x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Juliana Down crew to rock Dubai off its Axl

The boys from Dubai will be the supporting band for the rock superstars Guns N' Roses at Yas Arena tonight.

The crew says playing support to the legendary outfit has them jittery but are ready to deliver.
The crew says playing support to the legendary outfit has them jittery but are ready to deliver.

Rocking stadiums with big-name bands and thousands of fans is all part of the music game for Juliana Down. But the UAE group are now just hours away from the biggest gig of their lives.

The boys will be the supporting band for the rock superstars Guns N' Roses at Yas Arena tonight.

"Sharing the stage with such a huge name in the history of rock is something that I feel very honoured to do," said Dia H, the lead vocalist for Juliana Down. "Any musician dreams to play with such legends. I'll be looking forward to the roaring sounds of the thousands of fans coming to that gig."

The band's Lebanese lead guitarist, Sari R, said: "When I got the news, I was walking back home and started jumping in the street."

Also of Lebanese origin and also a guitarist, Dia H is joined by Andrew Gibson, a British bass player; Lionel Fernandes, an Indian keyboard player; and James Sinclair, a British drummer.

"It's a big show," said Sari R. "A lot of people will be there so it's a great chance for us to make something out of it."

The band first formed about 10 years ago as a "bunch of friends who hated science class but loved music", said Dia H. But the "new" Juliana Down really started in October with a complete relaunch.

"We are much more focused than before," said Sinclair, "and there is a huge amount of really good new material coming through."

The band's best-known song is Empires, which has been made into a video and is getting play on MTV and radio stations across the Middle East. The band expects to shoot another video for its new single, Run to Me, which it plans to unveil tonight.

Dia H, who is known for his hypnotising vocals, recalled that the band's first show "was at Battle of The Bands in 2001". "We walked away with best vocalist award and best original song award, too. I think we must have [upset] a lot of the well-established bands back then that played the same gig."

As successful as Juliana Downs has been, none of the members has yet quit his day job.

Dia H and Sari R work in insurance, Fernandes works in events, and Sinclair and Gibson are lawyers.

"I used to think I was the only lawyer in the UAE in a rock band," Gibson said. "That is, until I met James. So I think it is pretty much safe to say that we are the only band in the UAE with two lawyers. No one messes with us."

Sinclair said he was particularly thrilled about opening for Guns N' Roses. "I have been a huge fan all my life," he said. "I was at the Monsters of Rock festival in 1988, when they were just about to explode on to the scene … I was a young kid, but was totally blown away.

"Although I have played big stages before, this is a major personal ambition."

The band has opened for big acts before - Muse, Justin Timberlake and Korn - but never on its home turf.

"It's difficult not to be overwhelmed about a performance of this magnitude," Gibson said. "We have all grown up listening to Guns N' Roses, and still do. We will be giving it 110 per cent on the night."

Fernandes said: "This is like a dream. I've grown up listening to Guns N' Roses and have played many of their songs over the years. Am I still dreaming?"

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