Friday, December 17, 2004

2004 - A musical retrospective

cover story


Bands. Splits.
We could hardly have predicted most of these splits. Some of them even left us wondering why...
- Jal: After the success of their very first song 'Aadat', the members of Jal parted ways, both sides giving their own reasons for the split. Atif released his debut album 'Jalpari', which was soon followed by the release of Goher's band's album 'Aadat'.
- Aaroh: Vocalist Farooq and bassist Khalid split with guitarist Nabeel and keyboardist Kamran, and both sides ended up claiming the rights to Aaroh. As a result, one side (Farooq, Khalid, Jason and Haider) released the video for their track 'Na Kaho', while the other (Nabeel, Kamran, Rahat, Sameer, Qaisar and Shehzad Mughal) recorded a new version of 'Sawal' and went to Mumbai to perform their track that appears on the soundtrack of 'Rakht'.
- Junoon: After playing with the band for over a decade, Junoon's bassist Brian O' Connell left the band. Guitarist Salman Ahmed cited Brian's unraveling personal life as the reason for the parting of ways. The band performed with Mekaal Hassan on their Summer of '04 tour and the Mekaal Hasan Band was the opening act for some of their shows.
- Noori: Mohammad Ali Jafri announced that he was leaving Noori to pursue 'other ventures'. Ali Noor, Ali Hamza and Gumby are continuing with the band and are currently working on their second album.

Us and them
The fame of Pakistani pop truly reached far and wide this year.
- Strings: The duo recorded the track 'Jeet Lo Dil' with the Indian group Euphoria, which was the official song for the India-Pakistan cricket series. Their song 'Najanay Kyoun' was featured on one of the versions of the 'Spiderman 2' soundtrack and the video for the track was filmed in Mumbai. The Strings also toured India and released the video for their track 'Bolo Bolo' which featured vocals by Indian singer Hari Haran. Their album 'Dhanni' was crowned number one on the India pop charts. The year also saw the Strings nominated for the 'Most Stylish Person In Music (Male)' award for the MTV Style Awards and the band won the 'Best Band' award at the first Sangeet Awards that were held at the Royal Albert Hall in London.
- Junoon: The video for Junoon's track 'Ghoom Tana' featured appearances by Nandita Das and Naseeruddin Shah and included vocals by Shubha Mudgal.
- Fuzon: Two Australian filmmakers filmed a documentary on the alternative music scene of Pakistan and shot Fuzon recording their new album. The team then went to Delhi with Fuzon where the band played at a concert called 'Sarhadon Ki Jugalbandi' aimed at promoting peace and cultural exchange between Pakistan and India. In India, Fuzon shared the stage with Indian filmmaker Gulzar, sufi singer Kailash Kher, fusion band Indian Ocean, Pakistani singer Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and poet Ferhat Shah. And the video for Fuzon's song 'Deewane' featured Indian actress Urmila Mantondkar.
- Noori: The band released an online demo version of 'Naya Jahan', their duet with Indian singer Anaida. Noori, that just might have set a record this year by performing 110 concerts in 42 days, launched their online record label 'Lighthead Records' with the international release of their debut album 'Suno Ke Main Hun Jawan' because of the heavy demand for their music by fans living outside Pakistan, especially in the US and Europe.

Sound of the underground
Some underground bands could be heard in the mainstream this year. Album releases, videos, gig...quite a bit happened.
- Call: After more than a decade as an underground band doing English music, Call switched over to Urdu and began work on their first album 'Jilawatan'. The band also released the videos for their songs 'Nishaan' and 'Pukaar'. Entity Paradigm: A merger of two underground bands, EP enjoyed success as a mainstream band and released the videos for their tracks 'Waqt' and 'Hamesha' this year.
- Corduroy: Islamabad based band, Corduroy, released their album, 'The Morning After'. The album launch took place at The Civil Junction, where the band had been performing for about a year.


Knot. Tangled.
Some walked down the aisle. And some thought once just wasn't good enough...
- Britney Spears:
Wedding number 1:
Date: 3rd January.
Venue: Las Vegas.
Groom: Her childhood friend Jason Allen Alexander.
Annulment: 55 hour later.
Wedding number 2:
Date: 18th September.
Venue: A Studio City home.
Groom: Kevin Federline, father of 2 with actress Shar Jackson.
- Jennifer Lopez: Five months after breaking her engagement with Ben Affleck, JLo married Marc Anthony at a secret ceremony that was held at her Beverly Hills home, less than a week after Mark divorce his wife. JLo, 33, married Ojani Noa in 1997 and Chris Judd in 2001. Mark Anthony, 34, previously married Miss Universe Dayanara Torres in 2000 and has two sons and a daughter.
- Travis Barker: Blink 182 drummer Travis Barker and former Miss USA Shanna Moakler tied the knot on the 30th of October in Santa Barbara, California, and the family will be doing a reality show for MTV, titled 'Meet The Barkers' next year.
- Brandy: Robert Smith revealed that he was never legally married to Brandy and that the couple just played the part to maintain Brandy's image, and a few weeks later, Brandy announced that she was now engaged to NBA player Quentin Richardson.

Breaking up is hard to do ... or is it?
And then there were none. Or four in the last case.
- Sixpence None The Richer: After playing together for nearly a decade and achieved mainstream success with their hit single 'Kiss Me' that earned the band a Grammy nominated, Six Pence None The Richer broke up.
- Creed: The band split up after releasing three highly successful albums, the sales of which summed up to more than 30 million. The band was together for eight years. Creed guitarist Mark Tremonti, drummer Scott Phillips, original bassist Brian Marshall and former Mayfield Four singer Myles Kennedy formed a new band, Alter Bridge.
- Janes Addiction: Considered as one of the most influential acts of the last two decades, Janes Addiction decided to call it a day. The band had been inactive for ten years until they reformed in 2002 and released their album 'Strays' in 2003.
- Westlife: Bryan McFadden left Westlife to work on his own stuff and spend more time with his wife, ex-Atomic kitten and 'I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here' star Kerry Katona, and their two daughters Molly and Lily Sue. Later this year, Bryan and Kerry split up.

Someday, they'll look back at these incidents and laugh. Or maybe not.
- Ashlee Simpson: During her performance at Saturday Night Live, Ashlee came onstage to sing 'Autobiography', the title track of her debut album. Instead, a pre-recording of her singing 'Pieces of Me' began playing while she was holding her mic to the side. This lip-synch debacle saw her thrashed with criticism and some of those who had bought her album ended up trading it for other records. As for 'Autobiography' which was scheduled to be released as her next single, well, it wasn't!
- Janet Jackson: Just before the released of her album 'Damita Jo', Janet Jackson's supposed 'wardrobe malfunction' exposed the singer during her performance with Justin Timberlake at the Super Bowl in February, and resulted in CBS' twenty stations being imposed with a $500,000 (£269,359) fine.

Guns, roses and velvet revolvers!
We waited for 'Chinese Democracy'. We waited...and waited...
- GNR: Guns N' Roses' 'Greatest Hits' album was released. Axl Rose and former members Slash and Duff McKagan took legal action to prevent the release of the greatest hits album, but the legal claim was rejected. The band's last studio album 'The Spaghetti Incident' came out in 1993.
- Velvet Revolver: Former GNR members Slash, Duff McKagan, Matt Sorum joined forces with Stone Temple Pilots' Scott Weiland and guitarist Dave Kushner to form the band Velvet Revolver and released their debut album 'Contraband'.
- Colonel Claypool's Bucket of Bernie Brains: GNR guitarist Buckethead quit the band after four years during which no new material was released and formed a new band, Colonel Claypool's Bucket of Bernie Brains, featuring Primus bassist Les Claypool, Parliament/Funkadelic keyboardist Bernie Worrell and GN'R drummer Brian 'Brain' Mantia.

And they're still not sure why he won ...
George W Bush was reelected as the US President, but that isn't what most of the musicians wanted. Well, at least they tried!
- Eminem: Em called George W. Bush 'the real weapon of mass destruction' in his single 'Mosh', the animated video of which was released just before the US presidential elections. The track appeared on the rappers album 'Encore' that was released in November.
- A Perfect Circle: APC's album 'eMOTIVe' was released on the US Election Day and features 10 political themed cover songs. The band released an anti-Bush video for one of the two new songs on the album, 'Counting Bodies Like Sheep To The Rhythm Of The War Drums'.
- Punk Voter Coalition: US punk rockers united to form the Punk Voter Coalition that aimed to stop George W Bush from being reelected, and included bands such as NOFX and Anti-Flag.

Hail to the thief?
And just where were the security guards?
- Elvis Presley: The Elvis Presley museum, Elvis-A-Rama, was robbed and stuff including rings, a gold-plated pistol and other belongings, worth over $300,000 (£180,000), were stolen. A pair of the Kings 'blue suede shoes', however, was left untouched.
- George Harrison: The former Beatles' lyrics and photographs were stolen from his sister Lou Harrison's car while she was donating memorabilia to a library.

And India got its first taste of the Idols phenomenon this year.
- World Idol: Norway's Kurt Nilsen won the World Idols competition that featured the winners of the various Idol shows that have been carried out all over the world. Kelly Clarkson from the US came in second, Belgian Peter Evrard was third, Heinz Winkler from South Africa fourth and Britain's Will Young finished fifth.
- American Idol: Fantasia Barrino, the 19-year-old single mom from North Carolina, won the third season of American Idol. She beat 16-year-old Diana DeGarmo by a margin of just over one percent.

And the winner is...
- Usher!! The R&B star scored the biggest album of the year and four number one singles. 'Confessions' sold 1.1 million copies in the US in the first week of its release, which became the highest first-week total for any R&B artist! He was also a major winner at the award ceremonies that were held this year and picked up four awards at this years American Music Awards ceremony and 11 trophies at the Billboard Music Awards.

- By Sameen Amer

Us Magazine, The News, 17th December, 2004

Friday, November 26, 2004

Har jaga hai jal


With the release of their song 'Aadat', Jal became a major hit and one of the most talked-about bands on our music scene, and now, almost a year later, after going through a split and subsequent lineup change, the band has release its debut album, also titled 'Aadat'. So we caught up with the guys who have given Us the hits 'Dil Harey' and 'Lamhey' to find out what they've been up to!

The band members are:
- Goher Mumtaz - Composer, songwriter, lead guitarist and vocalist
- Farhan Saeed Butt - Lead vocalist
- Aamir (Shazi) - Bass guitarist

Us: How did the original members of Jal get together? And how was the current lineup formed?
Goher: Well, the new lineup is all about new talent. Shazi, the experienced bass guitarist who was previously a member of the Jupiters and then did some projects with some underground bands, used to come to our jams for playing bass before joining Jal, and now he has joined the band. After the ex-vocalist left, I was looking for another vocalist. And that was when Sultan (of the band Call) told me one day that there is a guy Farhan in his college who had sung 'Aadat' and was appreciated by people a lot. So I thought why not try him out. Then I met him and did a gig with him, and after that things just worked out!
Shazi: And if it's a question of being original, I must say that the original Jal is what it is today. After the video of 'Aadat', Goher required a band setup, and he contacted me for the bass guitars. Initially I joined as a sessionist, but soon we both realized that the band and I suit each other and this is how we got together.

Us: How did 'Aadat' come about?
Goher: 'Aadat' was none other than a feeling of the pure heart. I never knew that I could write, but I did write because I really wanted to make a song! And that was my first attempt. When I was in college, my friends made fun of the lyrics and they were like 'oh come on doesn't make any sense' ("ab to aadat cee hai mujh ko"). And now I'm making fun of them!

Us: And then there was the breakup... what happened?
Goher: I never thought that it would go this way. In my view, it was all preplanned to try to kick me out of my own Band and the writer of this story was none other than Atif's brother, who wanted to be the manager and had his own unprofessional way to talk to people who were interested in concerts. I gave him a warning, and then I told Atif that we should change the manager. But he preferred his brother over me, and said leave my band. He thought he will hire someone else and forgot who was the brain behind it. I think he should not have given preference to his brother and continued to work with me in a professional way.

Us: So do you regret the way things went? Or do you think it was all for the better?
Goher: Initially, yes!! I had that regret after the breakup, but when I found Shazi and Farhan. I realize that it's in the interest of the band and of course things aren't in our hands. It's Allah Almighty who makes the changes... maybe He wanted to see me more comfortable with this lineup and I'm really happy with them.
Shazi: Why cry over spilt milk, especially when you aren't even sure it is spilt!

