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Exclusive: Interview with Marawan Sha'ban from Wyvern

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To face society with something that it rejects, to determine on doing it whatever the criticisms are, that is Wyvern’s main goal of recording their album, but the question is: Did they face any troubles doing so? Are they still facing those troubles? Did the Real Estate Publicity Department refuse to authorize the album? Did they have any troubles with the Artistic Works Authority?...Let’s find out

First give us a hint about the preparation for the album

well, we have been playing for 6 years and each member was playing in other projects, and we had many chances of traveling for festivals and live shows, but we stopped traveling because we didn't have a precious demo album. So we thought of making a demo, then we said "and why not a full-length album!" as long as we have the proper tools, relations, studios and friends, so we made our decision to record our album. September, 2008 was the first studio reservation to prepare the album. and as every band has a recording technique, we thought to take it from the beginning, so we did a music guide by guitar line on a metronome which means playing a guide line over the metronome and the metronome is handling the tempo and timing of the song, and that guitar line is just a guide helping musicians when they are recording. So we recorded the guide, then Seif (the drummer) laid down the drum tracks for the album in three days, and that’s due to the difficulty of setting up the drums everyday. You know, musicians abroad do that much easier due to the facilities provided, like they can record today and resume after tomorrow or something, so microphones are fixed on particular distances, and each tool stand as it is, and we of course do not have all these facilities, and that's why we recorded each instrument right after the other. Hameed (the bassist) recorded after Seif, so we got the Bass and drum lines, then guitars then other instruments like; keyboards, violin and of course all that was done with the help of our friends.

 

What is your feeling about recording and releasing your album through an Egyptian record label? And why it wasn't a label outside Egypt?

Look! From what we see happening around we learned that production is a difficult procedure, so asking an international label to produce your heavy metal album is a huge problem, whether inside or outside Egypt (laughing), besides you need good communication and good unusual work to get noticed by a foreign producer, plus we are not playing mainstream type of music, we are playing old school metal and that makes it even harder to catch the attention of a producer, it’s easier for such bands as Metallica because they’re already a huge band but for him to produce an album for a starting band is a big risk, and by the way, the music scene in Egypt is like the music scene abroad, shallow songs and lyrics, short radio-friendly songs, we spoke with many many producers before, but their comments about our music was that it’s “long songs”, “old style” and they didn’t like the vocal style.

 

Because it's old school (laughing)

Yea, people are thinking from the commercial perspective only, like the producer for instance, his first and main concern is money, he doesn't care about music, nor support or dream, this is nonsense for him, only money, and that's why we cannot bring a producer, so we decided that we’re gonna produce ourselves.

 

Does that mean that you will afford all production expenses?

Exactly, beside the help from Wave music studio and store. And of course, from my friend A. El Wahsh,whose already playing with me in the Rai music band "Sahara", so Ahmed with his license as a distribution company will help promoting the album and to get it in music stores.

 

Okay! So Wave Studio was not afraid of publishing an Egyptian heavy metal album?

look! El Wahsh already knows us well and knows everything about Wyvern, and knows also that this band got many fans in Egypt, and he knows that the music is so clean, and without anything wrong (like religious matters) and we were prepared for anything he would ask for, for instance he asked for an Arabic translation of the lyrics so he can be sure that it has nothing inappropriate in its content, so he knows it's a clean album, have no relation with politics, religions or government...but the lyrics themes are so social and personal experiences for some members of Wyvern, as well he played with us in that album too, so he wasn't afraid at all.

 

Have you faced troubles with the authorities registering the album?

of course!

 

So you faced troubles, like saying what is this strange music and stuff! (Laughing)

There wasn’t that much problems with the authorities registering the album, they don’t even care about what’s the band name or the album name, they already wrote it in Arabic (فرقة وايفرن - البوم ذا كلونا) (laughing) they only cares about what they are adding to their official records, the hard part with getting approval from the official art authority for the album, so we gave them the album cover and the Arabic translation for the lyrics.

