Interview with RAT KING
RAT KING is one of the finest Ambient/Progressive/Metal bands from Chennai India consisting Murari Vasudevan and Deepak Raghu. Recently RAT KING released their debut album ‘The Plague of Hamelin’ which has recieved accolades internationally. Madhav Ravidranath ( ex-MaelstroM) caught up with Deepak and Murari , lets hear from them.
There is a saying ‘ what’s in a name’, whats with the name RAT KING?
MURARI : We saw this article online (Wikipedia) about a phenomenon called “Rat King” where rats get tied together at the tails, primarily because of all the blood, mucus and feces. They stay tied together, and grow like that their whole lives, like one huge mass of rats. We thought that was pretty cool, plus we were fascinated by the whole Pied Piper Of Hamelin story, so we decided it would be perfect.
DEEPAK : We came across a Wikipedia article about the Rat King phenomenon. It struck us as something competely out of this world – something surreal and horrifying at the same time. We used to talk about the possibilties of ‘it’ having a collective consciousness – a kind of Godhead.
Please Introduce yourselves.
Murari Vasudevan . Chennai, Guitars, DeathVOX (\m/), Maelstrom.
Deepak Raghu. Currently residing in Kozhikode. I like to play drums. Performed with a bunch of bands over the 5 or so years I was in Chennai – Deadspawn, Moonshiva, Fall of Reason, The Sixth Element, 7 Days, Maelstrom etc.
What genre of music do you consider your work to be? Who are your major influences?
MURARI : I dont think Rat King really is definable by genre. I think you can probably categorize
each album in some genre, but not the band as such. We might just turn around and do some bizarre take on a well-established genre like hiphop or rock. Who knows? Anyway, if you want genres, I think the second album can be described as a blend of heavily ambient, classical and orchestral music interspersed with violent phases of metal.
Our influences are films, film-makers, philosophers, musicians (to a certain extent) and mainly artists of every kind. Some examples would be the surrealist cinema of David Lynch, the breathtaking ambience of Andrei Tarkovsky, the horror and visceral detail of John Carpenter, the sadistic hedonism of Marquis de Sade and so forth. This sounds like a load of pompous crap, but it’s true.
DEEPAK : I hear it as a soundtrack to a really bad movie. We used to talk about mailing our music to Shuko Murase, Shinchiro Watanabe and all those anime giants, cos we saw parallels in our music and what they were doing with their animes.
The most recent additions to my ever-growing list of inspirators are Phillip Glass, Hermeto Pascoal, Univers Zero and Dalek.
When did you form your band? How did you guys meet?
MURARI : Formed somewhere around June/July 2008. We were part of Maelstrom at the time, and recognized the stagnation and limitedness of current music for what it was. Also, Fantomas and John Zorn were involved somehow.
DEEPAK : Was it June/July? I thought it was around January.
Your Debut album is called ‘The Plague Of Hamelin‘, tell us more about it.
MURARI : It is a morbid take on the Pied Piper Of Hamelin story. In our version, the Pied Piper, who tries to rescue the town from the plague, confronts the rodents. They battle, and he is defeated, and metamorphoses into an uber-rat beast known as Lord Piper. He is the embodiment of pure evil, to a certain extent. In the original story, he, to spite the villagers who didn’t pay him for his services, leads the children of the village away (like rats). In our version, the kids are led to the rodent lair, and are feasted upon. Not a good day for Hamelin overall.
DEEPAK : What he said.
Why this genre of in particular? I mean, you guys were great as MaelstroM and Fall Of Reason, why didn’t you chose to do more death metal?
MURARI : Like I said above, not enough scope for experimentation. We had all sorts of new ideas, and themes, and wanted to explore them further. Death Metal is not really suited for narrating a story with choice musical phrasing.
DEEPAK : Deth Metl is 4 l00sars!
‘The Plague of Hamelin’ is available for “FREE” download. How has the response been? Are you planning the same for “LARVA,’ your second album?
MURARI : The response has been terrific, and we have been able to get our music across to people from all over the world. For Larva, it depends on our on-going negotiations with Road Crew Records. I sound like corporate sleaze.
RAT KING is a studio project, if I’m correct. Any plans to take this on stage?
MURARI : As of now, no. We aren’t planning any live performances and we really don’t know how we would. Maybe if they made a play based on our album, we could perform live Certainly not generic “concerts” though.
Could you briefly describe the music-making process?
MURARI : Deepak and I chalk out an outline for the story, and we write up a small script. We then compose songs based on that script, and send them back and forth between each other, making changes along the way. We then see which songs really contribute to the storyline, and are strong enough to be on the album.
Personal Opinion here. Although ‘The Plague of Hamelin’ was brilliantly done, the lack of vocals for me was a ‘tiny’ setback. Are you considering to add vocals for LARVA or will it be in line with TPoH?
MURARI :In the strict sense, there are no ‘vocals’ for Larva either. There are vocal phrases though, but we use these more to represent some part of the story. For example, if the protagonist is in torment for some reason, there might be a guttural scream recorded. But we primarily use instruments and ambience to tell the story.
You got some good reviews on international e-zines. Whats your ultimate goal as a band?
MURARI : Personally, I would love to see Rat King making music for films, anime, games, etc… Also, some sort of live production with a theater group would be awesome. That would be the perfect avenue for our music. I read about Virgin Steele’s House of Atreus concept albums being used as part of a Greek tragedy play. Something like that, with less cheese.
Is there some one you’d like to thank for emotional or financial support ?
MURARI : Family and friends really, but not for support. Just, you know, who else is there?
DEEPAK : My folks for paying my rent while I was in Chennai. The girlfriend for introducing me to a lot of great films and music and more.
Any last words?
MURARI : I had a good day (Cloverfield)
DEEPAK : Merci beaucoup!