Us: Farhan, after all the hype that 'Aadat' had generated when you weren't a part of the band, was it initially tough for you to fit in?
Farhan: I thought that it would be tough, but the way Khurram Bhai (our manager) managed things and consoled me at every point, it wasn't difficult at all. And above all the support of our fans was the key to where I am today!

Us: Your debut album 'Aadat' came out a few weeks ago. Tell Us about the album.
Goher: Yeah, the album is out and we really worked hard to make it the best. The songs like 'Teri Yaad', 'Ik Din Aaye Ga', 'Panchi', 'Bikhra Hoon Mein', are the big hits and sustain the charm of 'Woh Lamhay', 'Aadat' and 'Dil Haray', because we are getting a lot of feedback from the fans about these undisputed new songs.
Farhan: The album has 11 tracks on it, out of which two are karaoke and many people have the misconception that they are instrumentals! And all our amazing critics who pronounce themselves as experienced writers should know this difference...I saw a review about our album a few days back and that guy didn't know the difference between instrumental and karaoke!
Shazi: We can tell you 'how it was done', but 'how it is' is something only our fans can tell.

Us: The name of the Band isn't mentioned on the album cover. How come?
Farhan: We don't want to do anything against the law. We have all the rights and InshaAllah we'll be coming through the proper channel and don't want to go against the decision of the court.
Goher: It will be on the cover soon.

Us: How did you find working with Meekal Hassan and the guys from EP on the album?
Goher: That was a nice experience. Meekal Hassan is a nice producer and there are only a few people in Pakistan who really know their work. As far as the drumming on the album is concerned, it was done mainly by Salman Albert and by Waqar Khan (who played in 'Bikhra Hoon Mein' and 'Manchala'). And we had a great time working with them. Xulfi, who recorded and produced our album, is a great guy. Although he has a new studio setup, I think he is not less then any professional producer of Pakistan. It was a nice experience working with him too.
Farhan: It was great. Meekal Hassan really enhanced 'Aadat' with his extraordinary skills. And EP, they are all very helpful, but Xulfi the lead guitarist and composer of EP is a gem of a person. It was so much fun to do the album with such a talented, intelligent and passionate guy.
Shazi: Working with different artists is always a healthy experience, and yeah, it was great!

Us: Any personal favourites out of the tracks on the album?
Shazi: Yeah sure. Mine are 'Teri Yaad', 'Bikhra Hoon Mein' and 'Panchi'.
Goher: 'Teri Yaad' and 'Panchi' are my favourites.
Farhan: And 'Teri Yaad' and 'Bikhra Hoon Mein' are my favourite tracks on the album.

Us: How has your experience of performing live been so far?
Goher: Awesome. It's like food for my soul! We have performed around 50 concerts in different cities of Pakistan and we have enjoyed every single bit of it.
Farhan: It's been amazing the way the crowds have supported us throughout. The way they sing with us, they really push us to perform with our full energy and it's been such an amazing experience MashaAllah that we never want to perform on DAT.
Shazi: I have been performing live for 10 years since I started my career, and I always love it.

Us: The influence of music channels on our industry: good or bad?
Shazi: It's good of course.
Goher: Of course good! New channels are coming, which is a good sign, and people do watch TV for any new thing that can only be possible through TV channels.
Farhan: I think music channels are a platform for new talent and it's really been helping a lot in the recent past. But one thing that they should avoid is being biased. They should promote good music and good artists.

Us: Any particular reason for choosing 'Dil Haray' and 'Lamhey' for the first two videos?
Goher: No particular reason. It's just that we had to make them because people were demanding their videos.
Farhan: 'Dil Harey' is one of the powerful tracks of the album and same is the case with 'Lamhey'.
Sahzi: 'Dil Haray' is catchy and 'Lamhey' is touching.

Us: Will there be any more video releases from this album? If yes, then which one is next? And how soon can we expect to see it?
Farhan: Yes, InshaAllah we will be making videos of our powerful tracks for our fans.
Goher: The next video is 'Ik Din Aye Ga' which will be released on Eid and will be aired on various TV channels InshaAllah, and many other videos are in the pipeline too.

Us: What do you guys have planned for the next few months?
Shazi: Concerts, videos and a lot of jams!
Farhan: Rest in Ramadan...then concerts, videos, maybe new album.
Goher: Touring abroad and then will come back and do some gigs in major cities of Pakistan. Plus we are upgrading our website (

Us: Any message for all your fans?
Farhan: Keep listening to good music. We are here because of you and we are nothing without you. If it happens then it must be possible, so make things happen. Good luck!
Shazi: We are here till you are there, so stay cool and ready to rock... we love you!
Goher: Thanks for supporting the truth and the original Jal. Whatever you want to do, just believe in yourself and remember that everyone has some creativity. Just come out with it and express it to people. Love you all!

- By Sameen Amer

Us Magazine, The News - 26th November, 2004

Monday, November 22, 2004

Desi grunge

album review

The first Corduroy track I ever heard was 'Leeway', and two words immediately sprung to mind: Pearl Jam. Since then, everyone I've talked to about the band, and who hasn't actually heard their complete album yet, has generally had two words to say: Pearl Jam. So is Corduroy nothing but a Pearl Jam imitation? Not quite.

The comparisons with Pearl Jam, though quite inevitable because of the undeniable similarities at places, are not completely fair. True their vocalist sounds a lot like Eddie Vedder and the band is indeed called Corduroy (which happens to be a key track on the PJ opus, Vitalogy, although the band have repeatedly denied any connection), and, yes, at places you do hear the sprit of PJ echoing through the music; but if you manage to get past the oh–they–sound–like–PJ phase, you'll see that the band has a lot more to offer. Yes, there's a reflection of REM and the Stone Temple Pilots in there too!

With their first full–length album Corduroy have tried to bring the post grunge alternative sound to the Pakistani audience. Risky. And they've ventured out into the English music territory. Very risky. With the 'success' other local bands singing in English have had so far - Junoon's noodlings generally getting the fast-forward treatment in most boom boxes, and Coven morphing into Noori – one does wonder if it was a wise choice. But rooted in wisdom or not, The Morning After is what the band has come up with, and so far, the reaction from both the critics and their fans (the band has quite a following due to their live performances) has been pretty good. And if nothing else, the band at least deserves credit for doing everything from the production to the pressing and distribution of the CD themselves.

The album kicks off with 'Your Song' (which, thankfully, has no relation to the Elton John track of the same name) and ends with 'Aas', the only Urdu ditty on the set. In between is an amalgam of musings on the self and the society, ranging from the mellower tracks, like 'Wide Awake', 'You're Everywhere' and 'Prologue', to the more hard hitting 'Goddamned', 'Blue Chip' and 'Dystemper'. And it is this variety that keeps the album from becoming monotonous or even trite. But personally, I think the power ballads, though fine as such, aren't the band's biggest strength, and it's the heavier stuff that brings out the best in Corduroy.

As for the lyrics, well, at places, the lyrics have similar characteristics to those displayed by the early 90s Seattle scene. But, surprisingly, they don't always agree to what was said by the aforementioned:
Nirvana's 'Sliver': "Grandma take me home/I wanna be alone" Corduroy's '[end]': "Why don't you bring me home/I don't like being alone"

Yeah, maybe I just think too much. Sarcasm aside, the lyrics are probably the most powerful asset of the disk. The underlying themes are dark and, quite often, depressive and despondent. Some of the tracks appear to be light and radio friendly as long as you don't pay attention to the lyrical content, which is mostly angst–ridden and deep, and at times downright satirical. Sample this:
"I wish I had the numbness I crave/ Just close the door and let me find a vein," sings Moby, the vocalist and songwriter of Corduroy, in 'Dystemper'. 'Blue Chip' includes the rather murky "My/ Everything you wanted why? / Till the last red sunset dies / On your furrowed conscience/ I just wanna fade". And this is how 'Your Song' starts off: "I got a way to join this fan club/ Just slit your wrists and jump right in". Get the flow?

So whereas I have no complaints with the lyrical department and quite applaud the efforts put into the composition, I feel that the underlying music, however, is something that the band needs to work on. At places, the music (especially the drums - I really don't have any issues with the guitars) doesn't do justice to both the lyrics and the composition and sometimes the song ends up suffering because of this. Take 'Goddamned' as an example. Now mentally put the power of, say, the SOAD crew behind it. Maybe not a very good example, but I'm just trying to make a point here. The thing is not to make it sound heavier, but more dynamic and powerful. Add this element to 'Goddamned' and you'll get a song even an established rock band will be proud of.

The reason the band is well known for their live performances could quite possibly be the live music, which is something they haven't been able to capture on this disk. Other than that, the bands first offering is a fine appetizer for all that's yet to come, as it is quite apparent that Corduroy has the potential to come up with even better stuff than what they've displayed on The Morning After. For now though, let's just wait and see if this album is able to make a dent in our industry and whether Corduroy succeed where so many others have failed.

- By Sameen Amer

Instep, The News on Sunday - 21st November 2004

Saturday, October 16, 2004

The morning after...

album review

Album: The Morning After…
Band: Corduroy

Our music industry has seen a sudden surge of rock bands in the last few years and, surprising many, bands like EP and Mizraab have managed to gain mainstream recognition. So it appears that the timing is right for underground rock acts to come forth…and Corduroy have done just that by releasing their debut album ‘The Morning After…’.

The band builds on the early 90s grunge sound and actually does a good job at it. (Yes, you have to hear it to believe it.) The album kicks off with the catchy ‘Your Song’ and goes on to reveal tracks like ‘Ground Zero’ that display the more alternative elements of the bands sound. The powerful vocals on ‘Dystemper’ and ‘Blue Chip’ add to the blend of angst-ridden lyrics and some great guitar work, and the lyrical ability to relay emotions shines out in ‘[end]’. The band has even managed to come up with a power ballad in the shape of ‘Prologue’, but ultimately it’s tracks like the Pearl Jam reminiscent ‘Leeway’ and the hard-rock-ish ‘Goddamned’ that offer the best moments of ‘The Morning After…’.

Corduroy not only wrote and composed all the tracks on the record but also produced and engineered the whole thing. (Major DIY enthusiasts, no?) Plus the CD was pressed and distributed independently…and that in itself says a thing or two about the band.The vocals are very powerful throughout the disk, the lyrics swing between deep and downright sarcastic, the album is loaded with some great riffs and guitar solos, and all these things actually complements each other (amazingly enough). But the best thing about ‘The Morning After…’ is that there are no fillers on the album. And although ‘Aas’, the only Urdu track on the set, isn’t exactly something I’d rave about (despite its relative popularity…yeah, maybe it’s just me!), but one thing’s for sure: this little underground band has the potential to make it big. If you like post grunge alternative rock with an edge, then this album is a must buy. And if you don’t, well, buy it anyway. ‘The Morning After…’ will grow on you with every listen.

- By Sameen Amer

Us Magazine, The News - 15th October, 2004

Saturday, September 25, 2004

All rock, no roll


The Band
Corduroy, the rock band from Islamabad, has developed a considerable fan following through their live shows. The guys have just released their debut album 'The Morning After...' - a set consisting of ten English songs and one Urdu track. You can visit Corduroy's website at

The Members
- Mubashir Noor (a.k.a Moby) - Vocals & Songwriter
- Sarmad Faraz - Lead Guitar
- Ahmed Siddiqui - Bass
- Ali Qamar - Rhythm Guitar
- Ameel Zia Khan - Drums & Percussion

Us: How and when was the band formed?
Mubashir Noor: The band was formed around three years ago...just a bunch of friends jamming until we decided to try our hands at making original stuff and actually enjoyed it. It just went on from there. Right now, the original and permanent members of the band are me, Moby, on Vox; Sarmad on Guitars and Ahmed on Bass. We've had a rotating cast of rhythm guitar players and drummers over the years. Presently Ali is on Rhythm and Ameel plays the Drums and Congas

Us: Why 'Corduroy'? And who came up with the name?
Moby: Our old bud Nomi, original rhythm guitarist. He came up with it out of the blue. We were about to play our first gig and the up till then moniker, Rust, seemed kinda too Babar Shiekh-ish for us. So he had an epiphany and voila! We were Corduroy! It's grown on us over time; the fabric being rough-hewn, like our music.

Us: How would you describe the sound of Corduroy? And in what genre would you classify the music?
Moby: Somewhere between confrontational and hilarious! It's rock music, true, but covers a whole lot of ground genre-wise from pop/rock to pseudo-folk

Us: Tell Us about 'The Morning After...'.
Moby: 'The Morning After...' is our debut CD, and the first independently produced, distributed and marketed album in Pakistan. 11 anthems of angst and alienation await you! I know it's very deja-heard but trust me its not nu-metal!

