Creative Waste – Essam, Guitars
While death and black metal have enjoyed some level of mainstream exposure and success, for the most part, grindcore remains one of the most extreme and underground forms of music around. And remarkably enough, it can be found all over the world. Some of the best grindcore bands come from locations as diverse as the Czech Republic, Japan, Australia; and now…the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. We’ve all seen the reports of metal bands forming in the Middle East, but really…most of them suck. It’s awesome to see bands forming in these regions, but they’re usually nothing special. That changes with Creative Waste, who create some truly savage and pissed off grind that any fan of Nasum or Pig Destroyer would be happy to blast. The bands’ music (and their potential) speaks for itself, but thankfully guitarist Essam recently took the time to answer a few of our questions and shed some light on a region of the world that is unfamiliar to most of us and show how great music really is universal.
For those unfamiliar with Creative Waste, how would you describe your band?
Y helo thar. My name’s Essam and I’m the guitarist of the band. Well, to put it short and simple, Creative Waste is a non-stop, in-your-face, aggressive force to be reckoned with, lethal, disastrous, monstrous, homoerotic, not-so-homoerotic, completely heterosexual, at least I think so, satisfaction guaranteed, with kung fu grip, grindcore band from Saudi Arabia. I wouldn’t want to bore you with the details.
I read that the band met while going to school in the United States. How long were you here for, and at what point did you return to Saudi Arabia?
I was actually in the US for about 10 years. I pretty much grew up there until I returned to Saudi in 2001 a few months before the 9/11 attacks (thankfully). My bandmates who are actually brothers stayed two years total, 1994 and 1998. We met in 1998 and began scheming to take over the world until we decided that making a band would be a little bit easier.
A lot of people have the perception that Saudi Arabia isn’t exactly the most “free” place to live, and that music is frowned upon. Is this a misconception? What’s the legal status of being able to openly perform music, especially something like grindcore? Are you allowed to set up concerts?
Not at all. It is strictly forbidden and looks like it will remain so for the foreseeable future. Most of our shows have been set up in private Western-based compounds where the religious police and the like have no access to. Makes it a lot easier for us and for them. Some of us are under the impression that they know all about what’s going on in these shows. As long as drugs and alcohol are not involved, they wouldn’t bother themselves over it.
You have two demos out so far, what’s the reception been like?
Thankfully, it’s been very positive. We still haven’t fully released our latest but we’re starting to roll out with the first batch of copies.
Do you face any threat of censorship?
As far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t really matter. Nothing’s going to stop me from playing/performing/writing hard, relentless music. We’ve never had the right to play shows publically, but nobody, and I repeat, nobody can strip you of your creativity.
What’s the Saudi metal scene like? Do a lot of people listen to metal, or is it relatively small?
It’s tough to say. People who listen to Metal in Saudi are a pretty miniscule crowd. We all practically know each other, well the musicians at least. But now, all these new fads that have plagued the US and European scenes are starting to take form in Saudi Arabia and other parts of the gulf region and it’s proving to be quite annoying as it seems to be all about the image. I don’t mean to be an asshole as some of these guys are our friends, but the gimmick is tired. It’s all about the music, and not about the flair.
Are there any other local bands that people should check out?
I would recommend Deathless Anguish firstly for the extreme metalheads. These guys rip like no other band in the region. Old school Death Metal at its finest, I would say.
Did you see that Jamie Foxx movie The Kingdom? Shit was pretty awful…
Thankfully, I haven’t and possibly won’t. Thanks for the heads up! Haha.
What (non-SA) metal bands are popular over there?
Megadeth, Metallica, Children of Bodom, Linkin Park, shit, shit, and more shit.
I saw a picture of this one Saudi deathcore band and they were wearing All Shall Perish and The Black Dahlia Murder shirts, and it made me kinda sad. You can make a fairly convincing argument for the negative impact the United States’ presence in the Middle East has had, but nothing seems to illustrate that point more than the fact we’ve introduced the metalcore trend your region. On behalf of the U.S., I apologize.
I don’t think that’s enough. You guys owe us big time. Hahaha. It’s really funny. Just the other day, I was telling Fawaz – our bassist/vocalist – that in the coming months, we will see an assault of new, up-and-coming Deathcore acts. Lo and behold, two days later, 3 new Deathcore bands from Jeddah were formed. It’s funny how fast trends travel these days. I wonder what they’ll think of (or rip-off) next! *suspense*
A lot of metal bands tend to attack Christianity and delve into Satanic imagery, how fast would a Saudi band be put into jail (or worse) if they made an anti-Islamic song? Also what’s the general feeling amongst young people towards religion?
