Chepang are a US based “immigrant core” band. I first heard them last year, when they released their EP, Lathi Charge. This impressive debut release was hailed by webzines around the world. The band released their first full length album, Dadhelo, last week. The album is a more complex and intense listen compared to Lathi Charge and after multiple listens, I can tell you that it is not your run of the mill grindcore release. I spoke to guitarist Kshitiz Moktan aka Grandmaster Bhudey about Dadhelo, recording the album and their upcoming shows.
You have all been in bands previously like Sangharsha, Antim Grahan, Brute Mukti and Kalodin. How did you get together to form a band?
I was active in NYC with Sangharsha back then. Gobinda Sen ( The Hammer) moved here as well with his family and he hit me up. We never had the intention to begin a band let alone play grindcore . He started coming to Sangharsha’s practice space and shows and we ended up playing together when we had the time. I really wanted to do a faster, more aggressive band than what I was doing with Sangharsha. Thus his love for blast beats and my love for fast music, we started Chepang.
“Choila,” the first single from your album Dadhelo is about the exploitation of the migrant workers from Nepal in Qatar and other parts of the Gulf region. What are the other songs on the album about?
The whole album deals with non socio political issues but as well as personal personality issues with us. For example : “Sojho lato Pasu” is a song of how ignorant and dumb we are in terms of avoiding and living in a fantasy world rather than reality. We are forgetting what our priorities are and then living in our own hole ignoring all of the shit that’s happening around us politically and socially. “Kucho” deals with the 72 hours of work that we do every week in the restaurant and how it is affecting the way we are prioritizing our lives and clouding the way we think following the same routing every second, minute, hours, day, month and year.
The album is a more complex and intense listen compared to Lathi Charge. Did you try anything different this time around?
Overall Dadhelo: A Tale of Wildfire is a dirtier and thicker record if that means anything. The first thing is we added 2nd drummer in Mr Surya Pun (Himalayan Leopard). That added a lot more dynamics and power. It affected how we wrote songs as well in terms of songwriting and structure. If you noticed, the drums are providing a lot of the heaviness than any other instrument in this album. So it is definitely more drum driven than our earlier record. Another difference is that the tone of the guitars is much more dirtier and gross than Lathi Charge. At one point Kevin used 3 amps at once and 3 or 4 distortions stacked on top. It was insane. We also used 3 tracks for guitars instead of the usual 2, 2 snarling tones left and right and one cleaner tone in the middle. The album is also different in the sense that we had a bunch of friends come in from Germany and NYC to make guest appearances on the record. You can hear my son scream as well in one of the tracks. The vocals are also much more diverse and use many more tones and layers to build a dense and intense vibe to the songs.
Dadhelo was recorded and mixed by Kevin Bernsten (Triac, Full of Hell, Magrudergrind) at Baltimore’s Developing Nations Recording Studio. What was the recording process like for the album?
I personally have worked with Kevin 3 times already. This being the 2nd one for Chepang. So it is very natural and easy for us to communicate what we want out of the record with him. He is a super laid-back dude and a friend who will give his honest opinion if there is something that does not sound right. The only thing that was a little bit of an unknown with him was how to record the 2 drums for a grindcore record. He did a lot of brainstorming, I believe, with his fellow engineer friends and at the end we decided to record the 2 drums at once instead of 1 by 1. With that said, he wanted the drums to sound like one huge grand piano chord, which ended up as us with him trying to tune and get the tones right for the drums to match each other for the whole first day. Once that was done, everything fell into place automatically.
What do you think of physical formats like CD’s and Vinyl in this digital age? Do you think they are still relevant?
Vinyl is buzzing right now in the industry. It is the most sought after format right now. The demand to supply is less so that it literally takes 4 to 5 months to get a record pressed. It is encouraging and as well discouraging due to this timeline. In any case, as I grew up in tape culture, physical format with Vinyl is a blessing for me with all of the perks of the big artwork to liner notes to posters that come with it. Tapes as well are making a comeback. I do not think there is a lot of demand for CD’s in the USA. I may be wrong as I don’t follow that format and its sales.
When you’re not listening to, writing or playing metal, what are some of your favorite albums to listen to currently?
I like a lot of contemporary pop music believe it or not. I love the last record Sia did. Me and my son jam that record a lot. I also have been jamming this record by Kowloon Walled City called Grievances that came out last year I think. It is a stellar record with on point production and songwriting. Anything regardless of the genre that has stellar song writing, I will dive into it.
What are your thoughts on the current state of grindcore?
I do not know much about grindcore honestly. I just started listening to it about a year or so ago. There are very few local bands that I know of and love and go to regularly for listening pleasure. Organ Dealer, Mother Brain, Bandit, Stimulant And Triac being some of those. I love DOC as well from DC, they put out two 7” albums this year under Iron Lung records and it rules. My current grindcore record I have been jamming a lot has been ANTIGAMA’s The Insolent, what an excellent record that is: diverse with a plate full of flavors. Such an excellent record with twist and turns.
You have an album release show with Triac, Organ Dealer, Mother Brain and Stimulant. Do you have any more shows/tours planned?
Wow what can I say, we feel blessed for having such a great group of friends coming together to play this show with us. It’s an honor and we will repay with blood some time in the future, JK. Yes, we have a small 4 day EAST COAST run that we are working on for the end of December which should be fun with our homies in Bandit (Check them out, nastiness overload). Next year is the year hopefully which we will head full on to tour various cities as well as countries. Stay tuned.
Thanks for doing this interview. Do you have any final words?
One Love, One Live & One Grind. Cheers for taking the time to do this. Keep your eyes peeled, Dadhelo- A Tale of Wildfire is out now via Nerve Altar and Holy Goat Records. Shout out to Aaron and Ralf for again believing in us and releasing this record, much love from the GurkhaXCommandoXBlastXTeam crew.
Many thanks to Chepang and Kishitiz for their time!
– Peter (aka Trendcrusher)
For more information on Chepang visit their Metallum page.