Featured Band – Abyss
This is one band that have been noted for their incredible brand of metal & showmanship and even won over an entire audience with their stellar set at Chain’s EP Launch not too long ago; Eshantha Perera caught up with Che Weeratna (frontman) for a one to one on the band, new music & more.
Eshantha: No one really knows how you guys actually came together. You turned up out of nowhere and took the scene by storm. Not everyone takes time to read through the “About” section. Tell us how Abyss happened.
Che: All this happened through a simple phone call from my guitarist, Arun Jilukshan one night. Arun had been in the scene for some time more than me but strangely we shared the similar taste of music. The initial idea was to come out as a “slam” metal band but however things changed.
Afterwards, I met Tharuka Indrakumar; who also plays guitars for us. I came across Tharuka through Facebook. Then came along Sahan Mendis; our bassist. We met him through a very good friend of ours. Finally we met Romain Nimarsh; our drummer. We met him through one of Arun’s buddies from school. So that’s how we met; no big philosophy there. Things started working for us as a band, even though we were from different backgrounds; we had the ability to sit down and concentrate on our music. That is how ABYSS was made.
Eshantha: One of the most significant aspects of your sound are the vocals coming from you, Che. How did you find that particular sound, a sound that has so much in common with Randy Blythe of Lamb of God?
Che: David Randall Blythe from Lamb of God.
This is not the first time I have been told that. However it is funny how it can sound similar. Personally I think I sound nothing like Mr. Blythe. Well I would be very untrue to myself I don’t say that I am a big fan of his. At any moment if I sound anything like him, it maybe because I listen to his band most of the time. As a matter of fact I’ve just started my journey as a metal vocalist and I have plenty of time to experiment with my voice and I have a lot to improve. If I sound anything like him, thank you it is a big compliment but it is unintentional and I’m searching for my own sound.
Eshantha: There is one other vocalist in Sri Lanka who shares your particular style of growling. You and Ryan Johnson have worked together several times, and also have excellent chemistry and brotherhood off and on the stage. How is it to share stage with Ryan?
Che: Uncle Johnson! I’ve had the privilege to work with him and also share the same stage with him. He has been in the scene for quite some time and I have just entered into the scene. None of that mattered to him when we were asked to perform together, I guess. Hands down, he’s one of the great vocalists in the Sri Lankan Metal scene. There is no big story behind the chemistry between the two of us. We both have a very hard time remembering lyrics for songs. Fortunately, I remember the places where he forgets and he remembers when I forget. That’s chemistry right there. When Ryan and I shared the stage; that was utter chaos. Our brothers from Nevi’im are responsible for that. Overall, he’s an amazing guy to work with.
Eshantha: Let’s get random. Tell us two facts about each of the members of Abyss that the general public may not know about.
Che: I’m going to walk a plank here by spilling things out. ABYSS, has five members; Arun Jilukshan, Tharuka Indrakumar, Sahan Mendis, Romain Nimarsh and myself.
Starting with Arun Jilukshan; first, he is a final year Telecommunication Engineering student. Second, back in school he was famous for his flower printed shorts. Next we have Tharuka; first, He’s from the Banking Sector. Second, he is a very good break-dancer. Sahan; first, He’s an Automobile Engineer. Second, he’s a very good singer. Finally Romain; first, He’s from the Transport/Shipping sector. Second, he’s a big Johnny Cash fan. Well, that’s about it. It was very hard to keep it decent.
Eshantha: What plans do you have for the near future? We’ve heard Shatter, your first original if I’m not mistaken, and it’s been received with a lot of appreciation. Any chances of seeing that recorded soon?
Che: Our plan for the “near” future is to get a proper album recording done and to launch it. Simple as that. Talking about Shatter, that is the second record we have. The first one we have is called “Devious Embrace”, that’s the song we open every gig with and we hope to do so. Getting back to Shatter, it is one of those tracks that a band finds a breakthrough. It has been receiving immense appreciation from the time we first played it live. That is one track to perform and see our brothers and sisters just losing it. We have started our album recordings. It has been moving at a very low pace due to the gigs and the outside life. However, we hope to at least release “Shatter” has a single; prior to the launch; as an appreciation for the support they’ve given to us.
