Into The Hyper-Shred: An Interview with Canadian Guitarist Alex Zubair

Canadian of Indian/Persian descent, Alex Zubair, was the main drive behind Nephelium.  One of The Middle Easts first Death Metal bands – if not- the one that began it all in Dubai in the 90’s. Nepheliums style was an aggressive yet technical storm of anger, executed with intense precision. More recently, his incredible guitar skills were displayed in his performance for BangerTVs Shredders of Metal. A show which pits Canada’s fiercest guitarists into a competition of display of originality, feel and precision. The judges were none other than guitar legend Alex Skolnick of Testament, acclaimed documentary filmmaker Sam Dunn and guitarist Daniel Dekay of Diemonds. Zubair has since started working on his solo venture AZP ( Alex Zubair Project). Via email, Zubair shared his origins in the metal world with us and his drive to push himself to the limits and beyond.

 

CM: please tell us about yourself, where do you come from, how did you get into rock and metal?

I’m Canadian from Toronto, Ontario Canada and I have lived around the world including Dubai where I formed my brutal death metal band Nephelium and played for Toronto’s Infamous Burn to Black as well.

I started playing guitar since the age of 12 was heavily influenced by Guitar Heroes like Marty Friedman, Jason Becker, Alex Skoinick, James Murphy, Yngwie Malmsteen, Greg Howe, Gary Hoey, Reb Beach, John Petrucci, Jake E Lee, Michael Angelo Batio, Alan Holdsworth, Neal Schon, David Gilmore, Jimi Hendrix, David Gilmore, Marco Sfogli, Andy James, Bill Steer and many more!!!

28 years of playing serious Extreme Metal/Progressive style experience and currently records under the name AZP (Alex Zubair Project).

 

CM: How did living in middle Eastern countries affect your life and music ?

When I was growing up, I lived in UAE with my family because my dad was working there as Civil Engineer and life was amazing back then cause Dubai as metropolitan city in a GCC country has been through serious changed and I’m sure if I go back now then I’ll not recognize the place anymore and that’s when my journey in metal being a serious part of my life began.

As a kid l was lucky to experience the changes though our metal and its community and how vast it’s grow in the past 30 years!

I remember that there were a handful of kids, including me who smuggled tapes and CDs into the country, making copied and spreading to other kids who were curious and interested in Metal and it spread like wild fire across the cities and the whole region as well.

 

CM: how would you say the metal community works there? Good and bad?

I used to get picked on by public for having long hair, tattoos, piercings, wearing black with obscene metal t-shirts like Cannibal Corpse, Pungent Stench, Benediction, Bolt Thrower, Obituary and the list goes on and on, but our numbers grew in time and now look at how many insane metal bands played in the middle east!
That wasn’t an option when I was around and believe me cause when I played local shows, the cops used to shut it down cause the number of kids grew and they didn’t care, and they used to let lose living in a country where you can’t express your inner freedom, those were the golden days!

It was though and when Metallica released the Black album and Megadeth released Rust in Peace, it was spreading like no one’s business and I played for the first metal band coming out of that region in 93 called Anthology, who used to cover bands like Testament, Megadeth, Metallica, Pantera in huge open air concerts which was insane for me being 16 years old playing all those songs note by note in front of 5000 to 10,000 people was insane!!!

That was a serious rush and that pushed me till today to never stop following your dreams!

 

CM: We first heard about you from your incredible work on Banger’s Shredders of Metal. How did you get involved?

After Nephelium went hiatus in 2013, I formed AZP in 2014 and wrote couple of songs and I did released a single called “Beyond Comprehension” and I released a Guitar Playthrough video as well.

I took a different direction and started focusing on my career and stopped playing cause I didn’t have that drive, desire to play since both the bands I played in was gone and members moved on with their lives but thanks to my fiancé that she really pushed me in the corner and said that I don’t see that fire in you that you used to have when you played in a band and you need to ignite the fire in you again.

That’s when I realized that I should start playing again and funny enough Banger TV was looking for Shredders for this event and I applied, and I was lucky to get selected for the competition.
CM:What bands have you played in ?

