The simple yet marvelous Dil Dil Pakistan remains to be the ‘anthem’ of our nation. 25 years later, founding Vital Signs members Shahzad Hassan (Shahi), Salman Ahmad, Nusrat Hussain and Junaid Jamshed (JJ) are collaborating on what they hope to be the new musical sensation — a track titled Naya Pakistan.
In an interview with The Express Tribune, guitarist and author of Rock & Roll Jihad, Salman Ahmad recalls, “I remember it like yesterday… my first performance of Dil Dil Pakistan with the Vital Signs, 25 years ago.”
“It was the spring of 1988, at Karachi’s Holiday Inn [now Marriott Hotel]. There were 50 people in the audience — mostly friends and family. I was a medical student, JJ was an engineering student, Shahi and Rohail were into computers but we all believed that we could change Pakistan through music. Everyone thought we were crazy. We followed our hearts and the ‘universe conspired to make us succeed.’ [Today] our roller coaster journey and friendship continue into a Naya Pakistan, InshAllah!”
While the former members of Vital Signs — with the exception of Junaid — now create music independently, they have come together recently to make what Salman describes as “a song of revolution and change”.
“I have always been politically outspoken. I agree with Plato when he says, ‘the punishment for refusing to participate in politics is that you get to be ruled by idiots’. My music is my politics. If the song inspires a new political leadership, it would make me extremely happy,” he adds.
Salman confesses that getting Junaid on board was not too difficult. “JJ came to Shahi’s studio just to say hello, but when he heard Naya Pakistan he said, ‘Salman, my greatest regret was not being able to record Jazba Junoon with you!’ So I said JJ, here’s your chance to sing for a Naya Pakistan.”
“That was all the motivation he needed to put down a beautiful, impassioned vocal chorus,” he adds. “Nusrat is also singing harmony on Naya Pakistan — so it makes this a Vital Junoonion!”
Junaid says he was initially reluctant to be part of this project, as he felt the lyrics penned by Salman were aggressive. “The song initially had violent lyrics which spoke about the fire and tyranny around,” says Junaid. “[This is] true, but I felt the message was not coming through that well… later one evening, Shahi asked [him] to mellow it down a bit and then we all agreed upon the content of the song,” says Junaid.
For all those who are excited at the prospect of Junaid singing again, he clarifies that he is not. “Salman is a close friend and he wanted me to be a part of this song. I was reluctant but eventually I ended up reading a few lines [which have no music] at the beginning of the song so that it becomes a collaboration,” he says.
Shahi believes that the song has all the right ingredients to make it into an inspirational number for Pakistanis. “It probably will inspire the most cynical of Pakistanis who have completely lost hope. It has that power,” he says.
Nusrat Hussain, who is also part of the collaboration, says that the experience of sitting together was one to be cherished. “Most of our time was spent laughing hysterically, remembering old times,” says Hussain. “When we seriously sat down to give our input to Naya Pakistan, things were falling into place as if we were a regular band who had practiced for a long time,” he adds.
The teaser of Naya Pakistan is available on SoundCloud and has secured 20,341 hits since its release three days ago. The original track is scheduled to release on Pakistan Day (March 23), with the singers in talks with sponsors for a possible music video.
We can hardly wait to witness the return of artists who have defined our music industry!
Published in The Express Tribune, February 8th, 2013.
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