Hanna Tsepesh: Hello James Khazaal! Thanks so much for accepting this interview and Welcome to THE GATES OF METAL!
James Khazaal: Hey Hanna the pleasure is mine, and hails to you and the army of ”The Gates of Metal".
Hanna Tsepesh: Thank you James! First of all: how are you and how are the things doing with your concerts?
James Khazaal: I am in Great Spirit along with since the start of this busy summer. A lot of work with the band, and my educational efforts (currently finishing up with my Masters in E-Commerce). We are touring, and barely sleeping, which we always wanted to do. All the concerts are surprisingly great and memorable since this is actually the first time for us on a full time European Tour.
Hanna Tsepesh: cool! For those who do not know Nervecell could tell us a little how it all started?
James Khazaal: It all started as a hobby along with playing underground gigs, and battle of the bands. It was clear that the band had a great vibe on stage, with stage performance and cool crowd reactions. Before I joined Barney who is actually the only original member of the band, Nervecell was mainly hardcore. I joined and later came Rami on lead guitars, as I started on bass and the band was testing vocalists, people where coming in and out of the band. I asked to commit to both vocal and bass duties, and the guys were more than happy to give me a chance. The band has formed a new path, by heading towards a death metal base. Meanwhile we continued to play shows and people were still flowing in to see us despite our change in genre, since the band also includes elements of thrash, hardcore, and melodic tunes. The metal atmosphere in our region is not mature; this sort of music is not widely admired. Mainstream, commercial, easy listening, etc. music have always been present in our side of the world. Despite all hardships we stuck to our guns, and continued to produce and play the music we respect and love. The scene is slowly growing, and metal is catching awareness, and we as Nervecell feel it’s our responsibility to continue pushing this sort of music to our region, by giving it a good name. We are happy to set an example to the bands and people in our region.
Hanna Tsepesh: What inspired you the most to create the lyrics? The band writes the lyrics first or first the band creates the riffs to comply with the lyrics?
James Khazaal: I was always fond of writing poetry and studying literature. I think knowing Arabic got me to where I am today with writing lyrics. For people who don’t know the language, it is considered to be one of the top 3 hardest languages to learn. Many words in Arabic don’t have a meaning in English. With respect to English, it is simple to learn and it is not very complex. When I write, it’s all about what I feel (life experiences, what’s happening to the world, anger, the reason why things are what they are, REALITY) to cut a long story short Nervecell Lyrics are a brutal version of Death the band. I don’t stress or focus on political or religious issues. Although I am a strong believer, I support the thought of: everyone has the right to do what he or she wills. We have a brain and we know what’s right and what’s wrong. Plus self respect is the only way to find peace. If someone doesn’t believe in himself, he will never progress and appreciate life. Nervecell lyrics are: Do what you feel is right to do, but you should be responsible for the consequences. As far as the writing process goes it’s both ways. I write poems whenever I get an idea or inspiration. But there are also times when music is first created and then I build my thoughts around the vibe of the song, after all music is also a language. The guys are also great at doing song titles. I also wouldn’t mind if any one in Nervecell would want to contribute into the lyrics of Nervecell.
Hanna Tsepesh: What are your favorite bands? You have any singer that you admire the most?
James Khazaal: My main influences have always been death metal bands like Cannibal Corpse and Deicide for my vocal and bass duties. They are idols. I am also into other bands like Morbid Angel, Aborted, and plus the new bands that are rising viciously in death metal which I admire such as The Faceless, Job for a Cowboy, The Black Dhalia Mude, andr the list goes on and on.
There are many singers I value and learn of from them:
- George Fisher (C.Corpse) and Glenn Benton (Deicide)
- Sven de Caluwe (Aborted)
- Jamey (Hatebreed)
- Max Cavalera
(in no ranking or order they are all equal)
as to why I look up to them? They created their own style, and they still stick to their original music with no compromise not like bands that changed through time (no need to mention names [laughs]). and each one of them have their own stage presence. Seeing these guys on stage is a whole new story that changes someone's life.
Hanna Tsepesh: I would like to know if you had or have any guttural technique lessons?
James Khazaal: (laughs) not really, I just started growling in a day and night. It was hard to maintain it at the beginning because I was losing my voice. But I do some training or warm ups before I go on stage or record, and I take certain things to keep my voice at its peak. Room temperature water, Lemon and Orange juice, Coffee, cigarettes, it all helps me. It differs from a singer to another. For example George from Cannibal Corpse doesn’t smoke. And plus I don’t drink alcohol. It took me 3 years to know this (laughs), but I am learning each day and the sky is the limit.
