Massive Scar Era is a band that kicked off in 2005 from the scenic seaside city of Alexandria, Egypt. Cherine Amr was driven with the idea of forming a metal band out of her passion for playing guitar and singing since she was a teenager. Due to her Family’s restrictions, she was only allowed to play music with girls, so the only way for her to play music was to form an all-girls band. After a few false starts at maintaining a cohesive band, she found in the violinist Nancy Mounir her musical companion. They clicked straightaway even with their distinct musical backgrounds. Influenced by both metal, classical and Egyptian music; the band started to garner interest from audiences who were absorbed by the fusion of all those elements.
MSE kept on exploring that unique mix of influences and rehearse a diverse and large number of songs. The curiosity of discovering new sounds allowed the style and tone of the band to evolve. In no time, the band established itself among the music scene by landing a multitude of local gigs and appearances such as in Bibliotheca Alexandrina (Library of Alexandria) and in the S.O.S. Music Festival.
Touring North America and Europe; Massive Scar Era is always excited to share its sound with different parts of the world; experiencing an ultimate connection with the audience through music.
Check out my interview with Cherine below:
XS ROCK: Tell me about the latest band news? Any new projects coming out, live shows or announcements?
Cherine: We are releasing a new EP on October 5th (yeaaaay) we are going on tour (double yaaaaay)
XS ROCK: How long has the band been together?
Cherine: Nancy Mounir (Violinist) and I started the band in 2005 and of course we had so many line up change. I moved to Canada in 2015 and welcomed Dylan (Bassist) in 2016 and then Danny (Drummer) joined earlier this year.
XS ROCK: What was your main motivation for starting or being in a band?
Cherine: Music is a frustration outlet. I started writing songs before forming the band, and I felt I want to communicate with people through my songs. The music delivers the full emotions with no judgment.
XS ROCK: What is your music background?
Cherine: I grew up listening to Egyptian music and then started listening to pop when the backstreet got famous (who hasn’t) and later I got into doom metal for the longest time and slowly got into progressive metal and metalcore. if you listen to Massive Scar Era, you will find all these influences J
XS ROCK: What image do you think your music conveys?
Cherine: To be honest, the image that we want isn’t necessarily what the people are imposing on us. The band is formed and lead by 2 Egyptian women (Nancy and I). There is a HUGE stereotype imposed on us :
– for being women in a male-dominated genre
– for being middle eastern women
– For being religious. Nancy is Christian, and I’m a Muslim. We are both very devoted.
We just want to have fun and create a space for our culture to showcase itself but the current climate doesn’t help not being political about it. We didn’t choose to talk politics or social justice, but we are living the impact of them every day.
XS ROCK: What are your long-term career goals?
Cherine: We want to eventually collaborate with native cultures around the world and create authentic inviting new sounds that challenge the minds.
XS ROCK: Which do you prefer? Writing new songs and recording or playing for a live audience?
Cherine: I personally like playing shows and write songs… I hate recording! Everything is measured .. everything has to be in tune and in tempo.. no mistakes are allowed, this is not fun! who wants this!
XS ROCK: What are your songs about? (What specific themes do they cover?)
Cherine: Our songs reflect what’s happening around us. I’m basically a sponge. Like I mentioned before in the other question, they have an unintentional political theme most of the time. It is just so hard not to write about politics and racism when you are a person of color living in a colonial system because your home country is jailing all your friends for writing songs that are criticizing the system! It just hard!
XS ROCK: Do you have any outrageous tour stories from the road? If so, please fill us in.
Cherine: . Oh! We have the famous story from last year when we were going to play SXSW. At that time, Trump had just released the travel ban list. The officers saw my Egyptian passport and Dylan’s indigenous status card, and they refused to let us in! They said, “ people are using the festival to protest.” Egypt was not on the ban list but they didn’t want Middle Easterns allies! They thought I felt my home country and immigrated to Canada so I can go to SXSW to protest against Trump, a president of a country I don’t live in! hee-hee. There was also the horror story when we were in our Eastern European tour in 2012, and we ran out of gas on the road to the airport from France to Germany! We were in the middle of the mountains, it was so dark, and raining. We got lucky that the car stopped next to a street emergency highway telephone. We thought it will not be working, but it was! They sent us help to pick us up to the nearest gas station.