Us: Do you guys have any personal favourites out of the tracks on the album?
Moby: Yep, mine's [end].

Us: The album launch took place in Islamabad a couple of days ago. How did it go?
Moby: Yes it was on September 11. Pretty good actually. We've been gigging around the area for almost 2 years now so we knew we had a little following. Did not expect the 400 odd that turned out though, a lot of them sneaking in from underneath the tents. We sold around 300 odd CD's at the spot so we're pretty satisfied.

Us: Local bands coming out with English music haven't really been a success story so far. Where does a band that doesn't sing in Urdu stand in our music industry?
Moby: the edge of a cliff looking down to see how down down actually is. If we were looking for immediate gratification, we would've sold 'pan supari'. As it is, we're building up a grassroots following though extensive gigging, and trying to show all our fellow 'undergrounders', for lack of a better word, that you can make things happen on your own if you're determined enough.

Us: What do you think about the current underground scene in Islamabad?
Moby: I'd say it's the most vibrant in the country. We have a small number of bands but they're very well knit together and InshAllah, considering the quality of talent we have here, the Islamabad Underground will explode onto the national stage within a year.

Us: Are there any plans to release 'The Morning After...' internationally?
Moby: It'll be available on the net shortly off our website for those living abroad.

Us: Any video releases on the cards?
Moby: Yep, the video for 'Leeway' is in the works, to be directed by Xulfi of E.P.

Us: Why did you guys choose 'Leeway' for the first video?
Moby: It's our signature song, one of the first ones we made, and perfectly fits our image. Serious, yet sarcastic. Of course a lot of people won't get the humor in this so they can just go to hell! :)

Us: What's more challenging: recording in the studio or performing live?
Moby: They both have their moments, but I'd say an album is just an excuse to tour!

Us: Corduroy has been performing quite frequently at CJ. How helpful is it for underground bands to have a proper place to play at regularly?
Moby: Very. We developed our sound, playing and chemistry by playing weekend after weekend for eight months. Of course the added advantage of developing a hardcore following converting one person at a time is an added bonus.

Us: How have music channels influenced our music industry?
Moby: Well...along with a lot of crap, some very talented artists got their mugs in front of an up till then ignorant audience. Change is always good; ensures survival of the fittest.

Us: Do you think the music that you listen to influences the music that you make?
Moby: Yes it does. We listen to everything from Pearl Jam to Van Halen, Joe Satriani to REM, and I think those shades are obvious in our aural palette.

Us: Where do you see the band in the next five years?
Moby: If lady luck decides to tango, the Billboard Top 40. Otherwise, your nearest dive. We love playing music; and as long as there are people who think we don't suck, we'll be around.

Us: What can we expect from Corduroy in the coming months?
Moby: Loads more gigs hopefully!! And a distribution network covering the entire country. Bhurewala, here we come!!!

- By Sameen Amer

Us Magazine, The News - 24th September, 2004

Friday, August 27, 2004

True Colours


The band:
The pop-rock band Rungg broke onto the music scene last year with their first song 'Hum Na'. The video for the track was directed by Sheryar Haideri, and the ballad became the bands first number one hit. 'Hum Na' was followed by the more upbeat 'Meri Duniya' a few months later, and like its predecessor, 'Meri Duniya' also did well on the charts. The band has performed at various venues all over the country, and their debut album is expected to come out soon. You can visit Rungg's website at

The members:
- Iftikhar Habib - Vocalist
Influences: Sting, Steve Perry, Guns n' Roses, Aerosmith, Dream Theatre, Bon Jovi, Skid Row, Mohammad Rafi and Mehdi Hassan.
Has also played in: Once (recorded an English album 'Words Unspoken')
- Sarmad Abdul Ghafoor - Guitarist
Influences: Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Tori Amos, Dream Theatre and Tool.
Has also played in: Still
- Zulfiqar-ul-Hassan - Rhythm Guitarist
Influences: Chris Cornell, Extreme, Queensryche, Dave Matthews Band, Dream Theatre, Steve Vai and Jeff Beck.
Has also played in: Surface Tension
- Wasim Kamal - Drummer
Influences: Deep Purple, Nirvana, Dream Theatre and Audioslave.
- Raheel Joseph - Bassist
Has also played in: Wet Metal, Music Math, Paras and is working with Jawad Ahmad.

Us: When was Rungg formed and how did the band start off?
Iftikhar Habib: Rungg was formed about three years back by Sarmad and myself after our chance meeting in Islamabad followed by a very productive jam session in Lahore.

Us: What does the name of the band refer to?
IH: The name just popped up when we were thinking of various options. We initially thought of a name in English: 'True Colours'. This was later changed to 'Two Colours', and eventually got translated and squeezed to a simple name, 'Rungg'. Rungg as a name for a pop-rock act, we feel, is reflective of verve, colour, musical energy, creative diversity and life itself. These are the very attributes that our music has, hence the name.

Us: Tell Us about the videos that the band has done till now...
IH: We have two videos out so far for two very different tunes. The debut was of course 'Hum Na', a ballad, and the follow up is 'Meri Duniya', a hip n' alternative rock song. Both songs did really well on most charts. Significantly, both have topped the IM charts.

Us: So how important is chart success in your opinion?
IH: Chart success is reflective of general public opinion. Being number one at any stage is a great honour. It has earned us a substantial fan following in not just Pakistan but many other parts of the world.

Us: When is the album coming out?
IH: The album should be out by October-November InshaAllah.

Us: How do you like the experience of performing live?
IH: Performing live is a musician's high. We dig the experience. Every time!

Us: What's more fun: recording in the studio or performing live?
IH: Both situations have their own charm. You always learn and one always has a lot of fun in both the cases. But there is no comparison to how one feels when you're singing a song on stage and every one sings with you cause it's their favourite song.

Us: What do you think is more important: the lyrics of a song or its musical composition?
IH: Both lyrics and composition are equally important. It's the balance in creativity that brings out a great song.

Us: What role, do you think, have music channels played in the music industry? And has it been good or bad?
IH: Music channels have given talented people a great outlet for their creativity in Pakistan. It has raised the standard of quality music in our country. It's amazing to see so many channels flooded with budding artists.

