Interview Music

Enter: Sons of Rice

Sons of Rice sit down to talk about their latest album Guts To Skin

The music scene, especially Montreal’s music scene, needs more iconic and theatrical groups. What does this mean? Think about it: in the past decade, besides Arcade Fire, Half Moon Run, and (maybe?) The Damn Truth, we haven’t had anything of their caliber rise from this diverse and multicultural city.  

Sons of Rice is a duo that is trying to stake its ground in Montreal’s music scene. Enter Ram Sleibi and Bob Mood. Sleimi, who grew up with parents who are actors, stated, “I’ve always been passionate about filmmaking as a source of expression, but my priorities changed when I met a guitar player [Mood] who became my best friend. They met in high school at sec. three [grade nine], in the music room on the first day of term.   

In July of last year, they released their debut album Guts To Skin. Topping off at a short 26 and a half minutes, it seems a bit small for an LP, but don’t let it fool you, for quality is more prevalent here than quantity. According to Sleibi, the umbrella theme for the album is “Identity.” “Under the identity umbrella falls many themes: expression, diaspora, community, death, nationalism, and culture,” he said.    

Their writing process is “all over the place,” said Sleibi. When they first came together as Sons of Rice, they would tumble over lyrics, melodies, and chords while in the same room. Their process has changed drastically now, where Sleibi is in the producer chair. 

“Lyrics are equally written by Mood and I depending on the songs, and the melodies are also a collective effort,” he said. In terms of guitar, Mood is the man for that and Sleibi does the rest (bass, piano, synths, drums). This is due to them getting separated due to immigration issues on Mood’s side. 

Sleibi grew up in Damascus, Syria, while Mood was raised in Saidon, Lebanon. Consequently, the duo brings a touch of their Middle Eastern upbringing into their music.  

“We both have a natural sense to how we implement our Levantine Arab culture into our current music.” said Sleibi. 

When asked about their easiest song to write, Sleibi immediately replied, “Our ego trip ‘Suns of Rise.’” The reason for it was that the core of the track is a loop of a song from Asmahan, a famous Syrian singer. Contrasting with that, their hardest songs to write were “Come Happy Time,” “The Flame,” and “Chase Me Back.”

Unlike many artists, when asked about their influences, Sons of Rice don’t let other musicians/groups get in the way of their songwriting. “I’m mostly influenced by films, stories and people I know in real life,” said Sleibi. However, they do love ’90s/2000s rap and hip hop, Levantine Arab music and rock groups like Twenty One Pilots, Pearl Jam, and Jack White. 

The title of the album Guts To Skin is a lyric in their song “Suns of Rise.” The full line is “Guts to skin is not enough,” which tells the audience that they, as a duo, are not done with just one album. 

“It is not going to be enough for us to express what we feel, and we are also aware that it won’t be enough for the listener to fully trust us into becoming his or her new favourite band.”  

This album is what Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers was to Kendrick Lamar: therapeutic. “We’re human,” said Sleibi: “We think and we must express to share how what we think makes us feel to achieve a sense of relation between people that in return could achieve a state of peace.” 

As a final note, the future for Sons of Rice is working on a second album, but their main objective now is to “offer a term [Sons of Rice] that can give people who use [it] a sense of belonging to one another, a term of unity.” 

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