Saturday, November 29, 2008

Just a thought

Before I post anything else about ADP or myself, I wanted to take a moment to say a few words about the Mumbai killings of these last two days.

I want to tell my Indian friends that we know you're hurting and we know how helpless you feel. We feel helpless too, because we can't reach across and tell you we're with you. We can't do anything about the anger you will feel and we can't do anything about politicians blaming Pakistan and yet another finger pointed at Muslims.

I want to tell my India friends that we hope you're alright, and your families are safe and you are with your loved ones. From the bottom of our hearts we hope you'll make it through this and believe that we across the border are just as shocked and horrified at this incredible scale of evil.

And I want to tell my Pakistani friends too step back and understand. For the next couple of days we are going to feel increasingly cornered and vulnerable as the international community is slowly going to drag our name and religion through the mud. This is not the time to be defensive. This is the time to reach out and set and example. We can yell ourselves hoarse trying to defend our religion and our country. But a quiet sign of support to the people across the fence will be far more effective in showing our humanity.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Zeb and Haniya with Aunty Disco Project! Live at The Forum Karachi!!

We're performing LIVE! Full ON ADP concert! Our first one since June...

We'll be playing with our old friends Zeb and Haniya in the middle of The Forum Mall in Karachi, Friday Nov 28th 6 to 9 pm.The show is being put together by Adil Moosajee and his company “EGO” which is an excellent ladies apparel store, (you can check them out on Zamzama and in The Forum).

Now I am absolutely stoked to be playing with Zeb and Haniya again, we performed with them first for the Shanaakht show in August 2007 and again for a private show for Nokia and Radio191, so along with Mauj, they're our favorite people to share the stage with. Of course things are different now. We both started out at around the same time, but since then Zeb and Haniya have gone on to become a critically acclaimed musical duo with an album that is one of the best things to come out of Pakistan and a gorgeous, sexy video that's shot them straight to the top of the fame game. While we on the other hand have lost one band member and have released our third video which people think is our first video and are still desperately trying to 'arrive'.

But those gals deserve it. They are immensely talented and their songs are exquisitely crafted and I'll be over the moon to be sharing the stage with them again, heck I'll be in the front row singing along to their entire setlist.

Having said that, this show has me really nervous for several reasons.

  1. Performing for free in the middle of a mall is always tricky because at least half the audience is going to be the Atif Aslam/Ali Zafar crowd who could be extremely unpredictable in their response to us. I really don't know if the 'awaam' likes our stuff.

  2. I don't want to perform covers for this show. We've got enough originals now to have a set that is all us. But obviously people barely know our stuff, apart from 'Sultanat' and 'Nazar'. They could choose to tune out completely. So we'll have to do covers. But which ones?

  3. Zeb and Haniya are awesome and are being backed by the guys from co-Ven who are also awesome. They are going to blow us off the stage. Either that or we'll look like headbanging monkeys compared to the sophisticated grace of their songs.

  4. The elite crowd and media are all coming to see Zeb and Haniya. Industry bigwigs, people who can help us get to the next level are all coming to see the girls perform. I really hope they catch us as well, but they usually never do and we have to try to get their attention again some other way. Without nudity this time.

5) And of course, here's the real disadvantage of being a small unknown act, our live sound guy from Audiolink, who we exclusively do shows with has ditched us to do the sound for Ali Azmat, Mauj and Noori who are performing in Lahore, despite committing to us earlier. Now I know, bigger acts will probably pay him better and more exposure etc. etc. But it still serves as a sad depressing reminder of how far we have to go to get some clout in this business. Now, he's ushered in his brother as a replacement but it'll be his first show with us. It's just not good karma.

Now if you had spoken to me a year ago I would have been my usual “Fuck it all, we're ADP! We're the best live act in the country and we'll take on any crowd”. But recently our concerts just seem a little more low key and while I know that the release of “Nazar” definitely got us a whole bunch of new fans, our last few live shows have been missing that special something, that crazy energy between us and our audience. Maybe it's because Lodhi isn't with us anymore, and its a sign. Or maybe it's all in my head I don't know. All I know is that for some reason, the need for us to deliver on this show seems huge.

I really hope we can.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

My Celebrity Encounters...

