Decibel Exclusive: Coat Of Arms
Coat Of Arms
These guys need no formal introduction if you were lucky enough to catch them live at Maelstrom 2015.
Coat of Arms is a metalcore/djent/industrial metal band hailing from the UAE. Team Decibel was able to have a chat with Mohammed Bailouni, and Shannon ‘Panther’ Peiris from CoA about the bands origin, their experience playing at Maelstorm 2015, bands first time performing in Sri Lanka and as well as what is brewing in the CoA camp.
DecibelLK: Tell us a bit about you guys, the origin story of Coat of Arms
Bailouni: It’s a relatively long story, but I started the band almost 9 years ago. With playing shows and putting together DIY tours around the UAE, we gradually became one of the mainstays in the UAE music scene.
After our first album “This is Manslaughter”, we worked with Diego Farias of the band Volumes to release our second album “Sun & Satellites” back in January 2013. Due to unfortunate circumstances, we were forced into making a number of member changes earlier this year whilst writing the latest album “A Shade of Red”. After that album was released, we got our first taste of international touring in Portugal and Sri Lanka.
photo credits: Aki Peiris (cloud attic)
DecibelLK: You joined the band recently, tell us how you came in to the picture?
Shannon: Even though I only joined the guys officially about 1 year ago, this story goes back about 3 years. They had just released Sun & Satellites when I discovered them through Facebook and I was really digging the music. I was especially impressed by the quality of both the songwriting and the production. In the Middle East, especially in Qatar, metal musicians can be few and far between and I saw they didn’t have a permanent drummer at the time so I reached out to them.
Things only really started picking up a year and a half after that when the guys were writing the demos for “A Shade of Red”. Having no full time drummer, Bailouni was looking for some input on the drum tracks which is when we started having writing sessions together. During this time, things really started to click, and best of all, we were writing some killer material. Thus began the start of an awesome working relationship, which then evolved into an awesome friendship as well. Fast forward to a few months later, “A Shade of Red” has dropped and we started lining up some live gigs.
At that point, the guys asked me to come on board full time. It was definitely a cool experience moving from being a fan of the band, to helping them write in the studio to then joining them on stage. All in all, I think it worked out for the best for all of us.
DecibelLK: Tell us about the genre you guys are into, and why? Since the community has different opinions when it comes to the modern progressive/djent movement and what inspires you guys when it comes to composing material, songwriting etc.?
Shannon: When it comes to our musical preferences, we all are widely varied. If you run through the band members, you’ll see that our influences are eclectic and run the gamut from mainstream top 40 to underground death metal and back again.
I’ll let you in on a secret, Mannan is a huge Michael Jackson fan.
The common denominator for all us is that we were all products of the Nu-Metal era and it’s not something we shy away from. I think we all are open minded enough to agree that you can learn something from any different kind of music, whether it be compositionally, or even production wise. As for the modern progressive/djent movement, we’d say that we only half fit into those categories. We incorporate some industrial elements, electronic elements and at times fly our nu-metal flag high as well.
Songwriting wise, Bailouni is the primary songwriter and he’ll throw down a riff that we all collaborate on with our inputs. We tend to focus on groove and melody while also leaving plenty of room for the vocals to breathe and take center stage. All the odd time signature, polymeter, off beat stuff should be complimentary to groove and melody, not working against that. That’s something we’re pretty keen on – not playing obscurely progressive just for the sake of playing obscurely progressive.
DecibelLK: Tell us about the album ‘ A Shade Of Red’ and how it is different to the bands previous work such as ‘Sun & Satellites’ and ‘Inheritance’?
Bailouni: The main difference is that “A Shade of Red” was completely recorded, mixed, mastered and produced in-house. After “Sun & Satellites” we really felt that we needed to go back to our roots and create an album that truly represented where we came from and what we grew up on. Musically, it’s far more mature and embraces a lot of the influences we grew up on in 90’s. Lyrically, the album raises the issues that we feel are relatively unattended in modern society. It raises questions about modern day sociological struggles. It’s an album that we feel is very much genre less. It has so many elements of what we ourselves enjoy, but blended in a way to where we can proudly say that it’s the first album that has a signature Coat of Arms sound.
DecibelLK: You guys had the opportunity to work with Diego Farias from Volumes, how was the experience working with him?
Bailouni: It was fantastic working with him. He really understood what we were trying to achieve with that album and put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into shaping it. It’s quite easy to say that without his input and production style, it would never have turned out the way it did. He became the external voice and opinion that we needed to better understand where our songs could be pushed into newer directions.
pic highlights from MusicRoom – Dubai
DecibelLK: How is the heavy metal scene in Middle East compared to other parts of the world? And how is the demand for you guys as a Djent/Metalcore band in Middle East?
Shannon: There’s a lot of good things and a lot of bad things I could say about the Middle Eastern scene.
Overall, it’s a pretty small community that is largely tight knit. A large barrier to overcome in the local scene is the general populace’s perception of metal combined with the conservative nature of the region. Last year, there was a show where we were to open for Belgian Death Metal veterans Aborted, where they had to be removed them from the bill for fear of getting the entire show shut down. That kind of thing can make it a bit difficult putting on shows. Even though we don’t touch on the more controversial topics with our lyrics and don’t subscribe to typical metal imagery, we’re still under the overall umbrella of metal and face the same barriers that impact those who do.
