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MYRATH (2019)


Type:
INTERVIEW
Genre:
PROGRESSIVE METAL
As their fifth album is leaving for the charts, we met Zaher Zorgati, the singer of Myrath, this sparkling jewel of oriental metal.
PROGRACER - 03.05.2019
What is the question you have been asked too often and to which you are tired of answering? 

Who's Myrath?  




Myrath is the only group of international stature in Tunisia and even in the Maghreb. Do you take pride in it? Do you feel like ambassadors of rock, even metal from this part of the world? 

Yes, absolutely. It took a long time to get there, but we are ambitious and we want to go even further. As Max, the boss of Edel Music told me: "This, Zaher, is not your 5th album, it's the First!  


But you were already distributed by Edel Music before? 

Yes, but now we have officially signed with the label. It was a way of saying, "Now we're going to put the money on the table, we're really going to work with you for good." He was obviously shocked by the reactions of his contacts in the community and in the media who did not know Myrath at all. 


And that answers your first question: Who is Myrath? 

Exactly.  He was therefore shocked by the reaction of the European media, Poland, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Holland for which the promotion was not done correctly. So he was very surprised but also happy, because we managed to do more than 100 concerts including the Hellfest, twice the ProgPower Europe, the ProgPower US, with Symphony X, with Epica, all this without promotion, without a professional marketing plan. He saw enormous development potential. 


Are you telling us that this is the last time we'll meet, because you won't be interested in little webzines anymore?

(Laughs) Of course not. I'll even tell you something. I thought to myself a few years ago: I'll be able to play in a metal band, I did. I'll be able to get out of Tunisia, to do concerts, I did it. I say to myself today: I will succeed in making Myrath one of the most recognized and coveted bands in the metal world.  


So, the ambition is to be the equivalent of Dream Theater? 

No, it's not a matter of celebrity, but rather to make our music and the band known and to make our music the most widely distributed. Let everyone listen to Myrath, even if they are not an absolute fan of the band. But, more importantly, I will never look like those pretentious artists, without mentioning them, who take you down because they have joined the star system. I am as I am, I will not change. You have to remain yourself, with your feet on the ground and above all, you have to remain humble. r de la Tunisie, à faire des concerts, je l’ai fait. Je me dis aujourd’hui : J’arriverai a faire de Myrath l’un des groupes les plus reconnus et convoités du monde du metal. 





When Yann met you in 2016, Tunisia was calling for change. Today it is Algeria. Can we say that by releasing these albums, there is a revolution coming up? 

I hope so, in a positive sense. With everything we have with us, VeryShow, Verycord, Edel, and everyone around us, dedicated to making the project a success, hopes that it will work. 


On the music side, your roots are more and more present in your music. Not only through keyboards but also with traditional instruments, violins, etc... This oriental signature makes you completely original. Are you aware that you have built a strong musical identity around Myrath? 

Yes, that's what we've been working on for years. And we tried to develop it on this album "Shehili". The style we created could be called "Blazing Desert Metal". We are no longer a band that plays oriental metal, or Tunisian metal, we play Blazing Desert Metal, it's our new banner, identity. As we invented it, only we play this style. I don't want to sound pretentious, but the metal scene needs innovative bands that explore other sides. There are many groups all over the world, from Mexico to Japan, that are not known due to lack of resources. 


Is that why the title of the album is an Arabic word while "Legacy" and the previous ones had English names? 

No, it has nothing to do with that. "Legacy" was a nod to Ahmed's father who had found us the name Myrath. His legacy of sorts. So we know how to name the album after it to pay tribute to it. 


But above all, it seems as if you are closing a chapter with "Legacy" and opening a new one with "Shehili". 


Yes, in fact we closed the progressive group one to create something new. Unfortunately, the image of the prog prevents it from reaching a wider audience, from integrating more prestigious tours, big festivals, unless of course it is called Dream Theater with a 30-year career. We are not interested in making Dream Theater to be only copies of it. There are many very good bands in this style, who are even better than the Petrucci or Mancini, but they will probably never reach their notoriety because the progressive doesn't allow them anymore today. 


Hence your new symphonic and oriental niche? 