 

Did they remove any music riff or verse?

No they did not

 

So did they ask you what Heavy metal is talking about?

No! They do not have such knowledge to ask you such a question, they do not know what heavy metal is in the first place.

 

Yes, but they have the authority for the issue, like trying to investigate these devil worship spells?

And that's why they asked for the lyrics in Arabic, and they found nothing, but they were very curious - of course - about this music, as the distortion was so strange for them, and they were very curious too about recording a live drum line, because such thing is very strange in Egypt due to the popular use of drum machine or programming, and of course this is one of the problems that we have faced through the record process because most of the sound engineers here do not know how to record a live drum line.

 

mmm, and how many sound engineer did you try for that issue?

Four! Till we got Essam El Saharty, because he is so professional and knows well how to make the proper output.

 

What are the lyrics themes that you focused on in "The Clown"?

Okay, let's take it one by one, for the first song "Dr. Butcher" it's against dealers of human organs and not in Egypt only but all over the world, everyday we hears about babies or people getting their organs cut out and left to die,like what happened in Bani Mazar or Iraq for dying people in order to heal other people in the States and we are trying to draw everybody’s attention that:


"Body parts are everywhere,
For those who pay the price".


And we want to deliver a message to stop what’s happening nowadays all over the world,(sad smile……..just a hope, I always think if my son got….. )

Sex for Sale, it's about the fake/sex art that you finds on TV in Egypt and abroad!

 

oh yea, I noticed there was a sample in that track for a Britney Spears verse, so aren’t you concerned if she listened to it or anyone from her crew? And why it wasn't an Egyptian or Arabian singer?

Let me tell you something, first, about why not an Arabian or Egyptian sample, That music sample had the suitable tempo and the suitable beat, also we are attacking the symbol of the international sex art, if we can call that art in the first place.

Marawan 1

What if it was the opposite?

mmm, how?!

 

What if they got the album trough any online source and they heard the song, and I think now is not the time for Wyvern to face such an issue

Well, you are right and that came to our minds, but we can consider it a risk. The track theme is clear and we are facing that and know exactly the procedures of these cases and how it goes.

 

Alright! Kingdom of Gold?

Kingdom of Gold, mainly is dedicated to Humanity in general, or any Egyptian, in particular, for anyone who is living now, we are saying "guys you ruined what our ancestors did" those glorious people who created great architecture and civilization, so we are saying for the people ruing this "You're hailing all the time about the great pharaohs and about the 7000 years old civilization but now you ruined all of that, they build the pyramids and wrote their history on it and we wrote "Mohamed Loves SOSO!" yeah, it’s that simple, and the chorus is stating:


"You've been cursed by your own deeds,
You've ruined it all to history"


So you are talking and hailing about how great the pharaohs were, but what did you accomplished?

Nothing! For example; what are you going to leave when you die? What will be left after you? those people - pharaohs - left civilization which lived for thousands of years, but you did nothing, and you're not doing anything, just spending your time on a coffee shop, Talking about each others, fighting with people, smoking Shisha, jobless, always busy in a fake projects and doing nothing to make it happen and another thing I want to highlight is:


"Accusing your master for your misery"


Every person after graduating from college asks the government to feed him and to find him a job, this is nonsense, if we keep on searching we will find a job eventually, but people are saying "there's no job opportunities, the government is not helping, the country is poor" no, you have to seek what you really need and do not accuse your master whether it’s government, parents or any authority for your misery.

 

Okay, about Fallen Idol, it happened to someone from the band who used to look up for someone as an idol, and always have been trying to make everything just the way that “idol” makes and used to respect him so much, and was trying to copy him in everything, music or whatever

 

Yea, and that's clear in;

 

"Perfect by nature
No chance to sin or falter
High on a mountain you
Look down to all your followers"

 

Exactly, he thought he was perfect, respectful and an ideal and a great person, but then he found out that he is nothing! And he just wants to break that idol statue.


