Nervecell has fast become the face of extreme metal bands out of Dubai, UAE, with 2 full length releases under their belts. With this year’s Psychogenocide, the band has further proven their reputation as the leading band out of the country. We talk to the band to find out more about them, and their tour with bands like Morbid Angel and Necrophobic.
Rami: Thank you for having us! We are now 4 weeks onto the tour with legendary Morbid Angel and coming towards the end of it with a couple of more shows to go. We started the tour in the UK, and continued across Europe visiting many great cities. We’re having a blast every night on stage and off stage. The fans have been great so far and it’s been a real pleasure to be on tour with Morbid Angel.
The band is currently on a tour with death metal heavyweights such as Morbid Angel and Necrophobic. How does it feel touring with these legends? It must be a surreal experience hanging out backstage with bands like Morbid Angel, considering how big an influence they are on the band!
Barney: It is an absolute honor for us to be on this tour supporting Morbid Angel for an entire month of shows all over Europe. We totally have been influenced by them growing up learning to play our instruments. We’ve been very fortunate to get to share the stage with them night after night, its simply another great achievement we’ve landed ourselves, being committed to the music we write.
Nervecell this year released its second full length album entitled Psychogenocide. How has response been so far for the album from fans of the band?
Rami: The response has been great so far and we’re very happy with it. We are receiving lots of feedback from our fans who are very satisfied with the new album. Also many positive reviews from Worldwide publications, magazines etc. We’ve been supporting “Psychogenocide” since it came out in May 2011 – touring Asia, European festivals and now touring with Morbid Angel across Europe.
The band has incorporated ethnic influences in the album, on top of the crushing death metal that is presented on the album, such as on the opening track, Anemic Assurgency. How does the band go about writing the music and incorporate such elements in the music?
Rami: Honestly, we wanted to add some new elements to the album, and we though why not add the Arabic instrument “Oud” in the intro this track. We thought that it would sound amazing, especially with the eary/creepy feel to it matching the concept of the album. A good friend of mine named Ramy Aziziah performed the “Oud” on this track. We went back and forth with ideas and so on. It all really comes naturally as we are from the Middle East, and we wanted to make something new and refreshing, yet ethnic. So it turned out to be a great opener for the album.
In particular, one of the tracks on the album, Shunq, features Karl Sanders from Nile. How did this collaboration come about and what why pick Karl Sanders in particular as the guest musician?
Rami: We wanted to add Arabic language in this song specifically, and since James (our singer/bassist) planned to sing the Arabic parts, we thought of featuring another vocalist to sing the English parts. We thought of some names and Karl Sanders was one of them. So we contacted him and he was very excited about the idea, and it worked out great! He is a legendary musician and a great person to work with for sure. We also shot a video for the song which should be out soon.
On Shunq, the band also incorporated Arabic lyrics into the song. What was the reason behind doing so, and what is the significance and meaning behind the Arabic lyrics?
Rami: Our vocalist/bassist James had this idea in mind for some years and we thought it was the right time to do it in “Psychogenocide”. It’s pretty much the same reason for adding Arabic instruments in some songs… we wanted to have something new, something we’ve never done before, and of course using our tongue/mother language is something very challenging, as Arabic language is very difficult to incorporate with metal music, but we spent lots of time working on it and it turned out fantastic. The song talks about the defeat of humanity against the devil or evil in general.
For the recording of the album, the band recorded the various instruments in different studios. What was the reason behind this, and what is it like recording the album in different countries?
Rami: We started recording the drums in Australia with David Haley (Psycroptic) since he was based there, since it was very convenient to do it there. Once we finished with the drums, we started tracking the guitars in Dubai. Towards the end of the recording process we had record at my own place in another country which is Qatar…so we did some final guitar work, vocals and bass over there. We also recorded the other instruments such as “Oud”, Arabic percussion in Qatar. It wasn’t that difficult for us, because since I’m handling the engineering/production, and we had the freedom to do what we wanted. The mixing and mastering was done at Hertz studio in Poland since we worked with them on our previous album “Preaching Venom”, we decided to work with them again.
The mixing and mastering of the album was done in yet another country, in Hertz studio in Poland. What was it that made the band decide to approach them regarding mixing and mastering?
