The Sunday Leader

Drummer Tyronne Silva And Sri Lanka’s Heavy Metal Scene

The existence of a heavy metal scene in Sri Lanka is no low key secret. And yet, the raw talent that seems to exude from these musicians seems to be continually ignored. In the light of other “popular” music like hip hop and r’n'b, which severely lack musical complexity, musicians playing heavy metal seem to be paid little or no attention to.

What’s ironic and all the more pathetic is the fact that we have some REALLY talented musicians, and what’s more is that those who have made it, have made their mark in foreign countries simply because we lack the platform and the appreciation for real talent.

Take for instance Chitral Chitty Somapala, who after leaving the Lankan shores for Germany, is now one of the best heavy metal vocalists out there, and is often compared to the likes of the Gods of Metal such as the late Ronnie James Dio and Bruce Dickinson.

Recently, there was a series of drum workshops held across the country by a man born and bred in Sri Lanka, and after leaving the country at 18, is now one of the greatest drummers out there, who also performed with the likes of Mike Portnoy and Virgil Donati
I’m talking of none other than Tyronne Silva who, at his own expense mind you, has been tirelessly working to ensure, in his words, that no one would have to go through the hardship he endured to get where he is. And where is that? Right on top.

There seems to be a real barrage of talent shows in the island, some even encouraging budding heavy metal musicians, but the scene is nevertheless stagnant. The most a band could do is pool in their own money and organize a show or play in a club.

At least, for the sake of the music starved fans here, get a few bands down? But no, all the great bands, including Iron Maiden and Arch Enemy seem to narrowly miss our lovely coconut island and land up in either India or Maldives.

What is wrong with our country really? Yes, we have endured and ended a thirty year civil war but does that mean that the youth should continue to be ignored?

Heavy metal and what people call its “turbulence,” is after all a reflection of the broken world we live in. It’s how the youth express their disillusion, but why is no attention paid to this outcry? Why is it that we can’t focus any attention to this growing phenomenon?

Why is it that people like Tyronne Silva actually have to pay out of their own pockets to teach young musicians how to drum?

Speaking to a few musicians and heavy metal fans alike, here’s what they say about the current situation, or rather the lack of a situation.

Lasith, editor of an online rock and roll lifestyle magazine, The Backdoor Magazine, says that its important not just the to teach them, but also for the musicians to see the Gods of Heavy Metal perform. He feels that workshops like Tyronne’s is what the country needs because it’s crucial for young musicians to see Sri Lankan’s who have taken their art to the highest level possible. It’s important for the notion of making it big as a musician, and the commitment required to be embedded in their Psyche, he says.

Rakitha, lead guitarist of Fallen Grace, a melodic Death Metal band, too agrees that it’s very important that there are more workshops like Tyronne’s and feels that while in Sri Lanka, it isn’t possible for Heavy Metal bands to make it international unless they leave the country.

Sohan, however, also from Fallen Grace, says that it is entirely possible for bands to make it international if they push themselves hard enough, and put out more albums. “We should use to our advantage the fact that we have a rich culture,” he says, “we should incorporate all of this into our music to give the listeners a taste of something different. If you believe in your cause, you will definitely make it international. Tyronne coming down shows that musicians can make it and him sharing his knowledge is just great. I wish more people would come down and do the same thing but although a wealth of the talent is in the metal scene, no one wants to do anything to help us out.”

Chris, a budding drummer who also attended Tyronnes workshop, feels that the workshop was particularly important for him as every little bit is help. “Throughout the learning process, every single fact and each slither of information on that particular topic will help you to develop your skill and enable you to be what you want to be,” he says but he too doubts that it is possible to make it international whilst in Sri Lanka. “But there’s hope yet,” he says. “Now that the wars over and the tourism industry is rising, that is a plus one for Sri Lanka, ” but he admits that the challenge of gaining recognition as a metal band in Sri Lanka is hard. “If you are able to leave the country and move abroad, possibilities will increase and the chances will be greater,” he says.

