SINGAPORE – Rudra, a mainstay of the Singaporean metal scene, has long incorporated elements of classical Indian music and philosophy into his songs.
For the first time in 29 years as a group, they will finally have the chance to stage a full concert with three classical Indian musicians: singer Aditi Gopinathan, flutist Raghavendran Rajasekaran and mridangam percussionist Viknash Balakirshnan.
The concert, which is part of the Esplanade Kalaa Utsavam Indian Arts Festival, will take place at the Esplanade Theater on November 27.
While the group has collaborated with Raghavendran on several occasions, the show will be their first time working with Aditi and Viknash.
Rudra singer, bassist and co-founder Kathir, 48, said working with the classical musicians for the concert was a “breathtaking” experience.
“It is in fact an exercise of humility for us because, in the group, we are all self-taught musicians and we meet people who have made an appropriate and structural apprenticeship of their instruments.
“We’re basically musicians, but we come from two different worlds. We speak different languages, but the rhythms, melodies, tones and all of that are always the same.”
Rudra also includes drummer and co-founder Shiva, 47, and guitarists Devan, 40, and Vinod, 36.
The concert roster for the 1.5-hour concert will include songs from the band’s self-titled debut album in 1998 through to their most recent and 10th album, Invoking The Gods (2019).
A lot of pre-production work had to be done before the classical musicians came into the studio to rehearse with the band.
The songs had to be rearranged so that the parts of Raghavendran, Aditi and Viknash could be incorporated without losing their essence. The group created spreadsheets with detailed breakdowns of each song and these served as sheet music.
Kathir says, âWe don’t want to lose our integrity as a metal band. The songs will always be heavy, so the integration had to be seamless. But, at the same time, we also merge the classical elements, so we feel the show will reach a very wide range of audiences. â
The concert will be the group’s first since the start of last year (2020). Their last show was also at the Esplanade, a concert that was part of the 2019 Baybeats Music Festival.
Formed in 1992, Rudra is known on the global metal scene for popularizing a subgenre called Vedic Metal, a hard-hitting style of music with lyrics that delve into ancient Indian philosophy.
The group has been constantly active for almost three decades. They have toured places such as North America and South Asia, and their last overseas concert was in Hong Kong in 2019.
Kathir, who started the group with Shiva when the two were still students at Ngee Ann Polytechnic, says they always had a clear vision and strong artistic intention from day one – always being inventive with their original songs.
âFor us, it’s exciting to do something innovative and interesting. It gives purpose and meaning to the group,â says Kathir.
Shiva adds that he is still as passionate about music as he was when he created the group. “Music is something that still makes us feel young. Every week, we can’t wait to go to the studio, come up with new riffs, new rhythms. It’s an avenue where I can let off steam.”
Without any shows for the past two years due to the pandemic, the band have spent time together working on songs for their upcoming album, which they plan to release in 2022. Lyrics will focus on the female characters of ancient Sanskrit literature.
They are also thinking of having Raghavendran, Aditi and Viknash collaborate on the new songs.
Kathir says, âWorking with them has inspired us to merge Indian classical music a little more deeply into the songs we write. “