Hanna Tsepesh: The band has a new album called “Preaching Venom”. For people who don’t listen yet can you tell to us what we can expect about this new album and what the band wants to accomplish?
James Khazaal: Well about Preaching Venom, I can tell everyone that it’s my favorite album, I listen to it once a day. It’s brutal, groovey, technical, melodic, what else. It’s a great album to listen to, I love all the songs cause they all have their own atmosphere.
On behalf of the band I am proud to say that our main goal is to play this music in every corner of the world, and share our music from all around the world. And last but not least to let death metal or metal in general to grow in our region, to get others bands around us there to start working harder because nothing is impossible even in the middle east.
Hanna Tsepesh: The band feels proud with the final result or you think that miss something? Everything went well at recording studio? Did you think that this album required more of you?
James Khazaal: Its a great result, we wanted this long time ago, quality production, great music, what else can we ask. Plus hell of a lot of shows to play in and a record deal. We are really proud and to us this is just the beginning. Recording went great, but it took a lot of time. The recording went on tour before us (laughs), recording drums with Dave from Psychroptic in Australia, Mixing in Poland, and mastering in the United States. And yes this album took a lot of time to create. Where we live, it’s hard to create this music at a professional level. Music is about talent and devotion, but quality is key and if both of these are together, a master piece is born.
We had a goal, and we did the impossible to accomplish it. I thank everyone in the band cause they all worked their asses of. Everything is paying back now, and we are thankful for that.
Hanna Tsepesh: How has the response been to the album by the media and fans? I saw some cool reviews at MySpace, did you expect that cool scores about this album?
James Khazaal: Fans are great, and the army is growing. People are appreciating what we do and I can see that in their eyes and their reaction. Media is also interesting but also funny, we are getting interviews and articles in the press around us in the region. The Middle East is actually interested in what we are doing, and I hope its because they can see how hard working and serious we are. it took us nine years to prove this point. Patience is key to success. Well we worked on this album with the feedback we got from our old EP. Human Chaos. A band should always accept constructive criticism and constantly mature musically. We had that in our mind when we were doing Preaching Venom. People who reviewed Human Chaos where really happy with Preaching Venom.
Hanna Tsepesh: The album cover is very cool! Who was the person behind this work? You think that this art cover transmit what “Preaching Venom” are?
James Khazaal: Dennis Sibeijn for Monument Studio. He did a great job at representing the visional meaning of what the title and songs represented "it is very scary to know how far people can go to achieve what they want in life. Lying, betrayal, and stealing to reach to the level they want to be in, and yet they will never be satisfied".
We went over his previous works with Chiamera, Sworn Enemy, and Aborted of course. The colors played an important role to complete the whole picture of what we were trying to talk about, musically and lyrically.
Hanna Tsepesh: If one of our readers wants to buy your album, what they can do?
James Khazaal: we are selling our album online through CD baby. If people are willing to be patient, they will find it in all stores in Europe October 27th.
Hanna Tsepesh: what is your favorite music in this album and why?
James Khazaal: My personal Favorite is Demean because I contributed musically in this song. When I compose music I use the guitar, I had some riffs in my mind and the band was more than happy to go with it. The song has twisted meaning regarding the title. It one word but the explanation can go on for weeks. Basically is to lower someone's self. And here I say again its to the people who don’t respect and believe in themselves. The degrade themselves towards their life and goals. So stay Loyal and true!
Hanna Tsepesh: You guys played at METAL GDL (in Grândola 5 and 6 June) here in Portugal. How was that concert for you and the band? Did you guys like our country and the audience?
James Khazaal: Man Portugal. Love the festival, the people, and the food. To me as much as Nervecell is important, feed holds a special area in my heart. I live to eat (laughs). Sadly we spent less than a day there, but I would love to go back there. People were crazy and very supportive and loyal; you can see it in their eyes. And to me Portugal is great because of its food. You are what you eat, and since the food in Portugal is great, then the people are. I want some Portuguese seasoned chicken, white rice, salad with lemon and viniger, to me that’s a honey moon. (laughs)
Hanna Tsepesh: (laughs) we are very happy that you like our country! Thank you! Do you want to send any message for the people who going to read this interview?
James Khazaal: Hell yeah, to the people reading this, wherever you are we are coming over to play a great show at your area, and we will all have a great time. Until then may god bless all and keep it metal on Behalf of the whole band.
Last But not least, thanks to you Hanna, good luck to you and the crew of "The Gates of Metal"!
Hanna Tsepesh: you are very welcome and thanks so much for your words! We hope to see Nervecell again in here…
By: Hanna Tsepesh
To listen to some NERVECELL music’s and for future information’s go at: