Interview with Kathir from RUDRA
Interview by EvilG, Lord of the Wasteland,
and Los Muertos
does the word “Rudra” mean?
Rudra is the God of Storm in the Hindu Pantheon during the
Vedic times (BCE). In modern Hinduism he is known as Lord Shiva,
the God of Destruction.
With the band’s use of Sanskrit and the ohm on their
webpage, are you devout followers of religion and if so, how
much of an influence is it in their song-writing?
We are very much inspired by the Advaita philosophy as taught
by the Vedas, one of the oldest known mystical texts. Our songs
present this ancient philosophy as revealed by the Vedic
literature in the Sanskrit language. This is the relation to the
OM and the Sanskrit strewn all over our albums and our WebPages.
I would not call us followers of the Vedic Religion per se.
Please bear with me as I wish to digress here for a moment…..
Personally I abhor the word 'religion'. If anyone were to look
at what religions have done & doing to the world, any sane
person would be ashamed to call oneself religious. Religion has
been the cause of violence and bloodshed all over the world in
the past 1500 years. From the theological standpoint, a follower
of religion is expected to believe in some Creator God or a
Supreme Being sitting up in the skies and also the promise of a
paradise. These concepts happen to be the conventional traits of
any religion. I find these beliefs completely foolish, repulsive
and childish. Hence, I prefer to use the term Spiritual
Philosophy, which would mean a school of thought that transcends
phenomenon without having to speculate or believe in any concept
or theory. For this reason we are very wary of calling ourselves
followers of any religion. And from this philosophical
perspective alone proceeds the song-writing of Rudra. Our lyrics
are basically the arrangement of words as seen from the eyes of
this transcendental wisdom.
There seems to be a lot of philosophical and spiritual
themes in your music. Which philosophers or schools of thought
have most influenced the band?
As mentioned earlier we are very much with the Philosophical
perspective of an ancient school, which is as old as the Vedas
(2500 BCE), called Advaita Vedanta. It is also popularly called
Non-dualism. These teachings can be found with slight variations
in many other schools of thought like Zen Buddhism, early
Taoism, Gnostic Christianity, Sufism & also neo-Satanism. The
Advaita philosophy has been the inspiration for all our lyrics
since our first album. In the absolute vision of Advaita, the
Self is the Absolute Reality while the whole universe is
considered an Illusion. When the Self is known, everything is as
well known. The objective world, which includes concepts like
Heaven, Hell, Evil, Good and a creator God are reduced to ashes
at the dawn of self-knowledge. Having such a vision, it
naturally opposes all forms of beliefs. Our lyrics primarily
point out this mental slavery to non-verifiable beliefs and
sublate the erroneous notions about oneself. In our absolute
vision there is no difference between a prophet's utopia and an
ignoramus' castle in the air. Even the concept of a Creator God
is destroyed with mere reasoning! I have also discovered that
Morbid Angel, Aghora & Cynic (RIP) too have expressed this
vision in their albums. But we are different in the sense that
we take a traditional approach to this philosophy in the light
of the Vedas. One particular philosopher by the name of Shankara
has been the chief inspiration for me particularly. Other
philosophers who have inspired me through their works are Lao
Tzu, Immanuel Kant, Bertrand Russell, Nietzsche & Alan Watts.
A few band members list 'black' metal bands like Bathory,
Dimmu Borgir, Cradle of Filth, etc. as favorites. Though Rudra
aren’t Christians, do your vastly different religious beliefs
clash with those of black metal bands (Satan, church burning,
The beauty of Subjective Philosophy is that we don't have to
be at each other's throats to prove the integrity of any school
of thought. We can always agree to disagree and yet have a glass
of beer together. Moreover, I can appreciate the diversity in
the many ways philosophies can be expressed with one common goal
in mind: which is to uproot the sole enemy of a rational mind
called 'popular religion'. With this vision, we are able respect
other black metal bands which have their own views. 'Our'
philosophy gives us the ability to respect and recognize the
value of one's personal freedom to express Truth in diverse
It is widely known that heavy metal, especially black
metal, is censored and has actual government/religious banning
in many Arabic or Muslim dominated countries. Has this ever been
something that caused problem for Rudra?