Barney: We’ve always been fans of the albums that Hertz Studios have worked on for years with bands like Vader, Behemoth, Decapitated etc.. Back in 2008 when we first worked with Hertz Studio on our first full length “Preaching Venom” we had just mixed the album there and it sounded great. This time however with “Psychogenocide” we decided we’d like to have them handle both the mixing and mastering duties for the album while we focus on just the tracking of the guitars, bass and vocals ourselves. That way we took our time with the recording process and made sure we give them the best results before we handed the faith of the album into their hands. Everyone who’s heard “Psychogenocide” has agreed that we choose wisely…It’s a fantastic sounding record that we are well proud of!
The band’s lyrical themes also revolve around death, violence and humanity. Are there any particular binding concepts or themes behind Psychogenocide?
Barney: “Psychogenocide” is a term we created that best describes the message we as a band are trying to put out there, its high time we the people open our eyes to the corrupt individuals that we see published by the media as hero’s or leaders. We are in a state where a war can kick off overnight and since we come from a region where chaos has long existed we try and use our music as a weapon against those cowards who hide behind curtains. The concept behind “Psychogenocide” speaks of the innocent being misled and brainwashed by their own kind…a mental war fare that we want to see stopped.
With the band members being at different parts of the world, how does the band manage to communicate with each other and rehearse, especially for gigs?
Barney: Whenever we have a tour or gigs lined up we usually all get together in Dubai (where James and I actually live in), Rami and our drummer fly’s down prior to the rehearsals. Normally we rehearse for 2 to 3 days before we head out to play. Its not easy nor or simple but it hasn’t stopped us from being a band and touring either.
The band is currently the leading metal band out of Dubai, with Nervecell being the name that is mentioned when talking about Dubai extreme metal. How has the band managed to handle the touring lifestyle, and what are some of the advice that you can give to new and upcoming bands?
Barney: A lot of bands play for fun and to enjoy simply just getting together and jamming. If you are really serious and want to make it in this cut-throat industry today then you will really have to do anything and everything it takes to get your music played and heard. Play anywhere and everywhere and never develop an ego even if you think you deserve better at times. Networking is a great way of promoting your band name, its really easy to do today with all the social networking sites available, however before all of that more importantly take your time and put out an album first, take your time when writing music and be as critical of yourself at all times rather than have a random journalist judge you and eventually end up de motivating you in the end. “It’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock and roll” but impossible is nothing my friends! As far as the touring lifestyle goes, its everything we ever wanted to do in this band. You have to just learn to live with some real shitty conditions at times, what makes it all worth it though is the simple fact of getting on stage that night and sharing your music with fans who love it just as much as you do. There really is no comparison to explain how wonderful that feels!
Also, what are some of the bands from Dubai that fans of extreme metal should look out for? What is the metal scene like over there?
Rami: Honestly, the metal scene in Dubai is developing. It’s considered to be a good scene compared to others in the Middle East with a handful of bands to look out for. We grew up playing many underground gigs in Dubai, mostly in universities, colleges and places like that. We didn’t really have specialized metal clubs or pubs at that time but in the past couple of years there have been lots of clubs in Dubai that holds metal shows, which is great! With the help of Desert Rock Festival in Dubai, responsible for bands coming to Dubai and Middle East for the first time, to name a few – Megadeth, Iron Maiden, Machine Head, Motorhead etc. and that definitely helped develop the scene and bring more fans onto this music.
When the current tour wraps up for Nervecell, what are the near future plans of the band? Can fans expect to hear any new material soon?
Barney: Well apart from touring as much as possible during the first half of next year we will eventually end up writing new material through out the course of next year for sure in between the gigs we take up. There are already a few ideas being thrown around here and there between Rami and myself, so as far as sitting down and focusing on song arrangements goes that will probably happened more towards the end of the year…so stay tuned for a 2013 new Nervecell release indeed!
We have come to the end of the interview, the last words are all yours!
Rami: Thank you very much for the support. Hope the readers enjoyed reading this interview. Keep supporting metal!
Thank you once again for giving us this opportunity to talk to you! We wish the band all the best in the current tour and all upcoming endeavours.
Barney: Cheers m/