Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Satya Sena Interview

1. Can you tell us a little bit about the band for those that have never heard of you before?

JASON: "We're a bass-guitar and drum metal duo that touches on thrash metal, grindcore, death metal, and doom/stoner metal. We share a passion for stamping out apathy, we share a sense of personal responsibility to speak truth to illegitimate authority, and we share a common faith in the positive power of nonviolence. People talk about changing the world, but changing yourself is the true seed of revolution. We support each other in those efforts, and work to spread the word of nonviolent revolution and personal refinement to others." 

2. How would you describe your musical sound?

JASON: "It's definitely metal, riff based, but our influences are diverse so even though the music is loud and fast and heavy, harmonically and rhythmically we're stretching out a bit. Since it's a duo we both have a lot of air we can occupy without the music getting muddy. Some of our stuff is groove based, pretty straight forward. Other stuff is very complex: changing meters, fugue-like rhythmic interplay, but always with an epic, large-as-life intention (I don't like the phrase larger-than-life, nothing's larger than life). From the bass position, being the only harmonic and melodic element I sometimes think about a part in 2 or 3 voices to give the music some harmonic fullness. But we always strive for unity and groove no matter what. Music is physical first."

3. What are some of the lyrical topics and subjects the band explores with the music?

JASON: "Topics start either pretty general or very specific but always in the theaters of revolution and principled self refinement. The topic often ends up being the song title itself. END THE FED and VIGILANCE are good examples of that. Lyrically, with something like END THE FED, I work away from being too literal; the verses paint a mythology, or spirit, of banking cartels as systems with a conscience. RAIN was the first song we ever started working on and the intention of it became that of a prayer for water. POWERLUST lyrics are very personal for me; relationships, love, and heartbreak are no joke. There are revolutionary themes in songs like MUTINY, CULTURE SHAPER, or again END THE FED. Some themes touch on personal life refinement like in the song ESCAPIST. FIGHT OR FLIGHT follows a consciousness through birth, life, and the re-birth we call death. It's hard to talk about subject matter without getting into process. Writing lyrics is a sacred thing to me. It's where I can go to be alone without anyone else's rules or judgements. Sometimes I want the meaning to be clear, other times abstraction communicates the feeling best. Peijman and I agree on topics or themes, then I just reflect and write, working to make it as personal as I can. If I have to sing it again and again it better be something that sits deep in me, and it should be a little unnerving to expose. Otherwise I'm preaching or accusing or aping but never sharing; I'm interested in sharing. But everyone is free to have their own experience with the words." 

4. What is the meaning and inspiration behind the bands name?

PEIJMAN: "Satya is a term in sanskrit which in short means truth.  But really it is referring to that truth which is eternal, and so beyond space and time.  The philosophy is that truth refers to that which is, and everything that does not exist or is temporal is termed untruth or evil.  Untruth only exists to the extent that we support it, so once we stop propping it up it will cease to exist and only truth will remain.  Violence and fear are two prime example of untruth.  Truth can been seen or related to as God.  The most important aspect of Satya as far as my understanding is that we are all one.  Sena means army in Hindi and the use of the word is inspired by the Shanti Sena.  Shanti Sena were an army of peaceful soldiers dedicated to nonviolence."

5. What are some of the best shows that the band has played so far and how would you describe your stage performance?

JASON: "Some of my favorite shows were from our first tour this last July. Seattle at Highline where we played with Australian heavy masters Whitehorse, The Body, Brothers of the Sonic Cloth, and Golgothan Sunrise. And Eugene, OR, on the same trip, where we played a house show for a birthday for our friend Robin from Rye Wolves. There was a colossal amount of energy in that room. Deadfest in Oakland this August was also great, saw a ton of bands in a very short amount of time. 

We always face each other on stage, and sometimes set up on the floor in front of the stage. It feels good to break that barrier between performer and audience. When we're on stage we set up sideways facing in. When we're on the floor I face out from the stage and Peijman faces the stage. We like it best when people are all around us, up close sweating and screaming in our faces. As far as our stage performance…from where I stand it's about as powerful an experience as I've ever had, totally cathartic and energizing." 

6. Can you tell us a little bit more about this brief tour that you have planned?

JASON: "We want to spread word as much as we can and build on what we accomplish, so this trip is a little longer than our first one, and covers a wider area. We're looking forward to seeing new faces and making new friends. We also use tour as a chance to engage people on social justice topics and to spread word of spiritual and social revolution. We conduct interviews, visit significant sites, and generally work to positively influence others toward taking deeper, healthier responsibility for their futures and lives. We also look forward to learning, always. This isn't about partying on the road. It's about laying ground work for the eventual and inevitable setting up of better systems of self governance. As I tell people: we don't need leaders, we need to be leaders.

7. Currently you are unsigned are you looking for a label and if so what kind of label do you feel that would be a perfect fit for the band?

