"Believe in the power of Community and the change it can bring about."
Many people might not know that Mumbai, India, has a thriving underground music scene, formed by a tight knit community of talented artists, just like the four piece Modern Math/ Metalcore act that we want to bring to your attention today: Sarfaad.
Find out everything there is to know about this band on the rise, from their inception to their projects for the future and of course their latest single, the hard hitting 'DOG DAYS'.
Mags: Hello! I hope you guys are well considering the world pandemic, but let’s talk about YOU! How did you get the idea to start Sarfaad?
Arbaaz: ‘Sarfaad’ is a brain child of our guitarist Sushant, he’s a brimming hot pot of skills man. He had a clear vision with this project which was creating downright fierce music. Music with an attitude. He took some time in enlisting me and the boys. From band aesthetics to the kind of music we wanted to create he had it all.
M: Sushant sounds like a man with a plan, how did he get you guys together exactly?
A: Sushant took this manhunt on himself going online reaching out to the local scene to enlist us. Reeshav was playing drums in a bunch of bands that sounded in the same veins. Sanjeeth was playing with Reeshee in a different project and was an easy fit for the band. I (Arbaaz) was the last addition to the band after going through a few different vocalists.
M: Sounds a bit like it was meant to be. You’ve just met someone who knows nothing about you, how do you describe your music?
A: Downright Fierce.
M: Hells yeah, I 100% agree! How is working together since you’ve known each other for a relatively short time?
A: It wasn’t a breeze but that’s the beauty of it. We all came in with so many different influences and seeing them come together to shape the sound of Sarfaad was an experience. The band has been really cathartic for us to say the least.
M: It does sound like hard work, but it was certainly worth it at the end. How has your music evolved since you first began playing?
A: This is our first run so when we got together the songs where all bare bones and with our second release we’re already coming down like Juggernauts.
M: Hahaha I love the image that you're painting! On a much more serious note though, what are the main themes or topics of your songs? Do you think these will change over time?
A: Thematically Sarfaad really depends on what my state of mind at the time. The songs on the current record vary from brushing topics of Anti-Authoritarianism, Anti-Facism, to human empathy and betrayal. I don’t really think we have a fix theme but we do try staying relevant with the current affairs and putting our a message is really important.
M: I think that's a very fundamental duty as a musician. Could you briefly describe the music-making process?
A: Sushant and Reeshee prep for pre production as soon as they get an idea. I (Arbaaz) have lyrics written so I add in more words according to what the vocal lines need. Soon after we have a rough idea for what we need we hit Reeshee's studio to record demos. Once we've rehearsed the songs enough. Sushant and Sanjeeth do the layering and we hit the studio for final recording.
M: You make it sound easy, I might have to try! I’ve read that you plan to “accumulate a community of like-minded people working towards a bigger change”. What change would you like to see in your country [India] and in the whole world in the near future?
A: With Sarfaad apart from having fun with the music we make, we are also very conscious of our surroundings.
Every society has its own downfall and we are individuals who believe in using the platform we have garnered to inculcate a message of empathy and unity. As for India we have our own demons to fight: the rise of religious extremism, a right wing govt, oppression towards minorities both regional and religious. We are a fast developing country and we cannot let these archaic ideologies hamper the growth of our nation. Same goes out with the world. We cannot let age old institutions ruin the progress towards a unified global community.
M: If only it wasn't so hard to get through to some people's head! sigh... But let's go back to your music, what bands inspired you into becoming a musician in the first place and which are the ones that influence the music you are making now with Sarfaad?
A: Sushant is heavily inspired by the chaos that is Tony Danza Tapdance, Car Bomb and the likes. I was majorly inspired by Corey Taylor, Zach De la Rocha and all the early Nu Metal stuff. Reeshee has heavy modern leaning influences staring from Meshuggah to Chick Correa and Sanjeet is inspired by Tosin Abasi, Jakub Zytecki.
M: That's an interesting melting pot. If could have any musician dead or alive to feature in a track, who will it be and why?
