LAHORE: Many will say it was bound to happen. With the lead vocalist pregnant at the peak of her career, there is really just one way forward for any band. Moving ahead. Alone! If it could happen to Gwen Stefani and No Doubt, it can happen to Pakistan’s rock/fusion band Overload as well.
Farhad Humayun of Overload revealed that Meesha Shafi and Mehmood Rahman are no longer a part of the band. In fact, their new single, “Dhol Bajay Ga” has gone through a complete overhaul in the musical arrangement, with the same melody and chords in place but Humayun on vocals this time.
“Singing is not my forte but from this point on, I have become the permanent vocalist for Overload,” stated Humayun. The band has had an unimpressive turnover with its vocalists from its inception and now Humayun has had enough of the musical chairs. “I was never planning on being a singer,” he said. “I have been drumming for the last 18 years but now it’s time for Overload to become self-sufficient,” he added.
An accompanying video to the new “Dhol Bajay Ga” sans Shafi is almost ready to hit the airwaves and Humayun promises its release after the World Cup hysteria simmers down. The video is shot by fashion photographers Maraam and Abroo and the wardrobe is done by fashion’s most potent brand, HSY.
It is safe to assume that the band has restructured indefinitely and Humayun has categorically stated that there is no room for his cousin Mehmood and his wife Meesha to return to Overload. “Shafi’s a very ambitious girl and she will go far, but they cannot come back to the band since they abandoned it when it needed them the most,” rationalised Humayun.
Since Meesha is on her maternity leave, she did not wish to comment on Humayun’s statements but promised instead that, “I have some very exciting and big projects that I am not at liberty to reveal right now.”
Shafi has been openly celebrating her impending motherhood and revealing that this will just add to the joy and there is an obvious shift in her priorities. Will she choose fashion over music after the birth of her baby, or juggle both being a model and a singer like she has up till now? “I’ve never seen it as an either-or situation,” clarified Shafi on her future direction.
But with Overload members also being family -— Humayun and Rahman are first cousins — don’t things get horridly uncomfortable? “We all respect each other and our individual choices. They are family and always will be close to me. I have always kept work and family matters separate,” explained Humayun who also cites his concern for Shafi’s health and her personal security as reasons for the split. “Overload is a live band and sometimes large crowds get rowdy and we don’t want her to get hurt or injured.”
The disagreement surfaced when Overload wished to perform and release the original video of “Dhol Bajay Ga” sans Shafi so they could continue to perform in her absence. Humayun said Shafi found that unacceptable and so the band had to assess its priorities and go ahead. “It’s very difficult to sustain a band. I have been working assiduously towards the band for the last seven years. We can’t hold the band hostage to a particular member,” spoke Humayun who will balance both drumming and singing at recordings and summon a drummer for his live acts so he can take control of vocals on stage.
For the future, Humayun says he will keep the Overload philosophy of being the loudest band in Pakistan intact and perform live. Humayun will soon be headed for a Middle East tour with Kaala Sain, Nasir Sain and Sheraz Siddiq. “We will no longer be producing albums but we will continue to produce songs and instrumentals. For the immediate future, we will keep singing and touring,” concluded Humayun.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 19th, 2011.