Getting to know Moroccan Oriental Rock/Metal Hybrid Lazywall…
What are the origins of Lazywall, how long have you been playing together?
Playing together? As kids, since we were born. We are all brothers. As musicians, as soon as we formed our first band back in 1998 in Spain. But singing in English at that time in Spain didn’t get us very far. So, we decided to move to England and formed Lazywall in 2003. We now moved back to Morocco and sing in Arabic. Our guitarist Youssef lives in France so we had to find a way to work separately, rehearse, record, and meet up physically for the shows. Luckily today the world of the Internet has evolved in a way that we can be in a band and live in different continents.
What should people expect when they check the band out? How would you describe Lazywall?
We have been described as Oriental Rock/Metal Hybrid band. While trying to find our identity as a band, we found out that the closer we get to our sound the more different we are than the average rock band. First of all, we sing in Arabic, which is something that is growing more and more in the Middle East, but mostly for indie music. Rock and Metal bands still sing in English in the Arab countries. We also decided to add oriental instruments. At first, we were playing with different musicians that play the Oud (Arabic luth), the Guembri (African bass), or oriental percussion. Then, we returned to the trio formation and added stands for those instruments. That became complicated. Switching from one instrument to the other was taking too long and we were forced to stay static on stage. So, we crafted custom-made instruments to make it easier. Our guitarist with his luthier made the Guitaroud. A double neck guitar with one neck guitar and one neck Oud. Our bassist now has the Bassentir. A bass with 2 bass strings and 3 fretless Guembri strings in one unique instrument. Last, our drummer replaced one of his tom with a Darbuka and added a Tbal (African drum) as a second-floor tom. He also plays the Bendir (hand drum) when sticks are not needed.
So, on stage, we play our guitar riffs with a distorted Oud sound. And it’s fun.
How did you feel performing your first gig as a band, and how was it?!
Our first gig as Lazywall was exactly 20 years ago last week. We had just moved to the UK a year before and we were very excited to play our first show there. That was a dream we had since we were kids. The UK has always been the centre of the world for Rock and Metal bands. And we still remember before going to the venue, our singer and bassist Nao cut his finger while cooking and at the end of the gig his bass and the floor were full of blood.
The new music scene is bursting at the seams at the minute with fresh talent, in what ways do you feel that a band has to stand out to build a name for themselves?
There has never been as many bands as there are today. Anyone can afford a home recording studio. So even though COVID hit hard on any country’s local scene and many bands disappeared, we have seen how fast it’s growing back. This makes it harder to build a name. New genres added to all classic genres. Any band needs to find its fans. There are fans for every band, we just need to find them. They are all over the world, but today with the internet it has to be easier to reach them. It’s difficult to stand out just based on your skills because there will always be a band that is ‘better’ skilled. We think that the best way is to be different enough to attract attention and then have “good enough” songs to keep that attention.
What are you working on at the minute that people can check out?
Our live set. At the time of writing this, we are on our way to Europe for a couple of shows. Those who can come check us out will see us playing our newly released song “Dem 3la Dem” which defines our sound best. The music video is out now on our YouTube channel. The bridge of the song shows a battle between occidental instruments like heavy guitars and basses versus oriental Oud or Guembri. Riffs are played simultaneously between the two sides until they merge up at the end.
In terms of a similar audience, which band out there at the minute do you feel Lazywall would be best suited to open for?
Any band that merges rock/metal with folk influence. The Beatles and Led Zeppelin explored this back in the ’60s but since then many bands have crossed genres with their traditional origin. We did open for Breed 77 a few years back, this Flamenco Metal band from Gibraltar was a big influence for us, with their guitarist playing guitar, mandolin and flamenco guitar at the same time. Bands with oriental influences include Myrath from Tunisia or Orphaned Land from Israel for example. Both bands are quite big in the European metal scene.
Excluding yourself, which new band would you like to see break out and become a success?
There are plenty of bands that we think are underrated. In some of the gigs we have done, we shared the stage with bands that we thought were amazing and that the world should know about. But after a while, we found out that they split up or gave up. We can’t name them all but we know how the industry works. Just because you are good doesn’t mean you will become a “success”. It depends on too many variables and most of them are out of control of the bands. Success is relative. It’s not about the numbers, streams, views, etc. Success is when you reach your goals. Sometimes, just being able to do a show in front of your fans, and then sell those fans some t-shirts or CDs could be considered a success. Let luck do the rest.
What are your own first musical memories? And what was the lightbulb moment that made you go “I want to do that”?
We grew up in the 80s. When we were around 13, a friend brought a video camera and we started shooting music videos while miming on top of every hit we heard on the radio. We even had one of our videos projected at school. Although all that was just for fun, we did enjoy it a lot. Instead of going out to play in the streets like any kid our age, we were home shooting more and more videos. But THE moment that made us go “I want to do that” was at Uni a few years later when we started playing guitar and wrote our first song. That was the birth of this passion called Music.
What was the last gig that you attended as a fan?
It must have been a local band. Here in Morocco, we don’t get many international bands visiting us, except during big festivals. So, every week, we try to go to as many local gigs as we can to support the scene. The Rock scene in Morocco is still very young but is growing up fast.
What current social issue are you particularly passionate about?
As many know, our country was hit by a terrible earthquake last month. Since that day, it has been constantly on our minds. We have seen all Moroccans come up to help. We have never felt that communion between all of us over here to give each one of us our grain of sand. Everyone gave blood, sent food or clothes, or even moved to the closest cities that were hit to help in any way. Just thinking about this gives us goosebumps. We even felt this help on an international level. Anyone reading this and wanting to help, please visit the Moroccan earthquake relief fund.
The album that you have in your album collection/Spotify playlist that would surprise most people?
Daft Punk discography. Even if this genre was quite far from Rock at the time they came up, electro-music has been very well integrated into Rock or even Metal songs lately. We love every single album they have released and we hope they will come back soon. Oh and also the cassette compilation of Iron Eagle soundtrack. Still stuck inside our Walkman.
What new music have you been enjoying so far this year?
To be honest, we don’t listen to as much new music as we should. We are stuck with our favourite all-time classic bands. In the old days, it was easier to discover new bands, but today we have so much information coming from every corner that we don’t know where to start looking. Still, sometimes we get lucky and hear something that we cannot ignore. For example, the first time we heard Electric Callboy we felt like being hit by a truck. The way they mix so many genres so well, each part of their song is a different genre, but no one could have thought they would work so well together. We were very impressed and really looking forward to watching them live.
What does 2024 hold for you?
We are currently working on some new songs that we plan on releasing in the next 12 months. Along this, we will try to gig as much as we can, to introduce our oriental rock to European audiences. After our show at Brighton’s Great Escape festival in May this year, we got a deal with British management company The Animal Farm Music. We are working with them to prepare our first European tour.
How active are you on social media and where can people connect with you?
We try to get active as much as we can. We have fans spread in different countries, some of these are hard for us to visit for shows. So, we know social media could be the only way for those fans to keep track of our new releases. Just like anything today, everyone uses social media to get updates about music, movies, politics, or any random news.
Here are the links we use the most:
Photo credit – Alan Kehoe