Musings: Interview with Gaurav Basu a.k.a Acid Toad

Acid Toad is an exploration of psychedelia manifest through the dark mind of its creator – Acid Toad a.k.a Gaurav Basu – an illustrator and designer from Bangalore, India. Vocalist at Inner Sanctum, an extreme metal band and one of the heavyweights in the Indian scene, Gaurav is turned on by all kinds of creative pursuits and is quite adept at giving laughter-inducing interviews.

In our chat with him, we explored the hedonistic world of the hallucinogenic amphibious Acid Toad.


INTERVIEW

Hello Gaurav, we were looking forward to this chat with you. Tell us a little about yourself.

I am guy who loves to draw strange pictures. I love nature, music and travelling. Been working as an illustrator for the past couple of years…and oh yeah, I am in a band that plays hateful music and has vowed to enslave the world through the word of Satan.

Talk to us about your creative process. From ideation to finished product  – explain its journey through the psychedelic corridors of your mind. 

When I work on a piece, I try to immerse myself into the subject to the extent where I have a visual environment surround me based on the context…well ‘try’ to, doesn’t always mean I do ;). Visualization is the most important part of my process…if I can’t picture it, I can’t draw it. Once I have a vivid image in my head I am able to proceed to the pencil stage where I sketch out ideas, textures and forms that get utilized in the final piece. The final compositions are based the on rough sketches.

Once I have my final pencil lines down, I move to inking which is the most challenging bit. And regarding the dark corridors of my mind, let’s say that when the corridors are empty I seek inspiration in realms that evoke a psychedelic experience 😉

You studied over at Chitrakala Parishat, Bangalore. Tell us about your time there.

5 years were spent there….its an absolute haze. I do remember the Computer Lab though! It had the latest computing technology rivalled only by the legendary Abacus. People would spent hours in the lab…waiting for the “WINDOWS Loading” screen to finally lead them to their desktop.

How did you come up with the name Acid Toad? Trace for us the genesis of Acid Toad. 

Once upon a time I entered a realm, an alternate universe…on this fantastic voyage I encountered a great toad. He was a wise sage that lived in the smoked out valley of large fungus. All of this Acid Toad stuff is just me, dedicating something in his memory. Soon the master amphibian will reach out to others in lead them to their own quests!

Do you have any recurring themes that you live by in your artwork?

Yes, I do…eyes. Although not a theme as such, but I just have a fascination for them. They can be used in so many symbolic ways! You could make something look creepy or insightful, angry or peaceful, joyous or in pain….plus, a nice big pair of eyes look bloody gorgeous on a woman 🙂


“VISUALIZATION IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF MY PROCESS…IF I CAN’T PICTURE IT, I CAN’T DRAW IT. ONCE I HAVE A VIVID IMAGE IN MY HEAD I AM ABLE TO PROCEED TO THE PENCIL STAGE WHERE I SKETCH OUT IDEAS, TEXTURES AND FORMS THAT GET UTILIZED IN THE FINAL PIECE. THE FINAL COMPOSITIONS ARE BASED THE ON ROUGH SKETCHES.”


Symbiosis by Acid Toad | Cupick
Symbiosis by Acid Toad | Cupick

Apart from art, you’re also involved with ‘Inner Sanctum’, one of the heavyweights of the Indian metal scene. How did that happen? Tell us about your adventures being with the band.

I have always been amused by the darker side of things. As a kid I used to love horror stories, couldn’t sleep at night…still fucking loved ‘em! I guess it was natural that I was drawn to horrific music as well. Also growing up in India was a task in itself. I couldn’t find myself agreeing with the value systems and social orders and hierarchies. When I found rock n’ roll it taught me to stand up for myself, and not be afraid to call people assholes, even if the asshole was an 85 year old woman. I loved that feeling, that adrenaline rush and the values it brought along with it. I felt comfortable knowing there are others around that globe that share my sheer disregard for authority and the establishment.

