‘p!ndoll’ have quickly become one of the most recognized and accomplished local Lebanese bands today. With the classic setup: guitar, bass, drums, and vocals, this band is remembered not only because of their musicianship...
...but also because of the way they carry themselves on stage. Their selection of songs, attitude, attire and sound convey a certain message and shouts “vintage” or “authentic”; something not many local Lebanese bands manage to have today.
The band members first met around 11 years ago, though nothing concrete was create as they separated to each create their own musical path. Some went on to producing other bands’ albums; others went on to complete their musical degrees. Finally, 10 years later, they have come together and formed (although they don’t like to be categorized) a super group of ‘Indie nu-jazz’, something you don’t see or hear everyday in Lebanon.
Vocalist Erin Mikaelian immediately stands out and grabs your attention, vocally and aesthetically. Her strong and striking vocal work really shines while performing the golden era that is the “40s and 50s”. Backed by the right amount of funky guitars and noninvasive drums, Erin’s voice blends in perfectly giving that somewhat, standard song, an extra “zing” which takes the music to another level of enjoyment.
When asked about influence and inspiration, they answered, as most Lebanese bands answer today, with the surplus of controversial and abundances of corruption, wars, tyranny and revolution. However, they also write about the opposite end of the spectrum, love, which shows in their selection of covers such as “Tainted Love” and “My Favorite Things”.
p!ndoll have certainly defined their path to becoming one of the most original and unique local Lebanese bands today, which is why ScoopCity had to get an in-depth interview with these talented musicians.
Tell us a little bit about how and when you guys got together!
We first got together in 1999-2000 for a portishead-meet-garbage type of band before Erin Mikaelian left to Yerevan to finish her diploma in piano. Miran Gurunian and Jad Aouad went on to produce and write “Blend”’s Act One album, produce and write with Eileen Khatchadourian on the Midan album, and finally, write with Tania Saleh on the Wehde album. Once Erin was back to Beirut, it only made sense to continue in 2010 what we started in 2000. Chris Reslan joined the group to play bass in July 2011.
What kind of music would you categorize yourselves to play?
We play whatever we hear in our heads. It’s very difficult for us to label ourselves because we mix various styles and sounds, while still sounding like p!ndoll.
How long have you been playing together?
We’ve been playing as p!ndoll with the current formation since July 2011.
What instruments/gizmos does each of you play in the band?
Jad Aouad plays drums and percussion. Chris Reslan plays bass. Miran Gurunian is on guitar, and Erin Mikaelian is our vocalist.
We noticed that on p!ndoll’s Facebook page, Miran Gurunian plays “noise”?
Jad: He is still learning how to play and how to create sounds, so mostly, it’s still noise.
Any particular reason why you’re called “p!ndoll?” And why did you decide to add an ‘!’ instead of an ‘I’?
The name was Erin’s suggestion. Back in school, we weren’t the best at grammar and spelling
You seem to have that “1940/50’s” feel to your persona, do you find that particular era appealing or did it just happen to turn out that way?
That era was most influential in shaping the music to come, so it made sense to start from there and find our own way.
You recorded covers like, “My Favorite Things” and “Tainted Love”, tell us why you chose those particular songs to record.
When we reunited in 2010, we wanted to play some covers we were inspired by and listening to lately. This was a way to fine-tune our sound as well as to synchronize as a whole before writing our own material. We eventually wanted to record and share some of these with our fans and friends as a thank you for listening. ‘My favorite things’ is a classic that marked almost everyone’s childhood; it made sense to reinterpret it. ‘Cry me a river’ is a morbid love song, even sadistic; it fits us perfectly. ‘Tainted love’ tackles racism and forbidden love; we thought we’d give it a shot.
To watch "Tainted Love" click here.
Tell us about the worst show you’ve ever had!
We never regretted (so far) a show we’ve played. Good or bad is part of the experience; can’t have one without the other.
What’s something each of you really hates to see/do at a show or live performance?
We hate bad acoustics as they interfere negatively with our process of sound generation.
What inspires you to do what you do?
People around us, books, wars, records, corruption, love, tyranny, revolutions, and maybe you!
What do you love about Lebanon/Beirut?
Any plans for an upcoming album release or EP?
We released an EP of 3 cover songs for streaming as part of the Beirut Studios Sessions with our longtime producer and engineer Philip Tohme. We’re almost done writing our first album and recording will start in December. Release is scheduled for Spring 2012.
You can check them out on www.pindoll.net
What are your hopes for the band?
Record and perform as long as we’re alive
Any advice you want to give the striving local Lebanese band?
‘If you’re sincere, you can play a shoelace’ -Coltrane
Where are you currently performing? Any big shows coming up?
We’re performing in various clubs in Beirut, including the Angry Monkey, on Sunday September 18 and the Red Booth on Thursday the 15th.
To keep up with the bands performances, check out p!ndoll’s Facebook page here.
To listen to the p!ndoll's songs, click here.
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