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The reverb of the guitar is expected to rattle the beach-side town of Santa Monica as two renowned rockers hit the pier for the fifth installment of the Twilight Concert series.
Bambino and Hanni El Khatib are set to perform in what organizers said is among the most anticipated shows on the 29th annual Twilight Concert series lineup presented by Myspace.
"I've only performed on a beach once in Cornwall in England. They built a stage off a cliff so the crowd was in the sand. But this is awesome, too. I'm excited to play to my local crowd," said L.A.-based El Khatib, who will play for his first time at the Santa Monica Pier for the outdoor concert.
El Khatib added that he plans to perform about 80 percent new material from his latest album, "Head In The Dirt," which was released in April on his L.A.-based label Innovative Leisure. The album was produced by Dan Auerbach, lead vocalist and guitarist for The Black Keys.
While he once described his music as "being for anyone who has ever been shot or hit by a train," El Khatib said his latest work will be less about his personal life and more about storytelling.
"The themes are still the same -- love, social commentary and things -- but it's less personal in that I'm taking the focus off myself," he said.
But fans shouldn't fear; El Khatib doesn't think he's gone too far off what has earned him a local fan base in Los Angeles and beyond.
"It's just an extension of what I've already been doing. I'm really just using the last record as a jumping off point," he said.
El Khatib said he approached the new album "sort of how a fiction
"In 'Save Me' on the new record, every verse in the song is about someone dying somehow and their cries for help," he said. "There's a line about being bit by a snake and dying in a desert. That didn't happen to me, obviously, but metaphorically I've felt that way; helpless and in need."
While excited to perform his new material, the San Francisco native turned Angeleno said he's also excited to stand back and watch Bambino, a guitarist and singer/songwriter from Niger who has earned international acclaim. Bambino is expected to take the stage at 7 p.m. while El Khatib and his band are set to perform at 8:30 p.m. as the sun sets on the Pacific.
"I feel like we'll have that kind of magical moment for people when the sun goes down," he said. "The night will really depend on the energy of the crowd at that point, but I'm looking forward to it."
Five more concerts are scheduled through Sept. 12 with acts such as El Khatib's label mate Nick Waterhouse and reggae star Jimmy Cliff.
During that time El Khatib, 32, plans to take a three-week break before heading to Europe for three music festivals and embarking on two headlining tours that will keep him busy well into 2014.
The Los Angeles News Group chatted with the busy rocker while he squeezed in time to relax with his blue-nosed pit bull, Harlow, at Malibu beach on Wednesday:
Question: How does it feel to play one of the most anticipated shows in the Twilight Concert series?
El Khatib: It's kind of a final hurrah -- well, maybe not the final one, but a nice hometown show before I can take a bit of a break.
Question: Who are you excited to watch during the Twilight Concert series?
El Khatib: I actually want to see Bambino perform. I met the group in Nashville and caught the two days of them during recording sessions for their new album. I got to witness the recordings first hand so that was kinda cool. I got to see it with Dan (Black Keys).
Question: If you could play anywhere unique - not a regular concert venue like an amphitheater or auditorium -- where would it be?
El Khatib: I was thinking I would like to play in a massive cave in the middle of the night only lit by fires. Or like in an abandoned subway station.
Question: I talked to Echo and Spaceland Productions officials who are really proud of being able to bring you on to the series since they've seen your career grow. Can you talk to me about the last few years building a following in L.A.?
El Khatib: I'm from San Francisco, but when I got put on by my label, my first show was at the Echo, then Spaceland, then Echo again for a record release party. I've done a lot of Echo-curated events. It's a breeding ground for people to play with like-minded musicians in L.A. It really lends itself for things to happen organically, which was certainly the case for us. We've been lucky to just grow because they have a bunch of different venues and events. Fast forward about four years later and yeah, lots of things have changed.
Question: Your background is that you were a skater from the Bay Area who became a creative director for a skateboard fashion line. Did you ever think you'd get to this point?
El Khatib: No way, I didn't think I'd get here. I take every day as it comes because I was doing music as a hobby so I wasn't doing it to be a rock star like so many other people who join bands to get to the end goal right away. I'm kind of the person who let's things happen. I see all of this as something of a crap shoot. It's partially talent, but it's also a (expletive)load of luck, timing, who writes about you, if you have a great song that a great blog picks up. You can't really put expectation on it like back in the day when once you get signed to a record label it's the end all be all. That doesn't mean (expletive) anymore. Just because you get signed doesn't mean you'll make it big.
Question: After the Twilight Concert series performance you'll be traveling quite a bit. Where are your favorite places to play?
El Khatib: I like touring in France a lot and I like to play shows in Spain. There's just something about the people and culture in those areas. And every time we've played there it's been summertime so I get to sneak to beach and chill, which is needed during six-week tours.
Question: Sounds like you're a beach guy, eh?
El Khatib: I never was until I started touring. I'm usually a city guy, but I think I've started enjoying being by the sea more.
Question: What are your favorite beaches?
El Khatib: Well, I like this dog beach I'm at right now in Malibu. But I also really like Long Beach, Seal Beach and Sunset Beach; that whole area is cool.
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