One of the few regional bands to achieve near cult status in the past decade has been Autostrad, a Jordanian band distinguished for blending a bouncy reggae-inspired rhythm with their own national slang and identity, topped off with blaring, serpentine synth lines. But perhaps the catalyst in their success was the fact that they were more about expressing their listeners' day to day life with relative relatability, with as little sugar coating as possible.
The band formed in 2007 during Jordan’s indie band boom. After becoming one of the earliest indie bands in the HKJ, Autostrad set on releasing music, dropping their debut album Fe Autostrad (2008). This helped establish both their following at home and their position within the regional indie circuit. Their second album Autostrad (2011) however, is considered a launch into the stratosphere compared with their debut. Autostrad had officially and rather unintentionally inducted themselves into Jordanian pop culture.
Songs like Rahat Ya Khal from that follow-up album were not only considered timeless classics that will inspire generations of Jordanian youth to come at that point, but Autostrad had now expanded far beyond their home nation’s border and are received in every Arabic speaking country they perform in as musical paragons. From 2011 onwards they had performed in every country in the MENA region and beyond. Their first major exposure in Egypt was when they landed a performance on the prematurely obsolete El Bernameg show in 2014, and they’ve been coming back annually ever since, having most recently played two shows at Cairo Jazz Club and 610.
We had the pleasure of catching up with Autostrad’s bassist/vocalist Avo Demerjian, guitarist AbdulRahman Alatari and lead vocalist and percussionist Yazan Al Rousan after their performance at Dubai’s Wasla Festival. They discussed what the band is all about to them, who they wish their music reaches and their upcoming 2017 Turathi project.
Main image by Zeyad Gohary.