The industry was abuzz with rumours when band members of Aunty Disco Project (ADP) announced news of their break-up about a week ago.
As the band breaks up, what will each band member’s next ploy be? Will they still continue to make music, and most of all, will they still be buddies?
This fall, while Omar Bilal Akhtar (OBA), the lead vocalist and guitarist goes to Columbia University to obtain a degree in journalism, the rest of the band members plan to stick around in the country and play music, although separately.
“I think I fulfilled a lot of my dreams being with ADP so there wasn’t much anxiety about living up to my dreams,” said OBA. “We achieved much more than we had ever imagined, so I’m content with what we did. Individually, of course, there’s so much left to do and it’ll be a challenge to do it without the band — but it’s also exciting at the same time to map out a new plan. Right now it’s too early to think about my musical future, so I’ll cross that bridge when I reach it.”
But as OBA crosses the oceans to greener pastures, what does he think the rest of the band members will be up to?
“Well, I would hope they’d continue playing music. They’re all very talented and creative individuals, so I don’t doubt that they’ll find some creative outlets.”
Yasir Qureshi, the percussionist and one of the founding members of ADP, says: “I will be here for a while doing what I do best — that is playing music. ADP was the best thing for me. It gave me the opportunity to be in a band where I could make great songs with a great bunch of people. There’s not much you can do in this country as a musician at the moment, but I do have faith, as well as the intentions to go all out and make another indie band!”
Ali Alam, who was on guitar and vocals like OBA, said: “Oddly enough, I really haven’t thought much about this. We’re still a band until OBA leaves, which is sometime in July. So right now the focus remains on jamming and recording as ADP.”
Alam further said, “Once OBA leaves, I’m probably going to continue writing songs and recording them at home. I don’t have any plans right now to form a new band or to restart Ganda Banda and the 3D Cats, as has been suggested by lots of people. I didn’t really plan to join ADP when I did three years ago, it just happened. I think I will probably just keep making songs at home until the opportunity to actually play live again presents itself, and I will take it from there.”
Rahail Siddiqui, who provided bass and vocals, was unavailable for comments.
The decision to part ways wasn’t abrupt, according to OBA. “The band members and I have known for a long time that this was a possibility. We were very clear about what was going to happen and that’s made it a little easier to cope with. It’s a good thing we’re ending on our own terms and controlling the circumstances.”
Asked if this was a mutual decision, Qureshi said: “We mutually agreed to this decision considering that OBA has to go for his masters and Ali has other plans.”
Have they parted on a bitter note or will they remain friends?
Alam laughs: “Everyone thinks we hate each other now. Some of the comments we got online were hilarious! Everyone felt that fame had gone to our heads, or OBA wanted to go solo. I think it’s kind of unheard of in Pakistan for a band to break up without any animosity, so people just don’t believe it. Maybe we should have done the whole hating each other business, we could’ve gotten more press coverage!” On the same note, he adds: “Just because we’re no longer in a band together doesn’t mean we’re still not friends! I’m pretty sure if I ever needed really good musicians I’d probably go to Rahail, Yasir and Giles!”
Session drummer and part-time band member Giles, said: “These guys were awesome, it was a beautiful ride. I really had a good time with them and we learnt a lot from one another.”
With Alam’s and Qureshi’s plans to record solo material, and OBA’s plans to “take a big break from music to focus on other things in life”, are there any prospects of the band reuniting in the future?
The future is uncertain, as Qureshi muses: “We will be in touch and who knows? What you saw with Noori today, might happen with us after a few years.”
Pakistani bands that broke up
• Vital Signs
Bands that stood the test of time
• Entity Paradigm
Those who reunited
Published in The Express Tribune, May 11th, 2011.