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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 September 2018

Pegasus frontman on writing songs the Swiss way

The a successful rock band in Switzerland will be part of the cultural festival Swiss Days in Dubai

Pegasus will perform at Madinat Jumeirah on Thursday. Photo by Ueli Frey
Pegasus will perform at Madinat Jumeirah on Thursday. Photo by Ueli Frey

Pegasus frontman Noah Veraguth’s memories of the band’s previous UAE gig is as sketchy as it is evocative. “It was about five six years ago in Abu Dhabi – I am not very good with the date to be honest,” he says. “But I what do remember clearly, is that we were in a desert, the weather was beautiful and we were singing along with a big camp fire.”

He chuckles while recalling the experience, the main reason being he is chatting to me from his home in Switzerland, where the temperature today hovered just above freezing.

Another sharp distinction will be evident when the band returns to the UAE on Thursday as part of the cultural festival Swiss Days in Dubai.

Where five years ago, the pop rockers were an established group, today they are stars back at home and a bona fide arena act. This is in addition to selling out shows in nearby France, Germany and Italy which share linguistic bonds.

Despite the familiar heritage, recordings in these countries affected the sounds of Pegasus’s three albums. Where the heavy electro and orchestral elements of the band’s previous release, 2014’s Love and Gunfire, was influenced by Berlin’s club scene, the boys went back home to record the new album Beautiful Life. Packed with soaring melodies and lush arrangements, Veraguth says Beautiful Life is the band at its most natural.

“We want to pare it down a bit and reach the listener in the most direct way,” he says. “Where in other albums we were recording with orchestras and stuff, this time around we focused more on percussion and rhythm. We want to go the less-is-more route.”

With the group pretty much conquering their homeland, the last few years found Pegasus venturing into new territories. Tomorrow’s Dubai date, which Veraguth calls “our first proper UAE show”, comes on the back of other relatively exotic jaunts to India and South-East Asia, where they performed in a number of cosy clubs.

The shows were as laid back as they were instructive. “They were all small audiences who had perhaps never heard of us,” he says.

“In a way, these show can be even more important because it reminds us of the way that we started out, and how we wanted to get out and actually see the people in front of us and tell them about ourselves.”

To say Pegasus are a tight-knit bunch is an understatement. All the members grew up in the same street and attended the same schools before making their bones in the local music scene. “The thing about the music community here, is that there are a lot of really good musicians out there and it is competitive. There are also a lot of competitions which we entered, some we won and some we didn’t,” he says.

“Also, I think with the crowds, they are very supportive as long as you are honest with what you do. They can tell if you are not being authentic.”

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Another benefit of being a successful rock band in Switzerland, is the increased chances of landing a plump supporting gig for a mega act – Pegasus warmed up the stage for Coldplay in front of 45,000 people at the Stade de Suisse back in 2009.

While the British rockers’ influence is all over Beautiful Life, Veraguth says the band’s approach is typically Swiss. “It is a bit of a cliché about us, but we are indeed perfectionists,” he says. “I come from a family of watch makers, and I can see the similarities between what my father does and writing a good song. It is all about making things fit together and paying attention to all the small details.”

Pegasus perform at Swiss Days on Thursday at Madinat Theatre, Dubai. Tickets are Dh75 from madinatjumeirah.etixdubai.com

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