In an effort to further open the gateway into African metal, I had a digital beer with the guys from Last Year’s Tragedy, one of Kenya’s foremost metal bands. For readers that don’t know, LYT is classified as metalcore, but even this hardened viking digs their sound. Having formed in the dark ages (circa 2006 A.D) they’ve been on the scene a damn sight longer than many SA Bands. What makes ’em keep on keepin’ on? Read our interview below!
M4A:Firstly, introduce yourselves, who does what in the band?
LYT: We are Last Year’s Tragedy a metal band from Nairobi, Kenya. There’s six of us: Chizi, lead vocals; Davie and Jose, guitars; Stan, Drums and Ruto, Keys (In true metal fashion, they left out the Bassist, Mahia, luckily, the internet provides –BV).
M4A: How did you guys meet each other? Did you see each other with metal shirts at University? Did you overhear each other’s conversations?
LYT: We actually met through each other. Some of us knew each other individually before the band was formed. We were also all into the same bands so it took off from there. That was way back in 2006. Chizi came up with the idea to form a band and then we all became friends. The original lineup of LYT was Chizi on vocals, Davie and Mahia on guitars, Stan on drums, Tomi on bass, Diallo on guitar and backing vocals with Ruto joining in 2007 completing the line-up. Tomi went on to work for the BBC and Diallo is on hiatus. Since then, Mahia moved to bass and a friend of the band who came back from UK took up guitars for us.
M4A: What is the metal scene like in Kenya? Are there many other bands we may not have heard of and which subgenre is the most prevalent?
LYT: The scene here is really growing! The following for metal here has really come up. These days there are metal themed nights like one called “Ward 7” among various other shows that come up throughout the year. There are so many bands around like Mortal Soul, Lust of a Dying Breed, Cause of Death, In Oath, Absence of Light and newer ones making it onto the scene like Aphasia. Subgenres? Metalcore perhaps, but the tastes are so varied that it’s a bit hard to give a straight answer.
M4A: What would you say are LYT’s biggest musical and lyrical influences?
LYT: Wow, that’s a hard one! Everyone has their own individual preferences and tastes but we all agree on Deftones, Killswitch Engage, As I Lay Dying, Bring Me The Horizon and more we forgot for now. The main influence is just the passion to make good, real music.
Lyrically, life is what inspires us. We have always been about real music in that its music about what everyone feels, has gone through or understands. (The lyrics to “Elephants in the Room” include the line: “Like plagues we soar through hearts without a care / we were once in love but now in disrepair” – BV)
M4A: Africa is a big continent, do you have much contact from metal bands from Outside Kenya? Do you follow what’s happening on the rest of the continent?
LYT: Africa really is a HUGE continent, but metal heads always seem to find each other. We know of a couple of bands and have even shared the stage with Skinflint from Botswana. We’ve come into contact with other bands like Wrust (Botswana), Vale of Amonition (Uganda) and Facing the Gallows (SA). I’m sure the contacts will grow in time.
We do try to follow what’s going on around courtesy of guys like you at M4A.
M4A: The songs I have heard, are, if you’ll excuse the language, pretty fucking bad-ass! Is there a full album or EP in the pipeline?
LYT: Thank you very much! Yes, there is one hell of an album on the way. We’ve been working on it for so long that some new stuff came up along the way, so you guys can be prepared to hear a whole lot from us. The album is coming out in the next couple of months and it’ll be called Walking Through Walls.
M4A: What are the moshpits like over there, our brothers in Botswana tell us theirs are brutal, do Kenyans mosh? Or are they the more headbanging type?
LYT: Ours are awesome! It’s a mix of headbanging, moshing, circle-pits… guys here are BRUTAL! If it’s a live show, they’ll follow whatever’s being played. The same goes for DJ sets.
M4A:If you could liken yourselves to a mythical creature, what would it be?
LYT: Haha! That was unexpected. We can safely say we’ve never been asked that before. Erm… a six-headed dragon that shoots bodacious scores of music in laser form from its hands that breathes out fire from all the heads corresponding to all our different instruments! This heading to Crazytown. (More like Freaking-Epicville! – BV)
M4A:The addition of keyboards is relatively unknown within the “core” subgenre, was having keyboards a thought from the start? Or did the band evolve to a point where keyboards were necessary to complete the sound?
LYT: It was a thought and even at some point we had a violinist for one show but eventually we gave it a shot and it sounded good and so we made it part of our core sound. So in a nutshell, yes to the second question.
M4A: What are your favourite colours?
LYT: VIBGYOR (took me a while to get that – BV)
M4A: What? Why? Where? When?
LYT: Left. Right. Centre. Tits.
M4A: Do you have a message you’d like to share?
LYT: Thanks for checking us out, we hope to hit a stage near you soon! Stay Tamu! \m/
So in a nutshell, they’re a bunch of fun loving guys, making real music, and that, in itself, encapsulates the spirit of Heavy metal.
Below you can stream “Generation Light” and “Elephants in the Room”. Courtesy of their soundcloud account!
They also released a video for “Generation Light”, so if you can spare the cap, I suggest you take a look here: