The Wanton Bishops is a Lebanese Blues Rock band that was formed during a fist fight in front of a bar in Beirut where Eddy Ghoussein and Nader Mansour met and started an unexpected journey of stardom. We met The Bishops after their stellar performance at AUB Outdoors on the 24th of May 2015. And we had a very juicy interview with the guys filled with a lot of news.
Antoine: You’ve performed at AUB Outdoors tonight, you have previously toured Europe and you’re doing so right now. What does it feel like?
Nader: To tour Europe or to perform here?
N: Both, wow. Jesus, tiring mostly. But good, good; exciting.
A: You are at a stage where you are one of the most successful Rock n’ Roll bands, if not the most successful, in Lebanese history, even though the band is less than four years old. To what do you owe your success?
N: We owe it to you guys, I don’t know you tell me. Maybe because Eddy looks particularly sexy.
Eddy: I’ll tell you what, I’m gonna be serious on this one. The thing is I think, I don’t know why we’re that popular but I think it’s because of two main things. One is the fact that we never really tried to portray a certain image. We’re super honest with what we do, even on stage. The second thing is that we really, really work hard, in the meaning that we took it super seriously, we had to make compromises and concessions in terms of job and work and all that. And we’re not young – I’m thirty and he’s thirty one, and at this age, we had to really put our backs into it. It’s a lot of hard work my friend, a lot of hard work.
A: What are your plans for the future? When do you plan on working on a new record?
N: We started that, we’re doing it halfway in LA and halfway in Beirut and some of it in Paris.
I: Nice, what can we expect from it?
N: Well you’ll see!
E: Nader is gonna be singing and most probably I’m gonna be playing guitar.
N: On this new record, we have a new collaborator and a new part of the band who is gonna be doing half of the shows with me, replacing Eddy on some of the shows. He’s incredibly sexy and we call him Salim Naffah. Salim is part of the band actually, because Eddy can’t travel on all the dates.
E: I’ll tell you what; I’m stepping off from the touring wagon actually. I made it in a way that whenever I want to do whatever I want, I’ll do it, and whenever I don’t want to do whatever needs to be done, there’s Salim.
N: He’s already doing most of the tour dates and he’s starting to grow a beard.
E: Because honestly we’re starting to advertise Salim as a member, he’s the only one who can replace me.
N: Salim is now an essential part of the writing and touring process. He’s part of the band now; he’s a Wanton Bishop.
A: What can you name as an influence on The Wanton Bishops?
N: Other than alcohol? I would say a lot of bands and a lot of acts. We come from different backgrounds, Eddy is more into the British scene in the 60’s and the modern aspect of life and I’m more into dead black musicians. But we met on the blues.
A: Why have you chosen to make the band a two-piece? Would you consider adding a permanent member to the band?
E: We just answered that!
N: Well at first it was a very logistical reason; two Lebanese passports are better than four. Besides it was hard enough to get along with two different personalities at least than to try and make it at four.
E: And honestly we couldn’t find anyone who would make this engagement; who would be super serious and leave everything to focus on the music.
A: What do you think the role of lyrics in music is? Is it a central piece or is it justifiable to have weak lyrics?
N: Look, I’m more of a birdman than a wordman, so I’m more focused on the music itself than the lyrics. To me, it’s complimentary, to other folks, it might be essential, like if you listen to Bob Dylan. The music is shit but the words are magnificent, and in other cases, it’s the other way around but it’s different in each context. It just doesn’t matter, there’s no rule really.
A: Tell me, how are you received in your hometown? Do they point and say “There’s Nader from The Wanton Bishops” in tones of pride or are they oblivious to the fact that you’re a well-known artist who’s toured Europe?
N: Well look man, I don’t know how they look at me, honestly, because they never tell you the truth. There’s somewhere between admiration and thinking I’m a complete fuck up in life, it’s mitigated sometimes in the same person. Sometimes they’re admirative of the whole thing, and sometimes they just don’t get it and think I’m a crazy man who will end up in a bar – which might happen.
A: What would you say your long-term musical goals as a band are?
N: Other than invading the world? The moon, the moon is next.
A: What about Jupiter?
N: Jupiter – well they kicked Pluto out – I wanted to do Pluto to be honest, but they kicked him out. What the fuck? That’s not nice!
E: Pluto’s back!
N: We should drink man!
A: What would you say to upcoming Lebanese bands that would wish to emulate your success?
N: Work your fucking ass off! And expect nothing in return for the first four/five years – nothing! Expect to be broke, girlfriendless. But – it can happen, it’s possible, we can see a lot of examples in the Lebanese scene, like Postcards and Safar (who we recently watched in Paris) are doing a great fucking job. A lot of great bands well like Mashrou’ Leila, that’s a humongous example, and thanks to folks like Red Bull who are helping the whole scene out, things are actually possible. It happens, dreams come true.
A: One last question, is this your only income or do you have other jobs?
N: I’m starting to consider prostitution. Eddy has a job though.
E: I do have a job that’s not related to music at all but it’s artistic in a way and I can make a decent living from it.
A: All right guys, that’s it! Thanks a lot for your time.
Wanton Bishops: All right! Cool! [Start clapping.]