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One of Bahrain’s hottest musical exports is on the road to stardom as it gets ready to launch its debut single this month.
Sheikh, a four-piece band originally formed in Bahrain and now residing in London, is unleashing Fonda upon listeners worldwide, which it hopes will be the first of many hits.
Consisting of lead singer and rhythm guitarist Mazen Almaskati, drummer Vish Mhatre, bassist Rab Honar and lead guitarist Jad Gabriel Habib, the band formed as a three-piece in the kingdom and were formerly known as ‘& The Centurions’ before recruiting Jad after moving to London in 2010 for their university studies.
Speaking about the formation of the band, Vish said: “I knew Mazen used to play drums, and at school I went up to him once and I asked him to show me some stuff, but he said no because I wasn’t cool enough!
“However, a few years later he saw me playing a drum solo and asked if I wanted to start a band. We met Rab at some house parties we used to go to and finally we met Jad, donned in full KISS make-up, wolfing down some spicy wings in South Kensington. True story!”
The band’s style, described as ‘guitar-driven psych rock’ with pop and indie influences which include the likes of The Cure, Arcade Fire, New Radicals and Fleetwood Mac, is apparent on Fonda. The single, due for release on January 16, was produced by Grammy Award-winner Ian Dowling, who has previous experience with artists such as Adele, Jungle and Bombay Bicycle Club.
Discussing the process of producing the single, Vish said: “Ian is a great guy. We sent the demo of Fonda to an agency he is part of, which is essentially a collective of some of the most forward-thinking producers in the UK. They recommended the demo to him and he obviously liked what he heard. It was an easy choice for us too, after hearing who he had worked with before!”
Rab added: “It was really cool working with Ian; he really helped us feel relaxed and comfortable to be able to record in the studio, which was pretty much a massive house in the Manchester countryside with loads of vintage gear!”
Plans for a full album are firmly in place, with the band having sent feelers out to various labels and a tentative release date of late 2015 or early 2016 is on the cards.
Despite being based in the UK now, the band has strong praise for the up-and-coming music scene in Bahrain, which they still have a heavy association with.
Vish described: “I think the music scene is making a real comeback in Bahrain thanks to a few people who really care about it. The guys over at Museland Records are really pushing the scene for upcoming bands in the kingdom. Ali Al Saeed, who is a good friend of ours, is making it a point to make it possible for bands to play good shows.
“We would love to come back to Bahrain to play a few gigs, as well as tour as many countries as we can!”
The band’s rise to the mainstream is on course, with another single set to be recorded in February and hopefully an EP to follow in March. Then, after the rest of the year is spent cramming in as many shows as possible, the album will be raring to go. If it’s half as good as Fonda, it promises exciting times ahead.