Jon Szerlag of The Ionia Sentinel-Standard recently conducted an interview with drummer Marwan Hussein of ACRASSICAUDA, the Iraqi heavy metal band that formed under the regime of Saddam Hussein in 2001 and played only six shows in Iraq before fleeing (the bandmembers were granted immigrant status in the United States in 2008). A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
On starting to receive threats for their music after beginning to play shows in 2005:
“In 2005, the concerts were really dangerous. Each member of the audience had to get searched to attend the show. Then we got threats, calling us American because we play Western music. If we wanted to keep doing what we were doing, we had to leave the country.”
On first leaving Iraq for Syria where they stayed until 2007 when the Syrian government issued a decree that refugees had to leave the country:
“We played a couple shows, there was no scene — rock or metal — for Western music. We had to leave and we went to Turkey and stayed in Istanbul for a year and a half and applied for asylum refugee (status).”
On playing heavy metal music in Iraq:
“(The music) also tied the lifestyle that we lived there, we needed a heavy dose of music, and it was hard for us to actually express ourselves as individuals for people who lived there and born there and had to grow up with the situation. War was all over the place. It got to the point where metal music was the only getaway for us. We didn’t even plan (to play metal).”
“It was challenging. You need to realize that you are playing a style that nobody has a clue about.”
“Everyone knew each other; it was a very underground scene. Nobody talked about it, it was a taboo, forbidden, everyone would look at you like ‘What’s that? It’s devil music.’ It wasn’t something that you would talk to people about.”
On ACRASSICAUDA‘s music, which mimics the war and destruction that the bandmembers experienced:
“All metal dudes want to talk about death, destruction and war. But we want to say that we have seen that, it’s not as fun as you might think and as cool as you might think. It’s a life and death matter, and we take it very seriously and personal. We have been there and seen that, and we are bringing you that through the music, lyrics and whole show. It’s going to be war on stage.”
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