Suresh, vocalist of Stigmata meanwhile, believes that Sri Lankan musicians can make a massive impact. “It’s happened and is continuing to happen, where Bands are getting recognized on a global platform for their talent. An artiste’s ability to survive professionally at a level that you can be dependant only on music is difficult in Sri Lanka. Things are changing though. More local Metal and Rock Bands are getting reviewed overseas, & performing overseas,” he says adding that Stigmata has played at festivals in Malaysia and the Maldives, performed in front of a crowd of 25,000 people in New Delhi, India and is due to perform at the Melbourne International Arts Festival, alongside US space rock giants Dead Meadow and Aussie psyche-sters Blarke Bayer/Black Widow. Their fan base too is growing exponentially, with their latest album receiving a lot of positive response. “It’s also absolutely imperative there are more workshops like Tyronne’s in the country,” he adds, “because there is no proper guidance system for musicians, nothing to discipline them and build their motivation and skill on par with the International industry. And people in our country tend to listen to those who’ve built a name and reputation for themselves overseas. Tyronne is an amazing individual for coming down and having workshops, willing to pass down his knowledge, share his experiences so that Musicians can be more focused and driven to do their homework. Nothing in life is easy if you want to be the best at what you do, you need to shed a modicum of blood, sweat and tears and face numerous obstacles to accomplish what you set out to achieve in the first place. Guys like Tyronne and Chitral show us that you need attitude to survive but also be humble at the same time. We could all learn a thing or two from them. I say bring on the workshops… more the better,” he says.

But where bringing down these people who would “motivate” and help the industry grow is concerned, over the past few years there has been little progress. We have had Civilization One come down, as well as Nervecell and As I Lay Dying, including a few Indian and Maldivian bands. But can we really hope to grow when things move at a snail-like pace?

19 Comments for “Drummer Tyronne Silva And Sri Lanka’s Heavy Metal Scene”

  1. Jabba

    It is funny to see black Sri Lankans trying to be head bangers in a little impoverished island like ours. Our youth are more responsive to Hip hop and R&B because it is an expression a way of life. Through rymes and beats we can express ourselves. Heavy Metal is not really a Sri Lankan thing to be honest. Youth all over the world express their life through beats and rymes. There is latino, Jewish, Lebanese style hip hop. We need to stick to what we no best instead of trying to be long haired head bangers. The music of artists like Akon, Shaggy, Jay Z, Kanye West, Public Enemy are culturally more relevant to us than those stupid metal idiots. Stop trying to be what you are not.

    • Bloodlust

      @Jabba: Do you even know what you’re talking about? How are women being “lovingly” called hos & bitches and guys singing about how they’re hung, relevant to us? If you’re at least passably literate, have a look at some of the themes dealt with lyrically in heavy metal. Or better yet, take your hand outta your white belted tight pants and listen to a shredder conjuring impossible, yet heavenly sounds outta a six-string. Then again, DON’T, coz then you might wanna call yourself a “black impoverished headbanger” too, and we’re doing quite well without you on our side, thank you very much.

  2. Yorick

    i beg to differ Jabba. irrespective of what you say, you cant take passion out of the people who really care about REAL music. hip hop and rnb is just a trend, if your saying that kanye west and his pimps are more “culturally” relevant, im not quite sure what this “culture” your refering to is. , is real musicamanship in a bunch of “yo yo’s?” to you, are sri lankans not capable of handling instruments the way they do? you can keep talking but that wont change the fact that we have some REAL TALENT.

  3. ganesha vidane

    wow .. the only thing that is realy sri lankan is 6/8 bailla .. and even that is taken from india .. hahahahah .. so i think people all over the world should do what they like and leave others in peace ( PEACE you know that word ??? ) to express themself how ever they se fit and like …. anything else is dictatorship and has nothing to do with live and let live .. !!!!
    one love to all of you !!!

    • Dictator

      Good points. Only thing I must mention is that 6/8 baila didn’t originate from India.

  4. Much respect to Tyronne for taking the initiative and sacrificing his time and money to give back something to the Sri Lankan music and Heavy Metal industry.

    And the workshops are absolutely killer. I’m not even a drummer and I found myself fascinated by what he was saying.

    Cool name bdw, Jabba. Very ganstah like.


