Thursday, April 17, 2008

Ugly Babies and Advertising.

Hey there new parents, congratulations! You guys have a bouncing baby boy or a beautiful little girl. I am really happy for you. I love kids. I really do. I think your kids are beautiful. You guys look like a wonderful happy family.

So why would you ruin it by letting your kids come on television. Aah because they’re cute. I see. But here’s the deal. Your kid is ugly.

Advertising people take heed. You are using far too many ugly kids in your television/ print ads.

Now in Pakistani ads, the good looking hierarchy runs so. You make the lead female, usually 20-something perfect bahoo type, good looking, but not too hot because then we’ll think she’s slutty. Point in case, remember that time when walls decided that the best way to sell ice cream is to put up a picture of nice-looking model passionately fellating a choc-bar. This has caused several pile-ups on Zamzama and many uncomfortable moments between me and my mum while we’re driving.

Mother: Wow that is an uncomfortable ad. It looks likes she is sucking dick.
Me: DID YOU JUST SAY DI… *instant brain hemorrhage”

Ok so maybe that didn’t happen.

But I digress. My point is that it seems that advertising spends all their money on making the female hot but neglecting everyone else. Which is fine by me, sex sells etc. The men are predictably douche-bags. The husbands are almost always excruciatingly stupid. For e.g. take that ad for TREAT Biscuits. Here’s how it goes.

Husband: Bring me TREAT with chai (1st time)
Husband: Bring me chai with TREAT (2nd time)
Husband: Bring me TREAT as it is

Cue laughter.

Here’s how it probably would go.

Husband: Bring me TREAT with CHAI (1st time)
Wife: (comes back smiling and carrying massive pole).

*You can guess what happens next.

So fair enough, you choose total douche-bag guys to model alongside hottie women so that losers like us think we’re in with a chance. I appreciate it the way I appreciate thinking I have a shot with Kate Hudson after a bout of explosive diarrhea.

But yes. Coming back to my point. What is up with all the ugly babies? Man babies are supposed to be cute and cuddly. Instead we have these uggles lining up on tv selling diapers shaking their wrinkly asses and wiggling their unibrows. Fuck! I hate ugly babies...they creep me out almost as much as clowns. And the worst bit is ugly babies act all cool and shit, like they don’t know they ugly. They pick on the cute ones. Whatever uggle-muffin, I know you ugly, and I know you wax your back.

I’ll be sitting around, being happy, bouncing a cute baby on my knee when some uggle will come around looking for attention. This really ruins my high. So I’m all like “fuck off ugly baby! Go play with the dog!” And then I tie some chicken round its neck, cuz fuck me if the dog doesn’t need motivation.

*True story* Incidentally I recently dropped the f-bomb around my 1 year old niece when she was here. Well to be honest, it was much worse. It was actually the c-h-o-o-t-i-a bomb. I am hoping to god she never repeated it. She was sitting around playing with her toys. I was watching a hapless Pakistan team get schooled by India. And Younis Khan played a shot that made him look like Govinda on crystal meth. As he predictably got out I went into convulsions. To my credit I didn’t yell it…I just said it. With feeling. The moment I did I looked in horror at my niece, who had suddenly lost interest in her blocks and was now staring intently at her moron uncle who had just uttered a most delightful sounding word. I stared back at her willing her to forget the last few seconds. She knew I did a bad thing. I had the same expression on my face that she has when she poops. A tense standoff occurred, complete with rapid eye-closeups and wild west music. Then she gave in and went back to playing. But I could have sworn I saw her silently mouth the word to herself. I guess she’s going to give mommy a surprise one of these days. And mommy is in turn going to give me a surprise, which I’m pretty sure will involve gruesome violence.

Now that I have offended you all and ensured my place in hell…take care, till next time bubye!

*For those of you who didn’t guess it, the husband gets his TREAT. In the butthole.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Its been two years...a very long post

There have been large gaps between my blog entries, for several reasons. But just letting you guys know that I do appreciate all your comments and I don’t ignore any of them. I will try to update a little more regularly.

I have been very busy, some of it in a good way some of it not. A little while back a relative of mine passed away and I was deeply affected by it. Personally I have had a lot to figure out, in terms of the future of the band, my relationships and my own career.

However, these last few weeks have been among the most creative of my life. The last proper song I wrote was “Likhta Nahin Mein” and I wrote that when Khawer was still in the band so basically the Summer of 2006. Truth be told I hadn’t written a new song in two years.

Two Years.

Incidentally through all this stuff happening, I forgot to remember that ADP have now been together for 2 years. We’ve lost one of our guys, but we’re still soldiering on. Thank you all for your love and support.

What if I never write another tune like this again?
Since then I hated all the songs I was writing. I was spending so much time promoting and performing the songs I had already written that I was neglecting to come up with any fresh material. During this time, Imran, the other composer in the band was coming up with new stuff all the time, something that made matters worse because this started to fuel an unhealthy competitive streak in me. This was also showing up the very different direction Imran and me were going musically. Imran was beginning to really grow as a songwriter, becoming very progressive and experimental. You couldn’t keep a guy like Imran down because musically he is prolific. While I would struggle with a single riff or a melody, or worse, lyrics, Imran would come up with entire songs, sections and beats.