One of the cool bits about being a musician is that I get to run into a lot of people who are famous, some of them are my idols, some of them are people I just plain respect and some of them are assbackwards stupid. I've been fortunate enough to meet with a whole bunch of some famous Pakistani celebrities, with a range of experiences, some were funny, some were heartwarming and some were downright bizarre.

Omran Shafique (Mauj/Ali Azmat's band): Omran is one of the nicest, most down to earth musicians I've ever met. ADP's been lucky enough to perform with Mauj three times now and while I suspect they consider us bad luck (it rained the last two times they were slated to go on after us), I hope they enjoyed sharing the bill with us. I'm in awe of his guitar playing and everytime I've run into him, he's one of the few guys who always greets me warmly. To be honest, I probably look like an asshole to him because I never know what to say to him, I just feel like I'll sound amateur or 'underground' which is this stupid label ADP's been stuck with for so long. Having said that, everytime we've been on stage I felt the need to compete fiercely with Mauj because I know they have such a high standard and I hope people would think ADP isn't far behind. I've been especially spurred on by the fact that they got nominated for Best Live Act at the LSA's because next year...(if we ever get called to the LSA's, thats the one award that I feel would really vindicate us)

Ali Zafar: Ok so for the longest time I had been criticizing Ali Zafar as pop trash because, well, he hit on this girl I used to like.. a very long time ago! Petty I know. But it was through her that I met the guy. He came over to a dance practice at a friends wedding, the dude was suffering from a cold so he didn't really say much. So he was sitting alone and probably feeling a little awkward so I went over and talked to the guy. We didnt really talk much, he apologized for being kinda quiet because of his flu. But I got the impression that he was really cultured, polite and cared very deeply about his music. Since then I've had a grudging respect for him because lets face it, the guy is bucketload of talent and he's held himself to a really high standard as an entertainer. I know he's an easy target because he prances around in Telenor ads, and yes I have lambasted artists like him for letting their sponsors buy airtime for videos, but from what I know of him, he's a decent guy with a good head on his shoulders.

Shallum (Fuzon): I've been fortunate enough to have jammed with Shallum and Immu from Fuzon and even performed a one off show with them along with Gumby and Khalid from Aaroh. Let me tell you this, Shallum is a guy who takes his music really seriously...
So we were at this little celebration thrown by Zeb and Haniya celebrating the launch of their album in Karachi. I went over to the food table to get some munchies and I met Shallum picking on some chips. He greeted me warmly, and I asked him how the shows were going and if we were gonna see him perform in Karachi soon. He replied that Fuzon were mostly performing in India now because concerts in Pakistan were too difficult to organize. He then asked me how ADP was going. So I did my usual obnoxious bit about how great it is to be a rockstar and how I was all about the chicks. Now I thought I was fairly obvious with my joke and I was expecting an amused response. Instead, I looked over at Shallum who had suddenly gone rigid and was now giving me an icy stare. He looked me straight in the eye, and put down his plate of fried shrimp and said

"It is NOT about the chicks"

Now I could have just agreed and let it go. But the asshole in me decided to push it a little further because I was determined to let him know it was a joke! So I persisted, along with a not-so-welcome backslap

"Awww c'mon Shallum, it's a little about the chicks...c'mon...*wink* *wink*

Shallum was having none of it. Once again, an icy glare, and he repeated, quite obviously annoyed

"It's NEVER about the chicks. if that's what you're here for, you'll never make it".

So I slunk away, thoroughly confused. And then it dawned on me, "Did I just inadvertently offend Shallum Xavier from Fuzon?". Wow, talk about train wreck. Anyway Shallum, buddy if you're reading this, I apologize if you were offended by my crass humor. But for me it has and always will be about the chicks.

