Nervecell – Human Chaos
Nervecell are the oldest surviving metal band from UAE. I remember reading about them on phride.com when they first started out and since then have bought all their releases and seen them multiple times live. In the past decade, I have seen Nervecell go from a band playing club shows in Dubai to now a band that tours across the world. In 2011, they were named as one of the “Defenders of the faith” by Metal Hammer Magazine.
Nervecell’s first release, the ‘Human Chaos’ EP came out in 2004, I spoke to Barney Ribeiro, guitarist for the band about the EP and the impact it had on the band and the music scene in United Arab Emirates.
“It feels great man, I distinctly remember the entire process we went through during the recording stage. At that point back in 2004, we were just another local band based in Dubai that had been around for 4 years playing the average local Dubai gig once every 2 months you know. Looking back now and considering how far the band has come since that EP is completely insane!” said Barney looking back at their first release. “It’s a fact that the “Human Chaos” EP officially put us on the metal map internationally. I remember the guys and I were really stoked by all the reviews we received that year from the EP, it really over exceeded our expectations and motivated us to keep pushing forward.”
The band started in university just like most metal bands in UAE. “I am the only original member from the first Nervecell line-up in 2000. How I met James and Rami was almost meant to be.”said Barney about how the present line up of the band got together. “I remember we needed to record a demo (2 tracks) as a requirement to enter this Battle of the bands contest. So we knew a few friends in AUD (American University in Dubai) where we also used to perform at quite frequently who were going to help us record this demo. So during that recording session a lot of the students who went to university there kept walking in and out of the auditorium where we were recording this demo. Two of those random students walking in and out watching us that day was in fact James and Rami haha…I remember briefly exchanging a few words with them that night. Few months later we ended up becoming close friends and eventually James joined the band as the bass player and Rami soon after as the second guitarist as I was the only guitar player in the band up until 2003.”
In 2004, not many bands from UAE had released an EP or album. “The idea to put out an EP only came about when we noticed the fans at the local gigs we played at started asking us how they could find or buy our music, and that sort of struck an idea with us.” said Barney about how the band decided to record their music. “So while balancing our studies (we were all in university back then) we decided to take the summer of 2004 off and hit the studio to record the “Human Chaos” EP. In our mindset back then we really didn’t have any goals as such to be the “first” or to make or break any records being a Middle East based band. Our progression as a band has always been very gradual with everything we set our minds to. I remember telling ourselves we just wanted to put something out as product and have something to look back at. None of us would ever be able to predict what the future would hold for us that’s for sure…It’s been a hell of a ride man but ZERO REGRETS!”
The EP was written while James and Rami were in UAE and Barney in Canada. “We used to write individually a lot and send each other files over the Internet. It helped stay in touch as friends but also as band members as well.” said Barney describing their writing process while he was away. “I would return home to Dubai every summer though and that was when we would line up shows as well. I mean this was all we ever wanted to do anyway, so it was kind of natural for each of us to write even though we were in different continents for that period of almost 4 years when I was away in Canada.”
‘Human Chaos’ was recorded by Kiran Sequeira at his home studio. “It took about 3 to 4 months actually as far as I remember. The reason it took us so long was very much due to the fact that we were working with Kiran’s schedule. The guy had a full time job so the weekdays were hard to deal with anyway, seeing that he only had so much time for us after his work.” said Barney about how recorded the album. “We would try and get as much done in sessions over the weekends but we couldn’t really get every weekend available either to work with him. Hence the reason why it took us so long again, but oh well you learn to work with what you have and one thing we definitely did not have at that point of time was a huge budget! We pretty much used the money our folks would give us to buy food and other basics while being university students to invest into that EP.”
The recording had it’s share of funny incidents. “There was this one time I was tracking guitars and Kiran’s girlfriend was sitting right behind me on the couch and stretching her hands out while she was totally engrossed watching TV with her headset on.” said Barney looking back at the recording sessions. “So she had no idea her hands were like touching my shoulders or my hair or something while she was stretching, and I of course had my headphones on too as I was recording my guitar tracks. So typically I assumed it was James or Rami trying to distract me or annoy me while here I am totally focusing on nailing my guitar parts for the EP. So basically I ended up abusing the shit out her without even knowing what was actually happening going “Stop…stop touching me you F#^ckin #%^^%%&” haha… It was hilarious because I only later noticed Rami and James sitting down away in the corner totally cracking up watching this whole awkward situation take place.”
The EP got reviews from across the world and opened up quite a few doors for the band. “Absolutely, it was totally overwhelming. We were blown away by the amount of great reviews we received week after week. I mean we sent out a few copies ourselves by mail to magazines and websites, zines etc. but we got reviews from a lot more places than we anticipated via the Internet. It was really motivating for us to be honest because we had no idea the reach we were going to receive beforehand. It was an incredible time for us man.” said Barney about the response they received. “Because of that EP we got the slot to open for the Dubai Desert Rock Festival in 2005 with Sepultura and Machine Head. As well as a tour in Australia as our first official tour ever outside the UAE, followed by a few one-off shows in Egypt (out of all places) and later on our first European Festival appearance too in Tolmin, Slovenia at Metal Camp, which is now called Metal Days Festival. So like I said, it really did open a lot of doors for us, so to say we are happy with the response would be an understatement.”
“I would personally like to re-do some of the drum tracks that were programmed on the EP.” said Barney about things that he would like to change about the release.”I mean for the time, budget constraints and facilities available in Dubai that we had back in 2004 we did the best we could. But yea looking back 10 years later I think that is the one thing I would probably change, at the same time the whole rawness of the EP is what makes it special it its own way I guess.”
Nervecell are currently working on their 3rd album. “You can definitely expect it for a 2016 release, not earlier because there is a lot that goes on before we even set a confirmed release date.” said Barney updating us on the status of the album. “We are writing music as we speak and will continue to do so for the rest of 2015. We also just recently left Lifeforce Records and signed with Unique Leader Records for the new album, so we look forward to putting out our debut with them and we can’t wait until we unleash it onto the rest of the world and see where that takes us next!”
Here is me favourite track from the ‘Human Chaos‘ EP