“All those years I slept all day” sings Andrew Gharib on “Interstellar”, the first single off his debut solo self-titled effort as Desert Stranger. For him, this is a fresh start. Formerly the singer/guitarist of Animal Confession, they released two albums, playing alongside numerous acts including Three Days Grace, Dear Rouge, Rise Against, CeVilain, The Damn Truth, and In My Coma.
Owing his musical debts to the 80s post-punk movement artists such as The Cure, U2, and Joy Division, Gharib says he wanted to write the music to his voice, rather than the other way around. “I’m excited to play with different ideas and see where they go. Whatever comes out…comes out”.
The last two years saw Animal Confession reach new heights with the release of their record “Age of Today”, an exercise in explosive hard rock which garnered them local buzz. They expanded their horizons with 2 tracks featuring opera singer Wallis Giunta. Following their performance at Ottawa’s RBC Bluesfest in 2018, the band continued playing in Ontario and Quebec and following an extended break, decided to disband.
“The last 2 years were pretty up and down”, says Gharib. I don’t think I picked up my guitar for 2 months, because I really wanted to think about the next step, and not rush into anything. I was also just exhausted.” says Gharib, who began to demo new tracks in late 2019. Slowly, he pieced together and sent tracks to drummer Mike Hogg (Iconoclast), who previously toured with the likes of ZZ top, the Goo Goo dolls, and Bon Jovi.
He teamed again with Steve Foley (Elijah Woods/Jamie Fine, Carly Rae Jepsen) to helm his new record. “Interstellar”, his first single, tries to capture the feeling defeating your own worst enemy, when it's yourself. “It's really a song about forward movement, in spite of any challenge".
Along the way, Gharib learned that being on his own means doing everything a band does front to back “The amount of work is intense, but it’s a lot of fun”, says Gharib.
Owing the name of his solo project to his Lebanese roots, the name “Gharib” directly translates into “stranger”; this comes from his ancestors who used to refer to newcomers into their villages as ‘stranger’. Perhaps being a stranger is the best way to get to know yourself and figure out where you’re going.