And finally a story that always makes me happy was when I met Ali Noor. Now Noori are one of the few Pakistani bands whose concerts I would attend and whose music I would actually buy. They were my idols and when I saw them at this get together, I was genuinely starstruck. I kept avoiding them because I was so painfully shy, but desperate to meet them at the same time. Seeing this, Ali Alam just grabbed me and forced an introduction. So I met Ali Noor and we exchanged intros, while I babbled some cliches about how I was such a big fan. At this point he was still a little aloof, like he had heard it all before. But then Ali Alam said, "Omar's a musician too, you've probably heard of his band The Aunty Disco Project". At which point Ali Noor's entire demeanor changed and he gave me a warm bear hug saying "Arrey yaar why didn't you say so, I love you guys and your song Sultanat!" At which point I was too dumb struck and I remember thinking..."I can't believe he's heard of us!". After that he gave me a few pointers about the music industry and and how we should embrace being promoted on television even though we might not like the way it's done, every musician has to go through it. I'll remember that.

*Ali Azmat: Is in a separate category because although I have seen him around a lot of times and shook hands with him once, I've never actually said anything to him because...the guy is my idol. For me Junoon were in the same category as Led Zeppelin and The Who. I own everything they ever released...every single album and I followed them from the day they first formed to the day they broke up. To me Ali Azmat isn't just some Pakistani celebrity, he's an icon who respect tremendously and just plain old look up to. I'm afraid if i meet him, and if he turns out to be a total douche or a huge sleaze bag, the way a lot of people say he is, it'll ruin my image of him and his music forever. It's my dream to share the stage with him someday, or maybe open for him. To me, he's still a living legend, and thats just how i would like to keep him in my head.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Lux Style Awards i.e. The Great Atif Aslam Wank-Off

Man I laughed so hard when I read the reports on the Lux Style Awards. Now usually, I would be my bitter self and castigate our dysfunctional and tremendously stupid and petty celebrity types but I have to say that for sheer entertainment value, this Lux Style Awards ceremony was awesome! Apparently the whole thing turned into a "my dick is bigger than your dick" fiasco. Ali Azmat picking on Faakhir! Iman picking on Shaan! Good times.

Now for some reason, despite my warning to all journalists at the beginning of this year, Khuda Key Liye will just not go away. It seems that this one little movie is the only quality product we could squeeze out of our creative asses and now we'll continue to wash ourselves in its infinite glory. For fucks sake, can't we let it go? I swear if I have to read another report on how Fawad Khan is the greatest actor since Marlon Brando's left nut and how Iman Ali was incredible in her debut performance ( let's be honest here...her acting wasn't incredible) I am going to mail a box of my poop directly to Shoaib Mansoor.

But I digress. Since the Lux Style Awards is clearly about rewarding the talent in our entertainment industry. They seem to do a pretty good job with fashion, and television. But I'm glad that our music industry only has Atif Aslam and the band Atif Aslam used to be a part of. Because they really do deserve all the awards. And attention. I think our music industry should be relegated to a two party system, kinda like American politics, where you can either like Atif Aslam or Jal. Then the Lux Style Awards will not only be a valid representation of our tastes but it'll be like the political debates. And all of us Atif Aslam supporters will sneak over to the Jal side and shit on their supporters. And then Jal supporters will retaliate with attack ads on Atif's latent homosexuality.

You know I'm also glad that they don't let anyone else perform either. Because if its one thing this country needs, its more Atif Aslam. In fact, fuck the whole performance thing. They should just have Atif come on stage and masturbate furiously.

Oh and then there's Jal, who are kinda like Atif Aslam's retarded younger brother. You feel that everyone kinda keeps giving them the consolation prize after Atif bitch slapped them and ran away with their songs.

But my favorite comment about the whole thing came from Mustafa Zahid, the lead singer of Roxen. When asked about why Roxen didn't attend the ceremony he said something to the effect of "I'm 6"2 and I can't travel in economy because I don't fit in the seats, I asked them to send me a business class ticket, which they didn't so i didn't come".

Fuckin Ay! Thats right Mustafa Zahid lead singer of Roxen! Tell em to suck it hard! Man I gotta give this guy props. I mean life is obviously tough for a man of his Yeti-like proportions so if those asshats organizing the awards can't get him a BUSINESS CLASS TICKET then they can suck his balls. I'm with you on that one Mustafa. You gotta nip these things in the bud.

And check it...Ali Azmat puts the smackdown on Faakhir.

(Excerpts from the article in The News Instep Sunday Nov 9, 2008 by Aamna Haider Isani)

"Fakhir was obviously not prepared for the verbal assault in which Ali called him a "pretty boy" followed by a jibe that Fakhir was dressed like a waiter or rather a joker. "The waiters want their clothes back," Ali said, followed by, "Hey I'm acting like a joker and you're dressed like one."

