Interview With India-Based Metalcore Band ‘Final Surrender’


Final Surrender LogoIt is good to see that the Christian metal scene in India is alive and growing. First there were Whitenoiz & Onslaught and now there is also Final Surrender. Last year the band signed with American label Rottweiler Records. And their new full-lenght album “Empty Graves” is released on Nov. 5th. The album is produced by Ex-Evanescence drummer Rocky Gray, who also plays for Living Sacrifice, Soul Embraced and We Are The Fallen. Let’s have a chat with the dude’s of Bangalore’s Final Surrender:

TMR: Hey guys how are things going there in Bangalore/India ?

Joseph Samuel: It’s my favorite time of the year, The weather is at its best here in Bangalore around this time, and we’re gearing up for our release “Empty Graves”, can’t get any better.
Jared Sandhy: Things are going great for us so far. Excited about the release!
Sanjay Kumar: Things couldn’t get better here in Bangalore. Great weather to enjoy some good music.
James Stephanus: Great.. Looking forward to the album release.

TMR: Tell us the brief history of ‘Final Surrender’.

Joseph Samuel: Me & Jared started working on some demos around maybe mid-2008 and by 2010 we had close to 12 – 13 songs and it was an eventual process to put up a full-fledged band together. By towards the end of 2010 we had the complete line-up.

Jared Sandhy: In the winter of 2010, we as Final Surrender from Bangalore, India, came together in an attempt to bring about a musical revolution of sorts; a revolution that would change lives, known and unknown. In our hearts was a vision, to spread hope and love through music, our dreams metamorphosed into reality, and that in turn saw the birth of FINAL SURRENDER. Final Surrender started its journey into the world of progressive metal-core music, with the release of our first full-length album, ‘The Expanse’, which won us much local and international acclaim. We have since then, released an EP ‘St.Sinner’ and three single releases post that, and we’re currently working on our second album ‘Empty Graves’, which is expected to release shortly. In February of 2012, the band received a much needed breakthrough, and got signed on to Rottweiler Records, a record label based out of Fort Wayne, Indiana, USA. As a result of this, ‘Empty Graves’ was produced by ex-Evanescence drummer Rocky Gray, who also plays for ‘We Are The Fallen’ and ‘Soul Embraced’, and produces a number of other international acts. The band will also be doing its first international tour in the United States as part of the album’s promotion. Final Surrender only aspires to go higher and further, and know that this musical revolution will one day hit the shores of every continent, always continuing to bless people with the hope and love that transformed our lives and music.

Sanjay Kumar: It all started when Joseph and Jared got together to work on a studio project. They thought it would be great to take it live, they called me to take up guitar duties. Soon after James joined in as second guitarist and we recorded our first album ‘The Expanse’ soon after. Live gigging began as soon as ‘The Expanse’ came out and here we are now.

TMR: Will you Introduce yourself and the line-up please [name and instrument]

Joseph Samuel: I’m Joseph and I take care of the vocal duties for the band.
Jared Sandhy: I’m Jared Sandhy – Drums.
Sanjay Kumar: I am Sanjay Kumar – I play lead guitar and sing clean vocals.
James Stephanus: James – Guitar.

TMR: Are you guy’s full time musicians ? If not what kind of job or school do you do beside the band ?

Joseph Samuel: Yes I’m a full time musician.

Jared Sandhy: We are full time musicians, some of us teach Music at Schools, I personally run a studio in Bangalore, India and produce albums and artists.

Sanjay Kumar: We are fulltime musicians. Most of us in the band are are music teachers. All of us even work as live session musicians and as recording artists for commercial music.

James Stephanus: Yes. Apart from FS, I teach music in a school. I also do a few recording sessions.

Final Surrender nov. 2013TMR: What is your musical background ? [for everyone personal]

Joseph Samuel: Well I always had a keen interest in music right from my childhood, I was surrounded by it constantly at home, but never had an opportunity to learn music until 2005 due to financial crunches but there’s been no looking from then on.

Jared Sandhy: For me it started off with Christian worship transcending into contemporary Jazz, I eventually became a music lover of all sorts, also experiencing versatility considering genres by stepping into session/fill in as a drummer for various artists in the country. Of course, Metal being the top on the list. And music is divine for me, since the roots of where it began was playing worship at Church.

Sanjay Kumar: I started out with Indian Classical music on the keyboard at the age of 8. Got interested in punk rock music at the age of 15 and picked up the guitar to become a punk rock guitar player. Meeting a lot of people exposed me to different styles of music such as pop, electronica, instrumental guitar music and so on and I got interested to become a ‘musician’ more than just a guitar player.

