The Tunisian progressive metal band Myrath recently released their latest album Shehili. We caught up with singer Zaher Zorgati, who fills us in on the album, touring, metal in Tunisia and other topics.
Chad Bowar: Was there anything unique in the songwriting process for Shehili compared to your previous albums?
Zaher Zorgati: Oh yeah. Imagine the full band and our producer Kevin Codfert in a little hotel room, full of cigarettes for a month. A mess! That’s the way we choose to work together like a real team, being sure that everyone can bring ideas. All the arrangements took a long time, but the writing itself took us one month.
What led you to record in several different studios and use a few different producers?
At the beginning we recorded everything in the same place. We rent a small studio for the drums, and because of this we post processed the drums with lot of samples. earMusic get the CD and told us, “Guys, the album is awesome but we want to give you the opportunity to record real drums in a real studio at the legendary Chameleon studio Hamburg. No samples, no editing, everything natural, groovy, for the good of the album.” So our producer Kevin Codfert started to work again on the new drums with Eike Freese, a producer in Hamburg. Together they recreated something 10 times more fresh and natural. At the end, our friend Jens Bogren also proposed his vision for one of the songs. That’s why we ended up with three producers. We are 1000 percent happy with that.
What will be your strongest memory of the recording of the album?
The hotel story. (laughs) But also the recording of the violinists in Tunisia. The first time you hear your arrangements played with real instruments is always something you remember forever.
What did guest guitarist Pierre Danel from Kadinja bring to the album?
Pierre is an awesome guitarist. He doesn’t only play Djunt, he also play acoustic guitars, and to be precise, flamenco. For example, Pierre brought all the Andaluzian influences on the song “Shehili.” It gave a second life to the song.
What inspired the lyrics this time around?
We worked with three different lyricists: Perrine Perez Fuentes, Aymen Jaouadi and Hiba Ganem. Each of the lyricists brings their own feelings and their personal stories. Our lyrics are not just here to support music, they can stand on themselves. For example, talking about the song “Dance;” this is the story of a Syrian dancer who was threatened with death by ISIS. He tattooed “Dance or die” on his neck. That’s a powerful story.
How has the band’s sound evolved from Legacy?
More riffs, more Berberian French and Andaluzian influences. A more natural sound, real drums, no editing, no samples, no bullshit! (laughs)
How did you come to sign with earMusic?
Our french record label is Verycords. Verycords has worked with earMusic for a long time. Mehdi from Verycords introduced the band to Max (earMusic boss). Max loved it and started to analyze in the background all the band moves before working heavily with us. This process took two years.
How does that affect your goals and expectations for the album?
Our expectations before knowing about earMusic was to gently improve our fan base from CD to CD. earMusic is giving us the chance to improve it exponentially. So our expectations are know much bigger.
How much attention do you pay to reviews?
We read ALL the reviews, except the reviews from people who didn’t listen the CD! Yes, it happens, like doing a copy/paste from other reviews, or saying “I like or I don’t like this song” because of reasons that make you think that the journalist is talking about another song, maybe from another band.
You have a couple of festivals on your calendar. What else is coming up with touring in 2019?
We actually announced a tour in November with our friends in the band Beast in Black. We will also announce a big headlining tour in 2020.
Tell us about the live album/DVD you recorded and when it might be released.
It will probably be released in winter 2019. It was shot in Carthage/Tunisia with 17 cameras, dancers, darbokistes, big screens. It’s gonna be huge!
What was the response to your April Fool’s Day post that you were turning into a computer animated band able to play in 532 locations at once?
Lot of people believed it! It’s just a joke but I’m realizing that bands, media, everyone who can be influenced has the strong responsibility to fight against fake news. Today Facebook information is more trusted than official press, and it’s a risk.
How has your home country of Tunisia changed since the 2011 revolution?
For the good and the bad. We needed a revolution for sure. But now, we must now learn how democracy works. Democracy is something that takes years to be built after centuries of dictators and occupation.
Is there much of a metal scene in Tunisia these days?
Not that much, unfortunatly. We have good bands such as Persona, Nawather and Hemlyn. But they struggle a lot because of the lack of a platform. Those bands are great.
What are some of your non-musical interests and hobbies?
Football, comedy, GOT, movie making.
What’s currently in your heavy musical rotation?
Myrath – Shehili (laughs) We are actually working hard on the setlist for the shows.
Anything else you’d like to mention or promote?
Thanks again for the interview. Thanks for giving me this opportunity. We want to say that we are gonna bring the magical flavors of the video clips on stage with us. We will introduce magic in our shows, real magic. We want to bring something new for the people, and we will do it. See you soon!
(interview published May 21, 2019)