Exactly. Because everyone compares against the leaders of each movement. You are calibrated against these groups and considered as the second, the third,... Well, we weren't in the top three (Laughs), but the prog audience isn't as big as what we want. Of course, our music remains rooted in this style that we have developed. The progressive side of the album is still present. But our ambition and our objective, with the record company, is to reach a wider audience. They have a say and their experience is useful to us. They told us: "You have a talent, you have an identity, you have to exploit them to the full so that more people will listen to you".  




What is the meaning of the symbols on the cover of the album "Shehili"? 

It is a Tunisian symbol, like the "Roumsa" (Editor's note: the one present on previous albums) the Berber symbol used by Tunisian Jews against the evil eye. This one is centuries old, it is called the "Khalla". It is still used today by Tunisian women in the form of a gold or silver brooch to protect them from the evil eye. We have added the Constellation which refers to the song "Mersal" with Lofti Bouchnak who talks about existential war in a metaphorical way with the alignment of the planets. 


Precisely, among the most traditional songs, there is the intro "All" and the very famous "Lili Twil". Does it have any particular significance for you? 


Yes for Mehdi who requested it. She reminds him of his childhood in the Maghreb. At first, she didn't talk to me too much but Kevin was sure that we could fix it up to make it a potential hit. And it works really well. 


About Lofti Bouchnak, how did you come up with the idea of this collaboration? 

Actually, the idea came from me. I grew up with the Lofti songs. It's a little bit of Charles Aznavour from Tunisia and Franck Sinatra from the Arab World. He is received everywhere like a god. He is highly respected. So I am very proud to have been able to sing with him. We contacted his son who had discovered Myrath to him. So he really liked it and decided to do the song for free to support us. 


Is this the most beautiful reconnaissance? 

Exactly!




Is an album entirely in your native language possible? 

Maybe, but probably only if it's in acoustics. I imagine it with an orchestra and traditional instruments, lutes, bouzoukis, Turkish instruments, oriental clarinets as used on'Mersal'. I might even use Chinese instruments like erhu for example (editor's note: a kind of Chinese violin with only one string). For me, music is a laboratory of experiments and I don't like to be confined to a single style. 


Speaking of orchestras, you have already surrounded yourself with one in the past. Is this also the case on "Shehili"? 

Yes, we called on the National Orchestra conducted by the great Mohammed Lassoued. Without bragging, in Tunisia, there are the greatest violinists in the Arab world. They are very popular there. 


And play with an orchestra on stage, on tour? 

It is possible indeed, in any case we would like to do it. Last July, we performed in front of more than 7,000 people in the Roman amphitheatre of Carthage in front of a very varied audience, metal fans, children, seniors, women, some veils that we converted to our religion (Laughs). But we didn't do a concert with an orchestra, so from there to tour it, there's a long way to go. It takes a lot of money to move a logistics like this. We are not yet Sabbaton to afford it. 




Morgan's arrival on the drums stabilized the group. What did you get out of it? Stability? Maturity? 

When you have someone like Morgan in a band, a guy who keeps chasing you*** on every detail, (Laughs) you don't want to let him go. In addition to being a good metal drummer, he has an exceptional musical culture and instrument. He can play anything. Myrath is a Franco-Tunisian band now and the French public can be proud to have such a talented drummer, and so can we. But he's a pain in the ass (Laughs). Every time we tour, even with very big bands like W.A.S.S.P., Symphony X, Tarja, Epica, the guys come to the scales just to see Morgan play.  


Aren't you afraid of losing him? 

Frankly, no one else but us could stand his rotten jokes and nonsense (Laughs) 


The idea that the clips tell a story that continues from one video to another, even on several albums, is excellent. However, they don't really match the lyrics of the two songs. Why? Why? 

Because they are metaphors most of the time. We could have shot a video clip by walking down the street and singing simply, or, in the case of'Dance', we could have taken the poignant story of this Syrian dancer and made a mini-film. We wanted to do a Myrath style "thing" filled with metaphors. The text of "Dance" is not only the story of a dancer who fights against obscurantism, but it tells his struggle which is expressed by the verb Dance instead of the verb Fight. Dance against adversity.


In your texts, you cover a whole range of very current themes, in particular on'Dance', which promotes tolerance and sharing. How do you live this discourse that goes against everything we see every day, namely intolerance and withdrawal? 

