Hey Guys, first of all, congratulations on your album 'A Thousand Echoes'. As you are a new emerging band would you be so kind who you are and where you all come from?
Hi there Henk! Thank you for this interview. Yes, we're quite a mixed group. The members are:
Youmni (vocals) – Syria
Ashish (Guitars) – India
Alaa (Guitars) – Syria
Puneet (Bass) – India
Aram (Drums) – Armenian (who grew up in Syria)
How are the reactions from the press so far on the album?
So far it's been really good. Of course, the press dedicated to rock and metal in the Middle East is rather limited, and we are now getting greater exposure thanks to Pure Steel Records. But yes, so far we've got fantastic responses from the press, and from the audiences we've played to.
Is it correct that the album was already released last year but that only now the release is in Europe and the rest of the world?
That's right. We released it last year in the Middle East region and were working on finding the right partners to distribute it outside that region. We got a few offers, but we were picky. The process took a little longer than we anticipated. We are now planning to release the album in Europe and the rest of the world on April 20th and we're very excited!
The album deals a lot with heavy issues about the war in Syria. Three of the members come from Syria also. We all see the terrible news on the daily news of course but how is it for you guys to see what is still going on there and do you think there will be a solution in the future for the problems that keep occurring in your country?
As you mentioned three of the members grew up in that country, so the pain and the stories we hear have a more personal impact. It is a terrible humanitarian crisis and it doesn't seem to end. There are no easy solutions to this issue and that country is going to take a generation or more to recover. We have the good fortune that our members left the country when the troubles began and were able to live and work in Dubai. That doesn't lessen the impact of losing friends and people you know to mindless violence. We use music as a means of expression, to capture the human stories from people who know the true cost of war.
As said a lot of songs deal with war. What other things brings inspiration to the lyrics?
Our songs are about what's really happening in this world, and it's straight from the heart. As I tell people, we are not singing about Vikings, dragons and the other stuff that seems to be the staple of some metal bands nowadays. Some of the other topics we cover include the rise of artificial intelligence machines ('Doomsday Machine'), and the effects of pollution and climate change ('At the End of the World')
I described your music as a mix between Megadeth and Dream Theater. Of course that is how I see it. What would you say are the main influences musically on Ascendant.
The only criteria for our musical ideas were it had to sound good, and whether it served the spirit of the song. So if you listen to the album you will hear hints of many, many different styles of music and genres. I think this sort of creativity happens naturally when you let five musicians collaborate in a constructive way. We are not trying to sound like anybody or be like any other band, though I think our influences inevitably shape us. We are happy being ourselves, and that's enough to achieve this unique sound. Each member has a wide variety of influences, so I'll just list out the common ones: Iron Maiden, Dream Theater, Primal Fear, Queen, Queensrÿche, Savatage and Pink Floyd.
I saw on your Facebook page that you opened for Europe. Any other big bands you already played with?
We have played with quite a few big bands which have toured this region. We were the backing band for Tim 'Ripper' Owens, and have opened for Nightmare, Lake of Tears, Circle II Circle, Xandria, Lacrimas Profundere and Salem.
Normally we in Europe don't think of a metal band coming from the middle eastern region. How is it to play metal in this part of the world and are there enough opportunities to play?
Yes, In Dubai and in the wider Middle East, we are pretty well established. While the metal scene as a whole is rather small, there is a devoted fan base. We owe a lot to them as well as the other bands in the metal scene. There is genuine comradery. When we initially started the band, we were just having fun and playing shows and then a lot of our fans pushed us to put our songs down in an album, so we did just that. In a lot of places in this region, one cannot play metal at all. We are fortunate that the UAE takes a more enlightened approach on this topic. As for opportunities there aren't many at all. It's always a struggle to find a stage.
Are there already any plans or offers to come to Europe to tour or play some festivals this year?
We are in the process of working on this. We would absolutely love to be able to do this.
I read in the bio that the album was mastered at Studio Fredman. Did that already happen with the version you released last year or was it newly remastered for the release on Pure Steel?
It was mastered for the version we released last year and they did a fantastic job on the production. We had no need to remaster it for release via Pure Steel.
If there is any song that you would say represents Ascendant the best, which one would that be so our readers can give it a listen?
That's a tough one and I say this only because no two songs on the album sound alike. However, if I had to narrow it down to one song for people to listen to I would ask them to check out 'Tears of His Majesty'.
Where did you shoot the video for 'Walls Between Us' and who directed that one?
That video was shot in the abandoned village of "Al Jazirat Al Hamra", called the Ghost town of the UAE. It was at the peak of summer so we had to go there at 3 AM and set up everything because filming there after 10 AM would've given us all a sunstroke! It was directed by our friend Mood Abdoh.
Also you have a famous guest on your album. How did you came into contact with Lindsay?
We had a few ideas for guest roles on the album but we decided to have a female singer on 'Morning Light' because the song is a conversation between a father and mother about their son who's dead. Lindsay was a wonderful fit and her voice captures the spirit of the song perfectly. We got in touch with her and explained what the song was about and she was in! She's awesome!
Thank you for taking the time for this interview. I hope to see you see you live somewhere in the near future. Is there anything left to mention that I did not ask? Here is your chance!
Thank you very much for this interview, again. I hope we get to play our music to wider audiences because this album has something truly unique and genuine. These are human stories. Peace.