Eshantha: Apologies for mistaking “Shatter” for your first original. Moving on, what about an album or an EP? Have you guys given thought to that?
Che: No, no EPs from us. Straight up. Personally I think it takes away that certain anxiety as to what the band is writing and it’s mostly the fact that we don’t want to complicate things. Well that is my personal opinion. EP releases have definitely been beneficial to some bands. Then again, things might change for us and we might decide on an EP release but for now it is just an album that we are focusing on.
Speaking about the album, like I told you before we’ve already started our recordings. Hoping to release this album by July, August at most. This record will contain 7-8 songs. Four of them have been performed already. Namely; Devious Embrace, Shatter, Imbecile and our latest one was called Traitor. So if things go according to plan, July will be the month when ABYSS will finally drop off an album to ravage the ears of the listeners.
Eshantha: As part of a very select sect of musicians, you’ve no doubt realized how difficult it is for us to get our music out there, as income is one of the most difficult things for us to come by. If we did this for the money, we would’ve quit a long time ago. If a non-metalhead was reading this interview right now, what would you wish to say to that person on behalf of the metal community?
Che: Alright. My dear “non-metal head friend”. I am not the voice of anything but this is all in general to you. I know the music is rough, loud and most of you don’t understand any word we utter. Well, it is not the same with us. We like our music rough and loud. You would never know that this is metal if we sat down and sang very peaceful songs with wide smiles on our faces, like the majority. I see people blooming with success and suddenly vanishing. That is just gunpowder musician-ship. Down in the metal scene here, it has never been an easy ride but it is in its growth stage at the moment. The famous phrase “time is money” doesn’t quite fit perfectly here. Income-wise, as a band we take home the satisfaction we provide to the guys that come down to a local gig. We love our music. We may be loud, we may be rough, but we love what we do down here. This is the epitome of true love for music.
Eshantha: What has your music been about? What drives you and what inspires you to keep climbing higher and higher?
Che: Our music, when narrowing it down to a lyrical aspect. It is mainly written through the eyes of an anarchist and a rebel. We rip masked- faces off through our music and lyrics. I don’t see anything wrong in that and I love doing that. To keep it short our music is more anarchy and rebellious themed. Like I have told you before in the previous question, this is done for the true love for music. What inspires and drives us are mainly the brothers and sisters that support what we do. You might call it “the audience”. We practice for days, put on a show and all that appreciation that we get is what we take home. Eventually that is what drives us to get back in the studio and brew things up again. It is simple as that. I’m sure my fellow brothers and sisters performing in bands feel the same way. Recently I met people that said that they enjoyed the lyrical theme that ABYSS brings out. That means the world to a writer, I tell you. This is an example of what drives us.
Eshantha: Right now, who are the bands you most enjoy performing alongside?
Che, you have collaborated with Ryan Johnson before, so I’m sure Mass Damnation would definitely be one of your picks. Any other bands that you’d enjoy collaborating with?
Che: It is just not them. We would like to collaborate with any band that plays metal. We have no band in particular. Basically, if they are sincere to what they do and likes what we do; that’s a band that we would love to collaborate with. At the end of the day it is another band that plays Sri Lankan metal.
Eshantha: And finally, what are your words, firstly to your fans, and secondly, to your fellow brother bands playing alongside you?
Che: Fellow rebels, thank you for your relentless support ever since we started ABYSS. You guys are the sole reason for us to come out and throw down with you all. ABYSS will definitely need your support in the many more years to come. We will do our part by giving our rebels the music to ravage their ears and you guys keep doing what you’re doing; which we appreciate a lot. To my fellow brother bands that played and will be playing alongside us; keep coming out with greater music. Talk to people about your music, not to hear how good you were but to hear how you could improve. Stay humble while feeling great about your music and have faith in what you do. Cheers for an eternity!
Interview by Eshantha Perera
Vocalist & Drummer (Constellation) for decibel.lk
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