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Band Interviews Features Interviews

An Interview with Eric Bluebaum of Maharaja

We here at the Vault are happy to show a little Ohio love today. Our friends to the East have a large pool of bands and thriving local  metal scenes that we hope to be able to show more love to in the future. Take for instance Dayton sludge outfit Maharaja, who have been touring relentlessly since their inception in 2014.

Their debut album Kali Yuga came out in September, and was produced with the intention of capturing their live sound. Although I haven’t seen the band perform live, I definitely get the sense that their shows must be quite the onslaught to behold. This is further reinforced by bassist Eric Bluebaum, who states that their intent is to “break amps, disorient, and make people throw up.” I don’t know about you guys, but this definitely piques my curiosity!

To further show our faithful Vault readers why Maharaja should be on their radar, we caught up with Eric to talk about the band, the new album, touring, and more!

Indy Metal Vault: Thanks for agreeing to this interview. I’m really digging Kali Yuga, but I have to confess that I know very little about you guys. To get started, can you tell us about the band and how you got together? Were you in bands prior to Maharaja?

Eric Bluebaum: We’re all just Dayton dudes. We met at shows and parties and watched each other’s bands. Zack was jamming with Angus and I separately, and eventually we just combined efforts. Angus played guitar in a punk rock band called Sub X plus others. Sub X did a lot of touring. I had a math rock band called Riley and did other indie bands. Zack had recently left the doom band Drowner and played with an indie band called Pilots.

IMV: One of the things that I like about Kali Yuga is that it not only has sludge elements, but also doom and progressive metal. Is that the result of each member having different musical backgrounds, or is it more the group’s singular goal when writing material?

EB: We’ve all played a lot of different types of music. We as individuals focus on trying to find creative ways to play our instruments. This band is a collaboration of the three of us experimenting with each other. A lot of what we write is riffed out together at practice and written together as a unit. We started this band because we wanted to be heavy but we also don’t want to be a genre specific anything. Ultimately live performance is the pillar of the band and being something that you want to watch and listen to.

IMV: What’s up with the Sanskrit names? When I first came across you guys, I immediately noticed them – Maharaja meaning “great ruler” and Kali Yuga meaning “age of destruction.”

EB: A band name is a band name. We liked the ambiguity that a name like Maharaja has, but we didn’t really think much of it at the time. We were looking for a thematically appropriate title for the album and we came upon Kali Yuga. Kali Yuga, meaning the age of destruction, is also an age in the Yuga Cycle of time. We have been in Kali Yuga for roughly 5000 years and are nearing the end of this age. Contextually we found it very appropriate to the lyrical content, and I drew a lot of inspiration from the album name lyrically.

IMV: Focusing more on the album, what was the recording process like for Kali Yuga, and why did you wait three years to hit the studio?

EB: We’ve actually been in the studio to record something for the past three years. We had a live demo from our first show in 2014. We then attempted to record a five song ep in late 2014, but due to studio issues we only had two songs that made the cut. Those comprised our 2015 single, with a prior version of “Black Magiq Carpet Ride” and “Free Choice” with our old singer Jt Girton. We hit the studio again in 2016 but we weren’t happy with the result. Finally we got with the right dude, Jacob Wright of Big Deal America Prod., and we made this record.

IMV: Were any of the songs written early on, and did they evolve over time? Or are they the same as when they were initially conceived?

EB: Its been a real effort trying to get a record together that we were happy with. “I, Undying” “Free Choice” and “Black Magiq” have been recorded three times in three different studios. With Jt’s departure, I had to do a lot of reworking to the vocal structure on this album to accommodate how I sing versus his more black metal style of singing. This is our first release as a three piece since we started as an instrumental project. The remaining four songs are new works.

IMV: You guys recently did a regional tour. How did that go, and are there plans to head out again to support the new album?

EB: Tour was tight. Awesome cities, awesome people, awesome bands, with awesome merch guys. Playing live is the point with this band. Its our third regional tour of the like. For now we’re planning on doing shorter runs more consistently. Angus does all our tour booking, and DIY isn’t the easy way. This way we can effectively play more in the long run.

IMV: My wife is from Middletown, and we’ve visited Dayton hundreds of times, but I have to confess that I was unaware that there was much of a metal scene there. What’s it like, and what are some of the venues that put on metal shows.

EB: Blind Bob’s is our home and the happening place for music. The Yellow Cab Building is a newer spot that’s really cool. Bigger bands like Weedeater will play Rock Star Pro Arena, a local amateur professional wrestling arena. Jimmie’s Ladder 11 is a darling spot. Shows can really happen at any of the various bars around town if the bill is cool.

IMV: Along those lines, what are some of your favorite acts from around Dayton that you feel deserve more recognition?

EB: Shoutout to the homies Floodwalker, Grand Mammoth, Close the Hatch, Choking, Neon Warship, Mouth of the Architect, Salvador Ross, Abertooth Lincoln, SKRT, and the Columbus homies Bourbon Train, Weed Demon, Beggars, Bridesmaid, Northern Widows, Fever Nest, and Reflex Machine.

IMV: Any final thoughts that you’d like to add?

EB: Life’s too short to long board.

Kali Yuga is out now via the band’s Bandcamp page. Make sure to connect with them on Facebook here.

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