I sat down with Nao, the lead singer of the rock band, Lazywall. They are a Modern Hard Rock band based in Tangier (Morocco). The band was in 2003 when brothers Monz and Nao got into the local Reading (UK) music scene. The band have played before large crowds in a lot of shows, a few festivals and have even recorded an EP with Steve Albini.
I particularly like the name of the band, it was coined from a particular wall that overlooks the Mediterranean were Kids and young people smoke and dream of a better life across the sea. The locals call the wall “Lazy Wall. Lazywall has definitely made it across the Mediterranean with tours in France and the Czech Republic. They have come a long way and have a growing fanbase.
Billy (Audioinferno): How are you and how are preparations for the release of your new album.
Nao (Lazywall): I’m doing great thanks. We already got half of the album ready, now we are working on the other songs. We are looking at the end of summer for the release.
Billy (Audioinferno): That’s awesome. Can you give us a brief history of Lazywall?
Nao (Lazywall): Lazywall is a Moroccan rock band formed in the UK in 2003, after 4 years we moved back to Morocco when we realised there was a fast growing rock underground scene; we wanted to be a part of it.
The band has 4 albums released and we are working on the 5th currently, the first EP was recorded in Chicago with Nirvana’s producer Steve Albini, since then, most of our recordings were done in our home recording studio.
Billy (Audioinferno): That’s great. Tell us about the Rock community in Morocco.
Nao (Lazywall): Well, it’s quite a huge scene. There’s a lot of death metal fans, but most of them appreciate all genres of rock as well. The first time we played in Morocco was at the biggest rock festival in the country, L’Boulevard Festival, back in 2006. Coming from England, we had no idea about this festival until we went out on stage and found ourselves in front of 20,000 rocking fans. That night we played with Moonspell, it was such a big impact on us that when we went to England, we had already decided we wanted to move back home and stay here.
Billy (Audioinferno): That’s super impressive.
Nao (Lazywall): The only problem here and I guess it’s the same everywhere, is that rock bands don’t get much exposure in big media like TV and Radio. But there are more and more rock bands each year and we have begun to have more venues accepting Rock/Metal bands. There is still a lot of work to do, but at least all rock fans have one big date to gather each year, which is at L’Boulevard festival in Casablanca.
Billy (Audioinferno): How have you dealt with this problem so far?
Nao (Lazywall): Well personally, we were lucky enough to have decent radio airplay in national radios; I guess playing a modern rock genre instead of death metal does help with broadcasts. We are also the first rock band to play live on national TV, which gave us a lot of exposure to reach more fans. The addition of Moroccan and traditional Arabic instruments also helped. Mostly for being booked in more festivals.
Billy (Audioinferno): That’s a very impressive record of accomplishments you have going there.
Nao (Lazywall): Thank you, Billy.
Billy (Audioinferno): How would you describe your sound? Has it been constant over the years or have you gone through any form of evolution?
Nao (Lazywall): Well, when we started in the UK, it was a pure 3-piece rock band. Heavy guitar riffs with melodic vocals. Post-grunge influence mostly.
However, since we came back to Morocco, we started adding more and more Arabic instruments, like the oud, which is oriental Luth and also many different percussions like Darbouka or Bendir.
We still sing in English but from time to time, we add some darija lyric, which is the Moroccan dialect.
The whole thing rather blended perfectly, many of the metal riffs are in Drop D tuning, same as many Moroccan traditional instruments, which helps, create the heavy atmosphere.
The hardest part was to try keeping it in the rock/metal genre and not falling into the world music or fusion. So what we do is, we keep playing the metal guitar riff but sometimes with the Oud instead of the guitar.
Billy (Audioinferno): I get that. It’s really difficult staying true to your art and it’s really admirable what you guys are doing. Let’s talk about the new album for a minute. What’s the creative process for this album been like? Is it any different from previous albums?
Nao (Lazywall): Thanks. We are still deciding if we will be releasing a double album or two different albums, two or three months apart. We have about 12-13 new songs, and 10 old unreleased songs. For now, we are more focused on the new songs. They will be gathered in one album titled “The Hundredth Monkey”. For the creative process on the previous albums, a songwriter wrote each song. Usually, the one who wrote the song brings it into the studio and we all record it. On this album, we are spending a bit more creative time in the studio.
Billy (Audioinferno): I can’t wait to hear it.
Nao (Lazywall): We’ll send you a copy when it’s ready.
Billy (Audioinferno): That’s awesome. Let’s talk about the African Rock scene, what bands have you worked with in Morocco and what bands would you like to work with?
Nao (Lazywall): Well, we are discovering more about the African rock scene thanks to sites like Audioinferno. Thanks for what you guys are doing for the rock scene. Previously, we were focused on playing Europe or USA. We toured a few countries like UK, France and even the Czech Republic. We also got invited to perform at the SXSW festival in Austin, Texas.
However, we would love to play in Africa more. There’s so much to achieve for all the rock fans over here. It’s like being a part of something that is starting. We got invited to play at a Rock Festival in Burkina Faso year but due to lack of sponsorship, they couldn’t afford the flight tickets because flying in Africa is still very expensive.
We are trying to reach a few festivals all around the continent, but as you know, rock bands have more difficulty getting booked.
One of the new songs will be a collaboration with Masters Musicians of Jajouka, which is the ‘oldest Rock ’n’ Roll band in the world’, 1000 years old band of flutes & percussions, from father to son. Brian Jones from the rolling stones discovered them internationally, in the 60’s; they recorded a song with the rolling stones in their album Steel Wheels.
In our previous album, we recorded a song with many Moroccan artists like Hoba Hoba Spirit, which is one of the greatest Moroccan bands, and Hamid El Hadri.
Billy (Audioinferno): Would you be interested in playing in Nigeria sometime?
Nao (Lazywall): Of course! As soon as we find out about a rock festival in Nigeria, we will be the first band to contact them.
Billy (Audioinferno): That’s awesome. We have a rock festival called Rocktoberfest and we would love to have you guys around. Lastly, do you have any advice for any upcoming rock bands in Africa today?
Nao (Lazywall): In general, for any band who is starting, they should focus on finding their sound. This is what makes them different and maybe unique from other bands. As for African bands, we need more contact between all of us. A collective growth as a rock scene.
It would make things much easier. Nowadays, with the internet, we can afford to cut the middleman.
Billy (Audioinferno): That’s great advice bro. Thanks a lot for your time today.
Nao (Lazywall): Thanks for the interview.
So that is if from Nao, it was a very awesome chat and we hope to have some more soon down the line as they launch their album.
Do not forget to stay in touch with us for more news on Lazywall and other bands in the African scene,