A few years and an album or two down, and another band bites the dust. That's the fate that almost every other band seems to undergo. They start out great, hit the charts and then poof, one day their gone. Vamoosed away into thin air.
In a music industry that's still at a jittery fledgling stage (albeit picking up tremendously), it does either make or break for our Pakistani artistes. The ruthlessness goes with the territory you see.
Calling the shots, EP recently announced the end of the Entity Paradigm honeymoon. Although the news had been doing the circuit, it was anticipated, EP's extended silence making it all the more palpable. Speaking to each member, the cloud of gloom and heartfelt loss was apparent. The question that everyone wants answered really is: what now?
There had been a couple of misunderstandings but at the end of the day everyone felt comfortable with the decision to call it a day. EP was a joyride – all of us had a great deal of fun. Sure it does make me nostalgic at certain times but things had to take their natural course. At this point, I really don't think I could blame or be angry at anyone. It was fun while it lasted.
Currently I just finished shooting Shoaib Mansoor's "Khuda Ke Liye", which is in its final stage so it should be out in about a month. I had one of the lead roles and it was something different, something that I enjoyed doing. I don't consider myself a 'model' because at the time I did a few commercials for the money. I needed to make my income more consistent. And people shouldn't be judgmental about that – if they don't want their musicians venturing out into other fields, invest more money in them so that they don't have to look elsewhere for work.
I've also been putting together my own recording studio, which I'm pretty excited about. I may even end up doing my own solo project, who knows, but right now, I just want to leave it very open and spontaneous. I want to explore everything.
EP was a merger of two bands and we tried to make it work as far as we could. But there were seven of us, so that means seven different opinions. We had our differences and we tried. It worked at times but eventually it came to a point where too much was happening at the same time. I was pursuing my acting, Xulfi had Call, Fawad had his projects so everyone had a hand to play in the break-up and no one person can be pinpointed.
After a while it just wasn't a creative outlet for me anymore because it wasn't what it used to be four years ago. But come to think of it, it was better to have four good, solid years rather than staying together and continuously having disagreements.
I personally believe "Jutt and Bond" made EP. After a year of this sitcom, there was the Pepsi sponsored "Battle of the Bands" competition so people knew us. EP was a band of its own league and of course I'm bitter about the break-up, it was fun, the energy we had on stage was unmatchable.
Right now I'm working on my solo album, and Rubberband's album is due out in March. Not having EP anymore makes me really sad because our fans made it, they made us.
I have a pretty straightforward opinion about the whole thing. Basically, everyone wanted to do things in a different manner. For our second album, all of us wanted to do something collectively but on the other hand, no one could find time to jam. Everyone had their own commitments. Getting time together as a band was rare and towards the end we became less of friends and it became more professional, awkward, and uncomfortable. EP was like my own child, that's why we named out first album "Irtiqa" meaning 'evolution'. It was continuously evolving. We, too, as a band, as its members were evolving.
I'm currently part of the band, Call, and we're doing a song for an Indian movie called "Aik Challis Ki Last Local". It's a cross between a commercial and art movie and the entire movie has one song (which is ours), called, "Lari Chutti" ('Lari' being train in Punjabi). I'm singing the song this time around and it's something very different, something definitely not 'Call-ish' – but more on the hip hop side.
I'd still love it if EP got back together as a band but there were too many ideological differences so I wonder how that would work out. To say that I miss it would be an understatement.
All of us couldn't work as a team anymore and had our own projects to work on; we just couldn't keep it going. I had my session playing, Ahmed had his sitcoms, Fawad his acting, and Xulfi was with Call – we all had too much going on. I obviously feel really awful about the end of EP, but you never know, sometime in the future we may work again, because we parted on friendly terms.
Ahmed and I have been working on Rubberband's first album, which will be out quite soon and other than that I'm playing drums for Jal. EP meant a lot to each one of us, let's see what the future holds though.
As a band we had lots and lots of misunderstandings which I can't disclose. Things started out great and we were very close but that changed. But you know, I was really proud to be a part of EP, and with the same token, it leaves me depressed. It's just so embarrassing telling all our fans and well-wishers that its finally over and done with. These days I've just been keeping myself busy playing drums for Call.
It's been amazing, working with a group of young and talented individuals. Each member had added flavour to the band and contributed in one way or the other. It all started by a mere accident, when Ahmed and Fawad came up with the idea of composing the soundtrack, "Humain Aazma", for "Jutt and Bond" back in 2002.
On a personal note, without any doubt, I believe that a person can't be part of two organizations, which are in direct competition. You can be part of various businesses and can run them successfully but you can never do justice to both the parties which are in competition. One of the two are bound to suffer and I believe EP really suffered in this case.
I am currently doing my MBA at Cardiff University. Fawad and I, along with Awais Khan, are setting up a recording studio, which is a few steps away from getting operational. This is part of the Power Production House which includes theater, music, TV, and event management. So let's see how that comes along. The option of an EP re-union is always there. Maybe right now we just need space from each other.
The band came to an end because some of the band members had become intolerant towards the management and hence it created differences in opinion. Also, some of the members found better financial opportunities in their lives and stopped devoting time and attention to EP. This inevitably resulted in the rest of the band members to find other alternatives in their lives, only naturally. Some of them did not want Xulfi to lead in the composition of new songs, even though they were not participating in it themselves. As simple as it sounds, believe me, it wasn't.
I'll be finishing my MBA at LUMS in May after which I plan to start job-hunting. I still practice and play the guitar. I'll try to make a come-back to music but perhaps at a later stage.
The Final Analysis
But what did we expect really? All bands in the third world get wrapped up. Our 'industry' does not have mammoth record labels that invest buckets of dosh into their 'stars'. Being an artist in the third world with some amount of 'presence' and recognition (along with being consistent) is as tough as biting into a steel cookie. Ends have to be met. At the end of the day it's not the nice, shiny little packages that 'celebrities' find themselves wrapped up (boxed in), it's the mounting electricity and food bills. It's the families, the relationships. Strip our stars of their Tariq Amin'd/Deplix'd exteriors and voila – they're just like us! No little green men with bionic arms and supernatural powers. No sir.
Bands, musicians, they come and they go. Some you remember, some you don't. What's important to you is how they helped you get by a certain phase in your life. What's important to them is if they made an 'impact' enough for you to remember.
'Get over it and move on' we're told because every creative field, we must remember, is a callous one. And when you're out of the game, you're really out of the game. Tough? Sure is.
Trivial ego issues, a clash of interests and questions following the lines of 'who's the boss' - ended with thick, red question marks - are inevitable. Bands in the first world are driven, secured, and cocooned by pecuniary benefits. But after a while, rolling around in dough gets to be a tad bit monotonous. Everything feels too 'big', the concerts, the fans, the cars, and the glitz. There just isn't that finger-biting-ever-present-delicious 'challenge' anymore. Been there, yawn, done that, yawn.
Having a band is like being married, albeit with more than one partner! Its members grow and 'evolve', something that many fail to realize. It has to be worked on, worked through; the evolution of one member should complement the next. Why not get by instead of give up and walk away? Why kill band matrimony through the divorce of disbandment? The trouble is this: It's just gotten too darn 'easy' to pack up and walk away.Sonya Rehman