THE KORDZ
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THE KORDZ

Beirut, Beyrouth, Lebanon | SELF

Beirut, Beyrouth, Lebanon | SELF
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"Beirut rockers leave listeners wanting more"

Beirut rockers leave listeners wanting more
First Kordz CD is a short, maddening teaser

Kleo Mitsis
Special to The Daily Star

After years and countless live shows across Lebanon, The Kordz are finally releasing their first CD-ep. The popular, Beirut-based band will hold the official “launch party” Saturday night at Nova bar in Sin al-Fil, just ahead of their regular, weekly gig.
The disc itself is a five-track “maxi single” comprised of two songs, Last Call and The Garden, as well as three remixes of the former. It is also a maddening teaser, offering only a hint of the band’s potential.
The first single reflects the band’s diverse tastes. Moe Hamzeh, who serves as lead singer and unofficial spokesman, cites influences as varied as Bob Marley and Pink Floyd. However, the other members ­ Emile Boustany on drums, Samer Ibrahim on bass, Nadim Sioufi on guitar and Mazen Siblini on keyboards ­ profess loves ranging from Phil Collins to Abba, Iron Maiden to orchestral rock, and blues and classic jazz.
It is no surprise then, that Last Call sounds like a cross between Linkin’ Park and Metallica ­ albeit on some bizarre, Middle Eastern tour. The track opens with Arabic strings (the band uses a violin to imitate a rababa, a traditional, single-string instrument) conjuring images of a slumbering harem or dusty market streets at dawn. But the tranquility doesn’t last long before the band cranks up the intensity: A sudden shift and then it’s teeth to the microphone for a drum- and guitar-heavy first verse followed by the radio-friendly chorus. Then a pause, a brief segue and it’s back to strings, a derbeke, and several oriental percussion instruments.
It’s an odd combination and, although it is undeniably catchy, it veers dangerously close to sounding prepackaged ­ as if it has been dropped out of a factory box in preparation for a mass assault on a thousand FM radio stations. (Indeed, after just three weeks, the song has already cracked the top 20 on several local stations. The importance of that, though, depends on how you rate local radio ­ and their obsessive fixation with Euro-pop and easy-listening “metal.”)
The Garden, the disc’s second track, is a far more interesting beast, and a much finer example of the band’s talent. Described in the liner notes as a “beta version,” it is slower and more layered than Last Call. Opening with an acoustic guitar and piano accompaniment, it is reminiscent of an extended Guns N’ Roses arrangement, or a Bon Jovi ballad ­ no coincidence, as some of the band’s best covers are of Axl and company and the famed New Jersey quintet.
The Garden is also more subtle. Unlike Last Call’s full roar, it lets band members strut their stuff, with Hamzeh’s voice in particular rising and falling, growing mournful, plaintiff, before soaring again to a falsetto. Moreover, The Garden stands up better to repeated plays and, after a long weekend on the CD player, it eventually gets the most attention, growing more interesting with each new session.
As for the remixes, they are what you’d expect, a ­ pardon the pun ­ mixed bag. It’s tough to make a dance version of a rock song, yet that is what one version manages. Another, with the altered titled of Last Chill, is more relaxed, emphasizing strings and ambient bliss over the driving bass, the song’s initial urgency muted to almost nothing.
After hearing The Kordz in concert, this reviewer is left wanting more. The new disc, while good, seems to be missing something. Maybe it’s the infectious energy of the band’s live shows, or more likely it’s that two songs simply aren’t enough. Concert staples such as Nicotine or California ­ their anthemic singalong to the good life in that famous state ­ would have been fine additions here, and one can only hope that these will be on the next release, if there is one.
In the meantime, go see the band live. Later, if you can’t wait a full week to hear them again, buy the CD. It’ll have to do until they give us more.

- The Daily Star by Kleo Mitsis


"THE KORDZ-Plus d’une corde à leurs… guitares !"

