It's a brave new world. There was a time when dudes-in-bands met at sweaty rock dives or in detention or on the street corner and bashed out their songs staring at each other in garages or basements. Well, Spiral Shades have obliterated that outdated, primitive concept and have perhaps paved the way for a flood of pan-cultural bands to follow.
Mumbai-based guitarist/songwriter/singer Khushal Bhadra “met” Norwegian guitarist/bass player Fillip Petersen in 2012 on Youtube, where the two burgeoning doom-gods swapped covers of their favorite obscure proto-metal tracks. Eventually, they began piecing music of their own together, resulting in their blinding debut, Hypnosis Sessions (Riding Easy Records). A mountain-flattening epic of psych-tinged doom, Bhadra and Petersen recorded their individual contributions to the album four thousand miles apart, and yet it sounds as warm and intimate as any regional, four-guys-in-a-dark-room hard-psych freakout from ‘72. As Petersen explains, that’s entirely by design. “I have always been addicted to that heavy raw sound,” he says. “Powerful riffs that just grab you and don’t let you go until the song is over. Seventies hard rock bands of that time just had that awesome natural sound, like they had been recorded almost live.”
That’s exactly the vibe you’ll find on Spiral Shades’ debut. And the crazy thing is, they haven’t even officially met each other yet. “This is quite funny,” says Bhadra, “but Filip and I have only chatted together through Gchat. We have not even talked to each other through Skype yet. We hope that if our music does well enough, we can perhaps meet one day and play together.”
Indeed, Bhadra and Petersen are both fairly amazed that their online friendship has spawned a debut album, especially given the highly experimental nature of how it all went down.
“I first sent a couple of riffs over to Khushal and he then tried to find out what ones worked with vocals and which ones didn’t,” explains Petersen. But once we have some good vocal melodies and rough lyrics written down, we started working at the structure the song. I often have problems ending the songs because the riffs just keep coming while recording. You can probably hear that on Grim Rituals, as it was meant to be around 8-10 minutes long. But the song kinda just evolved while recording.” Evolution is a key concept in the Spiral Shades story. Nothing came particularly easy for the far-flung friends. One of the more difficult barriers the two men faced is that neither of them spoke the same language.
“Language was a big problem,” says Petersen, “At least at the very beginning, anyway. It’s difficult when English isn’t your main language. It was difficult writing in English as I wasn’t used to it, but over time its gotten better.” Bhadra agrees. “We both had the same view of what we wanted to create together and were open minded enough to know how it was going to sound. There have been a couple of times where I have struggled getting over what I meant. But we both were patient with each other and took our time while working together.”
Now that the album is out, the hazy virtual daydream a thunderous reality, what, exactly, happens next? Does Spiral Shades find a hammer-fisted drummer and hit the road? And where does the road start, exactly, when you’re so far away from each other?
“To be honest, at the beginning, when we first got together and started recording music, I never really thought it would go this far,” says Petersen, “So I’m sure anything beyond this point is certainly possible.”