This is one of the reasons why we are not well covered in the media in Tunisia. With the rise of the Islamic Front. Even if Tunisia is a fairly safe country now, you feel a form of censorship with movements that want to control youth by keeping them as far away from the West as possible, and put forward their ideology that they consider best for the country. For our part, what we are doing, somewhere, is the opposite. But it's not specific to Tunisia, Iran or Iraq there are metal groups that find no way to make themselves known or even to produce.  





Is it not utopian to carry a message of optimism in a metal that today tends to depict the world with darkness? 

Maybe, but it's better to talk about it than to be deaf to it. Music will not change the world, but it can sometimes change people. So it takes longer of course, but we prefer to remain true to our ideas. 


Are you afraid to destabilize your fans a little bit with this openly more commercial album even if it mixes different influences with ever more power, melodies and emotion? When composing this album, did you take into account the expectations of your audience? 

Yes, we did ask ourselves that question.  A little anecdote to explain to you that this is a permanent concern for us. Once we were in a hotel room in Tunisia at seven or eight with computers, sound cards, instruments, pizzas, a merry mess. And I propose a singing line "Ta-ta-tata". And Elyès tells me "but no, it's going to fry us something like that"; fry us how? "To our fans." We took a long time to write the album, as we always do, because we are looking for well-kept compositions. We are aware of these changes, but how long will we live in fear of disappointing them? I am confident that they will join.


Has this happened to you on previous albums? 

No, mainly for this one. Because we see "Shehili" as an important deviation in our career and in our music. At the time of production, when we took stock of the ideas gathered, we thought that we had to decide. And it seems to us that we haven't made a radical shift but made a change enough not to confuse our fans, out of respect for them, but enough to broaden our business prospects a little. It's a bit like McDonalds against FiveGuys, on the one hand a flavourless industrial and commercial product and on the other hand, a commercial but more elaborate and quality product.  


Myrath, the Five Guys of metal music! 

(Laughs) That could become our slogan with a partnership with Five Guys (Laughs) 



You worked with Kevin Codfert and Jens Borgen (already present on "Legacy"), but this time you also work with Eike Feese who worked with Deep Purple in particular. Why this choice of three producers? 

It's not a choice. We didn't pay any of the three for the work done on the album.  


Oh, yeah? 

Yes. Kevin is a brother, he's like a member of the group, he's the slave of the group, so he works and he keeps his mouth shut (Laughs). He produces and he and is co-author because he wrote almost 75% of the album and therefore took care of the mixing. Iens did mastering in Sweden. He fell in love with the album and started making proposals to improve the mix with super intelligent suggestions. He invested himself as if he was part of the group. Kevin went to Hamburg with the mix and showed it to Max, Edel's boss, who immediately loved it. But they thought it would be a waste to release the album with that drum sound that he found too flat. So he financed the re-recording of the drums at the mythical Cameleon studio under the supervision of Eike Freese. And he too has invested a lot in this part by advising Morgan and adjusting some parts. So it all came in a very natural way. 

 


The title'Monster In My Closet' may seem lighter. What is this song about? 

It is a kind of existential battle that everyone leads against himself, against his inner strength, his own ego, trying to drive out his own demons. It's another metaphor based on that English expression, the monster in your closet, it's your fight against yourself, against your demons. We even made it in Japanese. It's special... 


Finally, what are your expectations for this album? 

I hope that the people who will listen to the album will see that it was made with the heart, in an honest and spontaneous way, without calculation, in a natural way.  


What is the question you would have liked to have been asked? 

It's not really a question, but more of a reflection. I hope that metal fans can open up a little to this new Blazing Desert Metal, a fresh style that breaks the monotony of styles. 


Thank you very much. 

Thank you to you

 

Thanks to Yann de ZicaZic for his contribution


More informations on https://www.myrath.com/
eventuser_idarticle_comment_id
LYNOTT - 03/05/2019 13:31:49
Intelligente interview.
Bravo l'artiste !
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LINKED
DERNIERE ACTUALITE
MYRATH: New album in May
RELEASE

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DERNIER ARTICLE
As their fifth album is leaving for the charts, we met Zaher Zorgati, the singer of Myrath, this sparkling jewel of oriental metal.

Read the article
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DERNIERE CHRONIQUE
Shehili (2019)
An extraordinary melodic power combined with traditional oriental elements that are always better integrated make "Shehili" one of the most beautiful achievements of melodic metal in recent years.

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