Quand on pense au Liban en termes de musique, c’est inévitablement une vision qui surgit, celle de minettes en petite tenue à qui quelqu’un aurait dit qu’elles avaient de la voix. Pénétrables ou pas, les voies vers la scène des ces starlettes d’un jour ne sont pas aussi mystérieuses que décevantes. Et voici que The Kordz, un groupe venu droit du Pays du Cèdre, est venu bouleverser les idées reçues au Festival Méditerranéen de la Guitare. Un groupe en quête de popularité, dites-vous ? Pas vraiment…
Du haut de ses dix années d’existence, mélangeant habilement rythmes orientaux et techno sur un fond de guitares hard à la Metallica, The Kordz font partie des cinq groupes de rock incontournables dans leur pays. Ce qui ne les a pas empêchés de venir se produire bénévolement en Tunisie, par amour pour ce pays, où deux des cinq musiciens ont passé leur adolescence. Et aussi pour encourager le Festival dont, à en croire leurs propos, ils deviendront les ambassadeurs dans tous les pays où ils se produiront. Car le parcours de Moe, Nadim, Mazen, Souheil, Paul et Jawad n’a pas été facile. Surtout lorsqu’ils ont dû faire face à la guerre et aux couches conservatrices de la société libanaise.

Tunis Hebdo : Le Liban n’est pas très connu pour ses groupes de rock. Comment vous êtes-vous tourné vers ce genre de musique ?
Mo : Ce n’était pas vraiment le rock qui m’attirait, au début. Avant de passer à l’acte, je m’intéressais surtout à la pop internationale. Le premier groupe de progressive rock qui m’a impressionné était les Pink Floyd.
Souhil : Mes premières influences étaient les Queens. Je pense que l’énergie du rock correspond parfaitement à ce que l’on ressent quand on a dix-sept ans.
Mo : Moi, c’était surtout la guerre. La vie que l’on menait au Liban c’était déjà du heavy metal. Je me rappelle que j’écoutais " The dark side of the moon " des Floyd, alors que les bombes tombaient tout autour de moi. C’était ma façon d’échapper à tout cet enfer qui m’entourait.

T.H. : Comment la société libanaise perçoit-elle les rockers ?
Mo : Il fut un temps où le rock était associé au satanisme, à l’Antéchrist. Beaucoup de groupes ont eu des démêlés avec les pouvoirs publics à cause de ces préjugés. C’était absurde, d’autant plus que nous ne faisons même pas du heavy metal. Bien sûr, les gens de notre génération et de notre milieu ne nous considèrent pas différents. Mais il y a les autres…
Souhil : Je pense que les gens ont peur de ce qu’ils ne connaissent pas. Les sociétés libanaise et tunisienne sont relativement conservatrices ; elles ne sont pas habituées à nos cheveux longs, à notre façon de nous habiller ou à notre comportement qui leur paraît " bizarre ". Alors, ils nous craignent. L’ignorance est toujours source de mauvaises réactions.

T.H. : Quel souvenir gardez-vous de votre premier concert ?
Mo : Je me rappelle très bien. C’était au Festival de la bière de Beyrouth. Nous croyions tous que ce serait aussi le dernier. C’était très excitant : on se croyait les maîtres du monde. Nous étions dans un grand espace en plein air, un peu comme à Woodstock. Or, nous avons eu des demandes par-ci et par-là et voici que cela dure depuis dix ans déjà. Il faut dire que notre style a un peu changé car, à l’époque, on jouait aussi un peu de reggae.

T.H. : Comment arriviez-vous à joindre les deux styles ?
Mo : Il ne s’agit pas vraiment de joindre les styles. Chacun de nous vient d’un milieu différent et écoute de la musique différente. Et, il faut dire qu’à l’époque, on n’était pas aussi " hard " que maintenant.
Souheil : Je ne qualifierai pas notre style de hard rock, mais simplement de rock. Déjà, j’ai horreur des classements. A la base de notre musique, il y a des mélodies diverses.

T.H. :Quelle est la part du Liban dans votre musique ?
Mo : Le Liban est un véritable pot pourri civilisationnel et culturel. J’écoute beaucoup de musiques traditionnelles, mais pratiquement pas ce qu’on appelle " la musique libanaise moderne ". J’aime beaucoup Faïrouz, Wadia Safi. Mais la musique libanaise sera toujours inqualifiable, tant elle est influencée par des cultures aussi diverses que les cultures arabe, turque ou russe.

T.H. : Croyez-vous qu’un jour, vous pourrez concurrencer les Nancy Ajram, Haïfa Wahby et autres starlettes de la pop libanaise ?
Mo : Pour l’instant, les médias ne nous font pas de fleurs. Déjà, il faut dire que nous proposons un produit dont ils ne peuvent pas refuser la diffusion. Ceci dit, une fois que nous aurons réussi à drainer les foules, nous pourrons dire, nous aussi, nous avons une place sous le soleil.

