Veil of Maya guitarist Marc Okubo on the band's India tour, and inspiration for new album False Idol
Veil of Maya talk about the change of direction in their music, the influences, and their experience of touring India.
On Sunday, 14 January 2018, after Veil of Maya got off the stage in Mumbai, they were surrounded by fans chanting 'Veil of Maya!', 'Veil of Maya!' in unison. This was a dream come true for every one present at the gig. Veil of Maya played songs that the fans couldn't help but headbang to. The band were an unstoppable machine, belting out one skull-crushing riff after another. The addition of clean singing into the band's music seemed to go down well with the fans in India who sang along with vocalist Lukas Magyar's every note.
Veil of Maya, which started out in 2004 as a technical deathcore band, adopted the much friendlier sound of metalcore with the release of 2015's Matriarch. Now, in 2018, after the release of last year's False Idol, guitarist Marc Okubo believes that the band has finally "created a signature sound."
Hailing from Chicago, Veil of Maya was hugely influenced by the city's famous hardcore and death metal sounds in the initial years. Okubo, while talking about how he got into extreme music, says, "For me it started with being an outcast growing up. I got into heavy music as a distraction". What started as a distraction for Okubo soon turned into full-fledged passion as he began playing the guitar. It was after Okubo first heard bands like Nirvana and Korn on the radio that his interest in heavy music peaked. On seeing Okubo wearing a Soulfly t-shirt, his eighth grade science teacher yelled, "That band sucks, you should listen to Slayer!". Okubo's teacher then made him a mixtape with bands like Slayer and Morbid Angel on it, and these bands influenced the strong death metal elements prevalent on Veil of Maya's earlier releases.
With False Idol, the band has been able to retain its ruthless guitar riffs and amped-up drumming while injecting soul into the album with Lukas Magyar's clean vocals. The sound Veil of Maya creates on the new album has given them their own form of uniqueness. Be it tracks like 'Whistleblower', 'Overthrow', or 'Doublespeak' – the crowd favourite in Mumbai – the band is creating more anthems for their shows like they did with 2008's 'It's Not Safe To Swim Today'. When asked about where the decision to incorporate clean vocals came from, Okubo says, "We tour all year and play a technical death metal song and nobody does anything; then we play metalcore, it still sounds like us, and it still makes me happy to play, and the fans would be getting into it and moving, and it’s, like, maybe we should be writing more songs like that."
False Idol was written by Magyar as a concept album about a leader coming to power, and his subsequent fall from grace. The band composed the music keeping in mind the basic concept behind the album. "It’s almost like a storyboard for a movie, and we provided it with a musical soundtrack. So, the colours on False Idol are much darker and weirder than before, but that was intentional," says Okubo. The band intends to build on the sound they've captured over the course of the last two records while evolving into something that is modern, but still has their hearts in it.
Veil of Maya made their way through four cities in India – Chennai, Guwahati, Delhi and Mumbai. For a band playing death metal, a tour of India might not always seem to be a possibility, but Veil of Maya are grateful for the chance of performing for their Indian fans. "It was always something I wanted to do and it’s crazy that we’re finally here in India. I wish we got to play in India in the past, and I hope we get to do it more in the future," says Okubo about his experience in India. "Everyone here is so positive, it really made me feel good about coming here."
The tour, which was organised by Bengaluru-based Bohemian Live, saw Veil of Maya perform alongside Indian metal bands like Warwan in Delhi, Dymbur in Guwahati, Agam in Chennai, and Yonsample in Mumbai. Speaking about Agam, Okubo says, "The band last night was crazy. They were like Indian Dream Theater."
The Indian tour of Veil of Maya has received a great response, according to Bohemian Live's Amarjeet Singha. Bohemian Live, who have earlier brought metal acts like Cannibal Corpse, Suicide Silence and Dying Fetus to India, plan to bring more artists over the course of the year. With the fans tirelessly stage-diving, crowd-surfing and headbanging throughout the show, the future of heavy metal scene seems only to be getting brighter.
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