Ooooooh SNAP! Waisey it would be pretty funny if Faakhir had in fact stolen the waiters clothes. Can you imagine the scene.

Waiter: Yaar tujhey kya hua? (Hey man what happened to you?)
Shivering naked other waiter: Bhainchod faakhir...phir kaprey ley gaya (Faakhir the sister-fucker stole my clothes again)

Waiter: Bhainchod...(Sister-fucker...he is)

And then Iman Ali went to town on Shaan. However, for the sake of entertainment and my twisted mind i am going to paraphrase their fight as it would have gone down in the ghetto

Iman: I catch you talkin' shit about me Im'a put ma boot so far up yo ass yo gon be flossin with ma heel son
Shaan: Bitch go make me a sandwich!
Iman: Sheeeit I shoulda pissed on you like R. Kelly
Shaan: Bitch go make me a sandwich

Waisey, I'm wondering how Mobilink haven't already had a shit fit already given that it's two biggest draws...(the chick who dances in the Jazz Budget video and the dude who killed his wife so that he could bone Vaneeza) aren't getting along.

For what it's worth, I for one am happy that our celebrities are not boring. So here's to our celebrities...may they be petty and mind numbingly stupid always, because otherwise we'd just be proud of them, and no one likes a gloater.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

What They Said About Us In The Papers

We take over the airwaves

For the last two weeks we have been whoring ourselves to any and all media. But willingly. I realized that blatant self-promotion really was the only way to get people to see our video. So we took any offers for appearances that came our way. In the span of two weeks we appeared on the following shows:

1) Mera MTV: With Ali Safina

Now Ali's a crazy character and we go way back. He used to be Yasir's roomate, so bless his heart he was one of the first guys to call and tell us how much he loved the video and song and that we should come on his show. He's wildly popular and we're used to his manic style so the interview was a lot of fun, especially the part where the power went out in the Mtv studios and you could hear us for a couple of seconds going "Bijli chalee gaee? Naheen yaar..." in pitch darkness. Yasir and I got to rock out and jam on the air as well as play bits of "Sultanat" and "Nazar'. Good times.

2) Weekends with Mahirah

Mahirah is a complete sweetheart and really was quite generous about having us and promoting us on her show. Now we've been collectively crushing on her for a long time so we were really looking forward to it. She has a special place in our hearts because she was the first VJ to play "Sultanat" on the air. The interview really was one of our best and most fun. it was really spontaneous and Mahirah and her crew were extremely supportive. (The fact that they didn't manage to get the "Nazar" video on the show is different matter...) For the three of us, it was also our funniest interview, and we kinda let loose at some of the clueless callers who called in. Most of them of course had never heard of us, which always makes for awkward moments,

Girl Caller: " Menay in ka kabhi nahin suna" (I've never heard of these guys)
Me: "Hum ney bhi aap ka kabhi nahin suna" (We've haven't heard of you either)

For me the funniest moment was when Mahirah asked Omar what his least favourite word was and he replied "The Urdu word for 'vest'".
Don't know if he meant "Banyaan" or "Jhangia".They're both pretty foul.

At least it wasn't "Chaddi".

3) Dial 9 with Sehrish

So we got to do an interview with another cute VJ. Life could be worse :) Yes yes... I know but I assure you we were completely professional. Except Yasir, he's a real sexual harassment panda in waiting. I think it was one of our most relaxed interviews because Sehrish is a genuine fan of ours and she actually knows a lot about us and what we're all about. Plus this was our second interview with her, you can read about the first here. My favorite part of the interview was the rapid fire questions she asked all of us. For once, I got the easy questions, although when she asked me about the three things I couldn't live without, I somehow included "cheese" as one of my answers. This was not an intellectually high point for me.

TV Channels and us

It really is a delicate relationship and one where I am increasingly torn between being grateful to them for promoting us and our video and giving into my murderous rage and urinating on them all. (Yep, that's right, my murderous rage leads to pee). I still remember the maddening run arounds we had to go through for them to play "Sultanat". You walked into the office of the music channel and it was almost as if there was a huge sign that said "No Video Promotion Without Blowjob". And then they would give us the run around,

"Oh if you want your video to air, you gotta blow Shahid"
"But to get an interview, please blow Aamir from programming"
"You want the video to be on the charts? oh that'll cost extra....bend over....".