Us: What's lined up for the coming months?
IH: The coming months have a lot lined up. Our manager has a long list...shows and video shoots primarily. See you guys on the road!

- By Sameen Amer

Us Magazine, The News - 27th August, 2004

Saturday, August 07, 2004

The evolution has begun


Since they first emerged onto the music scene, EP has managed to carve a niche for alternative rock in the Pakistani music industry. With a critically acclaimed album under their belt, the band has established a solid fan following in the country. We caught up with the guys to find out what's been happening in the Entity Paradigm camp...

EP is:
- Ahmed Ali Butt - Rap/Backing Vocals
- Zulfiqar Jabbar Khan - Lead Guitars/Composition
- Fawad Afzal Khan - Lead Vocals
- Hassaan Khalid - Rhythm Guitars
- Salman Albert - Percussions/Backing Vocals
- Sajjad Ali Khan - Bass
- Waqar Ahmed Khan - Percussions

Us: Your debut album has done quite well since its release. Were you guys expecting the success?
Hassaan: Initially everything was a bit uncertain, as we were trying to bring a revolution in the music industry. We were not quite sure if people would be accepting our music or not. We were not expecting that much, but in the end things turned out to be quite satisfactory. The evolution has begun.

Us: Is an international release of 'Irtiqa' on the cards?
Sajjad: Yeah definitely, we are in the process. You will soon hear about the international release InshAllah.

Us: Do you plan to go down the same path next time round or try something different?
Hassaan: You guys might see a huge change in the next album. I won't be telling you much about it; just wait for the blow.

Us: Now that you have an album out, do you think that the Battle Of The Bands has, in any way, shaped the sound of EP or affected 'Irtiqa' in any way?
Hassaan: BOB did not shape the sound of EP or affect the stuff; it is based on our influences and what we actually wanted to do in the album. I think there is no doubt that the band rose through the Battle Of The Bands, which we consider one of our achievements so far, along with our debut album 'Irtiqa'.

Us: EP went from the original eight to seven members last year...what happened?
Ahmed: Well it wasn't something we planned on; there was some debate over this issue and people's priorities towards the band. Anyway Ali (Khan) is still a good friend and we wish him all the best toward his future projects.

Us: Give Us one word to describe each member of the band...
EP: According to the making of 'Aghosh' and Ahmed Ali...
Xulfi: Endogenous
Fawad: Tool
Hassaan: Romeo
Sajjad: Dear
Waqar: Must
Salman: Cooler

Us: EP's sound is very different from the others. Did you intentionally set out to do something different? Or is it natural?
Hassaan: I would not say that the sound emerged naturally. A lot of work has been done on the production. I guess that's where we have spent more time while doing the album. As I said already, it's based on our influences and we actually produced exactly what we had in mind.

Us: What do you think about this latest inclination of our music industry towards more experimentation?
Hassaan: During the past two years, quite a number of bands have emerged in the music industry. Some of them have been seen experimenting and maturing with time providing a wide variety of music as compared to the past. Bands are coming up with good sounds, high quality productions, and interesting concepts, which means increased competition. New music channels have been launched, providing a platform for the upcoming bands to show their work, which was missing previously. High budget and good concept videos are also being seen lately. As I said the evolution has begun, the music industry has, I think, made its way to a respectable level, and will soon be making its way to the top.
The entire scene depends on our audiences. We need all the encouragement to get to the top. I think now people are more aware of the fact that music is not just entertainment, it's also a form of expression, a way of communication, a way of educating people.

Us: You guys have been performing at various venues all over the country. How do you like the experience?
Waqar: It's really great! Mostly we have fun performing and going to different places, hanging out. But yeah we have had our good and bad experiences. But the most important thing with different venues is different kinds of crowd. So it's interesting performing in front of all types of audiences. Up till now, we have been touring just Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad. But we are looking forward to performing in other places as well, so...organisers/promoters, do something!!

Us: Is there any performance that stands out from all the others, something that you all will never forget?
Salman: Well, we've had loads of good experiences but I think that none of us can ever forget the Battle Of The Bands. I mean, it was our first experience together and the first ever EP as a new band, and especially a 'hard to digest' band, we enjoyed on the stage, performed to our extreme, and lost by 0.5 points...hehehehehehe...

Us: EP has been at many shows with various other bands...any band that you particularly like performing with?
Waqar: Well, performing along with other bands is great. Not just about having fun there but you actually learn a lot. And this learning applies in every way, not just playing and performance but other things as well like management, sound, etc.As for bands with whom we like to perform, I think that would be Noori. Every time we have done a show with them, the crowd is always on their feet, screaming and going bonkers. It's like a 'vs.' sort of thing! (Laughs) So it's a jam-packed full hyped up sort of scene with them. And, not to mention, Noori is a great band, and Gumby, is one of my all time favourite drummers. Other than that we recently did a show with Fuzon in Islamabad. That was great.

Us: Are there plans to release any more videos from 'Irtiqa' after 'Waqt'?
Sajjad: We have just released 'Waqt'. It's exclusively on air on The Musik. 'Hamesha' is in the pipeline now and is going to be directed by Kamran Yar.

Us: Comparisons to Linkin Park and Tool: flattering? Or do such comparisons tick you off?
Ahmed: Well I don't know about the others, but I find it very flattering. I look for inspiration everywhere and yes some of these bands have inspired me in a lot of ways but at the end of the day what we make is our work alone which comes from the heart.

Us: What can we expect from EP in the coming months?
Salman: You can expect a lot of energy, a couple of new videos, some nationwide and international tours and some head bangin'...and maybe tattoos on my body! :)

Us: Any message for your fans?
Ahmed: Sure, why not! Respect and tolerance is the key baby! Learn to give it to others and do your best.

- By Sameen Amer

Us Magazine, The News - 6th August, 2004

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Maazi, haal, mustaqbil


With the release of the band’s latest album ‘Maazi, Haal, Mustaqbil’, Mizraab has become a well-known name in our music industry. We caught up with Mizraab vocalist/guitarist Faraz Anwar for a little chat about the band…

Us: How did the band start off?
Faraz Anwar: Mizraab was formed in 1998. It’s always been my band. For the first album, I took Khalid on bass and Akhter Qayyum. Now with the second album, the band has Jamal on Rhythm guitars, Irfan on drums and Faraz Arshad on bass. I remain the lead vocalist and guitarist and the composer. Hopefully these will be the final members now.

