GIRISH & THE CHRONICLES “Rock N Roll Is Here to Stay!”
By Dr. Abner Mality
No matter how much they try to convince you otherwise, American rock music of the last 20 years just doesn’t measure up to the glory days. A watered down collection of “Dad Rock” and “Urban Rock” will never cut it. And I don’t see many bands here doing a convincing job of picking up the torch of AC/DC, GUNS N ROSES, WHITESNAKE and SKID ROW. So we have to look elsewhere for the next generation of true rockers.
I found it in a small town in Sikkim, India called Gangtok. The band is called GIRISH & THE CHRONICLES and oh my God, can these guys GO! For one thing, despite being from India, they look like the real deal. Yep, that includes luxurious long hair, not the boring chrome dome or buzz cut look that’s taken over in the US. But they just don’t look the part...they sound the part. With lung blowing melodic vocals, screaming guitar and best of all, songs that stick in your head. Do yourself a favor and run, don’t walk, to get the latest GATC epic “Hail To The Heroes”. It’s reignited a spark in me that was almost extinguished.
It took a while, but I hooked up with the god-like voice of GATC, Mr. Girish Pradhan himself. I wanna do everything I can to push these guys, so it’s with great pride I present the following interview...
WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: Greetings to the band, thanks for talking to us. First question...what was the spark that lit the flame of rock n roll in you guys? What made you want to pursue this lifestyle?
GIRISH PRADHAN: If we’re talking about songs, it would be the old EAGLES song “Hotel California”. I think that was the song that made me pick up the guitar. Apart from that, watching local live bands perform the classics totally blew us away as kids. Forming a band was all we could think of, after seeing the seniors shred like that. The second phase was of course, when I discovered IRON MAIDEN. My life was never the same after that. That’s when things really got serious.
WC: Was it difficult getting exposed to metal and hard rock in India or were you able to find what you were looking for easily?
GP: Yes, it was quite difficult. There were multiple factors. Firstly it was really hard for any band from the northeastern part of the country to get recognized in rest of the country. Multiple factors. But luckily, YouTube happened at the right time and I used the platform to our advantage. Before that, it was really hard for a band from a small town like Gangtok to get any exposure. Of course, we were really, really serious about music as well. I mean personally, covering, or creating my own songs, I had always been a perfectionist. I’m not trying to beat my own drums, but it was a time when there was hardly anyone singing these kind of songs at that level, specially from my generation. So in a way, recreating an art that was considered “dead”, turned out to be a unique selling point for the band. All in all, these factors really helped us leap forward at a great pace.
The band itself was always ready to travel or relocate anywhere. It was one of the first times in the music history of our state that anyone had attempted to relocate entirely to other cities, even countries. But I would still give a lot of credit to YouTube. We never had a proper management and everything we did was DIY, but we still kept gaining a lot of reputation. So basically, the talent was, and to a lot of extent, still is, the main driving factor in the band more than anything else.
WC: “Hail to The Heroes” is the first record I’ve heard from you guys and I suspect it will be for many others here in the West. Can you tell us about the two prior albums you put out?
GP: The first album we released was back in 2014. It was a compilation of various remixed/remastered versions of singles we had released since 2009, along with some new songs. We ended up naming it ‘Back on Earth’. The idea was to make a statement - Rock ‘n Roll was back in town. We released it with Universal Music Group in India and the song, “Angel” was featured on VH1 as well, as it was part of their marketing strategy. We eventually ended up making videos for some of the songs like “Ride to Hell” and all the songs were eventually released on Kappa TV’s ‘Music Mojo’ YouTube channel. It was years later, at around the release of “Rock the Highway”, our second album, we requested the label to remove the album from all streaming platforms, as we wanted to re-release it and due to the poor communication with a management we used to work with. We’re really hoping to have the songs back on the platforms soon.
It took another 6 years to release the second album, but we did release a couple of singles in between, such as “Endless Road”. The second album’s story started with the release of a single (With video) in 2018. The song was named - “Rock the Highway”. We soon got a proposal from a Denmark based record label named “Lion’s Pride”. Upon agreeing, we started finishing off a second album in 2019. We were also trying to get in touch with Frontiers at the time. Upon releasing our single, “Rock ‘n Roll is Here to Stay”, from the album, we heard back from the label again and after a couple of months, we announced our signing with Frontiers. The “Rock the Highway” album really did put us “On the map”.
WC: How big of a leap in sound and quality was “Hail To The Heroes” from your previous work?
GP: We believe it is much more mature than anything we have done before. The production is way more refined along with the song writing. Of course they all have different charms. It’s like how we always love the old records of our favourite bands, even though the bands themselves are always striving to sound better on their latest stuff. We really took it to a new level with this one.
WC: How did you hook up with Frontiers Records and were there any other labels in the running to sign the band?
GP: It was in 2019, when we hit up an email to the label. I soon got a response and initiated some conversation. We tried proposing that “Rock the Highway” album be released with Frontiers, but it didn’t work out at that time, as we we didn’t have any videos and whatever demos we had recorded were just really basic ones. However upon the release of our song, “Rock ‘n Roll is Here to Stay”, we heard back from the label again, this time talking about multiple albums. Soon it turned out to be a real deal.
WC: Last year I spoke to the Indian metal band AGAINST EVIL and asked them what the metal scene was like in India. They said the larger cities are starting to really develop but out in the countryside, they don’t even know what Western music is. Would you agree with that?
