Millennium’s reign was intense, starting off in 1988, winning the Skull Krusher Award in 1992, recording three albums and an EP, and opening for the greatest international rock and metal bands of the time. Their Iron Maiden covers at the Spirit of Iron Maiden concert were legendary and in 1993, the band played with Konark Reddy and Human Bondage at the Evergreen Concert held to save the trees of Bangalore. Opening for Deep Purple in 1996 both at Delhi and Bombay, and then again, for Megadeth in 2008 in Bangalore, this band has seen and done it ALL.
In 1997, Sharmon Ibrahim, the younger brother of frontman Verhnon, took over rhythm guitar duties. Sharmon’s involvement in the band actually started way earlier however, and soundplunge_test interviews him on his take on social media, experiences, and the band’s resurgence. Ibrahim shares the secrets of the underground wave that helped them achieve unprecedented success and about the best days of the band when there was sense of brotherhood not only amongst the members but also the audience. Of days when there was “No Partay!!, No Selfies and of course No Facebook”. Even though the crowds were going mad for Millennium when they opened for Megadeth in 2008, in his words, “the Megadeth gig is way down low on my list of epic shows.”
To know more such unknown facts about Millennium, India’s foremost and perhaps the most successful metal bands ever, read on this soundplunge_test Exclusive.
soundplunge_test: When Millennium was first formed, how closely were you connected to the music scene and what your brother was doing?
Sharmon: Millennium was formed when I was still in school…around 25 years ago. My initial involvement was just as a younger brother of the vocalist. I would help out backstage and sometimes go for practice sessions. There was one gig at Guru Nanak Bhavan (Bangalore) where I was doing the lights and also helping with the artwork. After that, I think it was understood that I would be doing the lights for all the shows then on. It was also the beginning of a “Lighting-Design” career for me at Reynolds (sound and lighting services). It was later that Blake (guitarist) left the band and I, who had been practicing like crazy, took his place in the band as a rhythm guitarist. By then I was listening to stuff like Slayer, Anthrax and Pantera. This was somewhat the musical direction the band also took so it was really good fun. It was underground, like being privy to a secret that only some knew and those were the best days of the band. There was truly a brotherhood, not only within the band, but amongst the entire audience. The feeling was of something important going on here. You couldn’t put your finger on it, but you were thrilled to be part of it.
soundplunge_test: What was your most epic moment on stage with Millennium?
Sharmon: There were quite a few epic moments. I think any of the gigs we did at Rang Bhavan, Independence Rock were amazing, I have never seen a crowd like that. The atmosphere was the most electric and single minded – all the energy towards the stage – no bullshit, no getting kababs or mineral water from stalls, no funny hats, no people that just want to ‘partay’, no Facebook selfies happening in the background, just 100% pure energy focused to the stage at the band. And the crowd is right up to the stage, that’s what a gig is all about.
soundplunge_test: What is your take on the changing scene in metal over the past two decades? How have it you seen it change?
Sharmon: Well…metal used to be the black sheep of the music family, merely by virtue of what it sounded and looked like, so it was easy for it to stand out by virtue of being different. Metal in its origin has always been about speaking up, having your own opinion and not conforming for the sake of fitting in – this sort of message is fine when it comes from a non-conformist bearer. But what I think has happened is that now metal is the “in” thing, the thing to like if you want to be seen as non-conformist, so you can see the conflict here. It becomes commercial and no longer holds any real value.
soundplunge_test: Now, with the new line-up, do you feel that the music has changed? Sure, times have changed, but do you still relate to that level of metal as you used to?
Sharmon: The music has changed, but so have we, so in a sense it remains the same. It’s rare that I hear any music that makes me go ‘WOW!’ anymore and metal is no different. I live on a staple diet of Rush and Alice in Chains, so I guess the answer is no, I relate to music differently now.
soundplunge_test: As a veteran, what is your opinion on new national metal acts affecting the international metal scene?
Sharmon: I’m really happy to see some of these bands getting out of the country and playing at big fests and doing tours in Europe, I think that is really good for them. A band can’t survive without doing shows and in India, let’s be honest, there are no proper shows and there is no following, unless getting a bunch of Facebook likes does it for you.
soundplunge_test: What was it like playing Impending Doom III earlier this year? As a resurgence, it must have been quite something playing along with a great mix of young and old blood.
Sharmon: Getting back with the band, new members and all, practicing hard, it was great fun. The Impending Doom gig was fun of course, it was great to be back on stage and I can’t say that I didn’t enjoy the show immensely, but on thinking about it afterwards, this was NOT the shit, it was way too contrived. The turnout for the show was also depressing, minus the wannabes and you are left with 20 or so hardcore rockers. This only proved to me that the “metal scene” is strictly on Facebook as a convenient way for people to be “cool” or “anti-cool” without having to actually go for the shows! Though I don’t regret doing the gig, it’s not something I would want to be part of again.
Now, with a brand new line-up from earlier this year, consisting of Rohit Chaturvedi of Kryptos and Deepak Raghu of Bevar Sea, the band played Impending Doom III in January 2013. This multi-act metal show, in Bangalore, saw masses rush to the venue simply because Millennium was playing again.
Sharmon’s inputs are very valid, especially in context to the Bangalore, where metal turnouts at shows are sometimes poor, yet social media support remains immense. With Millennium having set the bar decades ago for serious metal, modern acts have a lot to live up to.
As he says, “I feel sad for most the bands that play at fests here these days, the audience is just floating about and don’t really give a damn as long as there is no queue at the bar counter.”
Millennium is Verhnon Ibrahim on vocals, Rohit Chaturvedi on lead guitars, Sharmon Ibrahim on rhythm guitar, Praful on bass and Deepak Raghu on drums.