One of the fun things we do here on SteelerAddicts, and trust me we always have fun, is to team up with unique individuals or groups that offer a different side of being a part of the SteelerNation. One of those such opportunities recently came down for us and we jumped at.
One of the cool parts about being a Steeler fan is all the history behind the great fight songs and Steelers anthems that have become a rallying cry over the decades. They transcend generation after generation all because of the common interest in the Pittsburgh Steelers. We all know the Steelers Polka and Here We Go Steelers but in the modern era there are always songs like Black n Yellow by Wiz Khalifa and also Black Gold and Silver (Lombardi Baby!) by BlackMahal.
We had a chance recently to talk with executive producer and rapper for the band, Vijay Chattha, who is a native of the Pittsburgh area and of course, a big Steelers fan. We’re very honored that Vijay was able to take the time and answer a few questions for us. Don’t forget, for those in the Pittsburgh area, BlackMahal will be playing at the Thunderbird Cafe on July 13th at 9pm. Check out all the details below but first, enjoy the interview and thanks again Vijay!
Tell us a little bit abour yourself and the band, for those that may not be familiar with BlackMahal.
I grew up in Weirton, WV and went to high school at Sewickley Academy. I started DJing in high school with my buddy Rob Alpert and developed a love for hiphop and all things music.
From there I bounced around through Philly, NYC, DC, London and then finally out to San Francisco where I’ve settled down.
I met Ustad Lal Singh Bhatti at my sister Sonia’s wedding many years ago and realized there existed a potent combination if we could mix his Punjabi vocals and drum rhythms with hiphop instrumentals. We created BlackMahal soon after around 2004 and then organically added band members, starting next with our drummer and my co-conspirator Jon Cook. The band is comprised of some amazing folks like Jason Lee (the turntablist who was featured in the film Scratch) to musicians who have been part of a variety of other bands over the years like Tim and Pangfua Chang, Satish Pillai, Dave Wood and Sandeep Bhatt.
Since then BlackMahal has toured around North America ranging from performances at the Vancouver Olympics to South by Southwest to major festivals all across the U.S., and now back to Pittsburgh where it all started for me.
We are essentially a live music funk / hiphop experience that weaves in Punjabi music and culture in a contemporary way. Hard to describe it unless you see it live, which we hope you all do!
What was your inspiration for Black Gold and Silver; besides of course the Steelers, in other words What prompted you to make this unique Steelers anthem?
The inspiration was the Steelers! They had a great run in 2011 and I kept thinking that we should make a fight song for them. Many previous fight songs for the Steelers existed but we thought it was time to make one that reflected our culture and upbringing and reflect the diverse and global Steelers nation.
In the video, the late great Myron Cope is featured very prominently throughout. How much of an influence was he for you growing up watching the Steelers?
A huge influence. Myron is to Pittsburgh sports what Harry Carey was to Chicago sports or Vin Scully to LA baseball. You could always count on Myron on Sunday even if you couldn’t count on Bubby Brister.
How has the Steeler Nation received it in comparison to so many of the old school Pittsburgh fight songs?
The Steelers nation has loved it. I think we earned a lot of credibility from our music video, which I hope you can link in here. The video shows we’re not just some bandwagon riders. There’s so much detail about Pittsburgh sports lore in there and we got a ton of love for bringing it all together in that song.
Have any of the current of former Steeler players heard it and what do they think?
Not sure. I hope so. I know we tweeted at many of the current players but not sure if they’ve heard it. Maybe you can help us with that:)?
If you had to name a Steeler player as your favorite, who would it be and why?
Easily Troy Polamalu. I would consider him the closest thing to a Punjabi Sikh in terms of his spirituality, his warrior-like prowess and his long-hair covered with a headdress—in his case, a helmet. I think our lead singer Lal Singh would really get along with him.
What’s your thoughts on so many new faces on the Steelers this year combined with many traditional guys like James Farrior, Aaron Smith, and Hines Ward no longer with the team?
Such is life. Personnel will always change, but luckily our ownership has stayed consistent. Football is like a music career: you can have an amazing run but it’s important to always recognize when you’re in the zone and go for it, because nothing lasts forever except some highlight clips and fight songs.