Hallo Again India: Martin Sivertsen Talks About His Indian Experience and More
In 2009, India experienced a very different noise from Norway. Benea Reach came and destroyed all previously held notions about Nords being all about face paint and inverted crosses. soundplunge_test catches up with Martin Sivertsen, the guitarist of Benea Reach, as he talks about his story of the Indian experience, new album, upcoming tours, and his favorite Indian bands!
soundplunge_test: Could you tell us a little about how your tour in India came about?
MS: In 2009 my band Benea Reach was asked to perform at The Great Indian Rock Festival, or GIR as it is popularly known. It was a part of a cultural exchange program between India and Norway, which I still think exists. Needless to say, we were thrilled to be given such an opportunity. At first we thought our booking agency pulled a prank on us, but after a while it all sunk in – We were going to India!
ST: What were your initial impressions on coming to play in India?
MS: Before our encounter with the Indian bands and audience, we really didn’t know what to expect. From what we were told, the Indian metal scene was a relatively small, but growing underground phenomenon, and GIR at that time was the biggest event of the year in terms of metal and hard rock.
ST: And what impressions did you have once you came here and played?
MS: The tour left us full of impressions, but we particularly remember our concert at the Hamshadhwani Theatre in New Delhi. I remember we were a bit nervous, since in the previous editions of the festival, the Norwegian bands performing were mainly black metal bands, or at least bands affiliated with that particular scene. I was perhaps a bit afraid to disappoint the crowd, you know, being a Norwegian metal band not playing Black Metal! However, all my worries were put to shame. The welcome we got from the crowd was out of this world!
Between the songs we had time for high fives with the audience, and we quickly forgot how tired we really were after our long journey with minimum sleep. It may seem to be a worn out cliché, but music is indeed a universal language, which made it really easy to connect with the crowd.
It’s been four years since that happened, and we still can’t stop talking about this tour! Thanks to Facebook I get to keep in touch with my Indian colleagues on a regular basis.
ST: Wow, it’s nice to know that you are still in touch with people from the scene here in India. What’s your take on the Indian scene?
MS: Regarding the Indian scene, I really don’t have an in depth knowledge about what’s going on nowadays. However, I see that the bands we met on tour in 2009 have developed a lot, as in making their own signature sounds. Bands like Bhayanak Maut, Undying INC, Scribe, Artillerie, Zygnema and Skyharbour are definitely bands that should get more recognition outside the country. Musically, there’s more than enough talent. I also get the impression that other indie genres are gaining more popularity, which is a good thing too.
ST: And why do you think they are not getting more recognition?
MS: From what I’ve been told by my Indian friends, the challenges lie in infrastructure, as in good venues, festivals and business models that could facilitate the growing scene. Hopefully there will come more people like Amit “Papa Rock” Saigal (R.I.P.), who I was lucky to meet twice before he passed away.
ST: What cues do you think India should take from the scene in Norway to better the scene here?
Note – Mr. Sivertsen’s answer to this question was so large and profound, that it has actually been posted on our Spotlight page! Be sure to check it out.
ST: I know that there is a new album out sometime this year; could you tell us a bit about it?
MS: Yeah, the album was released in Europe on the 25th of March, and it’s called “Possession”. We are very happy with the final result, and it’s our best effort so far. The songs are more focused, and we have been more into finding the right sounds and be picky about the small details, without compromising the groove and heaviness. We have also used a bigger palette of sounds, which I think has made the album more dynamic and diverse. Check it out!
ST: And any plans to come back to India?
MS: Being in India was very special to us on so many levels, and a lot bands we know become jealous even now, when we tell them about our experience here. Hopefully we will come back in near future. We can hardly wait.