“Immigration” has been a buzzword that has dominated the political discourse of this country (and internationally) since a certain tangerine tampon decided he wanted to take a break a break from groping women and become president. Yes, it’s impossible to discuss Chepang, a grindcore quintent based out of New York City but originally from Nepal, and their self-dubbed “immigrindcore” music without touching upon the current sociopolitical zeitgeist, a context in which an already radical and alienating art form has been made even more subversive simply due to the identities of those creating it.
Yet there are other features that make Chepang’s music singular among the crowded field of modern grindcore bands. The band features dual drummers as well as dual vocalists and their live performances often yield to crowd participation and can result in the cathartic smashing of cymbals and screaming of foreign obscenities. Simply put, Chepang do not fuck around. Not bad for a bunch of dudes from one of Trump’s “shithole“ countries. We caught up with guitarist Kshitiz to discuss all things Chepang and how to keep the grind strong in a country teetering at the edge.
How exactly does a grindcore band form in Nepal? It’s hard enough to start an actual grindcore band here in the U.S.!
The band was never formed in Nepal to start with. It was formed here with me and Gobin “The Hammer” wanting to play heavy, fast music. And to start, we never knew we would be playing grindcore; he had plenty of blast beats in his arsenal and I just wrote over it. Once the songs started to take shape, it sounded like grindcore but obviously with a lot of other influences. I think due to Chepang, I was forced to listen to grindcore somehow starting in 2015, so as you can see, I do not know much about grindcore.
What exactly is “immigrindcore” and how would you say the immigration experience figures into the music of Chepang?
“For some exiling themselves is the only option left”- What do these words ring or sound [like] to you from our song “Saranarthi” off Dadhelo – A Tale of Wildfire? Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the whole world due to which most of the youth look to migrate to foreign countries. The odds for you as a kid growing up are so against you that you have to follow this trend.There [are] not a lot of young talented folks in Nepal due to this sad reality of one of the worst economies of the world. There is no option but to exile or migrate to a foreign country to provide [for] their family. The dudes who are there are either rich due to their family property or super savvy businessmen that can survive even in the worst economies. Not every kid is lucky to be born in a rich household or smart enough to survive in this type of economy. This is why we call our music immigrindcore, with the element of this migration that we ourselves were forced to follow, and our background due to it and due to the type of music we play, which is “grindcore.”
I feel like your band resonates with people outside of extreme metal and Chepang is probably the first grindcore band a lot of people are exposed to. Is this intentional?
Yes, that is intentional. First of all, we come from a background that people do not associate with this form of music, and second, the influences that drive our music [are] not limited to grindcore at all which helps us to reach a different audience as well. I would say our music is 20/80. 20% grindcore, 80% other elements. I know that grindcore is such a niche genre as well that people are afraid to venture out of it and create something interesting. To us, if it’s just blast beats, it’s not interesting at all, and we try to add other stuff to make it more interesting. We want to give the listener a sense of good surprise and make it interesting and also keep it intense.You can say our music is a dinner served full of rice with lentil soup cooked with red onions to perfection and garnished with a little bit of cilantro for that super yummy flavor. On top of that, add a marinated chicken with cumin, cardamon, cinnamon, mustard oil, garlic, ginger, Heineken beer and Thai chili slow cooked in a special pan to perfection.
How did the whole two drummers thing come about? And why do they always play the same thing?
Do you know how a grand piano chord sounds live? It hits you in your face, the sound is huge. It travels through you ears to your brains and to your mind. This is what we wanted to do with the 2 drummer approach: to hit you with blasts that not only travel through your body but leave you wanting some more. You normally do not find the difference in the record but there are certain things both drummers do differently in various songs to keep it dynamic and different. Listen to “Choila”’s transition from one drummer to another before the slow part, the rolls are different. And in “Kucho,” [in] the last part, one drummer is playing just the beats with rides with the other on the toms. In addition, we wanted to sway away from a traditional grindcore band setup: add 2 drummers but also 2 vocalists to that to make it spicy as the chilies from the Himalayas. Isn’t punk supposed to be like that, break barriers and be different?
Which bands would you say most influence your guitar playing? All of Chepang’s guitar riffs are very angular and unique.
I have a real issue that is called short-term attention span. I get bored easily and I believe this is there reason why the songs that I write are headed towards the angular direction. And let’s not call it riffs, riffs are not what I write. I write songs, my favorite thing to do in a band. But in terms of grindcore influence, I would say Rob Marton from Discordance Axis definitely had me thinking of how one can make grindcore songs with these weird-ass riffs that are super interesting.
What has it been like touring the U.S. during a time when immigration and racism plays such a big role in the national conversation?
I mean, we have not toured at all. It’s just been here and there close to our home in the east coast. We have plans in 2019 to tour the US and leave the comfort of our home. I don’t know how it would fell though with all of the stuff going around us. But one thing I do believe is in Love and Karma, no matter how much hate is present at the end love shall reign. Those who have tried to influence the hate among all people, Karma will be back to bite them at the end. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer but with love and compassion. Teach love and compassion. Follow it and you shall be happy for the rest of your life.
What do you guys have planned for 2018? What direction do you see the band moving in?
Oh yes we have a ton of things lined up for 2018. Obviously the most exciting thing would be the 4-way split with your band Bandit, Test from Brazil and Organ Dealer from north New Jersey. We will be heading to the studio to record with the great Colin Marston of Gorguts and Krallice fame on February 23 and 24. On top of that, we will be touring with Test from June 1-4 to play Earslaughterfest in Montreal, Canada. Then, after that, from July 9-22, we will be in Europe touring to play Obscene Extreme Fest 2018 (20 Year Anniversary). Hopefully we all survive after that.
As in terms of soun,d we are moving more into I would say a grander form of Chepang, longer and faster blast beats mixed with a ton of sci-fi themed punk parts that sound like surf music or even rockabilly.
You’re a big football fan, who do you predict is gonna win it all this year? Keep in mind there are only 4 teams currently left in the playoffs
ROLL TIDE. Go Patriots ’cause that is what will happen this year and the next 2/3 years. I don’t think there is a team and a system that well oiled in [the] NFL currently. It’s a well-oiled machine .