Madagascar probably invokes very different images, but metal has been on the island for decades and Kazar are one of the first bands on the African island. Center of the band are Lallah and Milon Kazar and have been since the start.
I got in touch with Nix Adkin, the latest addition to the band that is still growing strong. With only two albums in their decade-spanning carreer, the love has not diminished for the music genre that caught their attention back in the eighties.
Nix was kind enough to answer my questions about metal on tropical Madagascar.
How are you guys doing?
First, we are full well!!
How did you guys get into metal music? What bands inspired you to make this music?
We got heavy metal through Iron Maiden’s songs! that’s our first influence and by the time, we discovered Slayer, Coroner, Metallica, Overkill…
Lazar was started by the high school classmates! they have seen Lemmy (Motörhead) so, the band began to play. In the band, we’re not a really a family but we act like a true family.
Kazar is probably the oldest active band on Madagascar, is that correct? What is your secret recipe for staying together this long?Yes, Kazar is one of the oldest active metal band from Madagascar, the secret is just the mutual understanding and respect! It’s a Malagasy wisdom
You’ve released, as far as I understand two full length albums, one in 2002 and one in 2004 (titled ‘Two’). What was the reason that your production in 30 years is so limited and yet both albums came out very short after each other?
Kazar has 2 albums since 30 years. The reason is just that in your country, Madagascar, heavy metal can’t be considered as a job (showbiz) so the production wasn’t the priority.
What stories are you telling in your music? What messages and such do you try to put in your lyrics?
Kazar often tells scared scene, in order to encourage people to be brave to face fear.
When I listen to your music I hear thrash, power, and prog all in one. Would you say that describes the sound of Kazar adequately?
Thrash, prog, speed… Let’s be cool and just say “heavy metal”.
Madagascar as a country is a francophone nation from the past and now Malagasy is the dominant nation, your musical tradition has had influences from all over the place, how did metal come to Madagascar? Was it through French metal music or English?
Metal came to Madagascar through English music. After the discovery of glam, metal came to Madagascar around the 80’s under the influence of Motörhead, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden… Different metal Malagasy bands were formed such as Green, Red Metal, Lokomotiv, Martù Gass, Kazar, Apost… The main metal genre at this time was heavy and thrash.Those groups often gave shows together through festivals such as Tohivakana metal and Big Rock.
Having your own traditions in music, is there anything of Malagasy musical tradition, instruments or songs that you use in heavy metal? Do you find there’s anything typical about Madagascar metal music? I have the feeling there’s something there.
You are right! We use Malagasy roots music with heavy metal! check the song titled “Mmpangalatr’omby” on YouTube.
How big is the metal scene in Madagascar and how did it get started? Can you give me a bit of history on it and your place in it? What bands pioneered the genre?
Big rock festival was one of the biggest Malagasy metal moments! It was started in the middle of the 90’s. This festival was conceived by some Malagasy journalists, the latest date was in September 2000… The reason was just no more promoter.
Are there any problems in acquiring instruments, rehearsal space, a place to perform etcetera? Do you face any limitations being from a country like Madagascar?
In Madagascar, metal is still an underground music genre! we really have problems with instruments, music tech, promoters, sponsors,…
Is there any censorship on music, any form of repression in your country? Do people understand what you guys are doing?
There is no censorship nor repressions but with the trunching-system (marketing system based on giving money to radio an TV tech to broadcast songs and video clips) tropical Malagasy music overruns all places on radio and tv.
Which bands from your country should we be checking out? And why? Have you seen a lot of them come and go?
About other bands, let me suggest you some young guys such as Behind the Mask, Beyond Your Ritual, Urban X Tribe(UXT Mada).
What future plans does Kazar have?
For the future, Kazar hopes to go abroad to participate in metal festivals.
If you had to compare your band to a dish (food) what dish would it be and why?
You make me laugh with this last question,😄…if we compare Kazar with a dish, it will be a Malagasy sausage + beens+ tomato sauce!!