Us: What does the name of the band signify? Who came up with this name?
FA: Mizraab is the thing that one wears while playing the sitar. My father suggested the name.

Us: How would you describe the sound of Mizraab?
FA: It is alternative progressive rock.

Us: Are there any personal influences that reflect in the sound of Mizraab?
FA: Yes, all the songs are based on my personal experiences, on my feelings and thoughts.

Us: Your album ‘Maazi Haal Mustaqbil’ has been released. Tell Us about it…
FA: Alhamdollillah, the album is doing very well in the market. Our fan following has increased a lot. The album has been released only in Pakistan but it has been appreciated all over the world. A lot of people who don't even understand Urdu like the music and are requesting for the English version of the album.

Us: Do you guys have any favourite tracks on the album?
FA: For me all songs are equal, but yes the members enjoy playing ‘Aag’, ‘Panchi’, and ‘Insaan’. ‘Kitni Sadiyaan’ is also one of their favourite.

Us: Tell Us about the video for ‘Kitnee Sadiyaan’…
FA: It was shot in the month of March at the Lahore Railway Station. We had a wonderful time there as the band went by train to Lahore along with the song director Baber and the camera crew. I was not feeling well in those days but still enjoyed the train journey due to Baber’s jokes. He kept us all laughing throughout. The song is basically a commercial number, showing the touch of love and happiness in ones life.

Us: Will we see the videos for any other tracks on ‘Maazi Haal Mustaqbil’? If so, then which ones? And how soon can we expect the next video?
FA: Inshallah! We have plans to do videos of ‘Maucee’, ‘Panchi’ and ‘Muntazir’, but first we are looking for sponsors. We will try to give at least one video by the end of September.

Us: Mizraab has also done some live gigs. What do you like better: recording tracks or performing live?
FA: Of course performing live, as that's where the people can judge a band's performance. Recording and playing live are two very different things. For the market, a recorded album is better and for the concerts, ones performance should be hundred-percent live.

Us: Faraz, you were on tour with Ali Haider. How did that go?
FA: Yes, I manage the guitars for Ali. The UK tour was ok but I did not enjoyed much this time as I was not feeling well throughout the tour.

Us: What do you think about this latest inclination of our music industry towards rock music and more experimentation than we have seen before?
FA: First of all, it's a relief! At last people has started to listen to rock music and to count it as music. Our music industry is not so much supportive towards rock and alternative kinda stuff but at least they are playing the heavy songs now. Media plays a very important role in improving the listening of the local public. The changes are good but we need more rock shows and publicity to let people know more about metal and stuff.

Us: What can we expect from you guys in the imminent future?
FA: Nowadays, we are all busy jamming as we hope to have lots of concerts and yes, InshAllah, Mizraab will be performing on the 29th of May in Karachi. We also look forward to performing in other cities. We have plans to get some sponsors and do new videos. We are working on our website as well and have plans to bring out some merchandise stuff. And there are many TV shows and recordings.

Us: Any message for the readers of Us and for all the Mizraab fans out there?
FA: First of all, we would like to thank the readers for liking Mizraab and voting for the band (in the music poll that Us conducted last month). Mizraab has fans all over the world. Our album ‘Maazi Haal Mustaqbil’ revolves around the life of ‘insaan’ so we want to give the message of peace and strength to everyone. Today’s life is very tough. One faces a lot of tensions and grief but remember always ‘maucee gunah hai saans hai to zindagi ravan hai’. Stay cool!!

- By Sameen Amer

Us Magazine, The News - 4th June, 2004

Saturday, May 08, 2004

Rockin' Us!

music poll - results

Yes, it's result time for our music poll! We asked you guys to vote for your favourite Pakistani artist/band and we would like to thank all of you who participated! Let Us give you an overview of what we saw. On the average, bands got more votes than solo artists. Rock music, in its many forms, seemed more 'in' than any other genre. And there's a tiny little thing that I couldn't help but notice: not even a single vote was cast for any of our female singers...not that I'm complaining, but, well, it's a sign!
So, before we give you the top five, here are some bands that deserve a special mention for coming oh-so-close:
- Aaroh
- [eP]
- Fuzon
- Jal
Should we get to the results now? Yeah, I could go on with my gibberish all day, but I'll spare you guys! Here are the top five Pakistani acts, as voted for by all of Us!

5. Junoon
Probably the biggest rock act of the sub-continent, Junoon have come a long way since they started off in the early 90s. With Ali Azmat on vocals, Salman Ahmed on guitar and Brian O' Connell on bass, this 'Sufi Rock' band from Pakistan is not only respected nationally but has also gained international recognition. And now, seven studio albums and multiple awards later, the group is still going strong. Here's hoping they keep making such fine music for many years to come.

4. Strings
With the release of 'Strings 2' (the follow up to their 1990 debut 'Strings') in 1992, the album that hosted the hit 'Sar Kiye Yeh Pahar', the Strings managed to make an impact on the Pakistani music scene, and even though the band disappeared for many years, their comeback in 2000 was more than noticed; it was felt. And now Faisal Kapadia and Bilal Maqsood are among the most valued musicians of the country.

3. Ali Zafar
Ali Zafar: singer, songwriter, artist, model, actor; this multitalented young lad has established himself in the industry in a very short period of time. His debut album 'Huqa Pani' has been one of the most successful albums to hit our music scene in the recent past and I've lost count of the number of weeks for which it has reigned the album charts. At the peak of its sales, the album was selling ten copies for one copy of any other Pakistani album! And, yes, Ali Zafar has been placed at number three according to all your votes. Here's what the very modest star had to say:"Third out of 1.3 million, I'm content :)"No wonder you all love him so much!

2. Mizraab
Faraz Anwar (vocals, guitar), Jamal Mustafa a.k.a Jamie (rhythm), Faraz Arshad (bass) and Irfan Ahmed (drums) make up Mizraab, one band that sure has a very loyal fan following. Upon being placed second in our poll, Faraz Anwar said, "We are very's great news!" and Jamie added, "That's good news for us I guess. What else can I say. I'm surprised. Since no one really wants any thing to do with us from concert promoters to TV channels. Not bad."Yeah guys, not bad at all!

