As soon as we heard about the new Nervecell album, “Past, Present…Torture”, that is scheduled to be released on August 25 this year, we jumped into the opportunity to have an interview with the Middle Eastern metal Legends.
Nervecell is a multi-award winning band formed in the year 2000 in the United Arab Emirates. With several endorsements, many media features and performances in the biggest festivals in the world like Wacken Open Air, Rock Am Ring, opening for Metallica and Morbid Angel, and many more, Nerevcell has definitely made a huge impact on the Middle Eastern Metal scene. Being called by Metal Hammer one of the “50 Heroes Of The New Metal Revolution” sure makes them deserve to be called nothing less than legends. Check out below our interview with Barney Ribeiro, guitarist of the band.
What is the inspiration behind the album’s title “Past, Present…Torture”?
What inspires us is really what’s around us, the state of the world in which we live in today and where we see ourselves ultimately ending up as a civilization. We never really had an album title up until when we entered the studio in Dubai last year to record it. The title was something I came up with initially for a song I had written on the record, which eventually ended up becoming the album title.
What kind of ‘sound’, production wise, did you have in the back of your minds prior to entering the studio?
This is our 4th release and 3rd full length, so we pretty much know what we want “sound wise” going into recording an album at this point into our career. I mean we’ve spent the last 4 years putting this record together. Demoing out the tunes to each other and the most of last year just in pre-production itself. So we had a very good idea of what we wanted to achieve on this record and how we’d like it to sound. We’ve learnt from our last album “Psychogenocide” (which we also recorded ourselves) that we wanted to take our time and put this record out when it felt right. We wanted to step it up a little in terms of speed, technicality and brutality and I think we did just that, while at the same time maintaining the authenticity in our music.
How did the fans receive your newly released single “Proxy War” from the upcoming album?
It’s been extremely well received! It’s so exciting because we’ve been hearing this stuff for a good 2 years now ourselves while working on the album, but we couldn’t share anything with anyone of course. Now that it’s finally out there as a single and seeing the fans’ reactions and feedback has been really rewarding and a great feeling overall. I can’t wait until the fans hear the rest of the record and I certainly can’t wait to play these new songs live for the fans soon.
How different is the new Nervecell album from your past material? And how would you describe the sound of your new album?
This is such a brutal record man, honestly the most intense and dynamic stuff we’ve ever done before as a band. Anyone who’s been a Nervecell fan and owns our previous records will hear the difference instantly. It wasn’t a deliberate decision to go more extreme or anything, it’s just us naturally growing as musicians and doing what we love. Simply put, we went into this record wanting to step up the game a little and that’s exactly what we came out doing. If you compare our past material, I guess the difference this time around is how we wrote these new songs. Rami and I decided to write individual songs on this record for instance, we also dropped our tuning down on this record too. Both Rami and I traveled to France especially to record the drum tracks there with Kevin. We wanted to be there while the drum tracks were being recorded and call the shots on the exact ideas and all the minor details that we had in mind being the core songwriters in this band. So we really approached things a lot differently in how we brought this record to life and we made sure we got what we wanted.
What does “Proxy War” talk about?
“Proxy War” is basically when one superpower in the world with heavy influence actually creates a war between other nations but don’t actually take a role in this war. They basically sit back and watch others fight this war (while they who actually initiated the war are the ones who ultimately benefit from it at the end of the day). Those who dig for information and research facts from various legit sources out there rather than just accept what your regular TV news channels and media make available to us can actually relate to this topic more, or perhaps they may even know the term “Proxy War” when they hear it.
We knew a while ago that you left Unique Leader Records for reasons not worth publicly mentioning, and then joined European label Lifeforce Records, so I am curious to know if the record label usually interferes with your sound, songs, or anything else?
We left Unique Leader Records simply because they breached their contract with us and that’s all there is to it really. As for labels interfering with our sound or songs, that’s a definite NO! The labels we work / worked with signed us because they like our sound and believe in what we do as a band. I would rather be label-less and still enjoy the music we create than be signed to a label that would tell us what to do with our own music. I know there are labels that do that with certain bands, but then again we’d surely never give in to something like that.
You guys have played at Beirut Metal Fest just a month ago, tell us more about the experience and would you come back again?
Yes we did, it was a great time and the show went really well! At that particular show, we had a good old friend of ours (Bachir Ramadan) who stepped in and helped us out on the drum duties. Bachir and I have been friends for a long time and it just so happened that our actual drummer (Alex Micklewright), who was scheduled to perform in Beirut with us that weekend, felt really sick and was admitted to the hospital for blood poisoning just a few days before flying down to Dubai to rehearse with us. So I basically had Bachir on the phone with me literally a week before the Beirut Metal Fest and explained the situation about Alex to him. Bachir being the pro that he is was totally down to filling in and helping us out to his best abilities. He suggested he would love to do it and I figured since he was also performing with Inner Guilt that night at the fest anyway, this could actually work out…and it did! Needless to say he did a fantastic job considering we only rehearsed for like a day with him in Lebanon. Looking back we’re glad we pulled through with the gig even though the easiest solution would have been to cancel. So yea you sure as hell can say that was an exceptional gig for us to play and one that we surely will never forget, given the harsh circumstances we were facing at the time. Would we come back again – HELL YEA! Once the new album comes out, we definitely should!
Was opening for Metallica the highlight of your career or is there another milestone that you consider to be special for Nervecell?
Opening for Metallica was more like a dream come true! Not many bands can get to say they did something on a scale like that especially for extreme music. I mean it was one of those life-defining moments for me personally, where finally it made sense why after compromising so much on everything else in life, an opportunity like that comes along and you only have yourself to thank really. Because it was you who made those certain decisions for yourself, to stick to your guns and pursue what you wanted to do. I’m forever grateful for that because it showed us that finally someone is listening and taking note of what we have been doing for years as a Dubai-based metal band. I say this every time someone brings up the Metallica story with us, we were ticket holders to that gig and then we got asked to open for them – go figure! Yea I’d say a highlight is an understatement…
When Max Cavalera was asked about the new bands from the new generation he likes, he mentioned Nervecell. What does this mean to the band? And have you tried to contact him afterwards?
It means a hell of a lot to the band! I can’t stress enough what a compliment that is to us. Max has sited Nervecell a number of times in fact – in interviews with webzines, magazines, TV interviews and on online radio shows too. The guy’s a metal God man and for him to even mention our name is an absolute honor! The early Sepultura albums were like the reason I got into this whole genre of music in the first place, I distinctively remember in 1994 I came across their live in Barcelona “Under Siege” DVD and it totally blew me away. It pretty much made me want to play metal music after I saw that. You got to also understand the fact that we’ve never been in touch with Max before, so for him to just go on record and site us like that is ridiculous, I mean it just shows what a genuine and honest metal head the guy is! We haven’t yet got in contact with him but if we ever do see him in the future, there will be some serious metal hugs taking place.
Do you have future tours and shows after the album is released?
Nothing that can be announced right now, but we surely are looking at touring non-stop once the album comes out. If there is one thing we enjoy doing as a band, it’s getting out there and playing to extreme music fans in all corners of the world.
Anything else you would like to say to your fans and Metal Bell readers?
Thank you all for your support and keep supporting Metal. The new Nervecell album “Past, Present…Torture” comes out on August 25th, 2017. Go out and buy it, you will not be disappointed…Cheers!
– Lilas Mayassi
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