LAZYWALL – interview
Lazywall – Moroccan rock trio performing an oriental rock/metal hybrid, a tagine of traditional Arabic time signatures and instruments and powerful altrock. Addressing modern topics like climate changes, various injustices, corruption, the band does so in Arabic and thus can be accessible to an audience where maybe some of the other languages do not reach
Even if the band was originally formed in UK, they have eventually moved back to Morocco but not after getting influenced by acts like Led Zeppelin, Audioslave and System Of A Down, as well as Bob Dylan and Van Morrison. Below you have an interview in which the band tells more about their music, compositions and plans for the future
Introduce your band, and describe your latest release:
Lazywall is an oriental Rock/Metal hybrid band from Morocco. We sing in an Arabic dialect called Darija. The band consist of three brothers, a hybrid version of a classic rock trio but instead of guitar/bass and drums, we use custom-made instruments. Our guitarist uses the Guitaroud. Which is a double neck guitar, one neck guitar and one neck Oud (Arabic luth). Our bassist created the Bassentir, a bass with 2 bass strings and 3 Guembri (African bass) strings. Our drummer replaced one of his toms with a Darbuka and the floor tom with a Tbal (Moroccan drum).
We have just released our latest single, “Dem 3la Dem” this august.
What’s the hardest part about being a band in this day and age?
In these days of excess of information, it’s very hard for a band to stand out from the millions of bands around the world. With Internet breaking all the borders, anyone can have access to any band from the opposite side of the planet. That makes any new band harder to discover or to keep track of. So, the time that it usually takes for a band to “make it” is now much longer. Bands need to survive long enough until they get the attention of the Music Industry. Most of the bands break up before they reach that period of time, because they cannot afford to wait that long. Even worse if there is a pandemic in between.
When did you realise that your project had the potential to be much more than just a fun idea?
Since day one, we believed we had the potential to become successful. That excess of self-confidence during the times when we were really bad gave us the motivation to work harder and become the band we are today. At some point we realized we started writing songs that people liked more and more. Our fanbase grew exponentially with the quality of our songwriting progress. But we took this passion very seriously since the first steps. And we got lucky to have people believing in us very early. Before Lazywall was formed, we had a previous band with the same members but based in Spain. We got signed to a major Management agency and released an album that was distributed by Warner Spain. We also did an appearance on a major TV show in Spain and toured the country. So, when we decided to move to the UK in 2003 and form this band, we were already serious enough about it to make it our main priority in life.
Tell us about your latest release, why should we check it out?
“Dem 3la Dem” is a mix of Arabic sounds with occidental guitar riffs. It’s a constant battle between the two worlds. A simple Q&A of guitar versus Oud, bass VS Guembri and Darbuka VS Drums. All this, sung in Arabic. Rock and Metal is not very popular in the Arab world. And mixing it with oriental instruments and singing it in Arabic is even more rare. We consider this song our presentation card to the Occident. This song defines us 100%. This is what makes us different from any band you have heard before. We know this is not a guarantee that you will like it, but it will spark curiosity inside you.
How does a song typically come together for you?
I guess like any songwriter, there are million ways to write a song. Plus, we are three songwriters. But most of the times, we will compose the music first and then add the lyrics to it. It can start with a guitar riff, a dreamt chorus melody or even sometimes a combination of an ideas from us three. Sometimes, we write a song in 5 minutes, some others have taken us months to complete. We have always composed in English and then translated to Arabic, as it usually easier to write in English. But lately we have started to use Arabic directly in our songwriting and it’s becoming easier now.
How would you describe your sound to an unfamiliar reader?
Our bio defines us as a tagine of traditional Arabic time signatures and instruments and powerful Alt Rock. We play our riffs with every instrument on stage. As a three piece, we must find power in what we have. So, our guitar, bass, drums, distorted Oud or Guembri combined together express that power. We also use vocal harmonies a lot, it has always been a trademark in our sound since we started music. We are not a fusion band even though we use traditional instruments. We are 100% Rock band with a touch of Metal. We sing in Arabic because it’s more emotional for us. It gives more authenticity to our thoughts.
What do you want listeners to take away from listening to your band?
That Rock can be sung in different languages. That “different” sometimes is good. That a distorted Oud can be as effective as a guitar. That three-piece can be powerful. For years we were the typical “British” rock band that sound like million others. And we realized we didn’t bring anything new to music, and that even if we write the best songs, it may not be enough to connect with the fans. They want us to be honest, and to be ourselves. That’s what we are doing, even if this gives us a sound that listeners have never heard before. And if they give us a chance, our songs might even stick in their heads.
Where would you really like to tour that you haven’t done so yet, and why?
We would love to tour in the Middle East. There is a growing rock scene in many Arab countries like Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Emirates or Tunisia. More and more big European bands are coming to these countries. Fans are really hungry for Rock. Africa in general have seen many new rock or metal bands and the scene is growing fast. This continent could become an amazing circuit for all the bands around the world. It may take some time to happen but it will someday for sure. And we want to be part of it.
How would you say that the sound of your band has progressed over the years?
In 2008, we left England as a typical Anglo-Saxon rock band and moved back to Morocco. We started recording our first album. At that time, we were listening a lot to the 1994 live concert of Jimmy Page and Robert Plant “No Quarter”. The 70s band mixed the London orchestra with the Moroccan and Egyptian orchestras for the song Kashmir and we were blown away with the result. We decided to experiment with local instruments. We noticed that the sound of Oud tuning was very similar to our Drop D tunings when we play heavier riffs. We loved it so much that we tried other traditional instruments. That was the new sound of the band up to Covid years. During the lockdown, we started listening to electro stuff and tried them in our album Zoochosis released in 2021. The last addition to our sound was the language. We translated our best songs to Arabic in 2022 and started recording them this year.
How excited are you for 2024, and what can fans expect from you?
Since we started singing in Arabic in 2022, it has been like a new beginning for the band. We are planning to release a few songs in the upcoming months, following the first 3 singles. The idea is to start touring in Europe in early 2024. We want to show our Arabic rock to audiences globally. Following our a showcase at Brighton’s Great Escape, we signed with UK Management The Animal Farm that will help us build our audience.