A: Corey Taylor, Jason Alan from Fever333, Killer Mike from RTJ for me personally.
M: Corey is a legend, we're big fans here at RR too. Following that train of thought, you’ve just been signed to do a massive worldwide tour, what two bands are you inviting to open for you and chill with afterwards?
A: We’d really like to take some of our homegrown Indian dudes with us. Pacifist, Alien Sky Cult, Tangents, If Hope Dies. You should definitely check em out. Apart from that there’s a band from Karachi, Pakistan called Takatak we’d really love to play with.
M: I gotta admit, the more I discover South Asian bands, the more I'm loving your scene. Have you managed to perform live yet? What stages would you like to play at if you could pick any venue/ festival?
A: Sadly the world went to shit even before we could do our live debut. We had a 3-4 city tour in India planned with our friends from Tangents. If we were to play bigger festivals I’d pick NH7 Weekender, which is the biggest festival in the country and probably Euroblast, Hellfest, UK Techfest. Probably Download haha.
M: Why not? You gotta aim high, you could be the first Indian headliner at Download! Circling back to your home country, I see you live in Mumbai, how’s the local music scene?
A: Mumbai has a tight knit community when it comes to Metal and Hardcore, you know all things heavy. It’s these bunch of dudes who helped get to this point. I’ve been here in the scene since I was 15 I guess, and I’ve seen it change drastically. I am glad to be a part of it. Nothing but love for all of these people.
M: That sounds amazing, I'd love if you guys were to show me and Dan the local scene when we come visit India. If you weren’t in the music business, what would you be doing instead?
A: Haha, we can’t really say we’re full time musicians apart from Reeshee and Sanjeet. I work as an architect and Sushant is an Industrial/Product Designer.
M: I watch a lot of Grand Designs and I have so much respect for your profession! But let's talk about what really matters here, your track ‘Painting a Villain’ talks about radicalisation, can you please elaborate on that?
A: It’s a topic close to my heart. I belong to a community which was villainized after 9/11 world over. The effects of that still exist worldwide. There’s territorial conflicts which by default label my community as harborers of anti social elements. It’s been a fight from even before that, from Malcolm X to to right now. So 'PAV' definitely speaks about how constant barrage of negative speech towards someone can actually make them believe that they are the ‘villain’.
M: Man, no wonder we gravitated towards it, we always love a tune with a deep meaning. What is the best advice you’ve been given?
A: Keep creating and Power Through.
M: Wise words. If you could change anything about the music industry, what would it be?
A: Gate keeping.
M: Fully agree with you there man, could you name one of your favourite albums of all time?
A: Subliminal Verses by Slipknot.
M: Definitely one of Slipknot's finest. What is the best cover you’ve ever heard?
A: 'Hurt' by Johnny Cash
M: Yup, sorry NIN fans, but Cash's version is far superior than the original. What does Sarfaad have in store for the future?
A: More music, merch, an EP this year for sure and when shit gets normal a heavy barrage of live shows.
M: I hope so for you and for me, I miss gigs! In what social media platforms can your fans find you and follow you?
A: We’re almost everywhere. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter. You can find us on all major streaming platforms.
M: What is one message you would like to give to your followers?
A: Believe in the power of Community and the change it can bring about.
M: Preach! Is there anything you’d like to say that we haven’t mentioned? Or would like to add?
A: Yeah to the readers probably help us out by sharing our stuff if you like it. Let us know about it. Talk to us. We sound angry on record but we’re normal dudes, haha.
M: I can confirm, Arbaaz is the friendliest guy. Thank you again for chatting to us, I'm sure your fans learned something new about Sarfaad today. One last thing before you go, since we have the video below, can you introduce us and tell us a bit about your latest single ‘DOG DAYS’?
A: 'Dog Days' is about a state of stagnation that’s going on in the world. It’s a tug between decay and bloom. We believe in delivering the full package so everything we related to this song, may it be the art or the video or lyrics, shows that transition and holds that theme.