The hierarchy was quite organized. After grovelling, begging, pleading and going through countless hours of watching mind numbingly stupid television just so I could get a glimpse of my video, we just gave up. We blamed it on the fact that our video was low budget and just not viewer friendly.

So a year later when we've sorta established a little credibility as a not-completely-hopeless band, we invested heavily in a good looking video and released a song that I feel was one of our best we went back to the TV Channels and prepared for the worst. Now I would be lying if I said there wasn't a change in their attitude towards us. For the most part,this time around the TV Channels were much more respectful, helpful and they genuinely loved the video, some of them putting it into rotation immediately. Then again there was also a change of attitude from me. I wasn't about to be all humble and grovelling and just expect people to help us because they said so. I made a concerted effort to personally contact the responsible people, to the point where if they were avoiding my phone calls, I would go to their office unannounced and sit outside until they met us. Yasir and I caused a bit of a stir when we went to visit one channel who, despite us giving them the video a week before, hadn't even copied it into their system. We pulled out all our contacts and sat on their heads until we physically saw them transfer the file and upload it into their list. I wouldn't say we intimidated them, but made them uncomfortable enough to get off their asses, which I realize is the only way to get things done around here.

Look, I'm under no illusions that as an upcoming band, nobody out there is going to do us any favors and we have to make things happen on our own. But I am just frustrated because these guys don't realize the intense depression that comes from sitting with your family hours on end flipping back and forth between the music channels hoping to get a glimpse of the video. They don't know the deep embarassment when you tell everybody to look out for the video and nobody sees it, with friends and relatives beginning to doubt that you are ever going to get on the air. They also don't realize that a music video is a huge investment with no financial return and when it gets killed by lack of airplay, they've basically wasted a bands and directors future.

I'm not even saying that every band deserves to get regular airplay, shit bands should be told they are shit. But at least give the public a chance to decide. Not you fuckheads in the so called "programming departments". I have literally had these uneducated asshats tell me that unless there is a hot girl dancing in the video it won't work.These people have such disdain for the music loving public of Pakistan, who the fuck are they to decide whats good for the public or not? These nobodies are merely little cretins who think that just because they interact with celebrity musicians they know a thing or two about music. And they get to lord it over bands trying to break into the business.

The worst part is I can't even call some of these fuckers out on their bullshit. We might get "banned". Like we did on a certain channel, with whom we have now mended our relations. But it kills me inside when I sometimes have to meet people and smile at them and thank them for the tiny bone they may have thrown our way. I have to for the good of the bands name, and the other guys in it. Which is why I wish we had a manager who would be the face of ADP rather than me and could act like a buffer. Now... if I can't find it anywhere in my heart to be civil to somebody, I usually have Yasir deal with them, because he's got a non-confrontational personality and people like him. I swear, even though I might come off as some control freak, all i really want to do is write songs and play with my band and have somebody else deal with media.

Monday, November 03, 2008

The Video

Here's our video for "Nazar".

The whole thing, from start to finish was an absolutely incredible experience. Here are some pictures from behind the scenes. (courtesy Umer Adil) Hope you guys like it :)

Thank you Umer Adil for being such a great director, for the great concept and flawless execution.
Thank you Beenish for making the whole thing look so beautiful and original.
Thank you Natasha for being such a pro and staying on your feet in that little shack and withstanding heat and humidity and still managing to serve tea to us idiots.
Thanks to the crew who were thorough professionals.
Thank you Pasha for the dreamy, beautiful location.
Thank you Ali Alam for introducing us to Umer Adil.

