The 2015 edition of Pearl, the National Annual Cultural Festival of the Birla Institute of Technology and Science Pilani, Hyderabad Campus kick started on March 12th. The annual fest which culminates on the 15th had numerous events throughout, including Art, Dance, Drama, Music and other cultural events. The four day long fest was headlined by well known international and national musicians like Vishal – Shekhar, Arushi Mudgal, Advaita, VH1 Supersonic and

Xandria.

Xandria @ Bits Pilani, Hyderabad, India. 14th March, 2015.

Xandria @ Bits Pilani, Hyderabad, India. 14th March, 2015.

German symphonic metal giants Xandria have made their Indian debut to a roaring crowd that in all their screams and appreciations wanted only more of the band and Xandria in all their generosity were more than happy to give them more. Mumbai based 5 piece alternative rock band The Pickled Octopii were a blessed bunch, they opened for Xandria. The Germans were welcomed to a loud cheer by the blistering young crowd and Xandria did not disappoint them. With the famous show opener ‘Nightfall’ Xandria warmed up the excited crowd for the thunder they were going to bestow over Hyderabad. Commendable voice control of their dutch frontwoman Dianne van Giersbergen and symphonic powers and amazing guitar work of Philip Restemeier, new bassist Steven Wussow and founder of the band Marco Heubaum, with energetic drumming by Gerit Lamm, were explicit.

P.C : Younus Yousuf

P.C : Younus Yousuf

The band played a very famous setlist, including Sacrificium, Nightfall, Ravenheart and their tribute to India with the song ‘India’. All the songs sounded the same live as they do on the album. Dianne Van Giersbergen with her sumptuous dress and jewellery (which she designed herself) and enchanting voice soared throughout the open ground, hitting every note within her soprano range. She commanded the stage from start to finish. Between hitting staggering high notes, dancing on stage, she held the audiences captivated throughout. Energy was very evident throughout the show and Xandria with their exquisite stage presence made it even more of a stunning experience.

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Luckily enough, Poetbabu got a chance to interview the band just before the show:

Poetbabu: Welcome to India, i believe this is your first time?

Dianne van Giersbergen :Yes. (Chuckles).

Philip Restemeier : I arrived a day later than the guys, in the morning 6 am and the only thing i saw hotel and the way to this campus.

Marco Heubaum : Because we were here a few hours earlier we have seen a little more of the road (Laughs).

Dianne van Giersbergen : But we had a terrific dinner last night.

Poetbabu: Awesome, you know Hyderabad is famous for its delicacies, so how did you find it?

Dianne van Giersbergen : We had kababs for starters which was really really good and we had different kinds of curry for the main course and for the dessert it was a whole new experience, right?

Marco Heubaum : Yes.

Dianne van Giersbergen : I don’t even know what it is but it was yellow, looked like a sponge.

Poetbabu: It is called Ras Malai. That’s a sweet over here.

Marco Heubaum : what else would one need to try?

Poetbabu : Biriyani, Hyderabad’s famous dish. It’s spicy rice.

Dianne van Giersbergen : Yeah (Smiles). We tried that last night.

Poetbabu : Marco, you’ve mentioned on your website that you have a special love for Indian food.

Marco Heubaum : Yes, that is why it was a very special evening for me yesterday. It was the first time for me having Indian food in india. It is a lot better than what i get at restaurants at home.

Poetbabu : So, being in India, how is different from travelling other countries.

Dianne van Giersbergen : (Immediately) The traffic is different of course. It’s always a hard question, its different on stage and off stage. The people over here are very friendly. For example your border patrol is very friendly and normally they are not.

Poetbabu : We are really glad you feel that way.

Philip Restemeier : I am really curious to find Indian flexible time. We experienced it today when we were sound checking and we had to stop because apparently the boss of the campus was walking around and he needed some quiet moments. We were asked to take a 5 minutes break and then we were told it might take 15 – 20 minutes. So we went back stage and then we were immediately told that we may continue the sound check. Maybe this is what Indian flexible time is, i am curious to find out.

Poetbabu : Your new album Sacrificium, how is it different from your previous works?

Dianne van Giersbergen : I am in it, makes a difference right? (Chuckles)

Poetbabu : Of course it does. I meant in sense of recording process and composition, how is it different from your previous releases?