1. Noori
And the winners are *drum roll* Noori!! Ali Noor, Ali Hamza, Mohammad Ali Jafri and John Louis 'Gumby' Pinto, the foursome who have been rocking this country since the release of their hit debut album 'Suno Ke Main Hun Jawan' have been crowned as your favourite Pakistani act according to all your votes!So we told the lads they'd won our poll and here's the word we got from the noori camp:"All we can say is that it is a great feeling...we must thank all our fans or rather our greatest supporters and we hope to make music that will win their hearts for all times to come...InshAllah."

- By Sameen Amer

Us Magazine, The News - 7th May, 2004

Saturday, January 31, 2004

12 memories

album review

Album: 12 Memories
Artist: Travis

'12 Memories', the new Travis album, is not just a logical follow up to their previous CDs. It is the result of the happenings of the last two years. Incidents like Neil Primrose's near-fatal accident (which was almost the end of the band) and the war in Iraq have clearly influenced the album - the album that nearly didn't happen - making it a whole lot darker and downright depressing...especially if you listen to it at three in the morning when you can't sleep and your head hurts...

Anyway, the album is loaded with dark lyrics and themes. 'Re-Offender', a song about domestic violence, is sandwiched between two antiwar tracks: 'The Beautiful Occupation', the acoustic version of which can be heard on the War Child album 'Hope', and another antiwar song, which features Celtic fans singing out the chorus. 'Walking Down The Hill' and the hidden track (or the 12th memory rather) 'Some Sad Song' are both mellow, and, well, sad. And 'Quicksand' and 'Mid Life Krysis' are just as cheerful as their titles suggest!

'Love Will Come Through', which was featured on the 'Moonlight Mile' soundtrack, is probably the song that sends out the most positive vibe. The track was also released as a charity single after Neil's accident and has been announced as the next single to be taken off the album.

Being a Travis fan doesn't ensure that you'll like this CD. '12 Memories' is clearly different from 'The Man Who' and 'The Invisible Band'. At first listen you might write this off as another average album, but this is one set that grows on you with every listen and once you acquire the taste, you'll see how you can relate to so many things Fran is singing about and hear those melodies that'll make you want to sing along too!

- By Sameen Amer

Us Magazine, The News - 30th January, 2004

Saturday, January 24, 2004

Natural Selection

album review

Album: Natural Selection
Band: Fuel

Natural Selection: the struggle for survival; the process by which those less adapted to their environment tend to perish...but if 'Natural Selection' has anything to say about it, then Fuel have absolutely nothing to worry about.

With hits like 'Hemorrhage (In Your Hands)' and 'Bad Day', Fuel's sophomore set 'Something Like Human' was a big success. Following a hit record with a new album is always tough and usually leads to one of two things: either a record that sounds exactly like the previous one (trying to stick to the "winning formula" ... in other words, a major slump!) or one that is solid and consistent. Thankfully, Fuel have gone down the second road and created a record that totally rocks!

Three years after the success of 'Something Like Human', Fuel's new release 'Natural Selection' has twelve tracks...and all the elements of a hit record! The album kicks off with the hard-hitting 'Quarter' and goes on to reveal some excellent tracks like 'Down Inside Of You', 'Million Miles' and 'Luck'. 'Running Away' and 'Most Of All' drive on melody without loosing the Fuel edge. 'Die Like This', 'These Things' and 'Days With You' see Fuel moving around without a hitch in the familiar territory of power ballads.

The album also includes the single 'Falls On Me' as well as the 'Bring You Hell Remix' of 'Won't Back Down', the track that originally found home on the Daredevil soundtrack. With Kevin Miller on drums and Jeff Abercrombie on bass, Brett Scallions' powerful vocals perfectly complement principal songwriter/lead guitarist Carl Bell's angst driven lyrics.

Capitalizing on the seasoned guitar riffs, Fuel have also added a touch of piano and cello to this album. The tracks flow smoothly from one to the next and each track is good in its own right. If you're a Fuel fan, then there isn't even a single track on this CD that you'll want to skip.

A well-rounded effort, 'Natural Selection' is a rock solid album that has something to offer from start through to the end. If Darwin's theory is anything to go by, then rest assured that Fuel ain't going nowhere!

- By Sameen Amer

Us Magazine, The News - 23rd January, 2004

Saturday, January 17, 2004

Shut up!

album review

Album: Shut Up
Artist: Kelly Osbourne

Kelly Osbourne's debut album 'Shut Up' proves that children don't necessarily take after their parents! If you thought that Kelly, being Ozzy Osbourne's daughter, must sound something like Ozzy, well, think again. 'Shut Up' is a collection of twelve tracks that oscillate between punk-pop-rock, and nothing at all like Ozzy's work. Not that there's no mention of daddy dearest...'Papa Don't Preach' seems to have been done with grounds that went beyond covering an old Madonna track!

Granted, the girl has attitude (yes, brattiness and attitude go hand in hand!) but she lacks a lot in vocal talent, something she tires to make up for with an extra helping of attitude - and all that leaves us with is an over dosage of attitude. And the album seems to be over done at places. Kelly's vocals on 'Disconnected' and 'On The Run' are lost somewhere between the loud music and the really loud music. Parts of 'Come Dig Me Out' sounded more like screechy screams than anything else. And I tried my best to find something to like about 'Everything Alright' but failed miserably.

But the entire album isn't bad. 'Contradiction', 'Coolhead' and 'On Your Own', with their old-ish beats and style were cool. The title track 'Shut Up', laced with cheeky lyrics, has the potential to become an angry-teen-anthem. And 'Right Now' and 'Too Much Of You' might actually sound good if someone ever decides to do cover versions.

'Shut Up' probably sold more on its curiosity value than anything else. Oh and it didn't sell much, by the way, which is why it has been re-released (on a different label this time...Kelly claims the previous one didn't promote it properly!) as 'Changes'. 'Changes' has all the twelve tracks on 'Shut Up' along with live versions of four tracks and the recently number one crowned title track, 'Changes' that features Ozzy Osbourne and is a cover of an old Black Sabbath hit.

On the whole, the album isn't exactly horrible but it isn't stellar either! If you like punk-ish music, then this is what you should get...but whatever you do, don't try looking for any of Ozzy's darkness...Kelly didn't get any of it! So who did? Jack? Er...probably not!!

- By Sameen Amer

The News, Us Magazine - 16th January, 2004