The weekly interview series in the Talk Toomey podcast welcomed a very special guest in Raoul Kerr of Bloodywood for the most recent episode. Currently riding high as one of the most discussed bands in metal, the band's independently released debut Rakshak, has become a sensation in its fusion of traditional Indian sounds coupled with fiery, hard-hitting heavy music.
Going back to the origins of the band, Kerr explains that there was no plan initially, but rather ambition. Karan Katiyar and Jayant Bhadula first sought to implode pop songs - taking on tracks like Ed Sheeran's "Shape of You", Post Malone's "Rockstar" and even Bollywood staples and turning them into metal songs.
For Kerr, his first exposure to the project was as a member of the audience, discovering these cover songs and while he confides he wasn't sold initially, the music did pique his interest in that they were effective - these cover songs made their own mark on the music and offered something memorable. Some eight months later, he would collaborate with the existing duo, with Bloodywood's first iteration taking shape.
Having already resonated with a broad, supportive community online through their viral covers, it was the band's take on the Punjabi hit "Ari Ari" that Kerr says really was like a match thrown onto gasoline. Citing the song as one of his favorites, the vocalists went onto explain the added significance in doing this particular song. He shared there is a line that translates to "You and I have one life" but Bloodywood took it a step further and retooled it to convey, "Despite our differences, we are one". Passionate about making music with a message, it was then that Kerr knew he was involved with the right people.
Oddly enough, it was on the shoot of the video for the massive hit that the band in Kerr, Katiyar and Bhadula all officially met in person for the first time. Kerr says however that the bond was instant and the brotherhood was organic. Kerr went on to call his compatriots in the band, the brothers he never knew.
As for the decision of to keep elements of Indian music in their original work moving forward, Kerr said that the fusion of Punjabi pop and traditional Indian percussion was such a potent combination that it really felt like a discovery. Though it could be misconstrued as spectacle to pull in an audience, the reality is that this was a way for the guys in Bloodywood to establish an identity that was dynamic on an artistic level and authentic on a cultural level.
Speaking to his own personal influences, Kerr cited Eminem as a big influence but gushed about the prowess of Mike Shinoda and Linkin Park. He shared that Meteora was the very first album he got and it only sent him deeper into exploring the band. If there was a trinity for Kerr, Linkin Park, Eminem and Rage Against the Machine are the three that he says clearly steered him nurtured the artist he has become today.
To better frame the significance of those bands, Kerr detailed that while those artists are massive on a global level, bands like Metallica and Linkin Park as still very much underground artists in India. Among the biggest takeaways from the conversation, Kerr shared that in a country of a billion people, there are likely 10,000 metalheads - that statement alone really underscores how important Bloodywood's success has been.
Stream the full episode of the Talk Toomey Podcast featuring Raoul Kerr of Bloodywood below
Be sure to catch Bloodywood on their Nine Inch Naans Tour which includes festival appearances at Louder Than Live in September and Aftershock in October. Full dates listed below.