Nervecell, stalwarts of the Dubai metal scene, recently took to the road for a series of music festival performances. The guitarist Rami H Mustafa shares their tour diaries.
Follow Dubai's Nervecell on their European adventure
The band and crew fly from Dubai to Doha and then onwards to Munich, Germany. We have a festival performance in the Czech Republic tomorrow, so we hit the road after a short delay - not all our luggage arrives as expected, but thankfully, this problem is resolved pretty quickly.
It takes close to five hours to get to our destination. When we arrive, we're surprised to bump into some friends from Dubai who've travelled to Europe for the festival. Later we manage to tuck ourselves up in bed to get a few hours rest before our performance on the main stage at Brutal Assault tomorrow.
The day of our first show. We meet up with the band Benighted - their drummer Kevin is our session drummer for our European dates - and he sound-checks with us. The weather's great for our performance, there are thousands of fans at the festival and we play to a big crowd. The sound was huge. Midway through our set, I look in front of me and see two Lebanese flags flying high. After the show we hang out with friends backstage and meet some new fans, before checking out the rest of the festival.
Later that evening, our tour manager informs us that the keys to our tour bus are locked inside it. Our guitarist Barney is revealed as the culprit - it's an accident, of course - but we have to call a locksmith to sort the situation out. It takes more than three hours to unlock the vehicle and costs us €100 (Dh520) for the privilege. We had a good laugh about it, and afterwards we party the night away.
We are still in the Czech Republic, although we have a festival to play in Germany this evening. We're co-headlining Rock Im Betonwerk, but our session drummer Kevin is playing with Benighted at Brutal Assault later today, so we can't leave until he's finished their set. Luckily our show doesn't start until late and it's a relatively short drive to Mittelbach bei Chemnitz.
We get there with more than an hour to spare and even have a few minutes to chill after our soundcheck. It's raining before we go on stage. Even so, the place is packed. Then the rain stops, our intro song kicks in and the atmosphere of the crowd makes this sudden change of weather seem epic. It's a very good moment and we respond by giving a really good show. Afterwards we hang out in the merchandise area and meet lots of fans. We don't get back to the hotel until pretty late.
We head back to the Czech Republic to drop our drummer at Brutal Assault. Benighted are returning to France, their home country. We'll catch up with them again in a few days at another festival in Germany. We spend a few hours watching some good bands and see Forbidden perform. They're a recently reunited thrash band and they put on a strong performance.
We travel to Nuremberg, which is a couple of hours away from our next show at the Summer Breeze festival in Dinkelsburg. We've been here before, in 2009, when we played the MTV Rock im Park festival and thought it would be a good place to stay for our few days off. We spend most of the time visiting castles, churches and museums, as well as hanging out with metalheads and sampling the city's nightlife. We also work on editing our video tour diary with Adnan, our cameraman.
We drive to Dinkelsburg for the first day of Summer Breeze. We head to the festival site to watch some bands perform and see the death metal band Vader play. It is no exaggeration to say that they rip the stage apart.
The festival is really starting to fill up - more campers are arriving all the time. We stay at the festival most of the day and watch Decapitated and Arch Enemy. Later we meet up with the guys from Lifeforce Records, our European label. We leave the site at 1am (which is early for us) to get some rest prior to tomorrow's performance.
Today's the day. The anticipation builds. This is Germany's second-biggest metal festival and we're playing the main stage. We set up, the crew raise the Nervecell backdrop across the stage, we run through a soundcheck and a few minutes later we will start the show. I walk on stage to place my video camera on top of my amp to film the crowd from my angle and all I see is more and more people pouring towards our stage ... thousands and thousands of them.
I go backstage and do some push-ups to warm up my legs and body, and do some guitar warm-ups for my fingers. Meanwhile, James, our vocalist and bassist, is warming up his voice in a quiet corner, taking a moment by himself, while Barney (our guitarist) is doing his own pre-set stretches and Kevin (our drummer) is tapping his drumsticks. A few minutes later our tour manager tells us to get ready to go on, our live intro song starts, and I can hear a huge cheer from the crowd, who are chanting our name.
This is our final show before we head home and it's an amazing performance. The crowd give us back loads of energy. Afterwards we go for a signing session arranged by Metal Hammer magazine. We sign lots of autographs and get the chance to meet and chat to many fans.
Later, one of the festival organisers asked us to put our signatures on an electric guitar which was only being signed by a select few artists playing the festival. The guitar will be put up for auction and the money raised from its sale will be used to help support a young German boy with a rare disease.
We've completed our European tour. Our flight back to the UAE is tomorrow. We enjoy another day at the festival and watch a load of bands, including Benighted and the American metalcore band As I Lay Dying, who have become really good friends of ours over the years since we first met them at the Dubai Desert Rock Festival in 2008. We get back to the hotel at around 4am and catch some sleep before we check out in the morning and head for the airport.
We wake up early and load all our gear onto the bus before heading back to Munich. We check in at the airport. It's a sad feeling knowing the tour is over after having such a great time, but we know we'll be back. We're planning to tour Europe again later this year to support our albumPsychogenocide. I can hardly wait.
Rami H Mustafa is a guitarist with Nervecell, a Dubai-based thrash metal band.