DUBAI: In an apartment on Shaikh Zayed Road, a sleek black beauty confidently leans against the wall - her neck long and base strong. The Epiphone Les Paul custom Black Beauty is the epicentre of 23-year-old Naser Mestarihi's rock and roll world.
"I'd play guitar every day till the day I die, that's how it is, I enjoy it so much," says the Dubai-based singer-songwriter who has just released an eponymous four-track EP album on iTunes.
The half-Jordanian, half-Pakistani Middlesex University, Dubai student describes the album as an amalgamation of his experience of growing up in the Middle East.
"The songs are all introspective and deal with overcoming struggles. It's meant to be an uplifting record," he explains.
Mestarihi, born and raised in Doha, has been residing in Dubai for about six years now, and alongside his music career he is also pursuing a bachelor's degree in media and PR.
"My mum tried to get me to take guitar lessons when I was 12, but that didn't work out. It was only when I was 14 that I took it up seriously. I learnt it on all my own," he said.
He says that he acquired his skill by watching his favourite bands [Led Zeppelin, ACDC, Iron Maiden, Judas Priests, among others] on TV, by ear, or by sight reading notes. "When you learn a lot of songs, you pick up the techniques and scales, the different modes and stuff," he adds.
Guitars aside, Mestarihi also brings another crucial element to his music: songwriting. He wrote his first song when he was 15, inspired by the Battle of Falkirk in Scotland after watching Braveheart.
"I watch a lot of documentaries, so when I get into something, if the Vietnam War inspires me in some way, I might write it into a song.
"I want my music to sound intellectual to a certain extent, because that's what I think rock and roll is. I think it's really intelligent music, there's a lot of mysticism and depth to it."
In 2004, at the age of 17, he formed his first band, a heavy metal one, called Asgard Legionnaires which was featured on various radio stations in Doha, and was even documented in 2006 by Danmarks Radio, a premier television network in Denmark during its tour of Qatar.
His rediscovery of The Cult's Sonic Temple album led him to quit his band and become a solo musician in 2007.
In fact, Mestarihi is like a one-man band on the record and has done everything by himself, from writing the guitar parts, vocals, bass lines, right down to the percussion. But for live performances, he hires session musicians.
Nothing else matters
"I have two bands, one in Doha and one in Dubai. They don't necessarily contribute to the songwriting or any creative process. They're just performers."
Apart from working on the music itself, Mestarihi also manages the PR and marketing work for his record. Is it all too much for the musician?
"What am I going to do, I'm a musician who's trying to get his music out there, I might as well suffer. I don't mind as long as I get it out there, that's all that matters."
A music video is already in the works for the track Phoenix and another one is set for Blazing Temple [both from the new album] to be filmed in Dubai.
He is also working on his first full-length album, called 1987.
"I don't want to ever quit music. I think I'd feel suicidal if I did. You know that saying: Would you rather be deaf or blind? I'd rather be blind, rather than never hear music again."