The Rock & Roller Fighting Back In Modern History’s Most Devastating Financial Crisis
Lebanon is currently facing the biggest economic crisis in modern history.
With three quarters of the population living below the poverty line, power cuts, and food and medicine shortages becoming an everyday reality, how has the country’s creative scene faired? In the case of Lebanon rocker Grave Jones, artist output has become a bittersweet escape from the tumultuous socio-political setting.
Since its inception, rock has been at times synonymous with frustration and outrage at a state neglecting its people. Whether Rage Against the Machine’s infamous chants, Johnny Rotten’s calls for Anarchy in the U.K, or U2’s powerful Sunday Bloody Sunday, the cries of guitar and vocals have often been the perfect vessel to air socio-political grievances. For Grave Jones, these grievances clashed with his art. Violently.
“I was on the way the studio when the gunfire broke out.” says Grave. Protests around the on-going investigation into Lebanon’s devastating port explosion last year turned violent as factions took to rival neighbours armed and looking to fight. On the way to mix his latest single Heaven Only Knows, Grave had to abandon his work and rush home for safety.
“It might sound crazy to think that after all that we still wanted to finish the record but It was more important than ever”. Heaven Only Knows is the second single from Grave Jones’ upcoming album Heartrage Hotel, a body of work that takes the heavy grit of the 80s/90s rock that scored Grave’s childhood and uses it to channel a lifetime of hurt and frustration for a country that the artist loves so much but sees falling into disrepair.
Grave Jones opted to stay but many of his contemporaries didn’t. In only the last two years, 400,000 have lost the country – the largest mass migration since the country’s civil war in the 70s. With this comes a creative deficit with young artists fleeing Lebanon in search for opportunities elsewhere.
“It’s becoming increasingly impossible for artists to work here. We have to cancel or postpone rehearsals because the band can’t get fuel for their cars. We’ve had to shut down music video production because you can’t shoot when fighting is breaking out around us. Our colour grading team had to travel to Istanbul for the weekend just so they could have enough electricity to finish post-production.”
While the context around the music is shocking, perhaps what is most surprising is how technically incredible the finished piece is. Heaven Only Knows is an immersive sonic journey that expresses Grave’s frustrations through soaring guitars and a punchy, chugging beat. Anger, both internal and external, cries out in the artist’s vocals lending to the greats Ozzy Osbourne and Liam Gallagher, before the complex alternative rock song flies into an immersive and technically incredible solo.
Grave Jones is the moniker of Rabih Salloum who previously fronted acclaimed electro rock band Slutterhouse. Based in Paris, the band rose to success performing alongside the likes of The Klaxons and Sleigh Bells, Daft Punk Producer Eric Chedeville, and landing MTV 2 and EA Sports sync deals. Rabih, however, traded the glitz and glamour of his European showbiz lifestyle to return to his native Lebanon, opting to support the country’s dwindling creative scene, one riff at a time.
“Heaven Only Know”
[November 6, 2021]
Rock N’ Roll, Rock
Label / Booking / Press:
Sinners & Records