"Your mask is down
And you’ll never be
The idol that would save me"


I Really like this story so much and it happened to me too

Let me tell you something, when we are adding a personal experience to our music, it would have happened for someone from the band or someone we know, or happens in general, it didn’t exactly happened to a member of Wyvern, that's our goal, and that’s what we feel, so when someone listen to our album maybe he/she may say; "Oh yea, that situation happened to me too"

And as for Clearly Invisible it also happened to someone from Wyvern (laughing)

It's a about someone who loves a girl and she is not noticing him at all, she don’t love him, so he is like dying for her love and you can hear Adham (the vocalist) at the end of the song screaming "can you hear me, can you feel me, can you see me"

And for Inner Warefare, it's the album conclusion, and by the way, the order of the tracks is meant to be that way, well, it's talking about the good and the bad side in every human being. Of course each one of us has something good and something bad, also each one us possess a good and an evil side so this song is talking about these two sides inside of you and the fight between these sides inside you!

 

Wyvern had a good fan base in Egypt since 2003, why did you release your album in 2009?

Look! when we met, each member was playing in other projects like me and Hameed, we were in Illusions and for Seif and Sherif, they were playing in Wheels of Fire, and each band had its own problems, so we were thinking about having a band without any kind problems with band members who loves each other so much, good friends, the same way of thinking, we are -kind of - listening to the same stuff, we can say I'm listening heavier stuff, Hameed prefers Jazz, Seif likes Rock, and Sherif likes Jazz, but we’re all in love with Old School Heavy Metal, so we agreed on playing our favorite tracks for Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Sepultura and others and Insha' Allah will make an album when we have our own shape, the band shape is very important, and you've to get known with your own sound, so we started by playing covers, and for sure Ahmad Gamal, Ekramy these guys I'm thankful for them, because they really helped us spreading our music, so we played many times, got known, and people knew we had the ability to play and knew that we’re different from other bands, and by time Wyvern had its own sound, when you're playing for example to a Metallica cover, you are playing with your own style, and that appeared in our songs, and by time as well, we understood that sound, and that's why you are taking time understanding your sounds, and understanding the band, at the same time, you have thoughts and got experience, it's not about waiting till you have the experience or to get the ability to play more technically. The idea of this period of time is to study and understand each others (as band members), like solos, Sherif has his soloing style and I have mine, so if we had recorded an album earlier before getting to understand all of that, it wouldn’t have been with the same current image, and you have to have much time understanding your sound and style and people around you, at the same time you get some experience that can helps you writing lyrics and music as well. I think that 6 years is not that long, maybe people here in Egypt thinks it's too long but actually it's not, any band abroad wants to make a full-length album take the same period, the important thing is that you do not have to be in rush. Plus we got the vocalist after a long period, like four years or something, when we wrote two tracks (sex for sale and inner warfare) we started to feel that we need a front man, a vocalist for the band, and these two tracks became seven tracks in two years and we wrote other tracks but we did not release it yet, so we can say that the preparation for these seven songs got done within two years and half.


How many guests joined Wyvern in "The Clown"?

Through the recording of the album we had sound engineers like; Ramy Soliman, Mohamed Ads, Amr Yehia, and Essam El Saharty, and for musicians; Ahmed El Wahsh (keys) and for violin we had; Mohamed Medhat, Shady, Mohamed Abd El Ra'ouf, and Mohamed Refaat, and Ousso on acoustic guitar in Clearly Invisible, and for vocals; Amr Yehia, Hassan Roshdi (Adham's father) and Ahmed Ali on Tabla. This is the guest list of the album and we really appreciates the efforts of those people, and all that was for free, and of course Ahmed El Wahash helped me a lot with his studio as well as for Amr Yehia, so that album have got many musicians actually!


