Hazem Mahani has been known for being a part of one of the most influential Egyptian heavy metal groups, AnoxiA, but also if you ask most the Egyptian rock and metal fans about “I Wanna Rock” online show they will assure either they have listened to the brilliant episode with one of the iconic metal singers, Max Cavalera. We were curious to ask about such experience, among many other issues. Let’s find out!
Let’s start with the origins! Tell me more about your passion for music and how did it all start?
Well this goes all the way back to the 90’s; and to be honest, I’ve been through a lot of phases, started with pop as most of our generation, then started listening to rap but when my ears first heard metal -with friends’recommendations- that was a game-changer for me and a gateway to a whole new world. Rock and Metal was a refugee where you find friends going through the same tough times you’re going through not just singers singing some random lyrics. But I’ve always been fascinated with music no matter which genre I was listening to, never took it casually it was always a major aspect in my life if you know what I mean.
“Anoxia” was one of the most effective Egyptian acts for almost 5 years, how did you guys gather up? And where are you now?
First of all, thanks for your words. For me it started when they needed to replace their vocalist, me and Amr El Gendy (lead guitar) were friends already so he tricked me into auditioning by inviting me to one of their jams and faking that their vocalist didn’t make it so I filled in just for the heck of it and then they called and asked me to join them. A week later we played our first gig in 2006 in Alexandria. As for now, 13 years later we are scattered between Canada, Dubai and Egypt so, we’re basically living on the blasts of those awesome days.
And how about “MASH” have you released any originals?
No, we didn’t, the concept of MASH was playing covers that we grew up listening to and that was totally different from what we were playing with our original bands. It was mainly about having fun playing tunes we enjoy and going crazy and playing whatever we want and it was totally worth it.
So in both bands, you were the leading vocalist only, or you participated in the songwriting process as well?
To be honest, I was mainly focusing on my vocal lines and giving a hell of a show. I thought of myself as an entertainer more than a musician. Most of the songwriting process for Anoxia was made by our riff machinistYoussef Aly, the dude was fascinating.
Music Inc. Charity Festival was so impressive for the Egyptian music scene. Tell me more about the idea and are you considering organizing something soon?
The main idea behind Music Inc. was creating an event that can gather a wide variety of genres making it enjoyable and appealing to a wide range of audience. The festival’s revenue was all direct to charity work, for example, VOL.1 was directed to Ayady Al Mostakbal cancer institute in Alexandria. The core idea is that we play the music that we love and people come and have a good time while making something that really matters to the society and that’s what art is all about from my point of view. As for organizing something soon, we are always talking about making VOL.4 but yet there’s nothing planned.
It’s been 5 years now for “I Wanna Rock” tell me more about it, and why a podcast?
I’ve always been that friend that keeps on telling people to check this band or this record, flooding my friends’ inboxes with cool songs that I just discovered so I thought I might do this on a bigger scale while giving people the opportunity to shut me up whenever they like. Choosing a podcast came from my fascination with making playlists, talking about music for hours nonstop and sharing cool spirit behind the scenes so I thought I would do something more useful with that.
I feel that you’re sticking to the audio vision. Have you considered making the show visually?
So far the audio format is what feels more suitable to what I have in mind. Going video is on my plan but it will be a little bit different regarding the script and the whole structure and what I have in mind will expand into a wider range of music genres and not only Rock& Metal. It’ll take some effort but, I guess that’ll come sooner than you expect.
You’ve been featured for two years at Radio Tram, was it promoting for I Wanna Rock, or it was a different experience?
It helped I Wanna Rock get more exposure; Radio Tram was very popular especially in Alexandria and it helped the show reach a wide range of tastes. It was a good opportunity and they were super helpful.
The whole Egyptian music scene was impressed with your exclusive interview with the iconic Metal Musician, Max Cavalera, how did you contact him; I believe you have a lot to say about such experience…
Don’t get your hopes too high; it wasn’t that hard, to be honest, haha! I’ve always been a big fan of Max’s music and I consider him as one of my idols. I was following his wife and manager Gloria Cavalera for a long time and one day I thought what the worse that could happen if I dropped her a message asking to interview Max?. I did that and she replied that Max can definitely do the interview and that she’s excited about it and it’ll be his first time addressing his fans in the Middle East. Can you imagine how happy I was! They are super humble and down to earth, we set a date and did the interview over Skype with zero obstacles. Max even asked me to send him some Egyptian bands’ material via Gloria and I did and expressed a huge interest in coming and playing here in Egypt one day. That was one of the best days of my life that I’ll keep on telling everyone about it till the day I die.
For me, Metal Preacher became one of my main and favourite sources in the Middle Eastern music scene. But I noticed that it has not been active lately as it was before. Is it because of your main focus on I Wanna Rock now?
For me Metal Preacher is something that I want to do super professionally and grow to a big scale, so is I Wanna Rock and to tell you a secret, I’m an easily distracted person. I had to put it on hold so I don’t overwhelm myself till I can get I Wanna Rock going then, I will be rebooting Metal Preacher as well ..very soon.
You team up with podu.me since the beginning of the new season? Tell me more about your collaboration with these guys.
I must say I was lucky that I found Podu. I was always trying to bring the podcast back but I lacked the motivation so when I found a whole platform dedicated to Arabic podcasters, that brought back the heat man. I contacted them and luckily, IWR was the first music podcast on the platform and of course the first rock podcast. The platform is growing very fast with constant updates on the website and application making it easier for users and for podcasters to grow and enhance the content. They provide a well-equipped studio so that was a huge step forward for someone who used to record with an iPad’s microphone in his bedroom.
Finally, tell me something exclusive for Rock Era 😀
Regarding “I Wanna Rock” there will be a number of co-hosted episodes and interviews in the upcoming months to spice things up a little and on February we will be having- surprise surprise- a valentine’s special episode ..our special way. As for Metal Preacher expect it to be back within the next two months ‘’fingers crossed’’
Thank you for your time bro!
It is always a pleasure chatting with you guys!
Edited by: Amgad Mahmoud.