Vocalists have never inspired Chitral. “I’m a composer who sings,” he tells us. His hard work in the studio includes frequent retakes, sometimes
“Metal music is very challenging"-chitral.
15 takes at times, listening and deleting tracks soon after, until he is satisfied.
Chitral is currently in the process of recording a tribute album for his parents; he feels that it’s time to bring this type of music back into the industry. “The music by my parents was based on the beauty of this country and today people grumble about the bad side of the country,” he says, adding that he hopes the record will bring hope, and people will listen to it again and think of the beautiful side of Sri Lanka, instead of its dark side.
Being an accomplished performer in both the local and international industry, it may seem quite surprising that Chitral was not always into music. Rather, he was a keen sports fan, playing cricket, hockey and football in his childhood.
“When I was about 12 or 13, I got the awakening, here we go,” he says, the excitement clear in his eyes.
A few of his brother’s friends listened to rock music and thatfascinated him. So Chitral thought to himself why not? “This music was special; it’s not the regular music you hear on the radio. So that’s how I stepped into music,” he recalls.
When he was about 16, Chitral startedlooking for people, who shared his passion for rock music as everyone was into commercial music at the time, he explains. “So, I was thinking to myself, forget about the rock sector. Let’s do the music everybody else is doing right now. That’s always what happens in Sri Lanka; if there’s a trend, everyone follows it.”
This automatically became his job. Soon, he was the talk of the town, back in the early 80’s. “Young bass player with a clean high voice.” This gave him the opportunity to become the bassist of Diliup Gabadamudalige’s band, ‘Shock’ in 1985.
After ‘Shock’, Chitral joined a few other bands, before finally going to Switzerland. “I was 19 years old at the time and that’s how everything started.” He travelled around Switzerland in the 80’s, with the band ‘Rendezvous’. They existed for some time and later disbanded. Soon after this, he was offered to join the band ‘Friends’.
“After eight or nine years, my long time dream of rock music was really happening in Europe. So I told everybody, goodbye, I’m leaving. I was tired of commercial music, because it tends to get so monotonous,” he says. This was back in 1994. Chitral joined a few local bands in the German music scene and thereafter became part of various international metal bands such as ‘Avalon’, ‘Firewind’, ‘Power Quest’, ‘Ivanhoe’, ‘Rekuiem’ and ‘Civilization One’, just to name a few. We talk more about his time with ‘Firewind.’
He was with ‘Avalon’, a world reputed progressive metal band, at the time. After their second album, they decided to disband. Later on, Chitral began working on a melodic rock project called ‘Faro’, before he was approached by the management of ‘Firewind’, back in 2003.
It took him two demos, to get into the band, he recalls. “I sent them to Gus G (the lead guitarist) and he was quite happy with it.” With that followed their Japan tour, with Hammerfall in 2004.
“Firewind was born then. With myself, Gus G, Bob Katsionis, Stian Kristoffersen and Petros Christo,we became a real band together,” Chitral explains. Before that the band was more or less like a project.
“At times when you’re hard-headed, things get tough. Gus and I were hard-headed people,” he says. Chitral wrote the concept, melodies and lyrics for their album ‘Forged by Fire’, while Gus had written the riffs. However, after their grand tour with Hammer Fall, both Chitral and Stian decided to leave the band.
“I was not scared to lose something like this, because if you’re doing music you have to be very confident. Especially with rock music, it’s the attitude. I was ready for the challenge,” he explains.
After this, in 2006, Chitral formed ‘Civilization One’. He has also been with ‘Red Circuit’, since 2006 and they’ve done three albums together, but ‘Civilization One’ is like my baby,” he says.
We talk about his hit, ‘Nadi Ganga Tharanaye’. “In 1997, three years since I was absent from ‘Friends’ I came on vacation to Sri Lanka with my wife,” he relates. It was then;a group of people from a particular company were looking for him, to have his music for a commercial. They didn’t give up and finally contacted him.
“They said, we need to have that rock vibe into it, I said ok I’ll do it. I didn’t have any hope that it will be such a big hit. And this happened,” he reminisces about the time it took off.
Chitral recorded the whole song in Germany, with his arrangements and so on. But he strongly states, that the song is based on Jimmy Cliff’s ‘Many Rivers to Cross.’
As for his future hopes Chitral has ideas to open a studio in the country; with quality sound equipment equal to that found in Europe and the US, which would be beneficial for upcoming local bands keen to have their music out there.
“Metal music is very challenging. It has to be very precise and everything has to be well played. It’s powerful music so it has to be perfect,” says the
metal powerhouse as he puts on his shades for the photoshoot. “This has more attitude,” he explains with a chuckle.
By Joshua Surendraraj-mirror