MILLENNIUM – Vehrnon Ibrahim
Interview by Neil Rego
During the 90’s, as Heavy Metal sowed its seeds in a Metal-starving Indian landscape, one band held the flag high for thousands of Metal fans in India….their name was synonymous…MILLENNIUM.
MILLENIUM commanded a presence like no other Indian Metal band in India (to date). They had a glorious career, forging out songs and ‘LIVE’ performances that will be the talk of future generations.
Recently, I had an opportunity to interview legendary Metal frontman Vehrnon Ibrahim, and sought his views on the current Heavy Metal scene in India and regaling tales from the past about MILLENIUM.
What is your take on the comparisons between the past and present Heavy Metal scene in India?
Twenty years ago, there was a healthy Metal scene. Although most bands performed covers, there was the integrity of maintaining high quality musicianship; despite the limitations of quality instruments.
As Information Technology ushered into the 21st century with a “swagger of excitement”, people in India gained exposure to global Metal music. Bands like Machine Head were more frequently found in playlists of the Metal youth. While judging several contests, like the Rock Street Journal Awards, some of the music out there is really exciting and cutting-edge. A lot of bands are sampling with different elements. Gone are the days when there was just a ‘coupling’ of Iron Maiden-Megadeth styles. Most of the current lot of good bands, such as Avial, play extremely good Rock-Metal and they sing in their native tongue, which is Malayalam (a language spoken in South India).
Do you see Metal bands soon to create an influence on the global Metal scene, as a lot of sub-genres have evolved?
Its a paradox. The music genre was created by music stores. They found that all the new bands in the relevant categories.Then, it branched into blues-rock and then came heavy metal and punk music .Metallica and Megadeth created Thrash. Their influences had a range of styles of Blues and Heavy Metal.
I think as part of the language barrier, bands need to have a genuine good sound and in addition, a charismatic frontman. In front of 25000 people, you need to have the balls to dish it out. The bands that start out by performing in front of an audience of 3000-4000 people, at times, arouse suspicion that they cannot control the audience.
Parikrama, with all due respect, put on a great show; however, they should look at pressing on with a new sound.
In your opinion, do Indian Metal bands lack a charismatic frontman?
A lot of the bands play really well, but they do not put on a show. Music is all about having something new. If there is a brand new song that a band is able to play, but do not have a frontman to dazzle and get the audience connect with the song, it is then a lost cause.
In the 21st century, we are now witnessing an increase in the number of Rock and Heavy Metal festivals in India. International bands such as Lamb Of God are making their second visit to our shows. What do you think about the impact?
Lamb Of God has an enormous fan following in India. It’s a huge “shot in the arm” for Metal promotion in India. India is having a lot of festivals, such as the NH-7, Summer Storm that brings forth an audience of people ranging from twenty thousand or more. I’m positive that Dave Mustaine does not come across such a huge gathering in the U.S. alone.
What is your advice for young Heavy Metal bands in India.
My advice for younger bands is to make sure they have melodic elements in their music; to incorporate and fuse together an interesting sound. I do not see why we cannot lead the Indian Wave Of Heavy Metal. Except for the Death Metal progression bandwagon, why cannot we have something fresh?
THE MILLENNIUM ERA…
When Millennium first formed in 1988, was there a goal set to be achieved?
We just wanted to play that was our entire plan. Heavy Metal was new to everybody and it was a thrill for us to be walking the road bands like Metadata, Metallica, Iron Maiden had walked These bands were a huge influence on our lives in so many ways not just musically, but in ideology too. Many people just did not get the music at all; even musicians who were usually supportive turned their backs on us. Friends thought we were nuts! We were on our own apart from the thousands of people who would come to our gigs who GOT IT.However, being different was just what we were. I am half-Italian having lived most of my life in England. So I was a freak with long hair and attitude, and so were the rest of the guys in the band; and that’s what bonded us. We embraced being different. The Music was just a way for us to express ourselves…
Being the first ever Asian/ Indian metal band to win ‘Skull Krusher of the week’ award on IndiaMTV’s ‘HeadBanger’s Ball’ show,(1992-1993), what was the feeling back then?
It was like playing in front of twenty five thousand people and them singing along with a metal army. It was a rush. I remember us sitting plastered in a pub, waiting for the video. Danny McGill (MTV Asia VJ) had already told us the song would feature but not that we would he the skull Krusher. It was a 2 hour show and as we waited Rio (Guitarist) and I thought we were gonna get fucked over once again. Then right at the end of the show the song came on the projector screen and all hell broke lose… We partied hard that night, it was one little victory for the little guy…
Millenium recorded 3 albums and nearly had an international record deal. Which album stays close to your heart?
The second album, “One Concept To Live” was born out of fire and I am still very proud that we did it. It’s a good album that had all the things a mid-nineties album should have; shitty sound, great lyrics, blistering solos and some hard core metal that I think stands the test of time.
Tell us more about the current line-up.
Not much to tell, really. There is no line up and we have no plans to resurrect the monster. He died a hero’s death and I don’t want to just jam again. We were never a jam band. We were a high performance machine, that’s now a memory.
Since Millennium’s last gig, which was opening for Megadeth at Bangalore in 2008, has the band placed themselves on hiatus?
It was totally fitting that we should end 20 years of Metal opening for ‘Deth – one of my huge influences.
What are your future plans in the Metal arena?
Maybe I’ll produce someone else’s album. Lets see ….