James Stephanus: I grew up listening to Petra, Whitecross, Michael W Smith, etc. The first couple of band ventures were different from FS. I used to play Creed, Rage Against The Machine, Linkin Park and stuff like that apart from originals. Over the years I’ve had the privilege of listening to a wide spectrum of music ranging from Indian classical to Yanni’s instrumentals to Lamb of God, As I lay Dying, Hillsong, Wayne Watson, etc – all of which have had an impact on my playing and my approach to music.

TMR: Why the name ‘Final Surrender’? Is there a story behind it?

Joseph Samuel: At its core it affirms the undeniable truth of living life victoriously in submission to Christ.

Jared Sandhy: Yes, there came a strong sense as to why Joseph and I named the band “Final Surrender”. Simply because in life there comes a time when one realizes that in everything you do, for it to have meaning, Jesus needs to be the center of all. Which Final Surrender speaks of submitting yourselves to the Everlasting God.

Sanjay Kumar: It was not named with any specific meaning when it actually happened. We just thought it sounded nice. But we were able to draw a lot of different ideas about the name ‘Final Surrender’ when we were actually asked this very question sometime earlier.

TMR: Who writes the music/lyrics in ‘Final Surrender’? … How do you get in the mood for writing music? And which bands/situations have influences you for writing music and lyrics?

Joseph Samuel: I primarily contribute to the lyrics but the guys pitch in once in a while too, every time I have to work on a song it just humbles me & brings me to reality to understand that I can’t do anything on my own. I just pray and ask God to guide me. Trust me it’s the easiest method.

Jared Sandhy: Its mainly our Vocalist Joseph who conceptualizes the idea behind a song, eventually everyone in the band bringing in their points of view. Speaking of influences, it has been a clear reflection of our lives with God that allows us to write lyrics to a song.

Sanjya Kumar: The music part is usually done by Jared and Myself. We keep writing music and recording it at our home studios and send out the ideas to each other. We add/delete sections later and we re record it as a demo. Later we send it to Joseph to see what he can come up with lyrically. Inspiration to write music can come from anywere; Treks, Travelling, Watching anything creative. or a situation we might be going through in our personal lives. It could be anything, anywere. Bands which influence us to write such music would be bands like Killsitch Engage, As I Lay Dying, August Burns Red, Texas In July, Sleeping with Sirens, Miss May I, Paramore, and so on.

James Stephanus: There’s no mood as such. Its a conscious decision to write a song. We bring in our ideas and the song slowly takes shape.

TMR: How do you describe the music of ‘Final Surrender’ the best?

Joseph Samuel: Intensity all through!

Jared Sandhy: Technically speaking, we categorise under the genre of progressive metal core. This album has eventually helped us create a universal genre called “Indian Progressive Metal Core” considering the fact that we don’t like to be rooted to a stereotype, always open to new and fresh music.

Sanjay Kumar: Final Surrender can be described as Progressive Metalcore/Punk band blended with Traditional Indian instruments.

James Stephanus: Melodic guitars and tight thrashing drums coming together with powerful and thoughtful vocals.

TMR: How does ‘Final Surrender’ stands in life till events in the world, religion and politics and in which proportion stands that till your music and lyrics?

Joseph Samuel: In the words of Malcolm Muggeridge “All new news is old news happening to new people” . I believe the world tends to function in a cycle with regard to religion, politics, etc. But the only constant is the word of God, so that is the only parameter we set to ourselves while writing.

Jared Sandhy: It has nothing to do with any mentioned above. We speak of hope to all and to be honest to yourself.

Sanjay Kumar: Final Surrender has always been a band that has never tried to follow any cliche rules. We are a Christian Band, we believe in Jesus as our Lord and Saviour and that shows in our lyrics. We look at the world from a biblical stand point and our views might not always be agreeable to all. We have not been political, at least not yet! But the inspiration to write comes strongly from The Bible.

James Stephanus: Jesus is the only hope for everything that ails our world.

TMR: For a lot of bands the lyrics are just an accidental circumstance, but for some bands they use them to communicate. Can you tell us how that is for ‘Final Surrender’?

Joseph Samuel: It’s an irony because compared to other forms of music, the lyrics in a metal song play a pivotal role in comparison to other genres. Most of the time it is overlooked, but it is of utmost importance to us as a band to deliver lyrics which have a sense of meaning. And the responses have been fantastic, simply because the word of God will never ever come back void.

Jared Sandhy: The lyrical approach in Final Surrender is very intensely thought out. There are no accidental terminologies that are conveyed to the listener. It is plain and simple to what it means.

Sanjay Kumar: We are surely a band to use lyrics to communicate to people. Our goal is to reach out to the world with the message about what changed our lives forever- Jesus.

James Stephanus: We write what we believe in. Mostly our songs speak about our faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

TMR: Is there a highlight you will always remember, since the beginning of ‘Final Surrender’?