Yes. We had a good fan base in Malaysia after our debut album
was released there. We sold a few thousand units there. But due
to the recent censorship and ban, our subsequent albums didn't
reach out to our fans there. Most record labels fear of being
prosecuted and refused to take our albums. In that sense our
marketability has gone down in those regions. But here in
Singapore, which is a multi-religious & multi-racial country, we
don't face any such problems. It is quite a harmonious place.
Reading your lyrics and other interviews you have done,
your English seems very good. Why do you choose to write lyrics
in English rather than your mother tongue?
Our mother tongue is actually Tamil, which is another
language from the Indian continent. However, in Singapore where
we are 3rd generation Indians with English as our 1st language,
we are more exposed to English and we speak English most of the
time. However we did study our mother tongue as 2nd language in
the school curriculum and do converse in it where appropriate.
RUDRA - The Aryan Crusade (2001, Trishul Records)
What does the title of your album “The Aryan Crusade”
refer to? Typically here in North America, and I assume in much
of Europe, when we hear the term Aryan, we think of Nazi Germany
and their associated racial beliefs in the supremacy of the
Aryan race. I assume being in a non-white band, and from
Singapore, this is not how you meant it to be taken at all?
I would say that the ONLY way to look at the word 'Aryan'
would be through the way the Vedic peoples have looked at it,
since the word 'Aryan' happens to be a Sanskrit word. I
sincerely do not wish to appear fanatical here. But what we have
seen is a total hogwash when you realize that the whole world
has been deceived into thinking that the word Aryan means a
chosen pure and strong race. What a shame that the perpetrators
of such a ideology have chosen to use a word alien to their
culture and language to justify an ideology that is alien too to
the culture from which the word originated. And to know that
such an ideology was popularized by a politician as a political
tool makes the whole thing even more ridiculous. The Vedic
culture looks at the word 'Aryan' in a very sublime manner,
which is contrary to the current popular interpretations. The
word Aryan appears in both Vedic and Buddhistic texts but all
such references do not refer to a race. And we have the textual
evidence to support this viewpoint, unlike the NSBM and Nazis.
The early definition of an Aryan would be someone who leads a
highly structured life performing Vedic fire-rituals to be in
harmony with an all-pervasive order called Dharma. Therefore,
the Vedic perspective only refers to a noble quality born out of
an appreciation of this Order and NOT something inherited
genetically. Later day Vedic literature looked at the Aryans as
wise men alone. So along these lines alone we named our album as
'The Aryan Crusade', implying the destruction of Ignorance.
Racism can never be a product of wisdom. An Aryan, who is a wise
man, cannot have such notions of superiority or inferiority
because it would mean a self-contradiction. Therefore, in my
opinion, people who call themselves Aryans without this
understanding are hardly wise, only otherwise.
Did the band have anything to do with the new artwork for
the DemonZend re-release of your debut album, RUDRA?
We have given the creative freedom to Demonzend to propose
the artwork. Ultimately the decision will be based on mutual
agreement. We are very particular about the way Rudra is
presented to the world. Every picture and word in our album
matter to us.
How has the recording of the new album differed from your
past records? Is there a bigger budget, better studio, etc. this
Definitely. We have a bigger budget, a more versatile
engineer and more time. We started working on this album since
last December and we have incubated the songs long enough for it
to be mature enough to be recorded as an album. We will be
commencing our recording sessions in the last week of September.
Is there a reason why you left your previous label Trishul
It wasn't a bitter separation. Those guys have been more like
friends to us than a record label actually. The switch to
Demonzend was natural, as we wanted to expose ourselves to a
bigger arena. And the guys in Demonzend are very hardworking and
inspiring. Enough reasons for us to switch.
RUDRA - Kurukshetra (2003 Trishul
Will the new songs follow the same themes as the rest or
will the band branch out from the spiritual themes?