And thank you all you ADP fans who've shown us such love and support. This video is dedicated to you, thanks for sticking by us :)


It is really difficult for me to start this blog again. The last entry I made was well over 6 months ago, and in that time so much has happened, with me personally as well as ADP. I kept putting it off because I wanted to start afresh with ADP's new video, and our re-launch into public consciousness, I kept putting it off, and in the middle I went to Hong Kong/China/Japan for a two month internship, which deserves a separate blog on its own. After isolating myself from everyone for 2 months, I came on Eid and ADP launched “Nazar” and suddenly we're back in the news. It's a giddy time for us, although we never really left, it feels like a comeback. I was overwhelmed by all the things I wanted to blog about, so I'm going to try and get them all in, one bit at a time. I know I've probably lost a lot of readers, but hopefully, theres a fresh batch of people googling “Aunty Disco Project” for the first time and stumbling across my megalomaniacal rantings.

Hello. I'm Omar. I'm still the struggling frontman of a struggling Pakistani rock band called Aunty Disco Project.

We're down one Aunty, officially.

Imran Lodhi isn't with ADP anymore. Now I just wanted to take a moment to shed a little light on the subject because there have been a whole bunch of rumors floating around, some of them are pretty nasty. Imran left to complete his education in Canada in February. Now initially it was with the understanding that Imran would always be a part of ADP, and frankly ADP had always been Omar, Omar, Imran and Yasir, I couldn't imagine us as a whole without the four of us. I think we're one of the few bands that actively promotes each individual in the band with a separate identity, and it's not all about the lead singer or whoever is out in front. But as is usually the case with distance, you begin to get a clearer picture of your relationship with someone when you are away from them.

I think the other guys in the band will tell you grudgingly that no one in the band fought more than Imran and I, but it was almost never musically. On stage, Imran and I were in perfect sync, we had an almost psychic understanding of each other and we could just look across the stage and anticipate the next move together. A friend of mine put it best when he said that Imran and my relationship was like a marriage where the sex was great but we didn't have much in common other than that. While thats a little harsh, its a crudely accurate way of looking at it. Imran and I disagreed mostly with the business side of things, budgets for videos, where to record our albums, how to release our singles, how much to charge etc. Thats pretty sad because a band shouldn't have to deal with that stuff, we should be focusing on writing songs and performing and having a good manager take care of the rest. But my control freak leader mentality always clashed with Imran's laid back approach and I think thats what gave way to rumors that we couldn't stand each other.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Imran's my brother and I love him to pieces and there were countless more times where we'd be laughing rather than arguing. He was and still is an exceptionally gifted songwriter and guitarist and there were moments where I was in awe of his ability. In front of Imran, I felt like a labourer, struggling to write a good tune whereas Imran would have a hit up his sleeve within a week, a true artist.

Even though we had our issues, there is no doubt in my mind that we could have continued together in ADP and done great things together. But with him over there, and us over here, there needed to be a clean break so that both of us could move forward. So Imran is out there with his own band and he's making his own music, most of which is really fantastic, you can check it out here and here.

For the three of us still in this thing, it's been a kind of reincarnation. The video has given us a shot at re-establishing ourselves and re-inventing ourselves. And this time, we'll do things better.

So what's the deal with Ali Alam Anyway?

Ali hasn't officially joined ADP yet. But he has an open invitation to do so. When Imran left and Ali stepped in to help us play live, he was adamant that he didn't want to come in as long as we still considered Imran part of the band, which was understandable because nobody wants to be forced into the awkward position of committing to someone and then stepping back when the original returns. We were loathe to officially declare Imran as not part of ADP because of our "lifetime membership" mentality. But now that it's kind of official, Ali hasn't decided.

You have to keep in mind that Ali has his own songs that he wants to record and release, not necessarily as a part of ADP, because he's got an individual fan following and an individual identity as an artist. So we can respect that. Also Ali isn't the sort of musician who would be a part of something and not have an opinion or degree of control in it, and given the Nazi-esque manner in which I run in the band, a lot of things would have to change.

Having said all that, Ali knows all our songs and he's our first choice to play live with. So at least we won't lose out there. I just feel that having him in our band would be something really exciting. He's an incredible songwriter and our sense of song is pretty similar. We even co-wrote a song and the result was pretty good. It would also be kind of nice to have another guy in the band whose willing to take on some of my responsibilities so I can focus on songwriting. He's way more experienced at this whole music industry thing than we are so it wouldn't hurt us to listen to him. But at the end of the day, joining full time is his decision and we'll go on without any hard feelings if he chooses to stay out.