Nephelium (Brutal Death Mental) – 

Burn to Black (Blackened Thrash). – 

AZP (Instrumental Tech/Shred Metal) –

 

CM: Nephelium is the type of brutal tech not heard with this intensity from the middle east, how would you describe it? and what led you to create this monster?

Well we were the only extreme metal band which came out of the GGC region and this is before all these bands who are so called well-known to the globe but sadly those people forgot their real roots and forgot who actually grandfathered and started the real so called scene, the funny thing is so many bands from North America/ Europe played in Dubai but no one ever reached out and said you guys need to come back and play a show since you guys are the first original extreme metal coming out of this region.

It’s very childish and stupid and it clearly shows that they are super in secured and all I have to say is every dog has a day and my confidence is there in security lol

 

CM: back to the Shredders of Metal, how did the experience go for you?

It was insane specially playing in front of Alex Skolnick and you have only 1 chance to prove yourself and this was a real eye opener.

 

CM: a friend alerted us about your presence on the show and we have been following you since, you’re work has stunned us, and had us all here talking about your skills, we proud to have someone represent the region, Mr. Frankie and he did an excellent job but you were number 1 from the start for us, ( with respect to the judges and Mr. Frankie as well) did you find it difficult to be competing ?

Frankie C is an amazing musician and a great player, and he has a great future and he’s band Vesperia rules!

It was hard cause they shot this event in 2 days and they were very long and nerve wrecking plus playing in front of the judges and specially not playing live for over 6 years and specially only having 1 chance to play and the pressure of being filmed in front of so many cameras was difficult, but I was having a blast!

Winning or Losing is part of life and you learn from it but one thing I got to say that I’m back and I’m back with full force and I’m not going to give up because failure is a pillar of success and action speaks better than words!

Time will tell my friend; )

 

CM: you’ve worked with Sam Dunn before how did this go and how cool was it to display your skills to Alex Skolnick?

Sam & I we played in Burn to Black and man I miss those days! We used to rip shit apart on stage, but he got very busy with his career and shooting all those wonderful documentaries which is making history now!

It was hard for him at that time to travel, shoot and direct documentaries and playing in the band at the same time and that’s when we called it quits and it was very mutual.\

Sam Dunn is my brother and he’s family to me and I will always support him for what he’s done for our Metal Community and Banger Crew Fuckin’ Rules!!!

Mr. Alex Skolnick has been one of my guitar heroes and boy it was seriously nerve wrecking playing in front him for all the contestants and we were like blanking out lol

He Fuckin’ Rules!!!

Extremely down to earth and an amazing mentor!!!

 

CM: What bands would you recommend to others hailing from the middle east region

Honestly, I heard a lot of bands lately coming out of the Middle Eastern Region and please don’t take this the wrong way because a lot people will agree or disagree with me and I can understand it cause five fingers are not equal and with all due respect to the other bands BUT

NADER SADEK – This Man-Made History & Fuck You to the Haters!!!

PERVERSION – Fuckin’ Sick in Your Face Death Metal!!!

OATH TO VANQUISED – Brutal as Fuck!!!

ANURYZM – Sick Prog/Thrash Band!!!

These bands take the cake and rest no offense are fucking losers and posers and their bands sounds like shit because they have no spark in their writing process and they wouldn’t also allow real bands and musicians to succeed either.

My massage to the True Metal Heads in the Middle East – Support Your Community & Your Neighbors and Success Comes with Joining Hands with your Brothers and Sister of Metal and let the rest of the world see what your capable off!!!

Support the local scene and push their work so the rest of the world can also see what your made off!!!

It’s time you guys change things for the future and never give up!!!

Metal a Lifestyle and Culture which has No Color, Race or Religion!!!

Cairo Metal Fuckin’ Rules!!!

I’m extremely honored for being interviewed by you guys \m/

Karim and Mahmud from Cairo Metal – Support These Guys!!!

They are the real deal and they Don’t Fuck Around!!!

I Miss Egypt & Love You Guys!!!

Thank You Guys & Keep It Metal!!!

I will be visiting one day soon InShAllah!!!

Keep it Metal \m/

ALEX ZUBAIR

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