Tell us about the new single. What’s it about?
It’s called ‘Incomplete Heart’ and it’s one of the catchiest songs on the album – you could say it’s a mix of rock and pop. It’s about a break-up and the need to start again. We decided it would be the perfect first single because everyone loved it. We shot the video in Dubai, in Al Quoz.
It’s more commercial than your old stuff.
It not an attempt to be pop. My sound is growing – I’ve always had this commercial side. I grew up listening to rock and metal – Aerosmith, Metallica, Led Zeppelin – but I’ve always been a singer and a songwriter as well as a guitarist. My new work mixes these elements more successfully than the first album, which was mainly guitar. I’m trying to get away from that.
The new album’s called False Utopia – it still sounds pretty heavy.
It does sound metal – but it’s not. It’s all about the things you see every day, from politics to religion, and how governments change everything you see – the issues people don’t talk about because they’re numb. So some of it’s about me growing up and some of it’s about a relationship. I started this album after a break-up.
Sounds like you’ve been through a tough few years.
I have. That’s where ‘Incomplete Heart’ came from. When you break up, one person is always going to hate the other and you want to be left alone and move on.
Why did you leave Beirut?
I just couldn’t take any more politics, it messed up my head. When I was a kid there was a civil war, and then there was another when I was an adult – it affected me a lot. I wanted to get out and Dubai was somewhere quiet I could do something for myself.
How was it supporting Aerosmith at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in 2009?
I was playing with Paulak, my good friend’s band, and I was his right-hand man. It was a great gig – I was performing in front of 50,000 people. But to be a support act here is tough because no one really helps local artists. All record labels look down on musicians here.
What advice can you give other musicians trying to get noticed?
You don’t have to be signed to a label – you can promote yourself through social media. Labels don’t exist anymore. I’m not talking about Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber, I’m talking about every guy who records a couple of songs and releases them on iTunes. You just need faith. Always believe in yourself and never take no for an answer – if you think you have it, you’ve got to do it.
‘Incomplete Heart’ is out now. Watch the video here.
False Utopia is out in November. www.jaywud.com.