Samer Elnahhal. Picture credit: Jukka Kilpinen

Heavy rock in dystopian moods: interview with Samer Elnahhal about his second solo album

Author Markus Mickels - 13.12.2022

It’s been three years since Samer Elnahhal left the mask of Lordi bassist OX behind. Since then the master of bass frequencies has made a name for himself as not only the bassist of rock band Down South Junkies, but also as a recording solo artist. Two years after his first solo album, Elnahhal’s solo output continues with a new album titled “Dystopian Rose”. Like the first album, it offers high-energy riffs to rock out and why not even dance to, but this time in also slightly more dystopian moods. We talked to Samer Elnahhal about his new album, his plans for the future, and his favorite band. The original interview was conducted in Finnish, and what follows is an English translation.

Your first solo album “Supernova Kill Road” came out two years ago. How does the album sound now to your ears after some time has passed?

I still stand by that album proudly, I haven’t forsaken it because of the new. The good thing is that these two albums are slightly different, but still in the same style. You have some variation and different nuances.

You describe “Dystopian Rose” as a dystopian themed album which is slightly darker than its predecessor. What inspired or led the new songs in this direction?

Dystopia is actually my favorite genre in movies, so the subject is of natural interest to me. I already decided right after the previous album to combine music and my favorite genre next. And I’m sure the corona times had an influence with things around looking so dystopian.

Was the process of making the album different this time compared to your first solo album?

It was largely the same as last time. The biggest difference was definitely that this time I had a real drummer, Mr. Killjoy from Switzerland, who did an absolutely fantastic job and brought a good groove to the album, I think. Otherwise it was the same process – I write the lyrics first, because the words let me know what kind of mood the music needs. Then a lot of work in the studio with Joonas Siikavirta who recorded the album, so that we can get to the point where we can bring in the vocalists and the guest guitarists to do guitar solos.

“DNA” sung by Simire was released as the first single off the album. How did this song wind up chosen as the single and who has a say in these decisions besides yourself?

It was my own decision. I thought from the beginning that that song has the right kind of hook in the chorus to be a suitable single. It’s difficult though since I tend to like songs that others don’t really care for and I don’t always agree with single choices. This time I think it was the right decision.

There are many different kinds of singing on the album, from female voices such as Simire and Niki Rock to Brett Pirozzi’s gruff vocals. What do you think makes a great singer?

Yeah, the album has a wide range of different, excellent singers. For me it’s getting into the song, bringing it to life with your own interpretation, and in a way tying it together into one whole. And on top of that, having a good singing voice, knowing how to use it, and having some attitude as well.

Do you think your background as a bassist influences how you approach heavy, guitar-driven music? Whether it be as a producer or as a song writer?

I’m sure it does quite a lot. Rhythm is important, and I always approach songwriting from the angle of bass and drums. Once I’ve gotten a good groovy base from there, that’s a good starting point to build stuff on. I play the rhythm guitar on the album myself because I look for a certain simplified feel for the guitars. That probably shows me being a bassist as well.

Have you already started thinking about your next, third album?

Well, at first I thought there would be a long break now, but new songs just seem to keep coming all the time. So we’ll see what happens.

How does the year 2023 look for you at the moment? Can you reveal something about your plans with your solo career or with your band Down South Junkies?

With Down South Junkies we’re already at the planning stage for gigs next year, and we also intend to start recording a full-length album. I’m looking forward to that. With my solo career, I’ll probably keep writing songs at least, and pondering how I could play live shows with this project.

It’s been three years since you decided to leave Lordi. How do you look back on your time in the band now after a few years?

Lots of great experiences, I got to play all around the world, I’ve met my own idols, and so on. But I’ve also seen the bad sides of that business and profession. Now I’m kind of in that golden middle way where I want to make music on my own terms and do other possible projects, but without any more need for being a “rockstar”. I haven’t regretted leaving for a moment. Sometimes you just have to do what feels right.

You’re known to be a hardcore Mötley Crüe fan. Has John 5 joining the band’s touring line-up stirred any thoughts in you?

I think it’s as right a choice as can be. Musically and stylistically he fits great in the band, and on top of that Mick Mars himself wanted him to take his place. And as far as I know he’s also good friends with all the band members anyway.

Thank you so much for your time! Are there still any greetings you want to send out to fans and readers?

I would like to thank all of you for your support and for the great feedback – it warms my heart. And for listening to my music. Hopefully we’ll see each other live somewhere out there sometime!

Dystopian Rose. Cover art: Juulia Tokola

”Dystopian Rose” is now available to listen on Bandcamp, Spotify, and YouTube. A physical CD copy can also be ordered from Bandcamp.