GP: I guess it depends on which part of the country you’re talking about. The fact is that hard rock and heavy metal scene was quite big in the 90s, compared to what it is today. Most of the country did have some sort of a scene going on. Then there was steady decline. Talking about smaller towns and outskirts , I believe the North Eastern states in India do have a bigger audience for western music, compared to the rest of the country. If you go to states like Meghalaya, Nagaland, Mizoram etc, you’d know it. Just a couple of days back, I was returning from a performance with the band from a remote area in the state of Assam. We were playing some songs while on the road on the speakers and the driver was like, “Can you play something by JOE SATRIANI?”. You’d even see trucks with band names like GUNS N ROSES, IRON MAIDEN, on the highway. So yeah, if we’re talking about that part of the country, it’s a different story. Even the hilly areas like Darjeeling and Sikkim have had a big presence of western music. However as far as Rock and Metal is concerned there was a decline like everywhere else and a band like GATC did indeed fill in a big void.
WC: I understand you guys play live a lot, with bands ranging from HOOBASTANK to DESTRUCTION. Those are some very different bands! Do you like the challenge of playing with bands different from yourself?
GP: It’s always been about taking whatever opportunities we get. I don’t think the scene is in that level, where a band has the option to choose whether to support/open for a particular international band or not. One good thing though, is that the audience has always welcomed us with open arms, no matter what band we’ve shared stage with… But you know?
WC: What would you say has been your best live experience so far?
GP: I think it was UrRock festival in Switzerland last year. Not only did we share stage with bands like NAZARETH, FIREWIND and ORDEN OGAN, but it was our first ever towards Europe, as a part of a Rock/Metal fest. The whole thing made us feel like we were right at home. I can only imagine the beautiful lifestyle of the bands that actually live there and do this all the time.
WC: Girish is an amazing vocalist and has the vibe of being a true “rock star”. In America, we barely have singers like this anymore and the rock scene is almost dead. Do you see yourselves as keeping the flame of hard rock going in new and fertile ground?
GP: Okay, since I’m answering the questions, thank you, if you feel so. We hope so. The truth is that we just love what we do and we like to give our best. But yes, certainly, over the last 10 years and more, we have re-introduced hard rock to a lot of people in India itself and looking at the comments we get in our songs on platforms like YouTube, we do feel like some of our songs have sort of ‘awakened’ a lot of people who have missed this kind of sound.
WC: What’s the songwriting process like for the band? With Girish and Yogesh(bassist) being brothers, that has to make it a bit easier?
GP: Yes, having your own brother in a band is certainly of great help. Yogesh is also the main guy behind the mixing and mastering on top of that, which gives us a crazy amount of flexibility and freedom. Besides, the guy plays all the instruments and it’s always awesome to have a second opinion on everything we do.
WC: The title track “Hail to the Heroes” is an epic track compared to the other songs on the album. Could you see yourselves going further in this direction?
GP: Yes, we might be doing more of melodic and ‘epic’ style of songs in the coming years. However, it’s simply impossible to suppress the artistic tendencies. So yeah, there’ll always be some surprises.
WC: What track off the new album is your particular favorite to perform?
GP: I guess it’s “The Heaven’s Crying”. I’m a sucker for ballads as a singer. But I guess as a team we’re still figuring out which track would be the most awesome to perform live. While recording, “Shamans of Time” was just so much fun to work on!
WC: Girish, you’re the singer of another project called FIRSTBORNE. Tell us a bit more about that.
GP: It was back in and 2019 (Again), Chris Adler was on his drum clinic tour in India and was on the lookout for musicians to perform with, live. So his manager in India called me up and asked me if I could sing the MEGADETH songs. Of course, I said yes and by the time we started touring, Chris made me listen to some of the demos that he had been working on with with his friends, (James Lomenzo and Myrone). He asked me if I was interested in trying out the vocals. I was really excited about it and upon reaching home, I tried out some vocal takes on that demo. The guys seemed to love what I had done. Soon, we started working on a couple of new songs and ended up recording about 4 to 5 songs. We soon decided to release an EP and it was around that time we all came up with the name FIRSTBORNE for the project. It was a crazy time because I was also working on my “Rock the Highway” album. So as soon as GATC released “Rock the Highway”, we also released the FIRSTBORNE EP. We have released a few more singles after that and are currently working on a new album.
WC: You had Chris Adler and Rowan Robertson sit in with you on “Rock N Roll Fever”. Tell us about your collaboration with these guys.
GP: Rowan and I became friends in 2019 on Facebook. I was quite surprised to see his message and it seemed like there was a window of opportunity, where we could work together in the coming future. A year went by and we were working on a few tracks. It was at around the end of 2019, I asked him if he wanted to be a part of one of the songs. He was happy to help and gave us a solo for our song, “The Rebel” on the “Rock the Highway” album. So naturally it seemed like a great idea to have him in our second album as well. More than anything, it was an honour for us. I asked Myrone if he wanted to give us a solo on the same song as well. The whole thing ended up like a three way guitar duel. Soon, I asked Chris if he wanted to fill in the drums and he was was kind enough to contribute too and took the song to a completely different level.
WC: Have you ever had any kind of a “Spinal Tap” experience where things went crazy that you could tell us about?
GP: It was an event we did a couple years back. We saw that it was a bikers event. We got all dressed up and all. Ready to belt out some heavy metal. We headed to the stage and we saw that there were only a handful of people there. Right after the first song some of the folks come up to us and asked me “Do you have “Summer of ‘69” or some Bollywood”. A crazy incident was in another place. We finished the sound check and after a couple of hours the entire roof above the stage just blew off. Was one of the craziest storms that we had seen.
WC: Any last words for the fans?
GP: Thank you so much for all the love and support. We really hope it only gets better! We’re looking forward to rock with you all someday in the future. Let’s keep the flame alive!