I eventually got into modern hardcore stuff in my teen years, and then Swedish death metal, thrash metal and so on. I enjoyed the sonic energy this music generated and wanted to be a part of it. One day I called a friend up, and asked him if he knew anyone who was looking for a metal vocalist, and he introduced me to Inner Sanctum. I went in and made a horrible first impression, had to play my first show with them the very next day….I got on stage, kicked ass…and we’ve been doing so ever since. Its hard for me to believe sometimes that is band, is almost 8 years old now! We have had some great times and some shit times, but no matter what the universe throws our way, we keep on coming back to devour earth’s beer supply.

What projects are you currently working on?

There are a bunch of stuff I am working on but until official announcements are made I cannot disclose certain projects, but yeah its looking good at the moment.

Other than that, Inner Sanctum’s album art has been probably the most challenging process I have faced so far. I set out with an ambitious goal and I am only halfway there, but its looking pretty sick at the moment!


“I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN AMUSED BY THE DARKER SIDE OF THINGS. AS A KID I USED TO LOVE HORROR STORIES, COULDN’T SLEEP AT NIGHT…STILL FUCKING LOVED ‘EM! I GUESS IT WAS NATURAL THAT I WAS DRAWN TO HORRIFIC MUSIC AS WELL.

ALSO GROWING UP IN INDIA WAS A TASK IN ITSELF. I COULDN’T FIND MYSELF AGREEING WITH THE VALUE SYSTEMS AND SOCIAL ORDERS AND HIERARCHIES.”


You’ve done a lot of album art for metal bands. Tell us about some of your favorite pieces and how they came about.

Wow, yes there have been a bunch that I have worked on. I really enjoyed working on all of them. Each one turned out to be challenging in their own way. I think the immediate ones that come to mind when I think of album covers I designed were … Algorithm – Octopus4, Silver, Workshop – Made love to the dragon. Each had their own visual style!

Facebook once banned the Inner Sanctum page. What that all about and how did you guys deal with it?

Haha, that was a funny episode. We happen to be a band that has a homo erotic sense of humour…just like many other bands out there! We put out a poster with the dates of our October shows on it…it also happened to have two guys going at it doggy style. No big deal 🙂

What are your primary tools of use in creating artwork?

Pen, ink, pencils, paper, photoshop, illustrator and some things that are best not mentioned publicly. Lets not discuss about anything illegal here…anywhere else, is fine, as long as you’re rolling.

Ice Serpent by Acid Toad | Cupick
Ice Serpent by Acid Toad | Cupick
Perv Turf by Acid Toad | Cupick
Perv Turf by Acid Toad | Cupick

Tell us a little more about your association with Cupick – how has the experience been like?

Its been fun. I liked the interface, and its easy to use. I like how its laid out and the showcase allows me to run into some really cool talent that’s on board the site. It’s a great platform for young artists to showcase and sell some of their work.

Do you have a favourite from your own artwork?

Not that I can remember, I am always more excited about last piece I did because its new. But if I had to think for a moment and choose I’d pick the t-shirt print I had done for the band Goddess Gagged. Primarily because visually it was a style I had not dabbled in yet, and I really didn’t expect it to come out like the way it did. I just went with the flow and loved where it ended up.

Who are the top three artists alive that you draw inspiration from?


Godmachine, John Dyer Baizley, Robert Borbas (Grindesign)….all hail these three unfairly talented assholes.

Rapid fire round:

– Favorite Bands

Opeth, Katatonia, Bloodbath, Porcupine Tree…and then you have the occasional favourites when you run into something new!

– Favorite Movies

Lord of the Rings trilogy, Snatch….I can watch ‘em over and over again.

What’s on your playlist at the moment?

Crobot – Something Supernatural, Maybeshewill – Fair Youth, Mastodon – Once more round the sun, Miloopa – Unicode, Blues Pills – Blues Pills, Nevermore – Dead heart in a dead world

If you could give one piece of advice to the independent artists community, what would it be?

Just keep at it and never give up. Look for new sources of inspiration through travel, food and new cultures. Draw every day preferably from life and nature. Drink good beer and don’t be an asshole.

Wake of Destruction by Acid Toad | Cupick
Wake of Destruction by Acid Toad | Cupick
Deep Sea Adventure by Acid Toad | Cupick
Deep Sea Adventure by Acid Toad | Cupick

Visit Acid Toad on Cupick to check out more of his work.


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