In fact this album is saturated with philosophical &
spiritual themes. We decided to immerse every song in the nectar
of Advaita without straying into the usual occasional outbursts
and criticisms on other doctrines found in our past albums.
There are 10 ancient texts called the Upanishads, which are used
as a tool to communicate the vision of Advaita. Each of the ten
songs in this new album will be based on one of these ten
Upanishads. It is definitely going to be a conceptual album.
The U.S. tour got cancelled but are there any further
plans to try to secure visas and come to North America (and
hopefully Canada ) later this year?
We would love to do a promotional tour in North America after
the release of the new album. We were quite excited about the US
tour that got cancelled. The security situation in most
countries is on high alert. And this makes things like touring
so difficult for us. We really hope things would get better and
we could play shows real soon in North America.
What countries have you played in so far and what ones
offered the best places to play in terms of attendance and
We have played in Malaysia, Indonesia, India & Thailand. In
terms of attendance and reception Indonesia & India were the
best. We played to about 2000 people in India and about 700
people in Indonesia. It was really nice to see people knowing
your music and lyrics to the songs in those two countries.
Kannan - guitars
For the (now postponed) U.S. tour, how did the band end up
working with Raising Kubrick and Not Common Records?
We have a very good friend who is presently studying in the
US. He made the link for us to Joe of Not Common Records.
Raising Kubrick is signed to Not Common Records and Joe made
that choice. Joe really worked hard in getting us there but
sadly it all failed.
After the band briefly broke up in the mid-90s, what
inspired you to get back together again?
After the break up, I was still writing songs and ideas were
oozing out. The reason being that I didn't see the whole affair
as a break up. I still wanted to pursue the idea of
incorporating the Vedic elements in Metal, which didn't go down
well with the rest of the members at that time and that resulted
in the break up. I always felt at that time that we had
something to contribute to the world of metal with the cultural
dimension added to it. So that prompted me pick up the phone to
call Shiva about 10 months after the break up to ask him if he
would be interested to get back together to continue with Rudra
but with the Vedic elements. Had he not agreed then, there would
not have been the Rudra of today.
Rudra appeared on a Death tribute album that was released
in 2003 and performed “Forgotten Past.” Why that song and how
big of an influence was Death on Rudra’s music?
To be honest, Death's Leprosy was technically the first Death
Metal album that I listened to. After the first listen, the only
thing that impressed me was Chuck's vocals. I found the music
mediocre. I shelved the tape soon after. And then a few weeks
later, because of the lack of new tapes in my collection, I
decided to load the tape into my walkman and then came the
revelation that Chuck was God! Hahahahaha. I got converted
instantly when the track Forgotten Past got me goose pimples.
Immediately I became a missionary of Death. I converted Bala
(ex-guitarist) and Shiva within weeks. And we decided that this
was what we wanted to play……Death Metal. Chuck's lyrics too
influenced me on the philosophical outlook I had towards life as
a whole at that time. I remember my first strong distaste for
life in general when I read the lyrics to 'Open Casket' from the
same album. The lines that had a great impact on me were;
'People come to pay respect
Taking pictures of the dead
This is what life comes to be
Once they lived, now they're deceased'
These lines made me look at life in a very dispassionate
manner. It kind of planted the seed for my insatiable appetite
for seeking knowledge from all directions. I still love the
Leprosy album. Every song is a classic in there and Chuck was
truly a genius. What a sad morning it was when I received news
of his passing.
Shiva - drummer
Rudra seems to be the leader in the Singapore death metal
scene. How much competition is there?
Not much I would say. Singapore is a very small island. All
Death Metal bands know each other very well and it is a very
friendly scene. So we support one another. Competition is a
taboo in our scene. Coming from a tiny island with no noticeable
presence in the Metal map, it is only natural for us not to
Is death metal big in Singapore or are there other types
of metal that are dominant?
Death & Black Metal occupy the biggest chunk in the Metal
pie. But slowly progressive metal is catching on.
S. Selvam aka Luke - guitars
Are there any other death metal (and any style of metal)
bands from Singapore that we should watch out for?
