They’re the definitive Lebanese anti-band. Yet while their lyrics are obscure, you can’t help but move to their music
Founded in 2006 by Fouad and Toni Yammine, Meen are one of Lebanon’s most interesting rock groups, and have been going strong since their early days as a university band. They’re famous for their silly, sometimes sarcastic lyrics and for singing in colloquial Lebanese, rather than traditional Arabic or even English.
While often nonsensical and funny, Meen aren’t afraid to show some teeth, and their lyrics are at times critical of the political climate in Lebanon. You probably have to be Lebanese to catch all the witty nuances, but this is not your typical oud-and-chimes music. Meen play Western-style rock, and they are quickly becoming the voice of the young (and irreverent) generation.
Meen played their first gig at Saint Joseph’s University in Beirut; since then they have played in the city’s Martyr’s Square for World Peace Day, written and performed the official song for the 2007 Beirut Marathon, and have just released their latest album, 3arousit Bkeseen (‘Bride of Bkeseen’). They plan to tour the Middle East soon, and have started invading the UAE with online tracks. We caught up with the band to see what the fuss is about.
Without sounding too philosophical, who are Meen? We are superheroes. And when we’re not busy saving the world, we work as rock musicians. Meen hold the noble mission of promoting Lebanese rock music, followed by other worthy goals such as getting rich and impressing lots of ladies.
Is there a fantastic story behind the name? Meen is the name of an ancient Lebanese goddess who was worshipped for having killer legs. Legend has it that she lived in Bkeseen, and died in mysterious circumstances. Folklore suggests that she committed suicide by leaping off a ninth-floor balcony, but historians suspect she may have choked on her narghile.
So, beyond insane folklore, where do you get your inspiration? We don’t get inspired; we just steal ideas from other people.
Moving on. Angry lyrics about vegetables: what’s with the suggestion to use tomatoes as weaponry? Haven’t you been at countless performances where you felt you could only express your opinion by pelting the artist with tomatoes?
We tend to enjoy your concerts though. Are you intentionally atypical, or is it who you are? Do you want us to turn up in our superhero costumes? Of course it’s intentional.
Who are your favourite artists? We used to be into boring stuff like the Beatles, Iron Maiden and Pink Floyd, but Jad Choueiri’s first single was a revelation; a life-changing experience.
Tell us about your new album. We’ve just released a new album 3arousit Bkeseen: 11 new tracks that people are adoring. It hit number one in the sales charts in Lebanon after just one week. Meen’s new album is out now, available for Dhs37 at www.meentheband.com. For upcoming concerts, keep an eye on the website or Facebook group ‘Meen’