Local band of bishops on the Beirut block
Lebanese music fans will soon hear a lot of The Wanton Bishops. Founded in 2011 by Nader Mansour and Eddy Ghosein, the band blends the best of rock, Americana and delta Blues to deliver explosive and original tunes. They talked to The Daily Star about their passion for music and first album that was released recently.
Q: Who are The Wanton Bishops? How did you meet?
N.M: Eddy plays guitar. I play guitar, harmonica and sing. And we hire guys [when needed.]
E.G: The venue proposes a drummer and bassist. We just started. We don’t know how it is going to end ... We used to play in a blues band before.
Q: Why this name for the band?
E.G: [Nader] came up with the “Wanton” part and I came up with “Bishops.” We needed a dynamic to provoke [people], so we added “Bishops.” We wanted a name that – when you Google it – you don’t find anyone else but us.
N.M: “Wanton” is the highest state of horniness in a woman before she comes.
Q: In how many venues have you performed? In what kind of venues have you performed?
N.M: We performed in [Gemmayzeh’s] Torino Express [a surprise concert on July 11.] It was weird and tight, but it felt right. We’re planning to play in non-venues like old bus and train stations or factories.
E.G: We don’t like regular venues. No one has ever played in Torino, it was far-fetched.
Q: What are your inspirations, musical or otherwise?
E.G: I’m inspired by English music from the 1960s like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones. The very definition of rock’n’roll is The Rolling Stones.
N.M: That is where we differ. Most of my influences are dead people: Skip James, Robert Johnson. I’m influenced by the Mississippi scene.
Q: How would you define your musical style? And who would you like people to compare your music to?
N.M: We sound like a Mississippi swamp alligator raping Queen Elizabeth.
Q: Are your songs/lyrics autobiographical or are you storytellers – like the early work of Chris De Burgh?
N.M: Mainly autobiographical. We’re into bad liver, heartbreak and the loss of God eventually. There is no mutilation.
E.G: There are two names that I can’t stand hearing: it’s Chris De Burgh and Tracy Chapman. But there is this positive vibe that comes along [when we write.]
Q: Describe how “Sleep with the Lights On” took the form it has today.
N.M: We dedicated this song to a friend of us who died. She went too early. [Silence]
Q: Do you all compose the music and lyrics, or is it a collaborative process?
E.G: We used to meet and start writing songs. But it never worked.
N.M: I would go and disappear in the mountains. It was inspiring, it’s a healthy dynamic. What I write, Eddy takes it to the right level.
Q: Do you prefer bands whose performances of their recorded songs are exactly like on the CD?
N.M: F no! We come from the Blues. It is a unique moment every time you play.
E.G: We know how we think. We know what to do, we can easily wrap it up. When it comes to The Wanton Bishops, when we play it live, we play the music differently. When we first started rehearsing live, we found it sounded good. So, we kept it like that. If he [Nader] goes off track, I’ll understand. And if I go off track, he’ll understand.
Q: What international bands do you like? Who do you like in Lebanon?
E.G: We like the band The Wanton Bishops and only that! I like everything inspired by ’60s music: The Rolling Stones, The Arctic Monkeys, The Beatles and Oasis.
N.M: I dig what Scrambled Eggs and Slutterhouse did. It’s not my kind of music but it is respectful. I’m more into The Black Keys, Seasick Steve and Jack White.
Q: Any records to be released soon?
N.M: We just released one. We give it away for free. People are free to rip it, tear it, like it or dislike it.
E.G: We don’t have a record label. The money is in live performances. We really enjoy playing live.
For those who didn’t have the chance to get a hold of The Wanton Bishops’ album “Bad Rhyme,” listen to their music on their Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/thewantonbishopsofficial.