» Nolan Lewis - Kryptos
« back

Interview conducted November 11 2022
Interview published November 13 2022

"People over here understand us a lot better, because they connect to this music."

India's heavy metallers Kryptos are out on a 4-week European tour and as the band came to Jakobsberg in the western suburbs of Stockholm, Metal Covenant got some time with vocalist/ guitarist Nolan Lewis.

Tobbe: Let's start this with an easy one. Like, what did you guys have for dinner tonight?

Nolan: We haven't had dinner yet actually. We're gonna have some dinner right now. But so far today it's just been driving and we've been on the ferry from Finland. We were in Mariehamn. Yeah, it's been driving there, ferry, driving here, loading in, soundchecking, checking into the hotel/hostel, and now we're finally okay.

Tobbe: You guys live in Bangalore. Have you guys ever thought about moving to Europe? But maybe families and friends would be too far away.

Nolan: The thing is I think that window is closed for us now. We're too old. I mean, we have families, and also we're very close to our parents, and they are not gonna move out of India. Not for anything, so. If we had to move, we should have done that like 10-15 years ago. Now it's too late, you know.

Tobbe: Bangalore is a very large city. It's one of India's largest cities. So, how are things in that city?

Nolan: It's crazy. It's absolute chaos. I mean, it's changed so much in 20 years and since I was a teenager there. It's just been 15 or 20 years and everything has just changed completely. I think 20 years ago there were just 2 million people in Bangalore and now it's, like, 13 million. It's insane. It's too crowded, too much pollution, too much traffic, and it's just crazy.

Tobbe: And is it also very narrowly built?

Nolan: Yeah, there is no place for anything, because it's just too many people, and, you know, things weren't planned very well in that city.

Tobbe: You guys are currently touring with a stand-in bass player. Tell me all there is to say about that.

Nolan: So, basically, our actual bass player Ganesh (Krishnaswamy) became a father recently, so he couldn't commit. You know, too many family commitments and stuff. He couldn't take the time off from work and with a kid and stuff it's difficult to stay away for so long. So, we knew about Robin (Utbult).

I mean, we knew he was in Air Raid and a bunch of other bands, and actually we've been following him for a while. He puts up all these bass videos and stuff. And, I don't know, for some reason we just thought he would be a good fit.

And we had never spoken to him. We just knew him on Instagram, or whatever. I just decided to message him one day, like, "This is the scene. We are an Indian band. We are blah, blah. We're touring now. Would you like to do it?" and he thought about it for a while and he was like, "Yeah, let's do it.".

And now it's like he's been in the band forever. Like, you know, we got along so well. It's amazing. I never thought that we'd reach that level of comfort with anyone, and especially with someone who we'd actually never met before. Yeah, it's amazing.

Tobbe: Heavy metal bands start to pop up from all around the globe in these days, and not only from the traditional territories like Western Europe and the States. But if we look at touring, bands from Europe and the States, they still come to the same old places as they always did. Do you think that this will ever change, so those bands some day might do some proper touring in other countries as well?

Nolan: Some of them do. I mean, many of them have actually come to India. They're trying to get a stop in India, go to Singapore, go to Australia, and things like that. But yeah, of course it's not as frequent as it is in Europe.

It's mainly because, you know, in Southeast Asia you don't have places like this venue. You know, there are very few venues that actually book heavy metal bands, because, I mean, in most places in Southeast Asia, and especially in India as well, it's like most of the venues look at it like, "Okay, how can I make as much money as possible on this day? If I book a heavy metal band I'm not gonna make that much money. I can get it easier and I can fill up the place like 3 times to 1.".

So that's how things work. You won't see things like this over there. So it's tough for bands, unless you're a really big band, like Iron Maiden or somebody.

Tobbe: Your record company (AFM) is based in Europe, and in what way do you look at the European market for Kryptos's sake?

Nolan: I think for us Europe is the place to be. We kind of figured that out, you know, around 2010 or so. Because back in India our kind of music isn't the most popular, because we play a very traditional kind of heavy metal, but in India it's mostly extreme metal and modern metal that most of the people listen to, you know. So we kind of don't really fit into that scene. People over here understand us a lot better, because they connect to this music. So it's a lot better for us over here.

Back home, yeah, we have our fanbase and stuff, but you know, even that's dwindling, because most of our fanbase are all old guys. [Laughs] All the younger kids are really into, you know, all the new stuff that's popping up. So they're not really into this traditional stuff, yeah.

Tobbe: Like you said, you play heavy metal, and a bit thrash metal, or somewhere in between. But except for Europe I think that South America, Mexico, and a few other territories are the places to be for bands playing this music style. I mean, Europe isn't so far away with the record company here, but it's kind of far to go to South America for a band like Kryptos.

Nolan: Yes, South America. We are trying. I mean, we're trying our best to make it happen, maybe in the next 2 or 3 years. But it's super expensive to get there and we really need to plan it out properly, yeah.

Tobbe: I guess a lot of Europeans look at South America and see a little continent there. But South America is big.

Nolan: Yeah, it's huge. Brazil is bigger than India, so exactly.

Tobbe: Yeah, so sometimes you have to travel, like, 2000 kilometers or more to get to the next place. And if you only play the capitals you have to fly, and that is expensive for a band.

Nolan: Yeah, exactly. It's expensive, yeah.

Tobbe: You know, even if you guys have come out with 6 albums up until today, a lot of fans have kind of recently found out about your band, so why has it taken so long?

