Dubai Rock Festival 2013 was the highlight of all the events that happened that year, covering interesting bands and musicians. Opening for the headliners was a young, talented piece-of-five band from Dubai; Anuryzm.
John Bakhos – the guitarist – first formed the band in Lebanon in 2003, then later relocated to the U.A.E. to meet a bunch of young musicians from all over the Middle East in hopes of restarting the band. Backstage, I had a little chit-chat with John and Nadeem Bibby the vocalist – Imad Dahleh the drummer joins in mid-interview. Read all about it:
So, you guys have been sharing the stage with some great musicians lately. How does that feel?
Nadeem: It feels good! We’re happy to play here and open for them. We’re genuinely happy to play anywhere when there’s a good opportunity for us; we have lots of support around here and we’d love to play in Egypt, Jordan, and in all other beautiful countries to the amazing people who reach out for us and support us.
John: We get asked this question a lot! We are obviously very thankful to be getting those opportunities to showcase our music to a wide range of audience. That is basically a testament to the fact that our music speaks for itself and that all the hard work we’ve been putting in is finally paying off. In reality, I share the stage with my 5 other band mates, and being able to play with them and share our music with listeners is in itself a gratifying experience, no doubt.
Tell us about the name, Anuryzm. What does it mean?
Nadeem: I think when John started this music career, he started with a new style; a new rhythm of metal and rock. Because previously he played a heavier kind of music and it evolved into more of a progressive sound. So, a new rhythm was born.
John: Do you want the funny story? Back in college, there was a friend of ours who was a comedian. He was like “You know what? You have a new sound, no one heard of it yet in Lebanon. Why don’t you guys call yourself A New Rhythm?” I thought it sounded cool and had a bit of an edge to it. But then his comedic side came out and said “Can you imagine touring in the Arab states, how they would pronounce the name? And they ask you about the name, what would they call it? A-NOO-REZM!” And that’s how it came out. So we put the letters together, you wouldn’t find it in the dictionary.
And no, we did not take it from Nirvana!
Tell us about the lyrical theme, who’s the lyricist?
Nadeem: I write most of the lyrics. John helps with some content and direction. Our lyrical themes tend to change a lot; Politics is a huge factor, although we aren’t a political band by any means! I like sci-fi, anime, and martial arts, so I bring a lot of those feelings to the band. We make sure we bring something fresh with every song. We don’t have one theme and it’s not about destruction, it’s about positivity – I think.
Want to tell us more about your first album “Worm’s Eye View”?
Imad: It was released in the end of 2011 and was re-mastered in 2012. It’s very political vs. religious. It’s about how the whole the Middle East is viewed politically.
Give us more insight into your second album.
John: Well, we’re a little more than halfway through the recording process. Lately, we’ve been piecing the final takes together and are starting to get very excited about this record. The music is very precise and soulful at the same time; I think people will really enjoy the journey we’ve created with every passing song. It definitely feels like it is the next evolutionary step for us with a lot dark themes centered on sci-fi, cultural mythology, and earthly subjects.
Tell us about the recording process.
John: Generally, what happens is; I start writing some material in my little corner. I do pretty much everything; obviously the guitar work, since I’m the guitarist. I might add – if I feel like it – some keys or synth to it. Then I’ll just add some basic drumbeats, but that’s only the demo stage of what we do. And when that happens, I show it to the guys and mostly to Nadeem; he’s a very integral part to my composition. If it doesn’t fly with him, it just doesn’t fly!
I write differently than other people. I write very technical and challenging stuff where I’m constantly putting them on the spot and asking them to do their best to show me what they have and what they can do with this riff. And it’s a challenge! It’s our signature.
In our last meeting, you told me you are having special guests in your 2nd album. How’s that going for you?
John: It’s going great. We’ll be announcing who they are eventually – they are very big names! But as of now, we just want to get more headway on the recording process before getting into the credits. I think we’ll be doing the announcements within a month or so.
Does touring get in the way of recording? If so, how do you manage?
John: For us, it does not, at least maybe not yet. We do our best to prioritize what we can and can’t do. Luckily, we’ve been able to split the life cycle of the album into parts and work according to a set plan. We’ve done a great deal with our first record cycle, and now it looks like we’ll be taking it to the next level with this record.
Where do you want to tour next?
Imad: I would love to tour around the Middle East and then head to Asia! We do have a big fan base in Asia.
You guys started way back in 2003. How do you think you developed in those 10 years?
John: When we started out, we were a cover band in college. We had no intention of taking this route. We started covering for rock bands; such as Creed.
Nadeem: and Nickelback!
John: We only played in small clubs; we needed money for the weekends. But then when we were in the jam room someone would write something. “Check this out”- “Ah that sounds cool, let’s try to add a riff to it” And by time, we had 5 or 6 songs up our sleeves; next thing we know we have enough material for an EP.
Unfortunately I had to leave the country. But I kept writing, however my writing changed. I didn’t look at Nickelback or Creed anymore and I put my whole energy in guitar oriented music! So, everything in the first record is centered around the guitar.
After relocating to a couple of countries, I finally landed here, met with Nadeem who was with me in high school, and we had a band back then by the way, playing Thrash music, a lot of Testament, and Megadeth.
Can we say that you are more influenced by Thrash Metal bands?
John: We’re influenced more by the early 90’s metal music.
Imad: For me; I’m a big progressive fan. I’m more influenced by Opeth, Katatonia, and Symphony X.
What are you plans for 2014?
John: Well obviously we’ll be releasing our next record. We’ll also be doing a lot of promotional support for it. So anything from video clips, to performances, both locally and abroad, to print promos, interviews, giveaways and new merchandise, etc. We’ll be making those announcements as we go along, all in due time.
Who do you wish to play an opening gig for?
John: Honestly, I don’t have a preference. I mean, everyone we open with we learn from, and are happy to share stage with; as well as sharing stories and experiences. It could be an obscure band, it doesn’t matter.
Imad: Well, I personally would love to open for Symphony X for example, those are my favorites!
Nadeem: Every time we play with a band, it’s really different, especially in festivals. Like, we never played with a band with a progressive sound. So it’s always exciting to learn about different bands, their styles and what they are really into. But on a personal level, I would love to play with Iron Maiden!
How do you think the metal scene changed in the ME?
John: I don’t know much about that to tell you the truth. I can only gauge what it might look like based on the releases I’ve heard. And so far, it sounds like the few bands that I consider serious have improved on the quality of their music, whilst the rest really have no added value. And I know for a fact that most of those serious bands are looking to push their music in Europe and Asia, now couple that with the politics, wars, and the few venues to play at, one has to wonder whether a scene even exists at all in this region.
Do you have a word for the young musicians who have just started?
If you’re serious about being a musician, seriously re-consider it! *laughs*
There are no shortcuts in this industry. If you find one, then it will definitely be short-lived, so aim for longevity. If you can’t manage that, then music is probably not for you. Try to not be musical racists; every genre has its luster. Listening to music is just one side of the coin. Try and listen to the musicians that make the music as well. Hear them talk about their lives, accomplishments, and what they had to undergo to succeed or fail. You’ll find you can learn a lot from a short 5 minute interview on Youtube. And finally, try to practice and learn something new every day.