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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 October 2018

‘Bona fide veterans of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix’ Bull Funk Zoo on performing at Beats on the Beach

As UAE rockers Bull Funk Zoo gear up for their third F1 gig to date, founder Assaad Lakkis talks through the band's continuing evolution, and new album Dangerous Radio.
Bull Funk Zoo. Photo by Nadine Al Koudsi
Bull Funk Zoo. Photo by Nadine Al Koudsi

As they gear up for a third F1 gig, Bull Funk Zoo can claim to be bona fide veterans of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

But the outfit appearing at Beats on the Beach on Saturday [November 26] bare little resemblance to the Bull Funk Zoo audiences might have seen on the same stage in 2013, or at the F1 Fanzone a year earlier.

Originally formed in 2012 by guitarist Assaad Lakkis, the UAE funk-rock group was once defined by the soulful vocals of Emirati Hamdan Al-Abri, backed by the groove of bassist Elie Afif – a loose and raw sound captured on 2013’s self-titled debut album.

Both are now members of Abri & Funk Radius, the hip house band spotted rocking hangouts Jazz@Pizza Express and Stereo Arcade weekly.

“Nothing really happened, Bull Funk Zoo was always my baby, hence my pseudonym Bull Funk Zoo,” explains Lakkis, who was born and raised in Dubai, and is of Lebanese origin.

Lakkis meanwhile has gone his own way – writing, singing, playing, producing and mixing every note of this year’s follow-up LP, Dangerous Radio, in his Dubai home studio.

“There was blood, sweat and tears put in to this, especially knowing that it was all on me,” said Lakkis.

“I challenged myself to do it all, and at times the pressure was exhilarating and scary – I had a particular sound in my head I wanted to get it out, not depend on anyone and work very long, odd hours.”

In Abu Dhabi, Lakkis – who now fulfils lead vocal duties – will be joined onstage by new permanent bandmate Alan Short on bass, as well as session players, drummer Josh Saldanha and rhythm guitarist Pritam Mukhi.

Despite the turbulent past years, Lakkis is optimistic about Bull Funk Zoo’s future, with a new album in the works for next year, and plans for a European tour next summer.

“At the moment a lot of great things have been happening,” added the guitarist, who describes his age as “in my thirties”.

“For the past six months I have been doing PR campaigns in the UK and have had an amazing response.”

Bull Funk Zoo perform at Beats on the Beach, hosted at Abu Dhabi Corniche, on Saturday November 26, free entry, doors 6.30pm

rgarratt@thenational.ae