Morley: Part of what fuels the lyrical content of your CD is your time spent in Egypt which precedes the band. Can you outline what you were doing there and perhaps how it may have changed how you view the actions of America, if at all?
Rhiis: My first taste of Egypt came in the Winter of 2004. Thinking that one month would be more than enough to satiate my curiosity, I was 2 weeks into Egypt when I realized I needed to come back. Returning briefly to the States, I sold all of my belongings and moved to Cairo. A necessary amount of time was spent traveling the country and getting to know the people, the language. I drew up an apartment contract in Alexandria with my friend Sara (who is now the Ana Kefr merch girl), and taught English in a language school.
Shortly afterwards, I had the opportunity to work in the film industry, so I took a train to Cairo and lived the remaining year-and-a-half to 2 years there, working as a casting director. These details may sound enchanting and exotic to some, but I am leaving out a lot of horror. I was present for the bombings of Nuweiba and Ras al-Shaitan in 2004 and, though I remained, witnessed the subsequent flee of foreigners from Egypt. I was also present for the bombing of Sharm el-Sheikh in 2005, taking place at a restaurant I had just dined in with a friend. The 2006 bombings of Dahab took the lives of those I knew, and I was hours away from that same year's conflict between Lebanon and Israel.
One thing that did leave an impression on me, regarding my views of America, was what I witnessed on Arab television. In the West, Bush called Al-Jazeera - the largest independent news network in the Middle East - the "mouthpiece of Bin Laden" because it aired what the Bush administration wanted to keep from the eyes of the public. If we are so sure that we are doing the right thing, why the bad conscience and secrecy? Honesty has no need to hide behind a veil, or be filtered. To this day, I respect Al-Jazeera's coverage more than ABC or NBC or Fox because Al-Jazeera has no real motive to feed American war hysteria as our networks do. Egypt definitely changed my views of America, but I'll get to more thoughts on this in a minute.
Morley: You three were together prior to Rhiis joining. Tell us what that band was all about and what sort of music you were playing.
Trent: Kyle and I have been jamming since 2006; we didn't find Bryce until late 2007. At the time Bryce joined, I was living in Los Angeles and commuting down to Riverside to jam every Tuesday. We were your typical garage band, jamming out and shooting the sh*t. We "dreamed" of making it big, but never really took the actions to make it happen. The music was mostly songs that Kyle and I had written back in the day. Screamo and poppy riffs were what we were all about back then. We had a singer who hit all the clean lead vocals, while Kyle and I did back-up screams. "Takeover" attracted Bryce right off the bat, and later the same for Rhiis. Nothing really started going anywhere until Rhiis joined up with us. I moved in with him and his brother at that point and now, a year later, we have written, recorded, and are currently in support of our first album, Volume 1.
Morley: How did Rhiis come to be in the band?
Bryce: Rhiis was living in Egypt at the time that I started playing with the guys. When I learned he was coming back to California, I told the rest of the band that we should have him try out to be our singer. One Tuesday, he happened to come by while we we're practicing so we had him jump on the microphone and we all liked the sound. We had been recording songs then that Kyle and Trent had written together, previous to me meeting them, and we decided that it would be a good test of sorts. So we had Rhiis go in and record some vocals that Kyle had written. After that, it was set that he would be our vocalist. It was very cool for me because Rhiis and I have always played music together, writing silly songs about seeing Bigfoot, or the mating season of gophers. To have him back after three years of not creating together, we have the chance to be in a serious musical project together and it's something we had always talked and dreamed about doing.
Morley: Your music has a middle-Eastern feel in places, sort of like Crisis. Rhiis spent time there but I havenít heard that any of you have. How do you come to incorporate that sort of vibe when he doesnít write the music?
Kyle: Rhiis does write music for Ak! I personally have never been out of the States besides Mexico and Jamaica - hopefully soon, though. That Middle-Eastern feel seems like it just came out of nowhere. "Takeover" especially incorporates that sort of vibe so, when writing the introduction to that song, it became apparent to us that this style of music is one of the keys to Ana Kefr. I think Rhiis undoubtedly brought that style out of us, I never would have considered playing in that mode previously. Trying to bring the Eastern vibe without Rhiis wouldn't be the same, it seems like everyone is working together when that aspect of our music comes into action.
Morley: Is Ana Kefr your first band?
Rhiis: Yes, sir!
See the link below for the next part of this 7-part interview!