The end result was that musically I was completely paralysed and I had no joy in composing anymore. The more I tried to force it the worse it would become. I actually remember hunched over my acoustic guitar strumming chords away endlessly and destroying reams of paper in fits of rage. I would listen to “Sultanat” and “Shehar Key Aansoo” and start feeling panic because I kept thinking “What if I never write another tune like this”. I felt like a fake musician and when people would tell me they loved the band or my songs, I wouldn’t believe them. I had an intense self-loathing for myself as a musician who couldn’t even write good songs anymore, and I was fooling everyone.

I really hope this doesn’t come across as self-indulgent emotional it-aint-easy-being-me type crap. I just wanted to share how things will usually get really bad before they get really good again.

Personally, around this time, I was in a relationship that was falling apart. It reached a point where I thought that both my band and my relationship which had started at the same time would end at the same time. Now one usually thinks that emotional upheaval is great for us musicians and that we actually look for drama to use as inspiration for songs. Nothing could be further than the truth for me. I didn’t want to write songs about lost love or broken hearts. I wanted my songs to give me joy, not help me wallow. Songs should bring you joy, or at least be cathartic. Nothing pisses me off more than contrived songs about heartbreak. All you “terey bin jee nahin sakta” type lyricists are trite and do not do real heartbreak any sort of justice.

When Imran left, I really thought we were finished. With him gone, me not writing any new stuff, Yasir getting disillusioned and Omar getting busier with work we were extremely low on confidence.

Then the Indus Valley Concert happened

It would be wrong for me to say that a single event helped to bring me out of funk. The truth is there were several contributing factors. Ali Alam is one of them. When Ali came over to start rehearsing for the concert with us, Omar, Yasir and I immediately raised our game, because I guess we were trying to impress him. Ali has been around the music scene for a long time so we automatically had a lot of respect for him but there was also a bit of an insolent streak in us that caused us to well…make sure we played at the top of our game, almost like we were showing him what we were capable of.
Plus, Ali’s songs are fantastic and we jumped at the opportunity to perform them, having become bored with our own songs.

For the first time in awhile, we weren’t complacent. We knew that we had to put on a killer show at Indus because we hadn’t performed there before and a lot of people were coming to see us for the first time. We also knew that it wouldn’t be easy to incorporate a new player into the bands dynamic and we weren’t sure if we would still have that onstage chemistry that people associate with us.

Once that incredible Indus Show happened, I finally felt good about the band again. Plus Ali’s songs inspired me to go back and try doing my own.

As well as Ali’s input, a very good friend of mine played a big role in getting me to love music again. I was constantly giving her music to listen to and in the process I discovered all these simple songs that were so incredible. She in turn really encouraged me to be happy about my music and not to take it so seriously. She helped me realize that there is a less mental and more physical side to the music that I needed to get in touch with.

And then one day it happened. I woke up on a glorious Sunday morning and I wrote down the opening lines to what would be a brand new song

Aaj mein zarra hoon, kal mein insaan,
(Today I am a particle, tomorrow I am a human being)

Aaj mein zameen hoon, kal mein aasman
(Today I am the ground, tomorrow I am the sky)

I wrote the entire composition within a matter of minutes and I loved it. It was finally something honest, something uplifting and more importantly it was simple. Songwriters pray for moments like this, when it seems like divine inspiration. I think God has better things to do than to provide me with hit singles but I’m hoping he had something to do with it.

Whatever it was, I went on a creative streak. Within a week I had drafted 5 new songs. Some of them were only basic ideas and sketches. Some of them were fully formed compositions. But they were definitely different from the stuff I had previously been trying to write. I basically fell in love with my electric guitar all over again, and the songs I was writing were hard, loud, brash and obnoxious. The guitar parts were dangerous sounding chugging chords or really snaky, snarling rhythm bits. I wasn’t afraid to make the sound dirty and really bring a very sexual edge to them. Very punk rock, very liberating. There are no slow beats, no room for balladry, just uncompromising, bone-crunching rock’n’roll sex magic.

I’m singing this note cause it fits in well with the chords I’m playing
I can’t pretend there’s any meaning hidden in the words I’m singing
But I’m in tune. Right in tune. I’m in tune. And I’m gonna tune
Right in on you.

- The Who “Getting’ in Tune”

When I played them for Omar and Yasir, they were actually kinda shocked, and well pleasantly surprised that I would be writing material that raw and primal. They loved it, and when we jammed on one of the songs with Ali, it took on a completely new life. Suddenly everyone came alive. Omar Khalid found his groove and was back to his skin-pounding best. Ali helped me flesh out some of the changes in the songs and Yasir contributed on guitar, something he is actually beginning to get very good at.

It was an incredible moment, I’m probably being overly dramatic and the others will read this and have a complete wtf? Moment. We’ve never been so charged before. And I am dying to record this new material and put it out as soon as possible. Everyday, I am getting new ideas, riffs, lyrics and beats. Other music is beginning to inspire me again.

What is even more exciting is I’ve found a great ally in Ali Alam. Ali hasn’t officially joined ADP just yet, although we’re hoping he will. But last weekend we managed to have a wonderful one-on-one session where he showed me the songs he was working on. In fact he actually took one of the guitar riffs I had been working on and turned it into a full-fledged song complete with lyrics and structure within a matter of days. I felt extremely humbled, but really excited that things were finally starting to look up again.

You guys will have to wait awhile but it will be worth it. I promise you we are going to debut our brand new singles at out next concert and you can judge for yourself. Till then, I’m going to go rock out with my incredible band. Life is good again :)