JASON: "We are not looking for a label. We did do some initial shopping around of DIVERSITY OF TACTICS, VOL. I, INTROSPECTION and got some respectful and polite responses, and also no responses. Our friends at Vandals and Thieves Records are going to put out a cassette of DIVERSITY. Beyond that we'll self release digitally and on vinyl. But we are certainly open to consider any offers that present themselves." 

8. On a worldwide level how has the feedback been to your music by fans of underground metal?

JASON: "Well, since we're a very new band, the worldwide response has been primarily from close friends or other bands we've communicated with concerning a possible European tour in 2013. Some folks in Australia via Whitehorse, people like ZenTwo who painted the image that's on our album cover. Those responses have been very enthusiastic and encouraging. We'll be bringing our message outside the US very soon."

9. Are there any other musical projects besides this band or is this a full time line up?

JASON: "It's full time. But we make 2/3 of a trio called Electric Bardo with sarodist Ben Kunin. That group hasn't played in quite a while. We basically played North Indian classical music in an amplified rock context. There is a recording available online, engineered by our good friend The Norman Conquest. I'm a graduate of Mills College music department with an MA in composition and an MFA in performance and literature (which at Mills means free improvisation). And I'm a bassist…next to drummers probably the most in-demand musicians around. So I spent quite a few years saying yes to everything and playing in as many projects as I could manage. Now I focus primarily on Satya Sena, but I also play with Jack O' The Clock, which is a near 180 degrees away from Satya Sena, except for technical complexity and emphasis on songwriting. I also take improvisation gigs from time to time and I compose music for modern dance choreographers. I need diversity, but Satya Sena is definitely leading full time, no question. It has to in order to be what it is." 

10. What direction do you see the music heading into on future releases?

JASON: "We have about 14 or so songs completed. The DIVERSITY OF TACTICS series material will come from this body of work so much is already decided, for a little while. As for future direction, who knows? I think as long as we continue to push ourselves personally we'll push ourselves musically, and it will always be heavy, it will always groove, it will always challenge. Music is a field. What ever is thought of is fair game, it just comes down to intention. It may be slower or faster or more dense or less, but it will always be Satya Sena. I look forward to discovering what the future sounds like as much as anyone."

11. What are some bands or musical styles that have influenced your music and also what are you listening to nowadays?

JASON: "We're obviously influenced primarily by metal. In that sense, my musical foundations start with the thrash metal movement (Metallica, Slayer et al), death metal (Death, Obituary), but here's the can of worms! I have to cap it. So many bands. Stylistically, I'll listen to anything. I read through Bach cello suites to keep my chops up, or improvise along with whatever comes on my Ali Akbar Khan station on Pandora. But the primary influences on me are always the musicians I play with. Peijman, my bandmates in Jack O' The Clock, The Atomic Bomb Audition, powerdove, Ben Kunin, all these people have shaped my playing. Teachers like Fred Frith, Roscoe Mitchell, Joelle LĂ©andre, a single meeting with Muhal Richard Abrams, these people broke me open. A dear friend of mine from Germany, pianist Johanna Borchert, had a huge impact on me. Bay Area bands Dimesland, Wild Hunt, Shock Diamond, The Girlfriend Experience, Minot, Crypt Keeper, Jackal Fleece, on and on it goes. Other Bay Area favorites of mine are Zeina Nasr and Stefan Smith in Fezant, Chuck Johnson, Omid Zoufonoun, Jordan Glenn's Wiener Kids, Ryan Tallman (Fights Monsters), Dominique Leone, Ava Mendoza, Karl Evangelista, Stratic, Ellen Fullman, Phillip Greenlief's PG13…influence is everywhere."

12. Outside of music what are some of your interests?

JASON: "Reading. Writing, poetry and otherwise. I like to paint, though I don't get to it very often. I love sitting quietly outdoors and just letting my mind daydream. I've always preferred that to almost any other activity. I like to hike into the wilderness and stay for days at a time. I like community and conversation, so when we can have friends over for dinner that's a real treat. I also have an obsession with stones, rocks. If I get the right feel from one, or if someone special to me gives me one, I have to bring it home with me, so there are rocks of various sizes laying around the apartment. 

13. Any final words or thoughts before we wrap up this interview?

JASON: "Thank you for giving us a chance to speak. There is a lot to discuss these days, and even more to do. Everyone should stop paying the federal income tax immediately and instead donate those funds to any number of social institutions that should be getting it to begin with; schools, libraries, health centers. The government gave away its power to coin money to a private bank and the citizenry gets stuck paying the interest. That's what federal income tax is, paying the interest on fiat money that's worthless. People continue to pay it because they don't want to suffer the consequences of the IRS. But what's a fine or even a jail sentence next to standing up for Truth and higher principles? Dust. Less than dust. Consequences are there no matter what. Obama talks about the audacity of hope? Forget hope. Have the audacity of action. Have the audacity to refuse participation in systems and practices that are intended to make very few wealthy and very many struggle. Take your life back. Who gave private bankers the right to control resources and the economy? No one. They took it. Take it back. Nonviolently. It's the easiest thing in the world to do to just stop. Turn your energies away from violence and force toward constructive, healthy institutions. They can't jail us all."

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