- Courtesy of Relapse Records/Edouard Pierre
On Friday, February 27, the organizers of the Psycho California weekend posted a message from Chicago doom band Indian, who’d been booked to play the festival: “Indian has come to the point where we can no longer be a band,” it said in part. “We have cancelled the few shows we had coming up, including our appearance at Psycho California.” The news trickled out slowly at first, then blew up all over the metal Internet after a MetalSucks post yesterday.
So has Indian actually broken up, or is this one of those situations where a rogue member has a snit and presumes to speak for everybody? According to guitarist and vocalist Dylan O’Toole, the band is definitely finished. “We can call it ten years and that’s a wrap—that’s what we’re doing with that,” O’Toole says. “I think there’s limits to the vitality of what we were up to.”
Indian drummer Bill Bumgardner confirms that the band had a conversation a few days ago resulting in the cancellation of its upcoming shows. It hadn’t played since a 2014 tour leading up to its appearance at Dutch metal festival Roadburn in April. “I’m 41 years old, and I kind of sucked on that tour; I didn’t have the same kind of energy,” O’Toole says.
During its career Indian released five unrelentingly misanthropic albums, combining doom, noise, sludge, and black metal. Miles Raymer described last year’s From All Purity as “borderline physically punishing, thanks in part to the unbelievably dense production by local metal guru Sanford Parker—but it can also provide the kind of ego obliteration that feels strangely peaceful and meditative.”
O’Toole says part of his reason for leaving Indian has to do with his creative impulses. “If I was ever gonna musically get out of the genre, I would have to do it now,” he says. “It was really hard for me to stay in the framework of the kind of music we were doing.”
That’s not to say the members of Indian intend to quit metal entirely. O’Toole and guitarist-vocalist Will Lindsay are working with Bumgardner on new material for Lord Mantis, for instance. Bumgardner is a founding member of that group, and O’Toole and Lindsay came aboard this year after a lineup shuffle. “I’m writing the lyrics and vocals for the new Lord Mantis EP,” O’Toole says. According to Bumgardner, the EP should be three or four songs long, and the band will record it in the spring. “We’re all pretty excited about it,” he says.
O’Toole is also open to the idea of returning to Indian at some undefined point in the future. “It’s possible, it’s possible,” he says. “But it’s really difficult to get anybody else to play that stuff.” Next month Roadburn will release a recording of Indian’s 2014 performance at the festival. Though O’Toole is dismissive of his own performance (“My vocals were horseshit”), the live take of From All Purity cut “Rhetoric of No” bubbles with acidic rage. Take a listen below, and for a good “bad time,” stream the entirety of From All Purity above.