Jadal is a Jordanian rock band that has managed to capture the hearts of audiences all over the Middle East with their tasteful, classic rock sound, combined with witty lyrics and a nonchalant attitude, all sealed together with an Arabic twist. Luckily, we got to sit down with Mahmoud Radaideh, Jadal’s composer and guitarist, and have a few words with him.
“I’m composing songs for those who want to listen to something out of the ordinary.”
Jadal’s Arabic rock sound is still a somewhat risky territory to start from but to Radaideh, it just came naturally, “for me it felt like common sense. I listen to rock, I’m Arab and I’ve been influenced by Arabic music”, he says, “back when we started, Arabic rock wasn’t that famous but now people are more aware of it. When we covered Abdel Halim Hafiz’s El Tobah it was an introduction to what Arabic rock is”, he says.
A classic, like Abdel Halim’s El Tobah, being covered with a raging electric guitar is yet another risky move that Radaideh took in 2004 and seems to be taking it very casually until now, “good music is good music. It made sense to us at the time. I had wanted to cover Abdel Halim because he was never covered by an independent artist before and I had always loved his music”, he tells.
“Back when we started, Arabic rock wasn’t that famous but now people are more aware of it. When we covered Abdel Halim Hafiz’s El Tobah it was an introduction to what Arabic rock is”
That being said, Abdel Halim was not Radaideh’s sole influence, as a matter of fact he has had plenty, “when I was a teenager, I listened to everything”, he states, “I listened to Bon Jovi and Scorpions while still listening to Michael Jackson and Amr Diab”. Certain artists had more influence on him than others, though, “the obsession started with Tool and Pearl Jam, then Muse and this one actually lasted for a while and is obvious in some of our songs”, he explains, “and now I even listen to pop songs. I like to stay updated on what’s on the radio and in the charts.”
With progressive and alternative rock influences like Tool and Muse, fusion with Arabic music could have been difficult and complicated, or so we thought, “we only have a couple of songs that are complicated but recently I haven’t composed any intricate songs.
It’s mainly verse-chorus-verse-bridge-chorus…” he laughs and continues, “it’s because I want to concentrate more on the lyrics and the vibe. With music, it’s easier to make complicated songs than it is to make a simple song that reaches everyone”.
That lyrical beauty in Jadal’s songs might be lost in translation for some, though, either because those people do not understand the dialect or even Arabic to begin with, thus resulting in them not appreciating a song as much as they would, had they been able to understand it better. We wanted to know what Radaideh’s thoughts were on the subject, “we don’t sing for those people. I’m composing songs for those who want to listen to something out of the ordinary”, he tells, “when we first started out they asked ‘why sing in the Jordanian dialect?’ I said ‘why do Germans sing in German?’”, he laughs.
Even though they stayed true to their endearing Jordanian dialect, this genre as a whole has been dubbed “Westernized” by many in the Middle East. Radaideh’s response to this is “we’re more genuine than the mainstream. They use loops, poor production tools and lyrics that the singer just bought and doesn’t care about”, he says, “there isn’t that much of an attack on us now, though. There used to be but not anymore, at least in not in our circles”.
“With music, it’s easier to make complicated songs than it is to make a simple song that reaches everyone”
In conclusion, seeing bands like Jadal is a breath of fresh air at a time when music seems to have become monotonous and uninventive. Their sheer talent gives us hope that more bands of this kind will start to surface. It can’t be only a phase, can it? “Impossible.”
“We now have an aware, creative generation and they have tools to create and distribute their art. They can make an impact, their word has become stronger because they can reach anyone”, he elaborates, “and the fact that there is so much competition is good.
It keeps us all on edge so we keep coming up with new stuff”.