Check out Narasimha, Vrykolakas, Melting Snow & Az-rael.
Describe the Asian metal scene in general. What place do
you believe Rudra has in it?
The Asian Metal scene is still virgin. I would say the
floodgates are not opened yet, partly due to the lack of
sufficient interest from the European & American audience. The
value of Asian metal bands lies in the ability to impregnate
Extreme Metal with the colourful cultural background, which is
unique to this part of the world. In this context we (RUDRA)
have carved out a genre and a place for ourselves as a
representative of Asian Metal.
Are the members of Rudra involved with any side projects?
Shiva & Selvam play in a Melodic Death Metal band, Kaliyuga
with our ex-guitarist Bala. Shiva, Kannan & I play in a New Age
Ethnic fusion band called Ananta.
What does the band do for “day jobs”?
I work as a Technical Executive. Shiva works as a Land
Officer & Kannan is an Electrical Engineer. Selvam is Logistics
Why are there no sound clips available on the band's
website? Are you not fans of mp3s?
We will be introducing that very soon. I am personally not a
fan of Mp3s. I love original Cds with all the artwork and stuff.
RUDRA - RUDRA (1998 Candlelight Productions)
Your band is sometimes compared with Nile, insofar as
blending ancient and traditional themes with modern death metal.
What do you think of that comparison, and would you say Nile has
been an influence on your style??
I would say the comparison is legitimate since we are both
digging ancient cultures with modern metal. But Nile has never
influenced us in our path. During the time when we were
experimenting with ethnic fusion in Metal, we hadn't known any
other band that was doing the same thing. Only after releasing
the debut album did we realize that there were two other bands
(Nile & Orphaned Land) doing something similar.
Assuming Nile is an influence, who else would you name as
Our influences have been more of a mixture of Metal artistes
and New Age/Ethnic artistes. I would attribute the traditional
music influences to artistes like Ravi Shankar, Jai Uttal, Dr L
Subrmaniam, Loreena Mckennit & Krishna Das among many others.
Our Metal influences are Slayer, Death, early Sepultura, Bathory,
Obituary & Kreator among many others. Shiva & I are also big
fans of Glam Metal. We are big fans of Motley Crue.
Your use of traditional instruments seemed to decrease on
Kurukshetra from your previous work. Does that trend continue
with the new album??
Actually it is going to be the reverse on the new album.
Kurukshetra was sort of an experiment. We wanted to see if we
could produce an album without incorporating traditional
influences. But this won't happen in the new album. The new
album will have lots of traditional parts and lots of chanting.
For a change I will be doing most of the Sanskrit chants myself.
In your opinion, what is the most interesting or
compelling story from Vedic mythology?? (There's so much to
There is an interesting dialogue between a small boy and the
God of Death, Yama in a text called Katha Upanishad which is
part of the Veda. You would find that story interesting as it
reflects the Vedic wisdom beautifully & succinctly.
How are your CD sales in Asia compared to North America
and compared to Europe?
It used to be better in Asia but now our sales are steadily
increasing outside Asia, especially North America & Europe.
I understand you’ll be entering the studio in September.
What studio will you use and who will be doing the
We will be recording at two studios this time around. The
drums will be recorded at Music Zone studios and the rest of the
tracks will be recorded at a yet to be named new studio. We have
hired our good friends Joshua & Sean as the engineers for the
Who does the website,
www.rudraonline.org – the band?
A friend of ours designed it but my wife maintains the site.
With each release Rudra have become a name spoken amongst
“in the know” metal circles. Do the think your next album could
be the one that really breaks the door down for you in terms of
Yeah. We are really hoping for that with the new album. We
have faced too many obstacles throughout our career and this is
the biggest one. Hopefully this album will break down those
barriers. Let's see how it goes.
Is there any other things going on with the band that
you'd like to pass along to our readers?
Nothing much, but we would like to thank Metal Rules for this
honour. I am a fan of Metal Rules and what a privilege it is to
be interviewed by you guys. Thanks a million.