Vehrnon Ibrahim Interview

Millennium: Vocals (1988-present)

1. Other than musicality, what drove you towards metal?

In a word – ideology… growing up in the UK during the birth of metal in the late 70s and early 80s I saw much of the same thing as today in the music business. Lots of carefully crafted pop music with imagery and references to love and romance and fun etc and this had no relevance to me what so ever. Punk sounded good but I never did agree with the anarchistic roots of the music. Then I heard bands like Iron Maiden and Rush who ripped the top of my fucking head off, looked inside and said to me “we understand”… I think people reading this on your page will understand too… I’m not gonna go in to what metal is about because there is always a controversy, the truth is some bands within the heavy metal genre attracted me and others never did. I like Kiss and Whitsnake for example, for their music but the message was nothing new in fact was and still is a bit dated for my liking…

2. Has metal helped you in any way, to overcome difficulties you have faced?

Oh hell yes… you wont remember this but in the 80s there was an ever present threat of nuclear war and this depressed and demotivated the crap of me. Songs like Maiden’s “Die With Your Boots On” and Rush’s “Subdivisions” quite literally kept me alive. The sense of alienation and fear that gripped us in those days was real and these bands knew this and addressed them as issues to be talked about. Many of my ideas and concepts can find their origins in philosophies which have inspired so many metal classics.

3. You are a big name in the Indian scene, are you satisfied with how far metal has taken you in this journey?

Hahaha, ya I suppose so…

4. Have you ever had second thoughts about being a metal musician/enthusiast? If yes, what kept you going?

No ,never had second thoughts… I have never had to work for money, been very lucky but I always got money doing what I liked doing and I think that’s important. Listening to, writing, also helped me solidify my own thoughts and ideas as I had to write about them and talk about them on stage and this was eye opening. Look at us today for example in India, we all have an opinion of the political parties and who should get power, what is good for India but how many of us actually make an effort to do anything more than copy and share a post on Facebook or Twitter. When you write or tell an original story you are forced to question your thoughts because you may just have to justify and stand up for them, that’s what happens when you get off the fence.

5. Have you ever faced any objections/restrictions from your family/relatives about the genre you play, or rather that you play any instrument?

My father actually told me, if I wanted to be an auto driver then I should be an auto driver but for fuck’s sake be the best fucking auto driver out there! So no, no one in my family or any of my few friends ever suggested that I get in to another sort of music. Its like asking a 6 foot tall person to be a few inches shorter isn’t it… I mean it just silly and those who knew me also knew that heavy metal was my six foot tall… had no choice, had no regrets, just do the best I can and get the fuck on with it…

6. Do you consider yourself as a religious person? What do you think about the association of religion with metal, like obstacles that orthodox thinking has put before metal?

Even though I am dyslexic I read as much as I can and try to know as much as possible about my world. I get as much data as I can and when I realize I have a view, I make up my mind. Even when I go to a doctor I am painfully aware that this person is not a magical healer, he/she is merely better informed than me, they do not know everything in fact they know very little. The gift of free thought that every person has or had when they were born is not being utilized by many people and that’s sad. Instead an unjustified fear and self serving prejudice seem to dictate their actions more than common sense. We need to encourage individual personalized religion and slowly do away with group/club culture "worship", how can a belief belong to an individual when it came pre packaged from another? There is a need to conform I can see that but for practical purpose only not deep down to what one really believes. No one should be allowed to "profit" from organized religion and that is just whats happening now isn’t it…

7. Do you like politics? Your take on the mostly ignorant behavior of Indian metal-heads towards politics and voting?

No I do not think metal heads are ignorant and I do not think Indian metal heads are ignorant. I get this a lot, people will email or inbox me and ask about a lyric I wrote or a quote I made, these people are “fans” but they don’t simply agree with me, they question to understand better and see if they think the same. Yes, there was a glorification of stupidity in rock music and its still there in many bands and definitely there in hiphop but never was there in serious heavy metal. Record companies tried to dumb down what bands were saying but the message got through… These are a few of the thoughts I have for a better India that have been inspired by metal songs which in turn have been inspired by other peoples ideas…

• Salaries for teachers, soldiers and police need to be looked at from scratch, not only how much they are paid but how the are paid, rewarded and promoted.

• Accountability and transparency at every level of public and private administration, those who are in positions of powerful decision making have to be mentally capable of doing so.

• Education needs to focus on how to think not what to think, fresh ideas, new thoughts, questions with no answers need to be encouraged rather than put down. Aptitude, capability and potential should be the only reason a young person should learn specific skills like medicine, corporate controlled creativity era is near.

• Lastly, the government itself - I have no suggestions here I'm afraid, a more evolved creative thinker than me is needed here but I do know this, we have to change the whole system from scratch. Left wing, right wing... The age of French Revolution government has to end. The basics of policy creation and administration was made before the possibility of mass instantaneous voting via SMS or apps for example. How could they know in Rome back then that we would be able to educate at the click of a mouse every single citizen in the country about the implications of the policies they were voting on.

8. Any personality you would like to mention who has inspired you, not just musically, but to keep living the metal lifestyle?

Ya sure but I can never remember them by name… too many people and I am still finding new ones…

9. Would you like to share any experience about the way metal has helped you, or affected your thought-process?

I have always been a questioner and that has not been shaped by metal. What I question and how I question it has though.

engineering and law. Objective history should be taught as a lesson in how people screwed up just as much as what they did right.

• Forget reservations in education and jobs and instead instill a sense of respect of everyone no matter what job they do or what they have been taught, dignity in labor needs to be taught.

• The media, all of it, has to go through a "psychological evaluation of purpose of communication" ie to inform, to entertain or to control... These companies have a right to make money but the power they have to influence has to be modified and regulated.

• Cigarettes, alcohol, narcotic drugs, prostitution and pornography... legalize the lot but tax it all also and through this tax directly control it all after teaching these subjects in school. The park bench wet paint situation can be avoided if we simply and harmlessly demonstrate the advantages of not getting red paint on your pants in the first place. Yes, there will be some fools who want the red paint on their backsides and will end up smoking for example but by making these activities taboo as has been done we have only created an alternative option for young people to show their defiance of the system and created an organized crime to supply these things.

• Advertising has to be scraped altogether in place of algorithms to be made so that relevant news, information and data reach the right people, too much time and effort is being spent of stupid harmful things like the selling of a cream that makes a vagina whiter (again?) WTF??? And we put up with this shit!

Interview by Niranjan Deshpande