Egypt’s First Progressive Rock Band
Egypt’s first progressive rock band, AndrOmidA, is returning to ElSawy Cultural Wheel with a new Pink Floyd performance, Animals On The Wall. In honor of their upcoming tribute to Pink Floyd’s The Wall and Animals albums, Cairo West Magazine sat down with the brutally honest and incredibly passionate, Amr Hassan, AndrOmidA’s keyboardist and vocalist.
CWM:Tell us about the beginnings of AndrOmidA?
AH: When I was in my last year of high school, the seed of a band was sown but not as AndrOmidA specifically. I was listening to a lot of Deep Purple, Pink Floyd and Supertramp and wanted to play that kind of music. Around 1986 friends began coming round to my parent’s place and we would rehearse entire albums from morning to evening. AndrOmidA was officially born in November 1987.
Why the name AndrOmidA?
I had a friend whose brother was a guitarist who was also interested in rock music and it was he who came up with the name. Coincidentally, as we started to read about the Andromeda galaxy I was listening to a lot of space music, like Jean Michelle Jarre’s Oxygene and Equinoxe, and it completely changed my state of mind. We settled on the name right away.
What were the struggles that you faced when you first formed the band?
For starters, there were no venues for us to play and no other bands except Earth Connection in Gezirah Sporting Club. Once we found a bassist, vocalist and drummer, we secured our first official concert at the Trade College in November 1988. We were completely unprepared in terms of the equipment we brought and by the fourth song they drew the curtains while we were still performing – someone even hurled their shoe at me.
What bands have been your biggest influences?
When we started covering Pink Floyd, we had a massive influx of fans both in Egypt and internationally – we were categorized as the Pink Floyd tribute band of the region and naturally followed that path. Now, not only do our fans turn to us for that renowned Floyd sound, we continue to be fascinated by it. Their music requires a great deal of concentration and constant education, not just of the music but of the analog equipment as well.
How did the Animals on the Wall event come about at ElSawy Cultural Wheel?
After our first performance at ElSawy Cultural Wheel in 2005 we blew up – in a way, it’s kind of like our little Ministry of Culture. Since then, every gig there has become sacred to us.
Did you always know you wanted to be a musician?
When I was five years old I went into the music room at school, put my hands on the piano and before I knew it, I could play. By 14 I was already into rock and when I hit 18 I started to work at bars, weddings and nightclubs – even on the streets and roofs of the city – anywhere I could play music, I did.
Hassan’s intimate relationship with rock is one that continues to evolve as AndrOmidA’s presence grows in the region and worldwide.