Joseph Samuel: Nothing more magical than how God seamlessly fit each band member together.

Jared Sandhy: Everyday with Final Surrender has turned out to be a highlight personally in our lives as individuals, because when the band began its journey, there was a clear path that we followed on, in which experiencing something different and unique was always constant.

Sanjay Kumar: The highlight would be to see people come to us after shows and tell us how some song of ours have reached out to them to overcome a hard situation they were going through. It makes us feel blessed every single time.

James Stephanus: Our tour to North East India in Dec 2011.. Lasted for 21 days. Was eventful and a lot of fun..

TMR: And the worst thing were? [if there is one]

Joseph Samuel: None.

Jared Sandhy: My perception personally towards hard times as a band, is something not very important or necessary to look into. If your goals are set with an honest vision such circumstances would be a learning experience which is a day to day thing.

Sanjay Kumar: The worst thing is when my string snaps on stage! Haha!

TMR: What is your favorite album top 5 of all times? [for everyone personal]

Joseph Samuel: I can’t honestly answer that question, but currently my top 5 albums are:
1. Petra – Unseen Power
2. Michael W. Smith – The First Decade
3. P.O.D – Payable On Death
4. Creed – Human Clay
5. Lamb Of God – Ashes Of The Wake

Jared Sandhy:
1. August burns Red – Messengers
2. Killswitch Engage – As Day Light Dies
3. Texas In July – I Am
4. Textures – Dualism
5. August Burns Red – Constellations

Sanjay Kumar:
1. Angra – Temple of Shadows
2. August Burns Red – Constellations
3. Paramore – Riot
4. Creed – Full Circle
5. Owl City – Ocean Eyes

TMR: What makes you laugh? [for everyone personal]

Joseph Samuel: Ignorance mostly!
Jared Sandhy: Anything funny!
Sanjay Kumar: Tamil Comedy cracks me up every time.
James Stephanus: When we make fun of each other (every time we meet). We usually have an explosive time of laughter.

TMR: How do you promote your band and shows?

Joseph Samuel: We use the regular internet portals.
Jared Sandhy: Via Social Media Networking. Flyers, Posters and Ads.
Jared Sanjay: We use Social Media as our main platform to promote our music. Facebook, Youtube, Soundcloud, Reverbnation, etc. We also do videos quite often when it comes to promote a particular show or an event

TMR: How do you prepare for a show? [for everyone personal]

Joseph Samuel: We have our routine of practice sessions together, but of utmost importance to me is my mental framework. I just shudder at the thought before going on stage to know that I am nothing by myself, which eventually renders me helpless and in that moment of vulnerability my pride shatters. I just reach out to God for his strength. That’s the only way I love to be.

Jared Sandhy: Well, first it starts of with warm ups – exercises. Rudiments for me on the drums. And most importantly Personal Prayer Time.

Sanjay Kumar: I keep reminding myself that its my time to worship Jesus and that I always have to give it my best and enjoy the beauty of every single note.

James Stephanus: I try and quiet myself. Pray. Listen to softer songs. Warm up on the guitar.

TMR: Describe your show, visual and musically? And tell us about your next shows and why we should be there.

Joseph Samuel: Eccentric, intense, technical, but beyond all its spiritual. One of the reasons you should come to our shows is, I think people can easily see that God can use simple, imperfect people like us for His glory. On the other hand, we mosh with God, how cool is that? We’ve experienced tremendous healing both physically and mentally. It’s. . . yeah, in one word intense!

Jared Sandhy: We have a lot of fun playing gigs. Especially so far in India , because of the diverse music lovers. The Music we play is groovy and technical so, there is a lot of headbanging and mosh pits going on. The best thing you’d experience would be pure melodic Tunes beefed up with thundering drum hits.

Sanjay Kumar: Final Surrender shows are surely getting an uplift after the release of Empty Graves. We play our entire set with Indian Orchestrations running through a sample device, thus making it sound complete aurally. Our stage act and the energy we put out during the show blend visual and aural awesomeness. Thats why you should be there.

TMR: Name some of your favorite bands to play with live [past and future] and tell us why?

Joseph Samuel: As I Lay Dying, August Burns Red, Living Sacrifice, Lamb Of God…. amazes me on how they can transport the audience into their realms.

Jared Sandhy: MyDream would be to play with bands like As I Lay Dying, August Burns Red, Demon Hunter, Living Sacrifice, etc. They remain musical influences to the band heavily.

Sanjay Kumar: We always like to play with bands who think like us, musically and spiritually! On that note, we would love to share the stage with Living Sacrifice, As I Lay Dying, August Burns Red, Texas in July, etc. In the past we have had a nice time with lot of other Indian Bands like Slain and Zygnema.

