Qatar-based rocker Naser Mestarihi returns to Dubai tomorrow night to launch his second album Praed Street. The short jaunts to the UAE have become a regular part of the 28-year old's career – who was born and raised in Doha to a Jordanian father and Pakistani mother – since his band is based in Dubai. He sheds light on the varied sounds that make up the new release, and how the UAE has become the rock hub of the Gulf.
Your debut album 1987 was named after the year of your birth. What is the significance of the new title Praed Street?
aIt is a street in Paddington where I wrote the majority of the new record over the course of four months at my apartment there in London. The music has a strong British rock feel so I thought it would be a fitting title.
Did you switch up the sounds for the new release?
It is definitely more dynamic than the music I’ve put out before. I tried to incorporate a lot of different elements like putting in more acoustic sections in pretty heavy tunes. It’s very riff-orientated, which is something I guess I subconsciously wanted. I’ve toned down on the crazy spontaneous solos and tried to write more melodic and catchy leads.
You were always a big supporter for 80s hard rock and metal. What do you say to detractors who find that style cheesy?
I'm actually more of a 1970s and 80s hard rock-influenced musician. All the elements that made rock music incredible existed within the music. The killer riffs, leads, vocals with big choruses ... it was pure melodic glory. I use those elements with a modern sound. People tend to criticise me but there's a double standard there because I don't see them criticising all these new bands who are using that vintage sound in their music. Also this record, particularly songs like Fire, have a more modern day sound. If people want to criticise gnarly riffs and leads for being too old school they can stick to their Snow Patrol records.
Doha is known for its museums and fine art. How does the city fare when it comes to nurturing a rock scene?
Doha is a difficult place to be in an active rock band. I’ll be honest and say it. It’s great for inspiration but performing is an issue because of the lack of venues or interest from the people in general in this kind of music, which is why I moved everything back to Dubai. The band is based here now and ever since we made that move it has been incredible, we’ve played shows to an amazing response and we’ve started building a fan base, if I may say, with this new line-up.
In a previous interview you said the challenges facing local musicians in the Gulf is that they can be easily demotivated or fatalistic. Do you find that is still the case?
I find that to be the case in Doha but not Dubai. I love when I see the exceptional things musicians are doing here, opening for major bands, touring, putting out records, that stuff pumps me up to get me off my lazy butt and get things done. It’s a beautiful kind of motivation.
• Naser Mestarihi performs Friday, March 18, at Legends Sports Bar, Chelsea Plaza Hotel, Dubai at 9pm. Tickets cost Dh50. For details, visit www.nasermestarihi.com