Dark Phantom Featuring Guitarist Murad Jaymz
Interview By Lene Ringsmose
Dark Phantom was formed in Kirkuk, Iraq late in 2007. The idea was to reach their dreams in western music and to express the inferior circumstances in the city, and explain it to the universe. But things progress slowly in Iraq, due to the bad situation in the country, and that lead to a period of hibernation, for the band’s safety.
In 2008, the band was able to start up again and started rehearsals, despite all the dangers. Death was a consequence, of being caught playing this music in an Al Queda controlled situation. It was a volatile situation. Dark Phantom could then, hardly compose their first song, before there was a decline in the band’s musical direction. They turned to cover songs, and, at the same time, worked on original music. There was a lot criticism in the Iraqi arena, to the band’s music after the war, but the band was still looking to faith and hope, to guide them in what they believe – that music, itself, means life.
In 2009 they set to make their first album, which they entitled Beta.
In 2011, the band played their first concert in Kirkuk, and after the success of that gig, the band returned to the studio to finish the album that they promised to their new fans.
After a lot of demands from the fans, Dark Phantom prepared for a second concert, but there was another situation that made it impossible. Terror groups and their allies began threatening to close all the of band’s pages on the internet. The band was also warned, again, to stop their activities, or else.
After the band reputation was spread in the area, they started getting invitations to do live shows in different cities and indeed they responded, doing 3 successful concerts in 3 different cities which was a great recovery and improvement for the band’s health.
In 2014 some major changes were made to the band. The vocalist and the drummer both left for safety reasons. The two new additions lead to the band finally settling in to the thrash/death genre.
In a short time they made their 1st original track, Nation of Dogs, which opened the rusty gates for the band to start working on their 1st album.
Tell me about the background of Dark Phantom. How did it all begin?
It was after the Iraqi war in 2003. My cousin (lead guitarist in Dark Phantom) and I listened to metal music, and we decided to buy and learn to play guitars. We were broke, so we sold our cell phones, bought guitars, and learned to play from YouTube and books. And we said, Why don’t we make a metal band here.
Then I met the bass player in 2009 in college, and the ex drummer on social media. The ex vocalist I met in an art center. We played in my room practicing on covers and writing original music
Our first concert was in 2011 in Kirkuk it was a great day in our lives. But we were attacked from the mosque, they said we played satanic music. So we decided not to do a show in Kirkuk, because they may the attack the band members, in Iraq killing is easy.
We never imagined they would attack us, because we don’t worship satan. But they don’t understand what metal is, they only think it’s satan’s work. They have the right to say we are worshipping satan.
We explained to them so many times, that we are just talking about what happens in our country, like the war, politics, religion, and corruption. They never read the lyrics and they get to judge us.
Our shows get cancelled, because they say our music is satanic, and we can play pop or folk music. But we’re a metal band, why would we play something else? We hope to be free to play our music In Iraq, but it is so hard.
When we rent a studio for rehearsal, we bring our equipment, and when they hear the heavy sound, they kick us out. Now we play in our drummer’s house, using headphone system, so the neighbours won’t be bothered.
There are not many metal bands in Iraq, and a few has moved to other countries. Do you ever consider leaving Iraq?
Yes, there was like 3 other bands that played death and thrash metal from Baghdad. Now they are not active, some moved, and others are playing pop and folk music. We hope to play in Iraq, and share metal in Iraq. And only travel to play in USA or Europe.
Do you play music for you, or to get rich and famous?
First, I like metal and I play for me, and the fans who like us. Everyone wants to be famous, but money is the last thing on my mind. Because if I want money, I can play pop or folk music, but I won’t do something I don’t like.
I love that answer.
Where would you like to play? What is your dream venue?
My dream is to play in big stage anywhere. With a good sound system ahahahaha, because this is a big problem, we face every time here.
They can’t play loud enough?
Not loud, and the sound systems are bad, because there are no good sound engineers here. We recorded our album by ourselves, mixing and mastering. We have a simple recording studio, and we pay for instruments with shipping from Amazon and ebay, because there are no good instruments here.
Tell me about the change in the lineup of the band. Two guys left?
Yes, the vocalist and the drummer left the band. The vocalist decided to leave Iraq, after his brother was injured in a bomb, he lives in Turkey with his family now. And the drummer said he couldn’t play music anymore, because he should work, and music didn’t pay.
I understand. What do you do to keep up the spirit as a band?
After those two left, I said to myself, Dark Phantom is done here, how can I find new members? Then our vocalist, Mir, left his band in Sulaimani, and I contacted him. He accepted to come sing with us. The drummer was a metalhead, but he was playing with a folk band. He didn’t like this type of music and he sold his drums. We went to his home and said, Come play metal. He wanted to think about it, because he didn’t play metal for years. We invited him home, and he turned out to be even better than our first drummer.
What does the future look like for Dark Phantom? What are your goals?
Dark Phantom’s future depend on one thing. Visa. So we can travel to Europe for touring. But if we don’t get it we stay in Iraq, and we never stop making music, even if we reach our goals. Because I believe nothing is impossible.
I love your passion.
Why shouldn’t girls date rockstars?
Here we can’t go out with girls, their families won’t let them.
Do you have any final words for our readers?
My final We should words: help each other, because metal unites us.
MHF Magazine/Lene Ringsmose