Bangalore, June 30;Not a lot of bad things come from a trip, and sludge metal band Shepherd is testament to that. For the uninitiated, sludge is a genre that is exactly what it sounds like – it’s heavy rock with the emphasis on the heavy. Slow, dense, muddy guitar riffs from Namit Chauhan match heavy percussion from Deepak Raghu and chunky bass grooves courtesy Abhishek Michael, while vocalist Mahesh Raju booms on with a voice that shouts and screams. “It’s a sensory assault that’ll wash away the trivialities of existence,” says Raju about their sound, while Raghu adds: “(It) makes you experience truths and realities that are as old as the universe itself.”
The story behind the band
Being the psychedelic-inclined band that they are, Shepherd formed in July 2011. All members knew each other and decided to jam, and “leave something more than just carbon footprints behind,” says Raghu. The idea of forming a sludge band had been floating around since 2007, according to Raju. Things crystallised only in 2011 when Raghu got back from Los Angeles. Former bassist Muneeb Peeran played with Raghu in another band, Fall of Reason, and did sessions for groove metallers Blind Image. Michael, who also plays with thrash/death metal band Inner Sanctum, took over bass duties last year.
You guys play music because
While vocalist Raju says it’s a form of liberation, drummer Raghu adds: “I play music because it beats doing most other stuff and it comes highly recommended from most of the musicians I look up to.”
You’ll still remember the time when
Says Raju: “My best memory of the band is our first show where we pretty much winged an entire set on stage. That changed all our notions of this band and was proof that we were onto something. That was a long time ago and now we’ve moved on to playing a proper set and the response has been great.”
Toughest part about being a young band
“Convincing people to like your page on Facebook,” jokes Raghu while Raju adds: “Being noticed. Novelty is the only saving grace, more so in a city teeming with bands.”
Story behind the name
Says Raju: “Me, Namit and Deepak were tripping when we saw a bunch of sheep grazing around us. The word Shepherd came to mind and all of us thought it would make a great band name. Plus, the fact that there aren’t any active bands that share the name sealed the deal.”
Musicians that inspire you
Soundgarden, The Melvins, Eyehategod, Black Flag, Discharge
Compositions over covers
While Shepherd is known for their heavy renditions of Pink Floyd classics such as ‘Have A Cigar’ and ‘Set Controls for the Heart of the Sun’, Raghu says he plays covers to geek out on the drums. “Learning and playing chops ala Nick Mason (Pink Floyd) or Chris Hakius (OM, Sleep). But having said that, playing your own songs is obviously more awesome,” the drummer says.
Raju adds: “Who doesn’t want to rock out on stage to their favourite songs? We’ve made a conscious effort to rework songs to convey the band’s aesthetic as opposed to sticking to the original cause we’re not a cover band. The covers have played a vital role in formulating our sound. Original material is what this band is about and we’re having a blast playing our stuff.”