Interview with South of Eden frontman Ehab Omran

Date: August 29, 2020
Interviewer: Mark Howarth

In 2020, the dark clouds over rock n’ roll parted once again allowing a major label in the USA to sign a rock band. Hard to believe but it’s true as Lava Records / Universal Music Group (who signed Greta Van Fleet) have set their sights on another new young band called South of Eden. Thundering back on the scene with a new single and video, South of Eden really capture the essence of rock n’ roll swagger and style. Before they blow up too big and become too famous to talk to us, I spoke with lead singer Ehab Omran to get his perspective on a few topics. With the songs, the high energy and David Lee Roth-esque squeals, we believe Ehab is ready to take South of Eden straight into rock n’ roll success. 

Sleaze Roxx: Thank you for speaking with Sleaze Roxx! We suddenly see South Of Eden as a real up-and-come’r and heavyweight of the future rock scene. We also haven’t heard from you guys in about two years when you were still known as Black Coffee with one single and a video released. So much seems to have progressed for your band, mainly your signing with Lava Music / Republic Records and Universal Music Group. Please share with us exactly how this signing happened with such a major label?

Ehab Omran: Our signing to Lava / Republic was such an awesome experience. It really all started when we were looking around for the perfect producer for these new songs! Greg Wells very quickly became our favorite because of his passion, complete understanding on how we wanted to do things and “wanting to be South of Eden’s Mutt Lange.” Jason Flom got involved very soon [days] after and signed us basically on the spot after hearing / seeing what we were all about! Next thing we knew, we were living in L.A. for a few months writing and recording the songs that became this album.

Sleaze Roxx: That must have been such an amazing experience! And with rock music being on life support in the USA, it must be more difficult to find like-minded musicians. How did you all meet each other?

Ehab Omran: That’s quite a long answer [laughs]! The short version goes like this. In highschool, [bassist] Nick [Frantianne] and I played in local Columbus bands, while [drummer] Tommy [McCullough] and [lead guitarist] Justin [Young] were doing the same. We all knew each other at least in passing. After graduation, Justin went to Berklee College of Music, while Nick also went to Boston to pursue a career in music. Tommy and I stayed back in Columbus both of us going to The Ohio State University and not really playing music. One day, I got a message from Tom that he is starting a band and [that he] heard I can sing [laughs]! We jammed for about half a year in that band before Justin came back from Boston and Tommy formally introduced me to him. One jam later, Justin drops out of college and we were a three-piece band called Black Coffee. Until one day I was sick of playing bass and we were holding bass auditions and what do you know? Nick is back in town. He fit in like a glove and the new sound was incredible.

Sleaze Roxx: Great to hear it slapped together like that! You hail from Columbus, Ohio. What is the rock scene like there today?

Ehab Omran: Well, before the current state of the world, Columbus had an awesome number of scenes. I’d say it has more of a metal scene here rather than rock. There’s a lot of heavy chugging bands that are a blast to listen to! There is so much talent here. It’s awesome.

Sleaze Roxx: So why the name change from Black Coffee to South of Eden?

Ehab Omran: The first issue with the previous name is that there is no way to trademark / copyright ‘Black Coffee.’ Something about it being too general of a term or whatever legal issue. The second more important issue is there are so many bands, acts and places by that name, we didn’t want to be compared to anything else.

Sleaze Roxx: That’s understandable. Seems like your influences are mainly from the ’70s and ’80s hard rock scene. Are there any influences you would say have had a main impact on your songwriting?

Ehab Omran: The ’60s and ’90s were huge to our songwriting with artists like James Brown, Michael Jackson and Alice in Chains. Honestly, there is a lot of music that came out of the late 2000s that was also dope.

Sleaze Roxx: True, we’re just of the opinion that much new rock and metal has been underground. We’re seeing some tour buses and big crowd footage in the new “Dancing With Fire” video. Have you toured anywhere yet or been an opening act for any established bands?

Ehab Omran: The short answer is no. We haven’t done a full leg with any established band. We’ve played a lot of shows with national acts that have come through Columbus or the midwest — festivals, one offs, stuff like that. Can’t wait for the world to reopen so we can finally get to tour around!

Sleaze Roxx: I think we’re all very eager for the world to get back to normal. Can we expect a full album release on Lava / UMG?

Ehab Omran: Oh yes! Absolutely! The question is, single or double album [laughs]! We were honestly very wary of releasing music right now. Why gamble on releasing music in such a crazy time? It’s hard enough to break a rock band now with touring and everything open! To try now sounded stupid at first, but honestly, our fans are what drove us to release [the EP] anyway. We knew we owed it to them, so releasing a few songs seemed like the right thing to do!

Sleaze Roxx: Totally agree! It would be impossible to tour in support of a new album right now. With that being said, what are your goals for South of Eden?

Ehab Omran: Honestly, we’re just trying to remind people that the radio / all music doesn’t have to sound the way it does. It can be more flavorful, a lot more diverse and truly amazing. But if we continue living in a world where people are just repeating themselves and not branching out, then nothing changes. Listen to our record and follow us @southofedenband. Follow other young up-and-coming artists. Not just rock bands, but all genres! Live outside of the box.

South of Eden‘s “Dancing With Fire” video:

South Of Eden – Dancing With Fire [Official Video]

Listen to South Of Eden – Dancing With Fire: Director: John PayneVideo Production: John Payne, South of Eden…