The pandemic has reached the state of Assam, and more specifically, Sidd’s city of Guwahati, the largest city in Assam in northeastern India. With more rainfalls than other areas in the region, it is where bits of the great Brahmaputra river drain passes before emptying into the Bay of Bengal.
Besides the pandemic, the Guwahatians are also facing great changes in matters related to regional polity. And in fragile times like these, not only have resilience and strength grew in them, but subsequently has creativity expressed right at their door step, through words and songs written by them.
In their latest release Alien Sky Cult has once again used punk rock, a highly expressive genre of today, to tell of their bold and gracious strive amid uncertainties. Earlier this year, they released single Glass Cannon — an ode to standing up together and never giving in; whether its fighting an infectious disease or playing a pacifist role in the region’s tension. Through its thick and thin, this is a nine year old story — one of many — that has seen its activators step out of their comfort zones.
And for the first time here at Music Press Asia, they announce their upcoming album “Origins”.
Alien Sky Cult celebrates its ninth year as a heavy metal band wholly Guwahati. What influence(s) speaks prominently of such genre of music and how has the band’s music evolved over the last decade? I think for me (Siddhartha) & Shung (guitar player) punk rock has been the basis of the coming together of the band. We bonded over 90s punk rock and used those melodies as a base of what has become our sound, but with a heavier tilt on it. The band’s sound was predominantly metalcore at inception. However we were always leaning towards a more hardcore sound, which is what we’re currently working towards with a lot of ambient sounds incorporated as well.
What is a prominent cultural influence absorbed and embraced within your community/city/region at the moment? I think music should speak or talk about what’s going on around you. Because there is nothing more important than reality. Things that directly affect us should be the message that we talk about [in our songs].
Our region or the country has gone through a huge political change. The right wing is on the rise and have led [its people] to a lot of discrimination towards minorities and indigenous people. And so our latest songs talk about these issues, which most popular music wouldn’t.
What are the geopolitical challenges facing the people of Guwahati and its region today? I think the biggest challenge at one point, at least a few years ago, was the internet; the access and the speed of internet. We always bought bootlegged stuff to satiate our need of new music beyond borders.
Today the challenge is that there are less more people talking about what’s going on in this region. There’s a certain lack of local narrative, which makes it easier for the political parties to push their agendas.
Explain what you mean by this when you said “We are not our forefathers”. Religious divide has been there between Hindus & Muslims and other minorities in India ever since independence. Growing up in Assam, my home state, and even though never really knowing the difference of celebrating Eid or Muslims celebrating any Hindu festival, we’re not going to be an extension of the bigotry that our forefathers had. We grew up living in harmony and so, will certainly not allow party politics to create this divide among us now.
So, what’s next for ASC? Will you be releasing an album soon? The album will be called Origins. We want to connect with the roots of each member in the band and incorporate sound that has been long forgotten or haven’t been heard anywhere else in the world. The tales of the land, of where we come from.
Also to tell the world that India, a country that they once knew, has gone through a political and social change. The undercurrent of the country has changed. And though bigotry is at its highest point, we want to change that. And so the first task from us is to begin talking about it.
More about Alien Sky Cult, here.