–by Stan Schinners AKA “DJ Zang”, Broken Neck Radio, Sooke, special to SPN
We hear in the news a lot about all the crazy rules with Islamic Laws. Saudi Arabia falls in that category. Risking their lives to play the music they love. I got the chance to ask these guys who experience it first hand.
Here is my chat with Al-Namrood a Black Metal band from Saudi Arabia.
1) Hey guys thanks for taking the time to chat with me. I know its very risky for you folks over there. Just so people understand clearly what exactly could you be charged with in Saudi Arabia for being a Metal Band?
Being a metal band (actively) is subject to many irrational judicial sentences; this is depending on how active and mainstream is the band. The risks range from arrest, serving years in jail, hundreds of lashes, ban from travel, up to public exaction if the band deem to be refusing Islam and Islamic regime and declared apostasy, and that all effort to Islamize the band members have failed. Basically, this applies not only in music but also on various activities, such as journalism, humanitarian activities, rights claims, internet information and other media involved activities. Saudi Arabia has very strict Islamic law, and censorship, information control and religion predominance is very strong.
2) If you were caught and charged what penalties could you be subjected to?
As mentioned in the above question, it ranges from arrest, serving years in jail, hundreds of lashes, ban from travel, up to public exaction if the band deem to be refusing Islam and Islamic regime and declared apostasy, and that all effort to Islamize the band members have failed
3) What is the underground scene like for Metal in Saudi Arabia?
As far as we are concerned, the local rock/metal bands have no problem with Islamic regime and they are already doing their music in line with religion, no religious borders crossed, in addition with all these measures they still do their music privately, in private expat compound, where they have some freedom do small gigs.
4) What were some of the early influences for the band?
We are inspired by black metal scene for music; however, the band concept is made based on the revolutionary views. Darkthrone, Marduk and other first and second wave black metal bands were the biggest contributors.
5) What are some of the current influences for the band?
Musically, we became more toward punk metal, such as the exploited, discharge and recently toxic holocaust. We find their themes very much applicable to our views and goals.
6) Briefly describe your writing process as it must differ from other bands considering the risk you take.
Well everything is done home based and we communicate either by meetings or by emails. Mephisto or Ostron write music, using music software such as guitar pro in order to share the notes of the song by the web. The other person add to the notes or make adjustment as needed, then we share it among us, if all agree, we start recording the song in our home based studio. After when all the songs are written we start the phase of writing the lyrics, we create a brainstorm to boost ideas and themes for the upcoming record, we try to align the they lyrics with music atmosphere, choosing a subject is no big process for us as our history is full of storytelling events that still affecting our lives in the current age.
Simply, the passion has driven us. For us we cannot leave the country so we had to create our life, regardless of anything, doing what we want is important, we realized the amount of risk after creating the band when we saw many bloggers and journalist go down just for expressing their opinion in social media, our rage became bigger and surviving was a challenge, we figured out we need alnamrood in our lives, we need that challenge to keep us appreciating life and extracting our emotion in our ways.
8) Dan Crocker has asked “How do they get gigs in Saudi or do they tour outside of their area?”
We never gig, nor outside the country, we are keeping our identity annoynous and we want to maintain that.
9) Sloan Voxx has asked “”Do you have any advice for new generations of metal in Saudi to be able to both practice, produce and perform their music safely?”
If you got the chance to do your music aboard then go for it, if you got no other choice but to put up with the oppression of your country, then think about getting our own private place, preferably away from the main cities, they are plenty of music resources online, but you got to know it is all self-effort there won’t anyone there to help, if your music is your passion you got to work to achieve it and most importantly keep everything extremely secretive, even from your closest family members, do not go around and tell your friends hey I got metal band/ project, your chance of success gets drastically lower, also your safety will be at risk. A secret it works the best like that.
10) Sarah Cylon asked “Why do you feel metal music is worth risking your freedom/safety to create?”
Metal is very strong music, it is heavy, it is loud, it is distorted and raged driven, it was the perfect atmosphere to express your anger against oppressive regimes and to scream out your thoughts, the harsh sound of low tuned electric guitar hits critical area of our brain, neurotransmitters sends signal from nowhere to nowhere, the heavy fast drumming releases dopamine like an addiction, many negatives feeling gets released and overall the music heavy enough to raise our attention. It is more like physiological and psychological process; it is very close to having an organism in very dark atmosphere. Now can we renounce that?
11) With the laws prohibiting the music and the band what is your practice schedule like?
We choose times that people usually are busy with social/religious events, most importantly away from our place so we have more peace of mind to do our work, especially the vocal, we do not meet in public places, we do not want anyone to overhear us. Our practice is done based on critrera of how the streets are clear, we have to seize whatever opportunity we face, even though we do it in our home, but we if the people around us got suspicious, they can call the religious police and in fact the religious police do not need a warrant to break into your home.
12) Is there any place in the world you would love to play live?
We love Europe as for what freedom it can offer, we wish someday we can reside in anywhere in that rich cultured and historical place.