The Flaming Trees

Dubai’s latest young band introduce themselves. Interview Yalda Gerami

Music feature

Our band was formed when Elias Sabella, aka Prazi, and Samir Nassif wanted to make a band that combined classic rock such as AC/DC with modern bands such as Nickelback. We settled on five members: Oli Simpson, aka OJ Simpson, on vocals; Abhinav Mathur, aka Bu Khamdan, on lead guitar; Samer El Hage, aka TL, on keys; and Matt Secker, aka Ozzy, on bass. We’re now willing to experiment with a lot of genres.

We came up with the nicknames so we could feel more comfortable about criticising each other’s music. Only then can we achieve true, epic bandism.

Every word in our band’s name has significance. ‘The’ is the most essential word of the English language. ‘Flaming’ is an eternally growing fire of passion found deep within the human soul – it is so strong, so deep, so meaningful… And finally, ‘Trees’ are nature in its purest form. Nah, just joking – we didn’t really think about the name when we came up with it; we focus more on making our music.

We are each inspired by many bands, but if you listen carefully you can hear Nickelback’s distinctive sound in our song ‘Breathe’, and ‘Soldier’ has the crunchy distortion sound often associated with Metallica. Our vocalist, Oli, is particularly influenced by a British indie rock band called The Twang.

We were nominated to support Coldplay… kind of. Another local band, Juliana Down, started a campaign to show off local bands to the event’s organisers. They hoped they could convince the promoters to let the winners open for Coldplay.

We didn’t win, but the campaign failed anyway [Coldplay ended up being supported by US rock group Mercury Rev] so that made us feel better – we weren’t the only rejects.

We’re planning ahead. Our short-term ambitions include completing our first album by the end of February. Our long-term ambition is to go big – scratch that; huge! – and go international. However, we do worry that once we graduate school we may end up splitting up.

Being young puts us at a disadvantage. It makes it a lot harder to get gigs and we often feel that people don’t respect us because of our age.

If we were to become famous we’d buy a new drum kit and play a cover to honour the memory of The Rev, the drummer from [Californian band] Avenged Sevenfold, who died last year. Then we’d invest in Birmingham City Football Club, buy all the books that we ever wanted, eat more Lebanese food and buy a mega-yacht and sail around the world. For us, life is a ride.
To hear The Flaming Trees, visit

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