“There are at least 25 different Beiruts!” says Nader Mansour before explaining how The Wanton Bishops represents the diversity found in Lebanon’s capital city. The band’s two members, Nader Mansour and Eddy Ghossein, are just as diverse but like Ying and Yang they come together somehow and that's where the real story begins. Well it actually began several years ago when the pair met against the backdrop of a pub brawl and since then they’ve gone on to create one of the country’s most distinct and unusual sounds. With their first album complete and the band working on its global re-launch we felt it was about time to get to know The Wanton Bishops a little better.
Sitting in Mansour’s garden, Eddy Ghossein is neatly and smartly dressed, a habit he keeps up even when on tour, while Nader is for lack of a better word grungier in his physical appearance mostly due to his prominent beard. But looks aren’t everything and despite the differences in physicality and personality they have a lot more in common than meets the eye, a fact that surprised them almost as much as it does others. Nader and Eddy rarely clash due to their ability to understand one another and give each other space plus they both share a wicked of sense of cynicism and sarcasm.
Since neither of them come from very musical backgrounds The Wanton Bishops was never going to be a very conventional band but it’s the raw sound that gives the band its edge. Both of them agree that when it comes to making music they look for the stuff they want to hear and Eddy states that “This is what makes the music honest, which is when you play for yourself and make it for yourself not for other people”. A statement that Nader strongly agrees with before throwing in his own two cents “You don’t see a crowd when you write; you just write what sounds good to you and cross your fingers that people will like it.”
But the music is more than just that because both members need it in their lives and it’s he same for all artists whose basic need is to express themselves with the tools they’re given. It's a need they share with most of the people at the front of Lebanon’s music scene today and Nader and Eddy are proud to have, in their own words, “accidentally contributed” to it. When they started out it wasn’t a very encouraging time for upcoming bands or the right time to invest in one but that didn’t stop The Wanton Bishops from going ahead anyway. Not caring how things would turn out the two were just glad that people showed interest and it can safely be said that they took initiative and helped re-launch a wave of music in the region.
The Wanton Bishops aren’t the kind to take all the credits though as they list some of the popular and local musicians that had the guts to get out there make something happen. These bands and singers came through in a time just prior to the social media boom, which significantly improved their chances. Nader and Eddy also believe that this is a great time for the untapped talents that the country and region have to offer as more and more people, organizations, radio stations and many others are showing interest and encouraging artists to record and create their own music.
It’s probably due to that same encouragement that the band are now working on re-launching their album “Sleep With The Lights On” which was released locally a couple of years. That's not all however as there will be an upcoming documentary about the band and its album to help the process of a global release along. So it’s safe to say that we haven’t heard the last from these self-described “grumpy“ gentlemen as they continue to combine everything that they like musically with everything they would love to listen to but can’t find in order to create the distinct sound that is The Wanton Bishops.