What is the concept behind the use of orchestra in the album?

Well, we felt that we need it in some riffs to add some orchestral touches like in Kingdom of Gold, we wanted to get that atmosphere of Egypt and the Pharaohs, and as you know guitars only will not be able to deliver that image so we needed another sound, and as I said before your album must be different from your live show. So in order to deliver that mood with an exact image you have to use other instruments, and those instruments helped a lot in some riffs, like in clearly invisible, it's a slow and soft song and that will be suitable with violins. We liked the existence of these instruments for a reason, which is to reach a specific sound like keys in Kingdom of Gold, so when you're hearing this pharaoh theme - of course, we do not know what instruments they used - you'll find the sounds used for that theme we needed.


Wyvern 67I noticed that most of the tracks on the album contain oriental solos such as; Kingdom of Gold and Dr. Butcher. So is that to show the Egyptian spirit through your work?

it's for a reason; because of the Egyptian spirit, as we are already Egyptians, and the music is wrote by Egyptian musicians. I see that when we are composing a song about our origins, and as you know many international bands wrote songs about Egypt, we are not saying that we are better, but that is what we are, these are our scales, this is our spirit, and we are playing it from our own culture. In general, we play it naturally because it’s what we are and that's our spirit. About the guitar solo in Clearly Invisible, it doesn’t have any relation with the Egyptian spirit but we felt that it's so suitable for the sadness that can be shown through our scales which expresses such a mood.

 

"No One Stands Between the Wyvern and Its Prey"!

(laughing) The purpose of that slogan is that no one can stand against us and stop us from achieving our dream like having a legal and official album - as an Egyptian heavy metal band - as well as giving it to stores without any fear, so we thank God no one stood against our goal and that’s because we had determination on achieving the goal, ahhhh, and by the way, we chose that name (Wyvern) because it's a myth bird which throws fire from his mouth, harming and wounding anyone gets in his way. So you cannot determine on doing something when you're weak.


How did you feel when Tony Iommi signed your album, and why did you do that?

I am very happy about that and happy because he knows that there's a band called "Wyvern"

 

How did that happen?

We have a friend who works for the BBC and he was making an interview with Tony Iommi and told him about Egypt and about Wyvern, so I was very happy but my dream is that he hear the album and that I get to know his comments, beside that, we have another friend whose a member in Dio's Fan Club who will try to make Ronnie James Dio listen to the album, and we are really dreaming to be the opening act for Dio, Black Sabbath or any other legends like those bands.

 

Did you release your album outside Egypt?

No No! we did not even release it online, we're working on a deal for a digital distribution and we will see what’s gonna happen, and as for the coming period we will leave it for whoever gonna listen to it, so we are in the first level now, which is to make people hear first and see how it goes!

 

What about Wyvern's future plans?!

Well, we had the release party and SOS and we will play at El Sakia (June 25th, 2009) and Bibliotheca Alexandrina (July 2nd, 2009) and two other events before Ramadan, and from the first day of Ramadan we will close the album release concerts page, and then you'll be able to find it through music stores, while we’re performing live it’s not necessary that we will play all the album tracks. Then we will start working on the second album because we already have some tracks which we did not perform live yet, tracks like; the end, Public enemy, queen of the garden and more.

 

Any idea about the release date of the second album ?

Actually no! we will take it step by step, and will try other themes because we are aiming for a new way this time, so the next album will not be like the current one, we are currently playing Heavy/thrash metal, but maybe we will get to another style, maybe heavier and different, we are going to try that and see people's feedback, once we have a good amount of tracks we will release it, and finally we (of course) have learned a lot from our previous mistakes and will try to avoid it this time isA...

 

We are really thankful for this precious interview, Marawan.

Thank you so much Monk and Ehab, please never stop what you do its great and always say “no body stands between Rock Era and music fans all over the world” (strong laugh).

 

Interviewed by: Ehab and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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