Nothnegal is the very first metal band from the Maldives to be signed onto a large record label, Seasons of Mist. With just one EP under their belts (last year’s Antidote of Realism), we talk to the band to find out more about the metal scene in Maldives and how it feels like to be noticed from a major label for their music.
Nothnegal was formed back in 2006 by me with Fufu and we have been performing in several local shows until late 2008, which is when we decided to record an EP. We got the Finnish producer Anssi Kippo (who is most well known for his work with Children of Bodom) to mix the EP and we released it on our myspace on March 2009. This is EP gained us our first international recognition and soon after that, our original keyboard player and drummer had to leave the band to continue their studies. That’s when Marco Sneck and Kevin Talley joined the band. We have been working on our first album since then and we have recently signed with Season of Mist.
Also, we would like to express our congratulations on the band’s signing onto Season of Mist. We are curious, how did the label manage to discover the band, and what was the process behind the signing of the band to SoM?
Labels have been intouch with us ever since the EP was released, with a couple of them showing interest in signing us. When we signed with Season of Mist, we had 2 other really major labels interested and intouch with us but we decided to go with SoM since we didn’t want to risk getting lost among a list of bands who are already huge and made a name out there. Being a new band, we wanted to be sure we would get individual attention from the label and also we wanted complete control over the album and material. Every band on SoM seems to be happy about how they are treated and since we never heard anything bad about them, we believed SoM is the perfect label for us at this point.
The debut EP, Antidote of Realism, was recorded in Finland’s Finnvox Studio. What was it that made the band decide to record in Finland instead of doing it back in the Maldives?
Actually we did the recordings in Maldives and just sent over the raw DI tracks to Finland for mixing / mastering purpose, this is something a lot of people confuse. Anssi Kippo mixed the tracks in Astia Studios and Minerva Pappi from Finnvox studios mastered the tracks. We are doing the same thing this time; we will be recording the guitars, bass and vocals here in Maldives at our own studio. Kevin has already recorded the drums in US and Marco will be recording the keyboards in Finland. We compile all instruments and send them for mixing/mastering and this process would take place in US and Canada this time. We are planning to document the recording process and write a blog so fans and everybody could follow the whole process and be part of it.
How has the response to the band’s music been so far, from the general metal community?
Really good I’d say. We have people from all parts of the world, Asia, Europe and US listening to our music and following our progress which is really awesome and nothing we expected to happen when we started out with this.
With a title like Antidote of Realism, are there any concepts behind the lyrics for the songs written by the band? What are some of the topics that the band tends to dwell into when writing songs?
Antidote of Realism had no specific concept behind it, the songs Antidote of Realism and Now I’ve Waken are based on politics and the reality that’s hidden from us. Web of Deceit and Temptress of Shadows are based more on personal struggle and issues. But the new album’s lyrics and music is based on a fictional story Fufu and me came up with years ago when we were 11-year-old kids. It’s based on a post apocalyptic war between humans and machine and now its updated to relate to the issue of global warming, which really connects it to the nature of the Maldives. The lyrics are based on this concept and the music also has elements from the Maldivian culture and atmosphere. I guess this would make the sound on the album something unique to the metal world and really make a difference out there. We were not able to achieve this on Antidote but we are looking forward to cementing Nothnegal’s sound with the album.
The current lineup features Marco Sneck on keyboards and Kevin Talley on drums. How did the collaboration between the members come about?
Marco and Kevin have been in the lineup since last year and it’s already more than a year since they joined. I contacted them after our original keyboard guy and drummer left and they were impressed enough to join us after listening to our music from the EP.
What is the song writing process like? Who are the primary songwriters in the band?
The songwriting depends a lot on the Internet, as the members are countries apart from each other. Fufu and me are the primary songwriters of the band; we come up with the basic song structures, guitars, bass, vocals and also write some basic keyboard parts and drums. We record rough demos of the songs and send them over to Kevin and Marco where they contribute to their instruments and send it back to us. Once all of us are happy with the outcome, Avo works on the final vocals and once everything is in place, we record them all. So that’s the basic process.
Nothnegal is the first band from Maldives to be signed onto a major known record label. How does it feel to almost kick start a whole new music scene in Maldives?
Feels great and feels even better knowing that we are making a difference and helping lift the music industry of the country as a whole. We see other bands following our footsteps already and that’s really great coz we want more bands from here to make it out to the international market and be recognized.
How has the scene in Maldives progressed over the years? I’m sure our readers are curious about what the culture and music scene is like in the Maldives!
Right now there are really great metal bands over here, who deserve to be recognized regionally or internationally. Metal is an underground scene even here as it is everywhere else in the world, the pop and cultural music dominates the market, but the metal bands and it’s fans are slowly bringing it to the mainstream attention by working hard to promoting heavy metal. I would say there are a couple of thousand metal fans over here that would kill for metal right now. Thousands is a lot for a country with a population of just 300K haha! I guess it won’t take long for metal to be accepted and recognized here with the efforts the youth is putting on it. Local businessmen like LeCute’s Maji puts a lot of effort into promoting metal and contributing to music in general, which helps a lot of the new and aspiring musicians in getting somewhere.
Besides playing in the band, what are the day jobs of the members?
None of us except Battery work in a fulltime day job. Marco and me are Web Programmers and we work on project basis. Kevin is a studio/session drummer and drumming is his job. Avo runs a shipping related company (I’m not really sure what they do), Fufu also works at a job but I wouldn’t say its like a day job coz he just goes whenever something comes up. So we do have a lot of time to spare for the band.
With the recent signing onto SoM, would you like to give listeners some updates regarding the upcoming full length?
We have been working non-stop on writing this material and working on a sound for the album ever since Antidote of Realism was out. We have actually re-wrote this whole album 4 times! And there are leftover materials for like 3 more full albums. A lot of effort and time has already been put into this, but we believe that it would be worth it in the end. As you may already know, we have been working on this album for over a year but the actual material that’s gonna end up on the album was written just 2 month back, it took us 3 weeks to finish the writing of those songs. The sound on the album is heavier and slower with more groove, the keyboards are more organic and have a lot to do with the atmosphere while drums and guitars are thrashy and technical. The vocals would be more like a fry scream with some more melodic choruses, Avo is still working on this so hard to say what the final result would be like at this point. As for the release, SoM is planning to put out the album early next year and since they have got EMI’s major distribution channels we are confident that the album would get good worldwide distribution as well. We’ll start posting the recording and writing process of the album on the Internet soon.
The band supported Arch Enemy in their show in Maldives. This will be their first appearance for them in Maldives and you helped in bringing them down there and organize the show. What was the reception from the fans for the show? Will you be involved in more shows and help in bringing in more international acts over there?
It was an awesome show! I guess we also made a lot of new fans from it and were able to perform the stuff from antidote, some stuff we previously wrote for the album and also 2 songs from the album, which are Janus and Claymore. We will try to be involved with shows and try to bring in more international artists as time allows us.
With the release of the new album soon, the band will be touring with the likes of Finntroll, Rotting Christ and Samael. How does the band feel, and how is preparation for the tour coming along?
We are really excited about the tour. We are already working on the setlist & intros and stuff. We met Chris from Samael last month in Maldives; he was here with Arch Enemy. We talked about the tour and we are both looking forward to meet again on the tour which is definitely gonna be killer!!
One more question: any advices to aspiring musicians out there?
Play out of passion and try to come up with your own sound and music instead of trying to sound like a replica of your influence or idols.
Once again, thank you for taking the time off to have this interview with us, and we wish you all the best in your upcoming album and tour!
Pictures taken off the Nothnegal Facebook and MySpace pages.