Lahore band brings revolutionary poetry to life

by Xari Jalil (the NEWS)

Laal, a Lahore-based band, held a conference at The Second Floor (t2f) on Friday, during which for the first time, they talked about their upcoming album, expected in February and their music and inspirations.

“It is time you should be seen and not just heard,” said Geo TV Network President Imran Aslam, addressing the band’s members. “I look at you and reminisce our days when we were full of zest and used to be active, but unfortunately a lot of us dropped out of that lifestyle.” He termed the band being an “inspiration” for people, especially the youth, to become active and to think more progressively.

The band which includes four basic members, (Shahram Azhar on vocals, Taimur Rahman on guitars, Haider on flute, and Mahvash Waqar on backing vocals), along with sessions players for rhythm guitar, bass and percussion, stand out in an age of commercial music themes, with their innovation of bringing out Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Habib Jalib’s poetry to the forefront once again and giving popular music to it to make it ‘catchier’.

“If there are only a few things which we can hold our heads up high about, one of them is poetry,” renowned journalist and literary person, Ghazi Salahuddin, said. “Jalib’s stance in history was not only revolutionary where his poetry stood, but his own stance of not keeping silent, and never going abroad for exile, has also marked him as one of the greatest fighters for democracy.”

In this context, the band members said that their objective was to bring to life once again, specifically, the poetry written by these two poets, and at the same time to reach people, and make the music accessible.

The irony remains in the present base of the band’s music which follows a classical line, especially as two of the band’s members have received their formal training in classical music, and vocals. But Azhar, agreeing to the conservative definitions of classical music, says that it is exactly this that the band will try to change by incorporating modern elements of music.

“Our music has diverse inspirations, from Miles Davis, and John Coltrane in jazz, to Hari Prasad Chaurasia and Ustad Salamat Ali, in eastern classical to pop rock,” he said. “All of us have different inspirations musically.”

The band’s album “Umeed-e-Sehr” is expected to be launched in February 2009, and not only gives expressions to the chaos and ‘dystopia’ all around, but also raises hope for people.

“There are so many issues to start from,” Rahman told The News. “But we are highlighting all of them, we want to make people socially aware, and our music will be critical, and analytical, but positive and upbeat too at the same time. It will also have an underlying satirical humour to it.”

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