Marco Heubaum : There is not big difference to this album because Neverworld’s End was a new start for us but can not be really compared to the older stuff, you know. We did new stuff with the band so old stuff doesn’t really count for us anymore. You can’t compare new to older stuff. i think ‘Sacrificium’ is pretty a continuation of  ‘Neverworld’s End’ album. The production process was a little bit different because we did recordings in different studios, mix was done by someone else and stuff like that was not really an improvement. We were not really happy with the mix of the album.

Poetbabu : Honestly, i found it one step ahead of the last album, this is my personal View. So, is there a particular flow to the album, say this song should come first and here and there?

Marco Heubaum : Not really, but yeah musically i have a rough picture in my mind of what the next album should be like. Originally when i start song writing it builds up and then gets more specific but it was not much case of the current album and there was not much of a plan.

Poetbabu : So you just let it flow how it comes out?

Marco Heubaum : Yeah.

Poetbabu : Alright. You have released an album called ‘India’. So was it a long due for you to come to India?

Marco Heubaum : Yeah (Laughs) it’s interesting i guess, back then we never thought we’ll play title song from that album here in India. I was really smiling when we did the sound check of that song today. I don’t know how many of you noticed me smiling because it was really to play that song and i have never been to India before. Ten years after the release it is not that bad, right?

Poetbabu : Definitely not, you should surely come back, for food at least. Marco, you also mentioned in your website that Tiamat’s Wildhoney album is your favourite. So how has the album inspired you as a musician?

Marco Heubaum : The album came out in the year i started to play electric guitar and also when i started to play music with other people and not only alone and i started to make music with a friend of mine who played drums and we both were Tiamat fans and this album came out. It was only for 2-3 months we played together and we were really trying to find the right tunes and to get the band together later maybe, but we didn’t know what sound we wanted to be and this album came out and i totally fell in love with it and was like ‘Oh this is the direction i want to go’. It’s really great also because i was a beginner on the electric guitar and that album is pretty simple technical wise, like with the instruments and it has such an atmospheric emotional impact and it impressed me a lot how you can achieve it with say a little bit more or less experienced instrument. So it was really something i could do and try to play it on my own instrument.

Poetbabu : It’s a masterpiece. I love it myself.

Marco Heubaum : Yes, yes it is.

Poetbabu : Dianne, you have had an quiet interesting last 15 months with the band.

Dianne van Giersbergen : Oh yeah.

Poetbabu : You are also a part of other band Exlibris, a dutch band, you are also a vocal coach. So how are you managing all this?

Dianne van Giersbergen : And i also make my own jewellery with bas guitar strings. In fact, i recently got a fair deal for a new set of strings from Phillip to make a new bracelet or jewellery.

Philip Restemeier : From the previous recording sessions that’s where the strings were used, so more special.

Dianne van Giersbergen : But how am i coping with all. I am very busy. It’s just matter of good scheduling, planning ahead and actually there has been busy how last few months because we had to exchange a few members and now we have a new guitar player and we are getting back in business.

Poetbabu : What does next chapter for Xandria look like?

Dianne van Giersbergen : well, you might have seen our facebook page, we are releasing a new EP this summer. It has no title yet. We have three new songs, one or two covers and two remakes of Xandria classics. If you really love them you should really check them out.

Poetbabu : Intriguing.

Poetbabu : Thank you so much for having us and have fun in India. Do come back.

Philip Restemeier : Thank you. If you say that after the show we will believe you (Laughs).

Younus Yousuf : It doesn’t matter we would always want you guys to be back.

XANDRIA are

Dianne van Giersbergen – Vocals

Gerit Lamm – Drums

Steven Wussow – Bass

Philip Restemeier – Guitar

Marco Heubaum – Guitar & Keys

Poetbabu

Xandria live Video, at Hyderabad, India.

(Video credits : Younus Yousuf and Rohit Williams.)

I give the concert ‘Four and a half mugs of beer‘.

Hang in there, more pictures to come.

Poetbabu

(Special Thanks to Sameera Jonnalagadda, Younus Yousuf and Rohit Williams.)

One Mug o’ Beer – Curses, Machood, Bhenchood!
Two Mugs o’ Beer – Lame, Gandu, Chutiya.
Three Mugs o’ Beer – Nothing Great, Nothing Great.
Four Mugs o’ Beer – Lovely, Sahi hai!
Five Mugs o’ Beer – Great, fuck, Mazaa aagaya!

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