As far as demand goes, CoA have been around for quite some time now so there’s a solid following of fans in the region. The community is small so being around for as long as we have and keeping active means we’ve been fortunate to stay relevant. It makes playing the hometown shows a lot of fun. The next step is really breaking further out of the region so we’re always looking to expand and play internationally to new fans who haven’t had the opportunity to hear us before – much like we did at Maelstrom.
pic highlights from Maelstrom 2015 – Colombo, Sri Lanka
DecibelLK: How good was it to be back in Sri Lanka, playing for your home crowd? And this was COA’s first time in Sri Lanka, how the experience at Maelstrom 2015 for the band?
Shannon: Looking back on it, playing in Sri Lanka was far more overwhelming for me than I thought that it would be. All of us were pumped to be playing in Sri Lanka at Maelstrom 2015 – getting to travel, getting to play on a massive stage, and most of all getting to play for a bunch of people who had never heard of us before. What we were easily the most excited for was that we were playing for people who were HUNGRY for metal. I can’t tell you how many shows I’ve been to where the crowd was complacent and taking for granted that they watching musicians play metal on stage, pouring their heart and soul into it.
That was not at all what we experienced in Sri Lanka.
Everyone was 100% grateful to be there and they made sure they showed it. Trust me when I say, we all felt it when we left the stage. The outpouring of love and support since then has continued to this day and we are forever grateful. Maelstrom 2015 will be a day I’ll remember proudly when I’m at death’s door, as a metalhead and a fellow Lankan.
We WILL be back, you can count on that.
DecibelLK: What’s your opinion about the heavy metal industry in Sri Lanka, compared to the Middle East? (as COA)
Shannon: I remember having a chat with some people at Maelstrom about the Sri Lankan scene and their perception was the Middle East scene was more developed, much better known, and altogether more robust than the Sri Lankan scene and I can wholeheartedly say I think the opposite.
Locally, the Sri Lankan scene has more people, more metalheads, more musicians, more bands and more concerts. Stigmata aside, who are legends and pioneers in their own right, I am thoroughly impressed with the quality of metal I’ve seen come out of Sri Lanka – Mass Damnation, Sacrament, Nevi’im, Constellation, the list goes on….you guys (and girls) are writing technical, heavy, thought provoking progressive music of a supremely high caliber – I mean the proficiency of musicianship alone is inspiring. I was also really impressed that the Sri Lankan scene has the ability to muster a couple thousand people together for a show, that definitely would not be possible back in Dubai, unless they pulled in people from neighboring countries like they used to do with Dubai Desert Rock.
I’d say the primary difference between the Sri Lankan scene and the Middle Eastern scene would really come down to exposure. The Middle Eastern scene is better equipped when it comes to breaking outside of country borders, whereas Sri Lanka’s scene is unfortunately largely confined to Sri Lanka, making it harder to get your name out there.
DecibelLK: How was it to work with iCLOWN on his remix of Silence the Sensor from your recent album?
Bailouni: It was a relatively straightforward process. iCLOWN got a chance to see us at Malestrom last August and then sent us a private message the following week asking if we would be willing to collaborate with him on a remix. He showed a tremendous amount of enthusiasm for “Silence The Sensor”, so we sent him all the files and material he needed and within a couple of weeks he put out the final mix. Needless to say, when we heard it genuinely blew us away. The fact that he could reinterpret a song so drastically and yet still retain it’s raw energy. It was honor to collaborate with a fan to that degree, and it’s not something we’ve ever done before. He really understands his craft like no other and is incredibly talented. It’s cool to see electronic artists blur genres in a fresh way.
DecibelLK: Some of the highlights, achievements of the band from last year?
Shannon: Last year was a massive year for us in CoA. We kicked the year off dropping “ A Shade of Red”, went through some line-up reconfiguration (I wouldn’t really say changes), knocked off some firsts playing internationally, first with Portugal at the Santa Maria Festival and then with Maelstrom in Sri Lanka.
pic highlights from The SMS Festival – Portugal
Overall, we bonded really well last year, got closer as friends, a band and a live unit and that to me is the biggest achievement. When that happens, it just makes everything else that much more fun – which is why, we all do this in the first place.
DecibelLK: What are the new developments at COA camp, anything that your fans could expect anytime soon? Tours, albums, eps, tracks etc.
Shannon: As always, things are in the works.
Bailouni is a machine and he does a really good job of immersing himself in the studio whether it’s composing, refining production techniques, recording other artists etc. For now though, we’ll keep it on the down low and just say, stay tuned for some killer announcements this year.
DecibelLK: A special note to all your fans? A shout out to some of the people who are worth mentioning
Bailouni: 2015 was a momentous year for all of us and we met so many fantastic people along the way.
Whether it was before or after shows, around the towns we visited, or just in our local neighborhoods, everyone has been nothing short of incredibly supportive. We really just want to thank everyone that follows and believes in what we are doing.
We honestly do this for people like them, and even though it seems farfetched, we consciously try to keep in touch and engage with as many of them as we can.
We never forget you.
Support Coat Of Arms album ‘A Shade Of Red’ by purchasing it from their bandcamp
There was never an international scene without a local one
Interview by Aseka Wickramarachchi (bassist – Constellation)
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