things to do and a first album is monumental for us.
Q) The independent music scene in general lacks female musicians, let alone in the progressive metal scene. Shweta, is there any advice you would want to give young female musicians out there?
I don’t know if it qualifies as advice as such, because it is something I am still learning- is to put yourself more out there, and talk to people. Many might also not have an extremely enthusiastic family, but there is no other way about it. Expressing views clearly helps, people will take much less offense to opposing views expressed rudely than somebody pretending to agree. Let’s not say we’re okay with things we’re not, and let’s not revolt against things we enjoy, not worry about offending people, and not take offense easily either. But all of this aside, more importantly, no matter what other priorities we may have, practice has to take first preference, people here don’t really put up with those who suck at their job, but try to charm their way through.
Q) How would you describe this ‘reincarnated’ band and it’s sound to old fans and new?
The changes that have taken place have been done to ensure continuous flow of material and our lineup is completely supportive of that. The inputs that are flowing in come from varied perspectives now, and have given us a completely new take on our original material. I think, overall, the goal has been to stick to some of our strongest core ideas, but we have attempted to approach it with a more matured mindset. We are attempting to make songs in their entirety, instead of parts that could ‘fit’ with each other. We are dwelling on parts longer, ensuring they work well, and are not in a hurry to produce outputs forcefully. Also we don’t want fans. We want family.
Q) New line-up, new beginnings. You are also planning to release your EP this year. What’s 2016 like for you guys?
2016 began with a single release, after quite a long break, but we are hoping to keep the momentum going, and are working on our EP, that we will attempt to release in this year. We are planning to go live and will be playing gigs around the city soon. Hope to have a great year ahead.
Thanks to Protocol for having that great interview with us! Do check out the links below and do not forget to like Protocol’s Facebook page to keep up to date with the latest updates.
Check out Protocol’s Bandcamp page.
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