Inbetween The Screams (ITS): First off, congratulations to you guys on the release of the new album, Storm Clouds, it’s a stunning album. You have to stand back and be proud of that but it must be great to finally get it out there, it’s been a while since Heart Against The Feather? How’s the album being received?
Magdy: Thank you very much! Yes we are definitely very, very proud of ‘Storm Clouds’ and we are delighted to see how much love we have been receiving from everyone about the album…it’s a great feeling for sure!!! It’s been a long time coming, the last album was released back in 2012 so it’s great to finally bring something new into the world.
ITS: A new line-up since then too, with Rico and Dave coming in. How did you find them and what have they brought to the Cairo Son table? Guitarists can be notoriously difficult to work with. What would you say the other guys would pinpoint as your best and worst traits?
Magdy: Yes it’s a new line up since the last album. Rico joined in the summer of 2014, originally together with another drummer. I met them at a Harley Davidson event and they were playing in another band on the same bill…I guess you could say I head hunted them ha ha!!! Things unfortunately didn’t work out with the drummer and he left. I had met Dave a while back and then bumped into him after our drummer left. We started talking and it turned out he was a drummer so we got him into the studio and things have been going strong ever since. Ha ha yeah, I’m definitely not the easiest guitarist to work with but I’d like to think that they both saw/see something in me. Worst trait…I’m a perfectionist. Best trait…I’m a perfectionist!!!
ITS: Is it fair to say that Storm Clouds is a departure from the first album, Heart Against The Feather, sonically? To me Heart Against the Feather wears a very strong blues hat whereas Storm Clouds is a lot dirtier with a real overdriven vibe, definitely Jerry Cantrell on this compared to Richie Sambora on the last. Is that a conscious change or just a natural evolution in your playing? Who lights your six-string fire at the moment?
Magdy: Yeah I think that’s fair to say. I have been inspired and influenced by so many different styles of music, bands, singers and guitarists that I just let whatever comes out, come out!!! I’ve always been into the heavier side of rock music and it’s just evolved that way I guess. Having Dave and Rico now in the band has really shaped our sound nicely…it’s awesome. Both of them are great musicians and I think we have something great together…Cairo Son is finally a band!!! I couldn’t tell you at the moment who is my top guitar player cos I’m always learning from everyone. I recently went to see Eric Bell and I learnt a lot just from that one gig!
ITS: The Les Paul Custom is a real cornerstone of rock history. I see there’s also a 335 in there too. Is this a Gibson thang……? Anything else lurking off-stage hoping for a return to the six-string spotlight? How and when did you pick the Les Paul Custom up? I see you have also embraced the Blackstar range of amps? Is that for the flexibility in the modelling available? It’s hard to leave the Marshall family though, yes? Is it always Marshall’s for gigging?
Magdy: I love my LP Custom, I picked one up sometime in my early twenties and yes there’s a 335 in my arsenal but it’s not necessarily a Gibson thing. I love guitars and play a variety depending on what’s needed. I still love my fenders, first guitar I bought with my own money was a fender strat. I have a very good friend, John Chapman, who has built me an awesome strat and is currently building me a tele…his brand is called ‘Chapter’ guitars! Amp wise, sorry to correct you, I’m not a Blackstar Amp user…not sure if you’ve seen it in the background somewhere in a photo but I’m a Marshall man…always have been. But I also use fender amps too. The bigger the gigs we do the more amps I’ll be using on stage ha ha…I’m looking to get a good Orange amp too, think they are awesome and it does suit our sound for sure…just waiting for Orange to give me one if any reps are reading this ha ha!!!
ITS: Gareth Johnson is the constant between the two albums, as producer. Tell us about your history with Gareth. Are you easy to work with in the studio or is there a perfectionist demanding control? Did you record live as a band? There’s a real ‘live’ feel to both albums.
Magdy: Gareth and I go back years, we are the same age and met back in 2001, something like that. We have a great working relationship when it comes to recording and stuff. We have the same musical taste and influences, plus he’s an artist in his own right! Me as an artist, I have to be able to have faith and trust in the person who’s producing our songs and Gareth is the kind of person who I would trust with my heart if I had to take it out and ask him to take care of it!!! Gareth is a legend….plus, if he’s good enough to work with The Who then he’s definitely good enough for Cairo Son!!! I am a perfectionist in the studio but again I listen to what he has to say and it becomes a collaboration between us and him. We did record live but with the obvious recording method of getting drums and bass down first with me playing along and then me tracking all the guitars and vocals afterwards. However, ‘Storm Clouds’ was a one take…drums, bass and electric guitars. I then again tracked the acoustic guitars and vocals later on. That was definitely something that the boys and I are very proud of…10 minute song in on take!!! Yeah we were very happy with that!!!
ITS: Let’s go back to the beginning. I am a firm believer that music isn’t just a passion, it’s more of an amazing addiction, you have to constantly feed it because it will never let you sleep for long, it will always be tugging at you to play. It can take you to the highest high, it can help you through the lowest lows and it will always be right there with you. How did your addiction with music start? Any family influences, musicians in the family? Why guitar and what was your first? Who would you say your main influences are, musically?
Magdy: I have to give credit really mainly to my mother. She introduced me to The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton and a whole bunch more. My father too deserves credit, he was a big Cat Stevens and Bob Marley fan plus all the Arabic music he listened to when I was a child. Neither one of my parents are musicians or play any instruments but they both have supported me from a very young age. My first instrument was the piano but then I got into Guns’N’Roses at the age of 9 and remember wanting to be Slash. My father bought me my first electric guitar and amp, which I still have! A Dean Markley amp and a Yamaha RGX312. I am heavily inspired by bands like Soundgarden, Chris Cornell being my favourite singer, Alice In Chains, Down, Alter Bridge (Myles Kennedy is fucking amazing), Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin but I also have roots in blues and it was actually Richie Sambora who inspired me to go for it as a career. I guess I just have this massive cocktail of influence that makes me who I am today as a musician. But I do have to start making more of an effort to find newer, fresher bands of today cos last thing I want to be is ‘dated’.
ITS: So where does this journey take you next, Magdy? What’s on the horizon for Cairo Son? Is the Troubled Man satisfied and is there a bright new horizon behind those Storm Clouds?
Magdy: Hmmm, good question. Well, band wise we just want to move forward and continue doing what we love which is creating new music and playing them live to an audience. That’s where my strengths lie…I’m a performer and I love being on stage. Not because I’m a show off or need the attention, quite the opposite. I hate people knowing my business, even though my lyrics are honest and from the heart as I’ve been told. But I am a musician and I have something to share and if folks want to hear/see it, great. If not, they know where the door is! Hopefully ‘Storm Clouds’ will make some noise and we can tour it before we start recording a new album but we really, really just want a chance, just like any other band…we are no different to anyone else! If you’re asking about me as in myself…who knows.
ITS: Well thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule Magdy, it’s been a pleasure chatting. It’s great to get behind the music and let people see what inspires and motivates the bands creating a buzz. We are looking forward to catching up with you on the road soon.
Storm Clouds is a self-release on Cairo Son Records and can be purchased via the bands website www.cairoson.com
You can follow the band on Twitter here: @Cairo_Son
On Facebook here: Cairo Son Official
On YouTube here: Cairo Son YouTube Channel
On BandCamp here: Bandcamp
Many thanks to Gaynor @Gaynor9876 for the pictures taken at the Storm Clouds album launch.
Lead Image by Real Gig Reel with no rights implied: Link