They’d be jailed faster than you could say SATAN. But of course, you could be talking about SATA hard disks. We’ve heard of many cases where people were locked up for bringing up SATA hard disks. Joking aside, young people can be as naive as older people are when it comes to religion. In my personal belief, most people in a way are hypocritical when it comes to their beliefs. And this doesn’t just apply to this country. For example, one day you’d see someone trying to get some play from a girl at a mall (this happens alot) and the other day you’d see that same person condemning someone for playing music. It gets old really quickly and I just don’t bother with anyone anymore. You just can’t argue with closed-minded (whether religious or non-religious) people and I wouldn’t recommend anyone to do so. You rarely see any anti-religious folk in Saudi and if you do, you’d know damn well that their keeping it to themselves or else the shit would instantly hit the fan. I wouldn’t put it past anybody to write an anti-Islamic song, especially with the complete anonymity of the internets (many many internets), but that’s not the kind of audience you’d want to attract here.
Judging by the cover of ‘Cruelty Beyond Conception’ and the band’s lyrics, you’re obviously a fairly political band. What’s the overall message you’d like listeners to walk away with?
We’re not rebels. We’re not going to wage war on anybody in order to better ourselves or our message. But the state at which things are currently going is too much for many people to understand. Cover-ups, scandals, corruption, war-profiteering, you just can’t stop this machine from stopping and it’ll keep going on and on for generations. The sad thing is, nobody will ever fully grasp what goes on behind closed doors as long as the media has anything to say about it. Especially with what’s currently happening in the Middle East. In the end, I always have to ask myself ‘Is this the War on Terror, or War for Terror?’. To conclude, I’d like to quote Nasum’s late Miezsko:
“Fuck the system like it fucks you every fucking day.”
Some listeners might say: It’s all well and good to point out the corruption and greed and war mongering of governments (and that’s certainly prevalent in the U.S.), but given the history of the Middle East and Saudi Arabia, and the lack of civil liberties and basic human rights, the oppression and persecution of women and minorities, and just a lack of personal freedom and choice, wouldn’t that be a more pertinent topic to cover with your music?
I don’t see any oppression or corruption in Saudi Arabia. Who ever said there was any? Or a better question would be, do you really want me to die in a pool of my own piss? No thank you, hahaha. That’s a very, very touchy subject that many people want to touch upon but all ears are open.
What bands are you listening to currently?
Flagitious Idiosyncrasy in the Dilapidation. I just got their full-length album. Man these girls know how to grind. Cute Japanese chicks playing ass-ripping grindcore? Sign me the fuck up!
If you could bring any band to your country to perform, who would it be?
Napalm Death. Hands down. We were actually going to play with them once in Dubai but that never finalized. We were excited as hell but it was a huge disappointment that the organizers couldn’t deliver on their promises.
Other than a love of music, the other main reason for starting a band is to get chicks. Is that an extra challenge, since they have to be covered up all the time and stuff? (or is that another dumb misconception we have?)
Yeah, that’s a pretty common misconception. Girls who attend gigs here don’t cover up at all. Something many people tend to ignore is the fact that Saudi has a LOT of rich folk, most of whom travel frequently and usually allow their daughters to do almost whatever they want. And you’ve got the girls who were raised abroad. There’s all sorts of people in this country. If I wanted chicks, I don’t think I’d be playing grindcore, hahaha. I’d probably play goregrind. I’d get lots of tail by gurgling and vomiting tales of intrigue and love. That’s a joke, of course.
Is it hard to discover underground bands, or does the Internet make that fairly easy? Is there anywhere to go to buy metal CDs and t-shirts in the country?
There’s a small place called Music Master in a few regions of Saudi Arabia that sells Metal CDs and shirts. Last I saw, they had a bunch of Suffocation, Cannibal Corpse, and Nile CDs. But I usually order my shirts and CDs online through many online retailers like Hot Topic. If you took what I just said seriously, die. Or do us a favor and wipe all Hot Topic outlets from the planet. Then all is forgiven. If only I were an online terrorist, I’d so bomb their website.
Are there any plans to hook up with any foreign record labels, or play outside of Saudi Arabia anytime soon?
We’ll keep you posted.
Are you working on any new material?
We never stop working on new material. Right now, we have about 20 to 30 unrecorded songs just waiting to be recorded. Again, we’ll keep you posted if anything new comes up.
Thanks for your time, do you have any final words for our readers?
Thanks a whole lot for the support. We read the comments you usually make in the forums and while most of them are funny as hell, they give us the fuel to work harder and harder every time. Also, be sure to check out Cruelty Beyond Conception and e-mail me (firstname.lastname@example.org) for a copy. You guys are seriously awesome and this was a kick-ass interview. One of the best I’ve done. Cheers!