TMR: What is the dumbest question you have ever been asked? [for everyone personal]

Joseph Samuel: None that I can remember right now.
Jared Sandhy: As a drummer, ive been asked by a local music lover, whether my drum kit was a Jazz Band Kit!
Sanjay Kumar: Why dont you smoke up or get drunk till you drop, right before a show? It’s hilarious and it happens all the time. Ha ha!

TMR: Do you have a life philosophy / favorite quote? [for everyone personal]

Joseph Samuel: A friend of mine who made the most impact in the history of mankind quoted this, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” His name is Jesus.

Jared Sandhy: “What Goes Around Comes Around”

Sanjay Kumar: My Philiosphy would be simply be to trust in Jesus, every single day of our life cause he is the only one who would not hurt you, and he is the only one worthy to be the center of your life. My fav quote would be: “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you! When you pass through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned up; it will NOT consume you!” Isaiah 43:2

James Stephanus: Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ

TMR: Are you visiting many gigs and what do you listen to these days? [for everyone personal]

Joseph Samuel: Not a lot lately, currently I’ve been listening John Mayer’s “Paradise Valley”
Jared Sandhy: I am specific at which gigs I go to, considering the bands that play. I Listen to everything possible.
Sanjay Kumar: I check out new artists online , everyday. I don’t visit a lot of gigs, but I listen to a crazy amount of music. Ive been listening to Guitar based music recently. Artists like Plini, Guthrie Govan, and so on.
James Stephanus: John Mayer and Foo Fighters

TMR: Tell us about the hard rock/metal scene in your area please?

Joseph Samuel: It’s slowly picking up and the future does look good.
Sanjay Kumar: There are a crazy amount of bands here, though its been declining over the years. Has a decent scene for Hardrock and metal. Not too much, but not too less either!

TMR: What’s your outlook on the record industry today?

Joseph Samuel: It’s vastly spread more on the canvas of life than before, which in turn is catering to very specific audiences as well as welcoming newer ones.

TMR: What can you tell us about your debut album “Empty Graves” [the recording process, the songs, who did the artwork, etc.?]

Joseph Samuel: The most intense record we’ve ever done, recording process was fun it was pretty much like method acting for me, I loved harnessing that creative space.

Jared Sandhy: We recorded at my studio, Xandrin Studios in Bangalore. It’s pretty much our base, we jam and record there. We got Empty Graves recorded and then Rocky Gray from Living Sacrifice, Ex- evanescence, We are the fallen produced it.

Sanjay Kumar: The recording process for this album has involved some of the best musicians from all over the country. You should expect very very fresh music in this CD. The songs have a perfect blend of progressive metal and tradiotional Indian music which the world has not heard before. We had the awesome Paul Stier to do the artwork for our CD.

James Stephanus: Was a nice experience working on this album. The songwriting took us about 3-4 weeks. The guitars, drums and vocals were recorded in about 2 weeks. However, it took us over 18 months of relentless efforts by many people to complete the album with the current sound. It was great to see what Mr. Augustine Sandhy did to our songs when he brought in his expertise in orchestral arrangements-Western and Indian. Of course, Rocky Gray did an awesome job mixing our tracks…

Final Surrender - Empty GravesTMR: The album is released on Nov. 5th. via ‘Rottweiler Records’ How did you get signed by them ?

Joseph Samuel: Our drummer sent them some demos and they really liked it, so that’s how it took off.

Sanjay Kumar: We were looking for labels who had the same ideology as us and we sent out an e mail to them and the rest is history.

TMR: What are your plans for the near future ?

Joseph Samuel: Tour ! Tour ! Tour !
Sanjay Kumar: Tour, keep doing what we do. – Create music

TMR: What advice would you give to fellow bands?

Joseph Samuel: Stay true to your yourselves, that’s the key.

Sanjay Kumar: The advice would just be to stick together through all the difficult times as a band and there is surely a light at the end of the tunnel when you just believe and work hard honestly what you dream about.

James Stephanus: Keep it going.

TMR: Guys thanks for your time and the interview, we wish ‘Final Surrender’ all the best … Is there anything you wanna say at last ? [any final statement ?]

Joseph Samuel: Thanks to TMR for relentless service towards music! P.S – Pick up our album “Empty Graves”!
Sanjay Kumar: Thanks so much for having us do this interview. It was a pleasure.
James Stephanus: Jesus Loves us more than we know.

“The Expanse” [2010]
“St. Sinner” EP [2011]
“Empty Graves” [2013]

Band members:
Joseph Samuel- Vocals
James Stephanes-Guitar
Sanjay Kumar-Guitar
Jared Sandhy-Drums
[Sessions] – Bass

Weblinks: Facebook  / Reverbnation / Twitter / Website

Video below for ‘Refresh’

Video below “Empty Graves” Album Teaser

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