Doomsday Astronaut is an instrumental rock/ progressive metal band from Sibiu, Romania, formed in February 2022 by guitarist Waqas Ahmed. After releasing two solo instrumental albums, Waqas put together the band to bring that music to a live audience. Despite having less than a year together, Doomsday Astronaut played several concerts and won the Great Prize at the Posada Rock Festival 2022, where they impressed the judges and audience alike with their high level of virtuosity, memorable songwriting, and professional sound.
Now the band is heading to a Romanian tour starting October 6, following their new album release on October 4th called ‘DJENT DJINN.’ On their upcoming album, tour, and latest music videos we’ve chatted with Waqas Ahmed, the mastermind of Doomsday Astronaut.
Hello! First thing off, was music always a big part of your life? Can you recall your first musical experience?
Hi! As opposed to the stereotypical “musical prodigy”, I got into music purely on an accidental basis. I was not much of a listener, let alone have an interest in playing. I was the usual video games, cartoons, comics, and sports kid. In 2002, my family recommended that I try something different in my summer holidays and I ended up with a guitar. The rest is history.
Is there a specific philosophy or worldview underlying your work?
Not really. I like to collect knowledge but I don’t like to get too attached to any philosophy or idea. I believe it is detrimental to one’s growth. I like to stay open to everything. Possibilities are endless that way. Therefore, my philosophy, or worldview as you put it, keeps changing based on what new I discover. It is a constant learning and self-corrective process.
How do you approach the naming of instrumental songs in general?
Well, I start everything off with a story. For me, making music is no different than making a movie. There has to be a story and everything works around it. Therefore, the first thing I do is to come up with some sort of story. All the video games, cartoons, and movies that I dabbled with in the past helped a lot on this front. Once I feel I have a story, then I try to write music that will express it. The story also serves as a benchmark for me and it guides me in deciding what works in the song and what doesn’t.
At which point would you decide that a song has the exact right length and that it doesn’t have to be longer or shorter?
I didn’t decide anything beforehand. As I said, I come up with a story, and from there on, I start building on it. The process is instinctive. I just know when a song is done and it is not the run time that tells me that. It is very much of a feel thing, you just know that the story has been told and the song should end. It can take 7 minutes or 3. There is no pattern.
You also have a powerful video for ‘Born of Smokeless Fire.’ What was the creative process like for this video? How much say did you get in it?
I am not someone who has any technical knowledge about filming or anything related to that field. I watch a lot of movies but I am not someone who has in-depth knowledge of the technicalities. Therefore, the FULL credit for the video and the aesthetics on display goes to Robert Dancanet. I just made some minor contributions to the editing phase as to what shots I like or don’t like. The rest, it is all him.
How is your upcoming project ‘DJENT DJINN’ any different than your first album? What is it new that it brings to the table?
It is heavier and more adventurous than anything I have ever done. I threw out the “play it safe” concept out of the window on this one. I always try to challenge myself on every subsequent release but on this one, I just took everything to the highest possible level. From my playing to the arrangements to the production of this album, I just went all out. I can safely say that the music on ‘Djent Djinn’ is more expressive and instinctive than any of my previous work.
What was it that inspired you to put together your upcoming album?
I only make music when I have something new to say. I felt like I had evolved sufficiently enough to do another album and stand out with it. There is no major inspiration per se but It is just that I felt like I had something new to say and I can surpass all my previous work by a large margin.
What do you want people to feel primarily when listening to “DJENT DJINN”? How would the album be best served?
I guess everyone should listen to it the way they want and come to their conclusions. I think everyone will feel the music differently anyway.
Does the conception come first or does the song evolve naturally – do you have a clear idea of what it will be before you start to make it?
Considering that the songs are made after the conception of a story, I do have a lot of clarity as to what I want to make before I begin writing the music. However, there are moments when I come up with new ideas in the middle of the recording process and they seem to work better for the song than the prior idea I had. I guess you can say that I have a direction before I start writing but the ideas keep evolving during recording/preproduction.
There are many descriptions of the ideal state of mind for being creative. What is it like for you? What supports this ideal state of mind and what are distractions? Are there strategies to enter into this state more easily?
That is a very interesting question and honestly, I never thought about it till now. I guess for me, the most important thing is the feeling that I have something new to offer. I want to be in a place where I genuinely believe that I can explore some musical horizon that I previously did not get to. It could be anything. It could be some scale that has a certain vibe that I never experimented with. It could be a structure thing. It could be instrumentation. It could be anything that makes the process fresh for me.
Secondly, distractions are not much of a problem because I generally am quite focused on what I do. I don’t procrastinate either. I am quite productive once I start working. However, the problem sometimes is that I start second-guessing my work. Sometimes, with so much repetition (because I hear the same thing a million times before it is ready) you start second-guessing a certain part. I have learned in time to trust my initial instincts and I also have some associates who are great at giving helpful feedback. I am very lucky in that regard.
Thinking about your evolution, what are some developments in you – whether it’s in your music, your performance, your energy, or the way you work – that you’ve seen real change since your first show and first release?
I think I have evolved a lot on many fronts. I am more aware of details and arrangements than 3 years ago. I am a MUCH better producer and thanks to all the live shows I have played in the past year, I am also a better guitarist. I feel that I am also better at expressing myself. Overall, I am just better at everything related to music.
Following your album release, you’ve got your long-awaited Romanian tour starting in October, right? Do you have any expectations for what your experience will be like? Is there anything you’re particularly excited about or dreading?
I am very eager to tour. We work very hard in our band to create an unforgettable sonic experience for the people who come to our shows and because of that, we always get very very good feedback wherever we play. I hope to continue that and I hope to share my music with as many people as possible. I believe my music is for all music fans and I hope we get all kinds of people coming to our shows.
What do you want people to take from the upcoming live shows?
I want them to go home with some of my music stuck in their heads. I want them to enjoy the show and enjoy the melodies I write. Doomsday Astronaut is a band that you need to experience live for the best possible impact. It is the best way to get introduced to our music. I would also like to tell people to feel free to interact with us. I love talking music with people after shows. We are all nice people in this band and we don’t bite. (laughing)
Cover photo: Calin Dragomir
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