XS ROCK: What’s the strangest request that you’ve ever received from one of your fans?
Cherine: We were playing in Norway’s INFERNO and a fan came to me in the middle of the set and asked to kiss my hand!
XS ROCK: Were your parents supportive of your aspirations to play in a rock band?
Cherine: LOL! NO!! Nancy and I kept our band secret for the longest time EVER! It was until we were featured in this docu-drama documentary that went so big in the Middle East. This is how they found out!
XS ROCK: What are your favorite tracks to play live?
Cherine: I like playing Stubborn Head. Nancy will second this!
XS ROCK: Which band or artist inspired you to perform? Why?
Cherine: We started the band in Egypt. We don’t get ANY touring bands at all. so in terms of performing on stage, we just didn’t see any representation in front of our eyes that motivated us and inspired us that is possible to perform on stage, but I can say that OTEP was the artist that inspired me to scream. Before listening to OTEP, I thought cis-women can’t scream!! and here I am, screaming my lungs out just because OTEP showed me that I can! Thank you OTEP. I LOVE YOU!
XS ROCK: If you could design a dream tour for your band, who would be on the bill?
Cherine: I want us to tour Europe with OTEP. I can see us talking politics all night long and even writing songs together.
XS ROCK: What do you consider your greatest accomplishment so far?
Cherine: To be honest, moving the band to Canada was the a big/hardest step.. It’s always hard to bring Nancy from Egypt but it’s putting the band on the map in a way.
Everytime I sing on stage I’m blessed that I’m able to do this while my friends in Egypt can’t! To me this an accomplishment that I feel my Canadian friends in the music business doesn’t think about. It was the right thing to do for the band!
XS ROCK: If you weren’t performing in a band what kind of career do you think you would have?
Cherine: I would have probably focused on graphic design and digital art!
XS ROCK: What type of equipment do you use for live shows?
Cherine: We have a small mixer for the backing track whenever Nancy isn’t with us, I have my Mashell Head, and Dylan goes DI
XS ROCK: What do you think of the current music scene?
Cherine: If we are talking about the industry, I can say it is Eurocentric and sexist! This is the short answer to this question. It’s oversaturated yet doesn’t want to give space to other cultures to be represented. It is happy introducing a bunch of cis-men and labels them as “Egyptian metal band,” They throw a camel + the desert + eye of Horus on their artwork but not presenting any Egyptian content. While when the opportunity comes for an actual diverse sound, they say it’s “untraditional” for them. The industry doesn’t want to take a risk, and their ethnocentrism is kicking non-stop.
The fans are awesome! They want more. They want to listen. They are curious. They are sick of the mediocre generic sound they hear every day, I mean, who wouldn’t be?
XS ROCK: For anyone that doesn’t know you, what would they be surprised to know about you?
Cherine: We had to present ourselves in the Egyptian court alongside other Egyptian metal bands to confirm that we aren’t devil worshipers! yup!
XS ROCK: If someone had never heard you before, how would you describe your sound?
Cherine: We play melodic alternative metal with pre-colonial Egyptian music influences. We are NOT a folk band though!
XS ROCK: Is there anything that you’d like to promote or say to your fans out there?
Cherine: It’s important to keep buying music and merchandise from the bands! it’s also very important to share their content on social media. Facebook is making it very hard for us to promote our content online and when we do, we compete with big brands that spend more money on their ads.
XS ROCK: Thanks again for taking the time to talk with us at XS Rock!
Massive Scar Era is:
Cherine Amr, Vocalist and guitarist
Nancy Mounir, Violinist
Dylan Wijdenes-Charles, Bassist
Danny Sever, Drummer