Laal move forward on their revolutionary road

July 4, 2009

“I think that the masses are the best judges of our art form. It is in their courts that we perform and it is in their hearts that our music resides”
– Laal move forward on their revolutionary road

Hani Taha Salim

Laal – who released their debut record Umeed-e-Sahar earlier this year – have gained popularity not only for their unique blend of music but also for their revolutionary outlook and philosophy. During the long march held for the restoration of the judiciary, Laal’s music served as an apt soundtrack to the revolution-like scenes taking place in Pakistan. Committed to change, Laal and its comrades hold concerts of a different nature: amongst the peasantry and the masses that reflect that their songs and stance are not empty rhetoric. Their recent concert in the Raiwind area in Lahore also took place in the middle of a road, in the heart of the masses.

Instep Today spoke to Taimur Rahman and Shahram Azhar of Laal to talk about their next album, their concerts and their plans for bringing about change in society via their music.Laal-1

Instep Today: What does the new album contain? What’s the focus this time?

Taimur Rahman: It’s too early to talk about the content of the new album as we have  over 25 songs from which we will select the best 10. But the new single that we have recorded that will be part of the new album is dedicated to the victims of terrorism.

Shahram Azhar: Laal is inherently a political-revolutionary band that is committed to the promotion of socialism in Pakistan. One of our primary aims is to present socialist realist poetry to the broadest sections of the masses. As far as the content is concerned, the next album will in many ways be a sequel to the first. However, this time around we will try to bring the poetry of other progressive writers such as Jaun Elia and Ahmed Faraz to the public.

Instep Today: How do you make it work with band members living across continents?

TR: It’s very hard and Laal has not been able to perform as often as we wouldLaal-2 have liked. But this will change in August when I return for my PhD. All of Laal will be in Pakistan.

SA: To tell you the truth, Taimur and I are almost constantly in touch with each other through the Internet etc. It does become a little difficult at times to share our new compositions with each other. The primary focus of the band is the content of the message that brings forth. As a result, Taimur, myself and all our other friends are constantly discussing the political situation in Pakistan. Since our music is informed by the material objective conditions that prevail in the country at any given point in time, it is imperative that we are on the same page with respect to how we understand the political situation of the country

Instep Today: When is the next video releasing?

TR: Probably August or September. The first footage we took was insufficiently lit and it came out a bit grainy. So we have to start again and it will take some time.

Instep Today: How does Laal plan on bringing about a change in society?

TR: We hope that Laal can inspire a social movement for change. It is very important for people not only to feel indignation at injustice but also to do something about it. And to do something, one needs to be organized and mobilized. Laal hopes that our message goes some way in achieving that organization and mobilization.

SA: Bringing change in a society is a complex and protracted process. This laal-3must be done step by step. The first step in this direction is to challenge the reactionary ideas that are being propagated by the ruling classes. This must be done by presenting an alternative view of the world to our people; a view that is rational and scientific on the one hand, and presents a revolutionary alternative on the other. People cannot be united for change unless they have a common vision, an ideology so to speak, that unites the many to fight the few. The Progressive Writers’ Movement in the subcontinent in the 1930s, I believe, initiated this step. A large group of writers and artists committed themselves to the cause of liberation. With the onslaught of the ruling classes, this process was cut short, and Faiz, Jalib, Faraz and Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi were all put in jail. Our idea is to re-lift the fallen flags of our forefathers and to reunite the masses under the most progressive and revolutionary ideology of our times

Instep Today: How are people responding to your Laal manifesto? (The Laal manifesto was launched earlier this year, which aims to bring about social change in Pakistan)

TR: Unbelievably positively. The response has been so fantastic that it has exceeded our wildest expectations. Our only regret is that we have not been able to perform as often as we would have liked for our fans. But we hope to fix that in the coming year.

SA: Laal has taken its manifesto to students, workers and peasants alike. We have also formed an organization called the Laal Brigade, which held its first two meetings in Islamabad. The Laal Brigade, and its manifesto declares that we want to bring to an end the exploitation of the minority over the majority in Pakistan. It is being extremely well received across all sections of society, but in particular, the working masses and the students of Pakistan are extremely enthusiastic.

Instep Today: How did people react to the concert at Raiwind? Generally how do people react to your concerts given that as you mentioned they are held amongst ‘the masses’?

TR: You have to see them to believe me. People were dancing away like crazy. The old, the young, workers, peasants, they were all dancing like mad, raising slogans and generally not only having a great time but singing along with us and in amazing spirit.

SA: Our music is for the masses. The poetry, the message and the content of that message is directed at the workers and peasants. In our last concert, about 300 to 400 workers gathered to listen to our songs. It was an amazing sight. Women and children were dancing to the tune of ‘Jaago Jaago’ and ‘Sada’. The workers appreciated it whenever I improvised on the melodic lines. I think that the masses are the best judges of our art form. It is in their courts that we perform and it is in their hearts that our music resides. That became clear to me once again in the last concert.

Source: Instep Today