A.L
- Tunis Hebdo


Discography

1- Last Call (Maxi CD)
3 weeks#1 in Lebanese Radio Charts. and Toped the Charts in Radios all over the Middle East.
2- Upcoming LP- Title: "Beauty & the East"- Tentative Release date:2010

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Bio

Formed by several students at Lebanon's famed American University of Beirut in the cauldron of the country's long civil war, The Kordz have risen to the pinnacle of the Middle Eastern and Mediterranean rock scene. The band’s current lineup, Moe Hamzeh (Vocal), Mazen Siblini (Keyboards) and Nadim Sioufi (Guitars), is the product of several iterations and years of constant gigging, that ultimately stabilized with the current, road-tested configuration. "In the beginning we took anything," says Moe, looking back on those early days. "We didn't miss an opportunity to play. That included gigs at universities, as well as in Lebanese cities in the north and the south and - even shows in a war zone - at a United Nations military compound in the occupied South of the country.

By the late 1990s, The Kordz were known across Lebanon as the hardest working band around, as their high-energy gigs drew an ever-increasing throng of fans and increasingly high profile gigs, including opening for the likes of PLACEBO and the legendary ROBERT PLANT.

Never a band to follow musical trends, The Kordz have instead been at the forefront of the emergence of Middle Eastern alt-rock and metal, effortlessly blending together guitar riff-driven rock with incredibly funky grooves and Arabic instrumentation, rhythms, and melodies. Its live shows have inspired legions of dedicated fans, and the group is known for shaking more than a few rafters during the course of a night's work. One of their early signature songs, "Last Call," written by a friend of the band, Rami Karami, epitomized its successful combination of styles, and was a favorite across the Mediterranean and even Europe when it was first released in 2004 as a maxi single. Critics labeled the song a cross between Linkin' Park and Metallica on some bizarre, Middle Eastern tour.

"It was all DIY-Do It Yourself, because there's not much in the way of a music industry infrastructure here in Lebanon," Moe explains-especially for music tinged with orchestral rock, hard rock, and blues. It is no surprise that the local press lavished praised on "Last Call", which roared to the top of the Lebanese and Middle Eastern radio charts, and sat there for weeks. The press was even more pleased with "The Garden", the first CD's second track, whose haunting, melodically inspired sound and mystically charged lyrics got it onto their play lists.

In the last two years, The Kordz have been working with Grammy Nominee producer Ulrich Wild (Deftones, Static X, White Zombie, Breaking Benjamin) in Canada, Los Angeles and Lebanon. Working in the studio with the star alt-rock line up composed of drummer Jeff Burrows (TEA PARTY) and Andy Curran (SOHO 69), the new album "Beauty & the East” effortlessly combines opposite, divergent, musical worlds in a stark reflection of the band being the living proof of coexistence of various beliefs, religions, different mindsets, and cultures. Probably for the first time, these worlds have been engineered on such a high professional level, serving fans of modern alternative rock, traditional Arabic harmonies and those people always searching for something unique.
Mark LeVine, Grammy-winning musician and author of Heavy Metal Islam, describes The Kordz as "without a doubt the best rock band from Morocco to Pakistan, and perhaps anywhere. The new album will be remembered as the avant-garde for a revolution in rock music, in which bands from the Middle East take the lead in shaping the sound of rock and metal in the new millennium. The Kordz are setting the standard for the most powerful and innovative live and recorded rock anywhere on the planet."

This album is the result of the band members’ musical, social, and spiritual life experiences. It is a blend of several musical and cultural influences, as well as a clear message for change. It's not just the music that's groundbreaking; the lyrics tackle social problems, politics, change, love and acceptance - global issues that can be applied anywhere, not just the strife-ridden Middle East where the band hails from. That's not to say The Kordz are primarily a political band; rather, they are constantly pushing to transform the standard rock idioms with the experiences gained by growing-up in the hard and often harsh reality of life in a war zone. As Moe says, "It's not just about one band, in one country. It's not just about us being from the Arab world. It's about people - everywhere - all feeling this universal thing. Many years already, and in some ways only just getting started."

For The Kordz, poised on the edge of global success, that universal thing could turn out to be very, very big.

For more information or press contact, please e-mail: info@massrecords.com
Fax: +961-1-800486 P.O.Box: 13-6639 Beirut, Lebanon. A division of TEMPLE ENTERTAINMENT
and/or: Urs Middelhauve urs@umi-music.de
+49 162 2078930