To start off this interview could you please introduce the band to our readers as I think that most of them won't know anything about you guys. So how did you start out and so on?
I founded Kimaera a decade ago, back in 2000. Our music has evolved throughout the years into a combination of the darker genres of metal. It is quite atmospheric, diffusing doom/death Metal, with gothic undertones, resounding through melodic interludes of violins, pianos and occasional female vocals. We released 'God's Wrath', a self-produced single, in March of 2004, followed by our debut album 'Ebony Veiled', in April 2006, under Stygian Crypt productions, which was labeled as 'the doom metal discovery of this year', and 'Solitary Impact' in July 2010, which included our first official music video of the track 'The Taste Of Treason', through the same label. Kimaera is one of the first and few bands originating from the Arab world to have international status. We had our first European appearance in Masters Of Rock 2010, in Czech Rep. back in July, which was headlined by Manowar, and other bands like Epica, Tarja, Behemoth, Lordi, Destruction and many others.
You just released your second full-length through Stygian Crypt. How on earth does a band from Lebanon end up on a Russian label?
That tells you a lot, doesn't it? Actually the single we released back in 2004, 'God's Wrath' and its excellent reviews, got the interest of the label, and we signed the release of the first album 'Ebony Veiled' in 2006, followed by 'Solitary Impact' few months ago.
You recorded the album all by yourselves in your home studio. So I was wondering if this was done just because it's easy these days to record stuff yourself or aren't there any good studios in Lebanon?
Lately few good recording studios have emerged here in Lebanon, but we simply prefer to do it ourselves for many reasons, of course except the drums recording. As you mentioned, it is somehow easy. You can take all the time you need and experiment, and most of all, it is way cheaper than renting a studio, especially here, it costs a lot. We are not getting the best possible quality but I still think they are good enough for the first couple of releases, especially that the albums were mixed and mastered in Russia. And hopefully we will be able to get a better sound for the third album.
Your music reminds me of a now defunct Dutch band called Phlebotomized. So I was wondering what bands have influenced and inspired you? Here and there you also use some traditional Middle-Eastern music. Is it important to include your roots into your music?
Our influences are quite varied. Metallica and Judas Priest introduced me to metal music and made me fall in love with it. But the bands that really inspired us along the way and still do are My Dying Bride, Anathema, Opeth, Death, Moonspell and Behemoth, just to name a few. We did use some oriental and ethnic sounds in our music, but they weren't basically upfront. They always had more of a supportive role. They can be important as long as they fit in well, and used in a solid way, and aren't there just because they are related to our Lebanese roots, if you know what I mean.
You have some female vocals included as well but I couldn't find any info who did them so could you tell a bit more about that?
During the whole 'Ebony Veiled' era, Sabine Hamad was our original female vocalist. After her emigration to Australia, we didn't get a replacement for her, but we got a permanent violinist instead Milia Fares, and a guest vocalist Mona Bassil that appeared on 'Solitary Impact'.
I think the lyrics are written by people outside of the band. What can you tell about that? How does it work? Do you give the music where those people write the lyrics to?
The lyrics on 'Ebony Veiled' were written mainly by our ex female vocalist Sabine. However, after she left the band, the writing duty went to two talented close friends, because simply I didn't have time and was focusing on the music itself, besides managing the band. Basically, the lyrics were written separately before the music, based on themes and subjects of my own choosing and editing, and once I have something composed, I would try to combine both, and simply make them fit. But now things changed, I gave more time to writing and managed to personally finish up the writing of the third album.
The Lebanese metal scene isn't all that well-known. In fact I only know the Australian band Rituals of the Oak with singer Sabine Hamad who originates from Lebanon. I think she even was in the band in the past right? So what can you tell about the Lebanese scene?
Yes, as I mentioned earlier, Sabine used to be a member of Kimaera, and she is the one behind the angelic voice in 'Ebony Veiled'. Nonetheless, Lebanon has been hosting good festivals lately, we got Anathema, Hail!, To Die For, and many others, with some other local concerts. Besides, we do have a fair number of talented musicians and metal bands here in Lebanon.To know more about them you can check www.myspace.com/thelebaneserocksociety
We all know Lebanon has a turbulent past with a lot of war. Perhaps younger readers won't know too much about this but you grew up when there was a civil war going on. Does this have any reflection on your music or anything like that?
It is true that when someone mentions Lebanon, war is the first thing that comes to mind. And it is been like this since too many years already to be able to wipe this idea off, especially with the constant struggle against Israel. Even though Lebanon has much more than that, we have the best beer, food, beach resorts, nightlife, historical sites, and hot women. Our generation did grow up in very difficult circumstances, during a civil war and another war with the occupying Syrian army back then. It definitely affected our lives, but personally I don't see it affecting our music now, since it is mainly driven from personal experiences than anything else, but I'm sure it affected somehow other Lebanese bands and musicians.
How does Lebanese society look upon metal in general? Is it hard to play in a band and are there any possibilities to play live? Maybe things have changed over the years so please tell us something about the circumstances in your country
Things now are fine. We play live whenever we want. There's always metal gigs going on. Kimaera's albums are sold at local Virgin Megastores. We walk the streets wearing piercings, tattoos, long hair, metal shirts and in general, no one gives a damn anymore. I think people here live in a country that has enough shit to worry about than metal music. Of course, at some point few years back, they kept relating metal music to Satanism and all that, with the government oppressing metalheads and metal events, but they can't stay ignorant forever.
I read you recently played on a festival in the Czech Republic? Was this your first European show? So what are your thoughts on that show and have you got any plans to do some more shows in Europe (or anywhere else)?
Yes, Masters Of Rock was our first European Show, and it was one hell of a show. It was awesome sharing the stage with very big names in the metal world, meeting great musicians and experiencing being on stage in front of thousands and thousands of metalheads. We were quite happy with it and satisfied. I think it was a great success. We gained a lot of new fans, and it was great to know we had fans there already waiting to see us. So definitely it is not gonna stop there. We are planning to do more shows abroad, but dates and fests are yet to be confirmed… all in due time! So stay updated!
On the CD 'Solitary Impact' you have also included a video. Tell us a bit more about the recording and so on. Is it hard to record a video in your country? Do you get some airplay?
We wanted to add something extra to 'Solitary Impact', especially because four years passed since the release of the first album. And we've always wanted to do a music video, but we were short on cash and had no one to produce it, till we found a sponsor who believed in the band and wanted to do something of that kind. So it was the perfect timing. We got a young talented team who were into metal music, and we managed to shoot and produce the whole thing in two months time or so…! So we included 'The Taste Of Treason' as a bonus video on the CD! The video didn't get any airplay yet, I doubt it would here anyway, but maybe abroad. The video is online on YouTube anyway for everyone to see.
All right, I think I have covered everything. If not, please feel free to use some of our space to tell whatever you want, okay?
Just a thank you for your interest in Kimaera, hopefully you will be able to catch us somewhere in Europe next summer. Meanwhile for everyone who is not familiar with the band yet, make sure to check www.kimaera.info and www.myspace.com/kimaeraband. Cheers!