  5. MyAcidWords

    Jabba …. there are so so many things wrong with your statement -_- in fact reading silly ignorent shit like that guised under an attempt to sound smart is the kind of thing that irritates me
    1) In case you didnt know Heavy metal IS a form of expression, its a passion, its skill and so much more….
    2) ‘instead of trying to be long haired head bangers’ – right then can you explain to me why the local so called Rnb and rap artists like iraj and chinthy or whatever the hell they are called try so hard to be ghetto and bling bling and oh my shawty and hos when that has NOTHING to do with our culture either?
    3) the artists who write shit about ho’s and their cars and money and whatever else that the majority of those that you listed do talk about mind you in almost EVERY ONE of their songs you think that THAT is more relevant to our culture? those ‘stupid metal idiots’ at least i can speak saying the majority of which deal with REAL topics relevent topics not to mention have a MUCH better vocabulary than your so called rap artists and deffa better than the ones you named … at least those ‘stupid metal idiots’ can trump all those artists based on actually having skill in terms of playing instruments composing singing song writing and everything else that goes with all that is metal oh not to mention INTELLIGENCE and CREATIVITY as the majority of the names you gave in have none worth mentioning.
    so to conclude YOU sir are a philistine and an ignorent moron

    OH and ps. – our two internationally recodnized metal muscians have achieved more than any of ur local hip hop gangsters
    :) later

  6. Dictator

    It’s all about the money. Any of you who were there at the AILD concert in December would have seen what a small number of people were actually there as opposed to the massive promotion done. Heard the organizers took a big loss as well. Instead of complaining about bands missing Sri Lanka and going to India (Arch Enemy in Maldives turned out to be a publicity stunt that never materialized) which has a thousandfold larger population, with a bigger market for metal, hence where it actually makes SENSE to bring down a metal band and still make it worth while for all involved, it’s better if our bands try and open for those bands when they do come to India. Everything is an opportunity, even if it’s disguised as a problem/irritation.

    The question is, will our rockstars even now drop the soap opera and drama and once again start to work together to develop the scene? I am talking about bands that actually play gigs here, not the ones that play a gig once every two years and do their best to spread lies and rumours and claim to have “invented” metal in Asia (or whatever Whirlwind is claiming these days).

    I’ve seen the scene rise in the early 2000s, fall in the last couple of years (I’m not talking about individual bands but unity), and I really hope it will only rise from here on out.

  7. amba yahaluwa

    Ouch! That really hurts…. that slimy monster around his beautiful body. Please for Gawd’s sake … dont spoil my lunch.

  8. amba yahaluwa

    Thanks for the info YORICK. Love ya name and love ya too.

  9. David

    I am sure our guys and girls will enjoy Tyrone and his monster PYATHON.

  10. Esh

    Jabba’s comment is a stark example of the many narrow minded imbeciles who go with all these chains around their necks and baggy pants and think it’s cool to act gangsta. If you do happen to come to a metal concert you’d see how down to earth many of us are! We don’t go around pretending to be anyone else or try to talk like freaking blacks or some shit like that. We leave that to the wannabe’s like the rappers you seem to idolize. The heavy metal scene here is also our culture, whether you wanna be in it or not! Trust me, there are plenty of people here who enjoy metal as a lifestyle! So seriously, screw yourself and then screw yourself again just to be sure and go get your head checked cuz its narrow minded dickheads like you who create trouble for people who try to make a name for themselves through actual talent, without using computer generated tracks an ability to talk fast and talk crap!
    Cheers metalheads! \m/

  11. ganesha vidane

    and the pythons name is VANILLA :)))

  12. [...] Drummer Tyronne Silva And Sri Lanka’s Heavy Metal Scene [...]

  13. The truth

    What Jabba is saying is true. But let me tell you that Hip Hop and R&B is the largest selling music style on the planet. You don’t have to write or sing about hos and bitches. Common, Public Enemy, DeLa Soul are artists that sing about social justice and discrimination. What Jabba is saying is that black Sri Lankans like us doing metal is not really our style. Would you get Africans or for that matter Latinos doing metal? It will always be an underground style in SL because it is just loud trash. At least with R&B and Hip hop you can understand the meaning and it is played live with actual instruments. Metal is white man’s music. It ain’t ours I am afraid. By the way baila is from Brazil.

  14. naraj

    It’s a shame that most rappers use such filthy language, and Sri Lankans really should try to come up with their own Sri Lankan style of music, but Jabba is right in that it is embarrassing for black-looking guys to be dressing like and imitating white head-bangers, not to mention how bad heavy metal actually sounds… Have some self-respect. R&B sounds better, and at least male rappers dress masculine, unlike all the tight-pants wearers out there.

  15. Parakrama

    Tripple Gem Bless you.

  16. Chaka

    I believe for the Sri Lankan music industry to grow more live shows should be there. It may start with popular/ commercial acts and eventually move to more underground acts.

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