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Rock Aloud!
25 June 2010-Friday
-Alok Thapa

Ask any local metalhead, who's their favorite headbanger artiste? And chances are the name X-Mantra will pop in quite frequently. Rojesh Shrestha on vocals, Sandeep Tuladhar on lead guitars, Ritesh Shrestha on the bass guitar, and Anuj Shakya on the drums, this abso-freakin-lutely rock act is one of our personal favorites, as well. The pioneers in underground music scene, their music singlehandedly defined the start of this sub-genre in Nepali music scene. Married to the hot property of Nepali music industry, Ciney Gurung, Rojesh Shrestha is our man on firing line this time around, here's our one-on-one with the rocker... over to him!

1.Comparatively, there is less exposure given to metal, underground music scene in our industry. Despite the fact, your band chose this genre. Why?

The decision to make a ‘metal album’ in Nepali, in the year 2000, was a unanimous agreement from all four of us. We wanted to introduce heavy metal (underground) scene in Nepal because there were many young people who listened to International Metal music, but we lacked that in the local scene. We have our own crowd following us. They are real fans of Nepali Metal Music who appreciate and admire us for what we do. We don’t really mind getting less attention; sometimes it’s not just for fame or exposure. It’s passion meets satisfaction, that’s what matters in the end. (Smiles)

2.How challenging has it been to establish as a metal band?

It is tough! It is challenging for a metal band to get a strong footing in the Nepali Music Industry. Comparatively, it is very sad. Internationally, metal music has a huge market and salability, but here in Nepal it’s a struggle. However media can play a pivotal role, and we would urge them to be more proactive!

3.What bands/artists do you admire and/or are an influence?

When we were starting out, Sepultura was definitely a big influence. And personally I admire the greatness of Iron Maiden, Slayer, Slipknot, Pantera, Lamb of God etc… the list is too long!

4.Do you relate personal issues in your songs?
From the very beginning, we have used various social and political issues to base our songs upon. I guess music making is a very intimate vocation; personal touch is of utmost importance.

5.What do you think of “Ciney” as a singer? Something you admire about her.

The moment you hear her voice, you’ll recognize her. It’s different and that’s her U.S.P. I myself am a big fan of Ciney Gurung, the singer. (Laughs) Something I admire about her? She’s totally, 100% into her craft and is a dedicated singer.

6.You’re a hardcore rocker, how do you take your wife’s musical background?

See, here comes the appreciation factor, good music is good music, period. Even though I’m from a metal background I enjoy her kind of music, be it Pop, Rock or Folk tune. I wish others would do the same, acknowledge and appreciate our kind of music.

7.What are the advantages of having a spouse, who’s also musically inclined?

We are what you call kindred spirits; I guess we both are musically entwined by destiny. We have great understanding, be it emotionally or professionally (touchwood!) And yes, having your other half in the same field, does have its perk.

8.How much necessary is it for you to have a side job?

Honestly speaking, for an artist, in Nepal, a side job is a necessity not a luxury. Just depending on stage shows is simply not enough to survive. It’s sad but that’s the way it is, in fact has been for artists. Hopefully it will get better with time, but behind all that glitz and glamour it’s a hard life.

9.Now that you are more established… do you still have a wish list to collaborate with other artists?

It has been a decade of musical journey, and we have been able to carve our own image, identity nationally as well as internationally. Thanks to all the fans, of course. And yes, if opportunity arises, why not! We are open to perform with any international band, without a doubt, we will collaborate. Come on, it can only enrich us, as musicians.

10.What would you suggest to the youngsters planning to join music industry…especially metal, rock genre?

If you are in the Metal or Rock genre, I wish you all the best to carry on with your music. And yes, welcome to the family! If anything or anyone should try to stop or discourage you, DO NOT LOSE HOPE. If nothing, we the X-Mantra will always support you.

11.Message to your fans:

Hey there, you headbangers!! X-MANTRA always loves you guys for who you are! Thanks for your support and love. You are the reason why we ROCK.

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