In their live shows, ASM take us back to the 70s, skip the 80s and back to the 90s. Their head-banging performance is inspired by the classic rock of the 70s infused with the heavy grunge of the 90s. The resulting sound is raw, unmodulated and groovy. The band members label their genre “groove-rock” and if the singles they have released so far are anything to go by, they definitely have that grooviness—combined with a whole lot of rock.
The band is comprised of Abhishek Shankar Mishra on vocals/guitars, Simon Upreti on backing vocals/drums, Saiyed Shakya on guitars, and Nikesh Manandhar on drums. The name of the band, contrary to what its fans think, is not based on the lead singer’s initials, the band members inform. “Many think ASM still stands for Abhishek Shankar Mishra,” Mishra says. “That used to be true but not anymore. ASM could stand for anything. Right now it is ‘A Strange Monster.’ There will be full disclosure of the real name over time.”
Formed in January 2018, ASM is a relatively new band in Nepal’s live music scene. But the combined experience of band members who had been playing with different other acts and the chemistry they brought together for ASM have gotten the band limelight within a short time.
Before ASM, Mishra (32) fronted the blues-based band Spirit X and also performed solo, Upreti (26) was and still continues to be the vocalist and bass player for Mellow Malady, while Shakya (30) and Manandhar (26) together were members of Electric Air, which has now disbanded.
The band members, all active in the scene, were recruited by frontman Mishra for ASM. “I auditioned for the band members and also scouted them from local concerts,” he says. The band members in turn do not boast of their virtuosity. They are musicians skillful enough to create the sounds that define ASM while modestly maintaining the balance in the band. “I believe a good band doesn’t necessarily have great players,” Mishra says. “The chemistry among its members is something difficult to describe, yet easy to feel.”
This chemistry can be felt in the band’s live performances as well as its songs like “Bhram,” “Anubhav” and “Monster He Becomes” where each musician puts forward their perspective on music for a sonic combination that no other band can replicate. Their songs are mostly about different human emotions and the aggressive energy of the musicians which needs an outlet to get it out of their system.
With a few singles already released and some more in the pipeline, ASM is preparing for its debut album that is scheduled for release in March/April 2020. The bilingual album will have around 12-13 songs. Even as the band prepares for it, its members rue the lack of a music sharing platform in the country. International sites like iTunes, Spotify and Soundcloud are not fully accessible to Nepali musicians and listeners.
The bands thus have to make music videos for YouTube, which ASM feels is counter-productive. Provided with a local music selling platform through which they could spread and share their music easily, the band would rather focus their energy and resources on producing more music than music videos.
ASM is a band liked and respected by contemporary musicians as well as industry seniors. “If the musicians like us, we are sure the audience will as well,” says Mishra. Their only request to the audience is to at least listen to them. “Please listen to our music first,” Mishra says. “Then you can dislike us.”.