The voting for Pepsi Battle of the Bands is in full swing between finalists “Bayaan” and “Xarb”. Amidst the country-wide performance tours that Pepsi has organized for the bands, in-house Orange, Sameer Anwar managed to squeeze in a late-night interview with one of the bands, “Bayaan”.
Pepsi Battle of the Bands was back this July for a fantastic third season. The show has brought forward some of the best talent from the country, and ushered a revival of Pakistan’s band culture. This season came with more suspense than the previous two, both on and off stage. The recordings began with a last-minute judge replacement. The participants were left in confusion as recordings were delayed with the Meesha Shafi-Ali Zafar controversy. The star-studded panel of judges was strengthened by the announcement that Strings would join them.
Whether you’ve been religiously following the show, or came across it while flipping through channels, it would have been difficult to miss “Bayaan”. This band has had more air time than any other band, not just because of their stellar performances, but because they have been living on the edge, having to perform twice more times than any other band. They’ve been through the Danger Zone (elimination round) in almost every episode, which has given them the opportunity to play twice as many songs as other bands, not that we’re complaining. The band has shown variety in their music taking us from national classics such as “Inteha-e-Shauq” and “Azaadi”, to originals such as “Farda”, “Toh Kya Hua” and “Hum Nadaan”.
We thoroughly enjoyed interviewing these five Lahore-based boys as we tried to understand their musical journey and learn more about them as individuals. The interview had the same energy that we’ve witnessed on stage – the bond between the members was palpable through all the laughter and jibes. Here’s “Bayaan” at their candor best.
What do you want to tell people through your music?
We want to tell them that music is a medium through which you can inspire people and change their lives in a positive manner. We have been inspired by artists and bands throughout our lives.
Your music has some deep lyrics and dark undertones. How can you build positivity through such dark music ?
Yes, our music is quite dark, but our lyrics focus a lot on how to overcome the many challenges that life poses. We are early in our understanding of the human journey – perhaps still in the problem identification and diagnosis phase. We are first trying to highlight all the issues with humanity – and perhaps in a few years you will hear us sing about the solutions.
Why should we vote for Bayaan over Xarb?
We are working for something much greater – bringing back the Band Culture to Pakistan. Xarb sounds very different from us – they are inspired by the 70s and 80s. Our main focus has always been originals with meaningful lyrics.
We would like to tell the public to vote for whoever they feel most inspired by.
What was your lowest point during the show?
The first danger zone was quite depressing, but as we learnt that its going to become routine we kind of got used to it.
During Episode 4, Muqueet Shahzad felt so disheartened at one point that when we got to the Danger Zone again he gave up and said “lets just go home guys”.
For Asfar, it was probably the judges’ comments during “Inteha-e-Shauq”. The comments were so negative that most of the comments didn’t even get aired.
Ouch, boys. But look where it got you!
How do you bounce back from such a disheartening low?
We took the criticism as power to rise up. We focused on how to learn from the judges comments and then working on it. We also really enjoy our jams and we tried to do the best that we could. At each low point a different person from our band would get up and provide leadership that kept us going.
Who has been your musical inspirations?
We as a band have had many local and foreign inspirations. For all of us Hans Zimmer is a huge inspirational figure. We even tried to add some Hans Zimmer into “Raaz-e-Fitna”
Locally, Junoon’s spirit and Meekal Hassan Band along with Faraz Anwar have been inspirations.
When we look outside Pakistan we learn from Dhafer Youssef, Linkin Park, Pearl Jam and even earlier on Green Day.
Who in your band is most likely to be :
– A Millionaire : Mansoor Lashari, because he works in the energy sector
– Abandon the band and go solo: Haider Abbas, who is now working on his vocals. He is the dark horse in our band
– Worst at responding to messages and calls: Asfar Hussain, does. not. ever. check his phone
– Is perpetually late to jams: Muqueet Shahzad, because Haider picks him up and Haider is perpetually late
– Will eat your leftovers: Asfar Hussain, will eat everyone’s food – especially if its biryani
– Break hearts: Muqueet Shahzad, hoping that suggesting his name here will give him hearts to break
– Likely to fall for the wrong person: Asfar Hussain, this has happened far too many times
– Not remain humble after getting famous: Shahrukh, he is already a celebrity and not humble
If you win Battle of the Bands and Mahesh Bhatt calls you for a song for one of his movies how will you respond:
We will say yes depending on the how deep the movie is (literally and figuratively)
What is the craziest thing that happened backstage at battle of the bands:
During Episode 4’s shoot the remaining bands got to pick their national song choices for Episode 5. It was like a fish market auction, where everyone was fighting for songs – “Kaaghaz” was supposed to do “Azaadi” in the national song episode. They got eliminated in Episode 4 and in the next episode as we once again went into the Danger Zone, we used their pick, “Azaadi”. We believe that was our best performance during the entire season. Definitely worked in our favour.
If you could take out one person from the band and replace them with a Battle of the Bands judge who would that be?
We would take out Asfar and bring in Meesha Shafi !
Was it your strategy to keep going to the Danger Zone to increase your air time?
Now that we’ve made it to the finals, we’d like to say this was our strategy. Jokes aside, it has been one hell of a roller coaster of a ride.
What would you say is the biggest thing that has helped “Bayaan” keep going?
Throughout the years, we’ve been persistent.
Bands respond to what people want, what they want or what sells. We’ve tried to be very honest to our music and we haven’t taken any decisions that would compromise our art.
What is next for “Bayaan”?
Fame. Money. Riches. Women. In that order.
Jokes apart, we’ve made a song “Khel Tamasha” that is going to be our best produced video to date, and we look forward to all of you getting to see that very soon.
Voting is now open – Text B for Bayaan or X for Xarb and send it to 8042. Or log on to http://www.pepsibattleofthebands.com to vote for your favourite band. Voting ends Thursday night (30th August) so vote fast! We wish both the bands best of luck.