With each passing day, the music scene in Pakistan is skyrocketing, owing to the masses that have started to show great interest in the pieces being produced locally. Whom we shouldn’t forget, however, are the people responsible for the revival of musical passion in this country. One such band is Badnaam; the runners up of the latest edition of the Pepsi battle of the bands.
This band doesn’t just play your normal ‘east meets west’ music instead it has just the right combination of the classical sufiyana kaalam with the right touch of Nirvana and Pink Floyd. Even though Badnaam didn’t win the Battle of the Bands, they didn’t let that get in the way of their music and hence continued their journey to get their music out to the world.
The team at Orange Ink had a chance to sit and chat with the boys about what they are up to and what lies ahead for them.
You must be tired of people asking you this but how did Badnaam come to be?
We started in 2008-09 having different drummers from time to time. The 2 of us (Sunny and Lala Ahsen) used to be from another band “Zarb” and Ahmed was well off in the corporate world with his jobs as he had left music a few years back. It was during one of his job hunts on the internet where he found an ad for the Battle of Bands after which we packed our bags and went for it.
What’s the story behind the name of the band?
So Ahmed was the one who really came up with it and at first the rest of us were reluctant seeing the names of bands in the current era but eventually we had to digest it and the rest of the world did so. At first it was difficult because brands didn’t want to associate our name with them but they’ve done it now.
So how did the three of you initially meet? Were there any people before?
Me (Lala Ahsen) and Sunny used to be neighbours and we didn’t even know we were neighbours! We met at a gig before finally crossing paths in the neighbourhood and I knew Ahmed through my big brother who was a friend of his. We’ve all played in about 6-7 different bands together. Our bond has gotten stronger over the course of random jam sessions.
Why sufiyana kalaam and what the inspiration behind it?
Well we like sufiyana kaalam and just enjoyed it in general. It’s truthful and powerful, it has a deeper connotation behind it and it is actually very meaningful. Our inspiration is a mixture of rock bands such as Nirvana followed by Qawalis and Faazliayein which you can see in our music
Every band has their unique attribute, what do you think is yours?
So normally if you play rock music in front of the locals they’ll curse you off the stage but when we play they dance to our music with a fiery passion. Our unique attribute is getting rock music across to the people. It’s mostly our lyrical content which they can relate to that makes it really enjoyable for them.
Besides some of the normal challenges every band faces what were some of your struggles?
We can tolerate each other…well being serious there are different types of challenges such as developing our sound in live shows and making sure everything is perfect so we can give our best to the people who come out to hear us.
What is the most rock star thing that you guys have ever done?
Well we’re not really rock stars we just make music, but the stuff that we do is either clean, boring and not worth talking about or stuff that I can’t really mention on record. Other than that what we have done is that we have gone to shows and if we didn’t like the place, we would just leave without playing.
Strangest venue or gig you’ve played before/after Badnaam?
There are a few worth mentioning. One of them was playing at the Khanpur Dam. The other was when we played in cricket stadium at Gharishou at a Bonfire. It was pretty awkward especially when the kids kept nagging us to sing songs by Atif Aslam and Shakira. We even used to play English songs once upon a time. Besides that, the Gawal Mandi Cricket Stadium and one gig at Gymkhana was pretty weird.
How is your experience playing at concerts in a nutshell?
Basically the crowds of the big cities aren’t really at concerts to hear music, they care more about the type of people present, its more of a place for them socialize and meet people. But smaller cities like Multan or Peshawar come to listen and experience music. We’ve had a crowd of 300 in Peshawar that made more noise and cheered us more than a crowd of 3000 in Lahore.
What would’ve been more different had you won the battle of the bands?
Actually by the Grace of God we’re already doing a lot of work. We have a lot of gigs lined up. Besides the fact that we would’ve been sitting in Thailand we don’t think anything would’ve been more different for us as a band because The Battle of the Bands was just part of a long journey ahead of us. Our objective was to get our music across to the people and connect with them which we’ve done successfully.
What does Badnaam have in store for the rest of the world?
So we’ve recorded 3 songs as of now featuring other people that we bet everyone would enjoy. Aside from that we have a few songs we’re set to record soon and we have a music video coming soon besides the one we did for the Quetta Gladiators. It’s more of an experiment so there’s a lot of dispute about it but its coming soon.
A final message for your fans and the readers?
“Geo or Geenay dou”. We hope that event coordinators start paying and appreciating musicians who play at their events. Every artist deserves to be paid no matter what. There are so many artists that have left music because of the lack of financial backing in the industry and we hope this epidemic stops soon. Other than that we hope to play for MUNs and other popular events especially the ones at universities.