Nolan: I don't know, but I guess maybe social media has played a part. We've kind of figured out that Spotify has also played a part, even if still none of us use Spotify. [Laughs] We still buy physical, you know. But, I mean, we have to put our music on Spotify. And on Spotify we get to see which countries have the most number of listeners, and strangely enough, you know, the Scandinavian countries were in the Top 5. It's like Finland, Sweden, Norway, the US. It's awesome.

Tobbe: Besides luck, what will it take for you guys to climb up the hill a little bit and play bigger stages?

Nolan: Ah, we just got to keep touring. As far as I can tell, we just need to release a good album and we need to support it by doing as much as possible. Unfortunately, because of our geographical location, we can't really tour that much, because it's tough and it's expensive. But we're trying. Next year, hopefully, we'll release our next album.

And we already have a tour planned in June for next year. I hope we can do that, and then again do another tour like this. You know, in October or so. That's the only way we can, you know, keep pushing this thing, yeah. I don't know if it will be possible to release the next album before we come back here, but maybe, you know, later in 2023.

Tobbe: What about summer festivals next year? I'm thinking about the tour in June.

Nolan: We have 3 festivals confirmed already. Metalheadz Open Air, Iron Fest and Muskelrock.

Tobbe: I looked at a setlist from, like, 10 days ago, and it was almost only songs from the 3 last albums. Might it be a little bit sad to kind of abandon the old records now?

Nolan: Ah, not really. Personally I'm not too fond of the first two records [Spiral Ascent, 2004 and The Ark Of Gemini, 2008]. It was a very experimental feel about them. We were just trying to find our sound. Trying all sorts of things. I didn't like the first two albums.

The third one [The Coils Of Apollyon, 2012] was where things changed, but compared to the last 3 [Burn Up The Night, 2016, Afterburner, 2019 and Force Of Danger, 2021], the third one, attitude-wise, and with songs that didn't have the lyrical content, is a little bit too dark, you know. The last 3 are more upbeat. It's more positive, I would say.

So, the third one has great songs, but, you know, the vibe doesn't fit, so we decided to just not play anything from it. Except maybe one song. If we play a longer setlist, then, you know, we pull out one to play.

Tobbe: The 3 last albums contain only 8 songs each, and Force Of Danger was kind of a short album. Was that something you thought about when you made that album? Because just a bit over 35 minutes is kind of short nowadays.

Nolan: It is short, yeah. But then again, Reign In Blood, is, like, 28 minutes, I think. [Laughs] But we look at it as 8 songs, 40 minutes maximum, it's a perfect length for an album. Anything over that, it's like it gets too monotonous. And, you know, this style of music, it's like unless you can really write something worth it, then it's no point just to dump it on the record.

Like, we had extra songs we could have put on the record, but we didn't think they were good enough to be on the record. So why just write stuff and put it all in when you can keep it short and sweet?

Tobbe: Would you ever consider yourselves a retro band?

Nolan: We are a retro band. I don't know how exactly we fit into this entire thing. Because we are somewhere there, somewhere there, somewhere there. But of course we are still firmly rooted in the '80s. You know, that's where our sound and influences come from.

So yeah, you can hear the retro-ness [Laughs] in us. We think that as well, you know. And we not just only draw inspiration from the music from the '80s. It's even movies, and video games, and comic books, and all that kind of stuff. So yeah, in that sense we are a retro band.

Tobbe: And on the opposite? The near future. Maybe it's starting now for the band. We'll see.

Nolan: Yeah, yeah. It's positive. I mean, we weren't sure how this tour was gonna go. We were kind of worried, because, after Corona, all the momentum we built in 2019 seemed to have just vanished. And we were kind of apprehensive about doing this tour as well, because, like, "What if nobody shows up at gigs? We're spending all this money. Taking time off from work and doing this. Will it be worth it?".

So we kind of came here, you know, wondering if it would actually work out, and it's been beyond our expectations. It's been fantastic so far. Especially the second leg that we are on right now. I mean, we can't believe some of the gigs we've been playing. Like, so many people coming out, even on weekdays.

Tobbe: What do you see as most important at this point for the band, so that the band is able to still keep putting out music and still keep touring?

Nolan: You know, like, this tour, especially, is the motivation we needed to keep the ball rolling. Because if this tour had tanked, you know, it would take a while before we picked ourselves up again. But the momentum we have built on this tour is gonna really push us forward. We can't wait for the next tour and we're really pumped to write the new album.

So it's exactly what we need. We just need this kind of push, every time. It's kind of like you send a satellite into outer space, and it orbits, and it gets pushed by the gravity of one planet, and then the next planet. It's kind of like that. [Laughs]

Tobbe: Do you think that music will always be a big part of your life? Or will you maybe come to a point some day in the future when you say, "Enough! I don't wanna do this anymore.". I realize that it's hard to know, but give me your best prediction.

Nolan: I really can't see myself without music, you know. It's just insane, like there have been times in my life when I thought, like, "Okay. I'm getting bored. I've had enough.", but then somehow I just keep coming back. It just draws you back in. And now, I'm gonna be 43 in a few weeks, I'm having a greater appreciation for the music I love.

Like, it's even greater than when I started listening to music, and it's just growing, like with every passing week and month. It's just amazing. As you grow with life, as life goes on, you get older, you get experiences, change, you start looking at the music you listen to in two different perspectives, you know. It means different now in your 40s than when you were 20.

And some music hits you harder and some music doesn't hit you as hard as it did back then. You know, all these things. It's amazing. It seems like there's music for all ages, for all types, for all personalities. It's awesome.

Related links: