Photo by Daniel Dorsa
There have been a number of features written about Ahmed Gallab’s transformation from local drummer in bands like Sweetheart and Pompeii, This Morning to touring musician in of Montreal and Yeasayer (here’s one, and another one, and then there’s this one, and don’t forget this one, and while not the last, here’s one final one for you to check out). This is not going to be another coming-of-age feature.
Rather than rehash well-covered territory, I decided to focus on some Columbus-related questions that don’t necessarily have as much to do with Sinkane’s music as they do Gallab’s thoughts about the city that he called home for a while in preparation for his return to Columbus
Before we dive in, here’s a plug for Sinkane’s recently released album Dépaysé, an eclectic and worldly-sounding pop album unlike many you’ve heard. Just look at the international band Gallab, who is Sudanese, has put together – guitarist Jonny Lam is Chinese, keyboardist Elenna Canlas is Filipina, drummer Chris St. Hilaire is Trinidadian, and bassist Michael “Ish” Montgomery is Black American.
If Netflix commissioned a project about your time living in Columbus, would it be a 2-hour movie or a 6-part series? Would it be a documentary or would it be a fictionalized account of your time here (and, if so, who would play you?)? What would the title be?
This would probably be a series. And it wouldn’t just be about me but rather me and my friend Rosa and how we were at 18 yrs old and how we are now. I don’t really know what it would be called but it would probably be a comedy with some real life anecdotes in the vein of “Atlanta” with surreal imagery and pseudo-music video moments. I don’t know who would play me, though. It would have to be a Sudanese actor, though.
In that Netflix show, what’s the one scene that takes place in Columbus that viewers watch and say, “No way did that happen!” but, really, it did and even you still can’t believe it?
Probably the time my band Sweetheart played at Bernie’s and set up in the entrance so that no one would leave because we were the last band of 8 and it was almost 3 am and super hot. There are also so many stories from my years at The Legion of Doom or High Five Bar that I could talk about. Those who know, know.
As a touring act, you perform in Columbus pretty regularly. Do you consider it a homecoming of sorts and get a chance to hang out with old friends, visit old haunts, etc or is it just another city on tour that you slide in and out of?
Actually a lot of my Columbus friends don’t come to the shows. And some of my closest have moved out of Columbus as well. The shows always feel special to me and I get excited because I meet new people every time. Columbus isn’t really the same place that I knew. Not in a bad way. I’ve grown and so has the city. I always feel at home here but, when I lived here, it was such a specific time and energy that just doesn’t exist any more. Probably just that I’m older.
If you do get to spend a little time in Columbus, is there some place special that you introduce the rest of the band to or do you hop in a car with a friend and do your own thing?
Brassica, North Market, Used Kids, Lost Weekend, Spoonful. If I’m not tired I’ll sneak into the train bridge after our show and hang out above the Olentangy by myself.
Throughout your days of both living in Columbus and afterwards, I’m guessing you’ve likely played most existing – and defunct – venues in town. Is there a venue that you’ve never played?
Stache’s and Little Brother’s. I went to so many shows at Little Brother’s though.
For someone that has never been to Columbus – say a touring musician that you’re friends with – what is something you recommend they check out if they’ve got 2 hours to kill? And, what do you recommend if they have 24 hours to kill?
2 hrs: eat at Brassica and try to make it to Used Kids.
24 hrs: Go to Park of Roses, any of the thrift stores in the suburbs, get drunk with Lou at Bourbon Street, call Wes Flexner and tell him I sent you. All the awesome Columbus shit isn’t really in the city and you’ll need a buddy to take you there…
As I was scrolling through your socials, I saw your Dead Head shirts (WHOA!) and you say that everybody knows how big of a Dead Head you are. Have you always been a fan? I’ll admit that I actively despised the Dead when I was a teenager. It’s only been in the last 5 years that I’ve changed my tune and it got me to thinking that when I was younger, it wasn’t the Dead’s music that I didn’t like, it was their fans. I won’t say that I’m all in, but definitely go out of my way to listen to them on occasion. I haven’t gone too deep. If there is one album/live show that I HAVE to listen to, what is it?
The gateway is Europe ‘72. That’s a good entry level into live Dead (also the album “Live Dead”). As for albums: “Wake of The Flood”, “Workingman’s Dead”, “American Beauty” and “From The Mars Hotel”. I’ll admit that those records are pretty safe. But that’s just a great way to start. Once you get your feet wet go to nugs.net for some awesome live tapes.
Sinkane, with special guest Bassel & The Supernaturals, perform on Thursday, June 20 at The Basement. Doors are at 7pm and tickets are $15.