Protocol releases concept album 'Friar's Lantern'

Protocol is a 6 piece progressive rock act based out of Mumbai, India. Though experimental in most of their writing, the band is influenced by progressive rock and metal from around the globe. They aim to find the perfect balance between rage and melody, and bring about the best of both worlds.

Their first concept album Friar's Lantern is out now.

How would you describe Protocol? Tell us all about the band - the inception, the name, the music you create and anything else you think we should know about you guys. 

Protocol was formed in 2013. It was just Desikan and Sandesh in the beginning and then eventually they were accompanied by Sujit Chavan on drums, Pratik Gore on bass, and Swati Verma (who came up with the name of the band) on vocals.

After making an initial set of changes to the line-up, we released our first single “Alive” in early 2016 (by this point Vivian, Nachiket and Shweta had joined the band).

Rahul joined us on keys shortly after and we started writing 'Friar's Lantern' the following year.  We recorded at his home studio for almost a year and he also mixed and mastered the album. Rajiv joined us late last year as a bass player and has played some memorable gigs with us since then.

'Friar's Lantern' your debut album is out now.  Tell us about it.

As musicians we were initially inspired by the guitar driven genre of "djent", but during the songwriting/pre-production phase we realized that we were leaning towards a more melodic, lyrical and harmonic approach. The tracks on Friar's Lantern reflect the gradual move to more organic compositions and eclectic note choices.

We spent almost an entire year writing the album and further listened to it multiple times to ensure that we were all onboard with this new sound. When listening to the album you can hear a lot of influences from progressive artists from all around the world. It helps when there are a variety of genres that the band members are listening to, and that has worked out great for us. 

Friar's Lanterns have some mystical and eerie connotations associated with them, which make them a rather interesting choice for an album name. Could you shed some light on the thought process behind this?

Friar's lanterns are actually an amazing naturally occurring phenomena over marshy lands. But in old myths and tales, they refer to mesmerizing lights which tend to mislead travelers - as they’re luring but impossible to reach. 

Self-introspection into one’s character can feel very similar - eerie, sometimes misleading, and seemingly endless. In such a fast-paced world the only way to see and appreciate the true beauty of yourself is through acceptance - which comes after a lot of questioning and contemplation. This is the journey we’re trying to depict with this album.

The art work for the album cover is also very unique. What does it depict? How does it complement the theme of the album? 

The artwork is one of our favourite aspects of the record. Deeganto Joardar has visualized a very apt and wonderful depiction of the album concept. 

He has visualized this journey of soul searching to be the girl wandering through mirrors. It begins with a look or an expectation of reassurance, but on the other side is a revelation. This journey continues - in the shape of a double-helix which is symbolic of the DNA –that which makes us ourselves and defines us as individuals.

Deeganto outdid himself by understanding and interpreting the theme of this album and all we had to do was have him listen to it.

An album release amidst a pandemic and lockdown is no easy feat. What was the journey like? 

To be honest, we had an absolute blast doing this. Of course, it came with some glaring challenges but we had already planned to release it around May. 

We’ve been lucky to have Ronen Samson and Judith Lasrado from Dark Matter help us in designing and planning the launch campaign which has shown great results so far. The response to our online listening session was overwhelming and the live video is doing great as well. We do have another live video set to release later this month. 

All-in-all, everything from the planning to execution of this album release has been an amazing learning experience, with respect to social media and marketing - which we’ve understood to be our weakness earlier. 

Working on the release of this record has really kept our heads above the water in this torrid time and has given us a respite from the ongoing crisis.