Overload gets set to release their new record, Pichal Pairee

August 15, 2009

music mix
Overload gets set to release their new record, Pichal Pairee
Frontman Farhad Humayun talks to Instep Today about Overload’s second album, record labels in Pakistan and where the ambitious The System project is heading

Hani Taha Salim

Overload is one of the very few bands on the Pakistani music scene that have managed to truly bring out the power in music through the music itself. Spearheaded by the super talented Farhad Humayun, drummer par excellence and the main force behind his own production house, Riot Productions, Overload is expanding into new avenues by creating opportunities for amateur but gifted musicians with the venture, The System, which has already performed locally and is set to release its first ‘novice’ band. Instep Today caught up with Farhad to talk about his highly ambitious multitasking with Overload’s second album, the promotional tour in Europe and The System.

Instep Today: Tell us about the Oslo festival and your participation there?

Farhad Humayun: It’s a world music festival with funk, big bands as well as popular Scandinavian acts. The Rafi Peer group contacted us, who eventually got us to play there in 2006. This year we are headlining on the closing night, which is on August 16.

Instep Today: You’re touring Europe to promote the album; what’s on the agenda for Pakistan?

FH: We’re primarily promoting in Scandinavia, Netherlands and France right farhad_splashes-copynow. As much as we want to play in Pakistan frequently, we can’t because there are security issues. Nobody wants big crowds in one place because it’s just not safe. As for the album release we’re sick of record labels exploiting artists. Generally a record label is supposed to buy albums from artists or fund them – promote them – make videos – organize concerts – pay royalties and make sure an artist’s work is placed in all the necessary distribution spots around the country.¬† It takes years of hard work and a set of musicians in a band who combine their thoughts and emotions to produce a body of work in the form of an album – at least that’s the way we do it. If labels here don’t recognize that and want a free ride Overload isn’t interested in entertaining any! So what we are doing for our fans and people who really love music is that we are officially releasing the new as well as the old album on our website and on a new site we are developing for artists and free spirits called www.riot.pk on Eid. It will be free to download and we will be making limited edition autographed CDs for collectors which can be bought at concerts we’re planning ourselves.

Instep Today: What’s Pichal Pairee about?

FH: It’s taken us very long to do this one and the entire band has been through an array of emotions while recording this. It’s got tunes and beats of sorrow, hurt, anger, hope, pride, sarcasm and one or two of happiness. It’s very heartfelt and I think the entire band is very close to this record. We have Nasir and Kaala Sain playing dhol, Ustad Allah Loke on pakhawaj, Farhan Ali on bass, Jaffer Hussain on clarinet and of course Meesha, Mahmood, myself and Sheraz as the band. It’s very different from the first album. It may also see commercial acclaim because of that reason but we didn’t think about that when we were writing the music.

Instep Today: It’s taken you over two years to stage a come back; what’s been going on with the band during this seemingly dormant stage?

FH: To be honest we’ve been playing a lot overseas in places like Dubai, Europe and India. But of course the band has been out of the Pakistani media for a while because there have been line-up changes and also, as artists we keep reinventing ourselves. I think in all this time all of us were getting comfortable in our own armour and I can safely say all the members in Overload know who they are as people and as artists so I think we’ve used this duration well.

Instep Today: How is The System playing out these days? How are you managing with commitments to a band (particularly with the inclusion of new members) to operating a production house?

meesha-copyFH: We did three concerts under the umbrella of The System last year. Our plans require funding, which was initially done by my company Riot Productions. Riot has been operating as an event and design company on a medium arty level since 2002. Our operations are not huge because we only take on projects in which we have creative liberty with clients who want a sophisticated image. The System is a project of Riot to ensure music, art and individuality doesn’t die in Pakistan. Live and studio sound, lighting, staging etc. required for The System is all provided by Riot. So the organization and mechanics of The System run on their own now. We’ve been talking to the corporate sector for funding but the recession has not helped. We have plans to build a community and organize the music and art scene and we’re going to follow it. The System is hosting another event after Eid.

Instep Today: What’s the vibe with musicians in Lahore like Ali Z, Atif, Jal, Call, MHB, Zeb and Haniya on The System?

FH: I’ve invited EVERYONE to be a part of The System because we are all musicians and we need to play! I think everyone agrees we need an on-going club environment where music can be played and that we need to build our own record promotion and distribution setup. Zeb and Haniya are very sophisticated as musicians and as people so they understand that all of us need to build this together. Other than them Mekaal Hasan has also been supportive, Ali Azmat came to one of our events also, Atif Aslam said on TV that he wants to play on The System. Call has already played once. We are also talking to EP for some future gigs. Noori, Aaroh, Fuzon, Shahzad Hameed, Coven, Arieb Azhar are all game. Ali Zafar is a bit neutral because he’s doing stuff other than music also. Maybe people like him and Shafqat Amanat Ali and a few others want to wait and see how things progress which I can perfectly understand.

Instep Today When will we witness a staging of The System?

FH: Very soon Insha Allah! Right after Eid if our funding comes through.

Instep Today: Any plans of taking The System to Karachi or any other cities?

FH: Of course! That’s the plan. Lahore, Karachi, Islamabad for sure.

Instep Today: You could always make a show out of The System; not an adulterated version of an idol show but more on the lines of Coke Studio. There’s certainly a need and an urgently burgeoning demand for it.

FH: Actually we are filming The System. We will be recording the live audio also. Coke Studio is a great effort but it’s primarily a ‘singer’s’ platform. Our theme isn’t fusion – its individuality and live performance as opposed to studio playing where there isn’t an audience. We want to take it to TV. It all depends on marketing heads and CEOs of companies who are business graduates but not really visionaries.

Instep Today: Ever think of compiling the songs from The System shows into an album?

FH: Yes that’s what we will be doing. Taking 2 best tracks of each artist and putting 5 artists on a CD. We plan to release a new CD every month at the event.

Instep Today What’s the difference between Riot Records and Fire Records – how are you dealing with copyrights etc. Will the record label own rights to the artists’ music?

FH: The difference is simple. Fire Records is a mainstream artist label. It’s a business not an artistic venture. Riot Records is an artist development label. We are recording promising talent for free. Making low budget videos for free. We will be putting all this content on www.riot.pk exclusively for 60 – 90 days after which the artist can take it to any channel to run.

We provide already established artists an audio equipped studio space to develop ideas and put them on tape. Riot is interested in construction of a music industry. We’ve produced a new band called Simt (meaning direction); their stuff should be out soon. I think they’re going to be the next big thing. Riot is not interested in releasing big artists. We want to bring new artists and those with a cult following to the forefront.

Instep Today: How has the vibe changed within the group with the inclusion of a woman – Meesha — in a sorely male domain?

FH: Well on the album and on stage Meesha appears on four songs, but she is a vital part of our band now. She’s a part of the creative process – She writes her own lyrics and adds more personality to our sound making it into a real cutting edge band. She’s carved a place for herself in a male band with people who can be intimidating because they’re all experienced and seasoned players. However she is very confident about her ideas and melodies, which makes her a blue blooded Overloader.

–Photography by Mohsin Khawar

Source: Instep Today