In the underground rock world, Babar Khan was an emphatic figure. Unwilling to compromise and trying to fit in the thriving pop music scene of the 90s, he set out on his own path to create a ‘mini-revolution’ for young rock musicians in Lahore. His efforts brought out some of the most well known performers for live music in Pakistan. Unfortunately, his sudden demise on June 1, 1997 left a permanent void in the future of rock music in the country.
“At that time there was not a lot of exposure for the type of music we were trying to do, so we took it forward the best way we could. The top artists of the country were threatened but in our own way we brought a mini-revolution,” said Cecil Chaudhry, who played alongside Khan in the band The Trip. The name of the band came about in a random fashion when, while jamming, one of the friends suggested; “After all, we are all on trip, aren’t we?’
The Trip was formed in 1994, with Babar Khan as its vocalist alongside Chaudhry, Waqas Khan and Yusuf Para. The band, which originally made its name for their amazing covers of Pink Floyd, later came to define the local scene through their ability to unite the musicians for live performance shows. In 1995 Waqas Khan was replaced as bassist by Omar Yousaf.
In April 1995, Khan organised a rock festival called the ‘Peace Festival’ at the famed Bagh-e-Jinnah in Lahore. The event was a first of its kind underground live rock concert that included the likes of Mindriot (Farhad Humayun’s first band), the original Coven, Midnight Madness and Hash Addiction. However, it wasn’t smooth sailing; Chaudhry recalls it as a difficult time because of the lack of sponsors and heavy taxes that had been levied on rock entertainment.
“If you compare it to the music that was happening at the time, many of the popular artists did not like it. Junaid Jamshed even wrote an article saying that we were promoting a ‘drug culture’ but we always maintained that this was peaceful, with no rowdiness.”
With their vision and persistent efforts, they built the foundation for the rock scene and regarding that Chaudhry adds, “We believed in live performances as opposed to the playback performances that were going on at the time.” Hence, by 1997, the band was rated as the number 1 underground rock band.
Chaudhry explains that the band had focused solely on making original music that was done in English. “Babar was never ready to record or play in any other language. I suppose it was his nawab background that he himself never felt comfortable singing in anything other than English,” recounts Chaudhry while adding; “We never cared much about commercial value of music because we always did music for ourselves.” With time, The Trip matured musically, recording their first and only extended-play album, Middle of Nowhere, in March 1997.
Keeping the legacy alive
However, then came the unfortunate blow in the form of Khan’s death in the summer of 1997. Although deeply saddened and shaken, the band continued to trudge along, releasing a music video, “Buried in the Sand” in 1998.
Chaudhry has made an effort to keep the band’s legacy alive, playing gigs with various line-ups. The band also released an Urdu single “Yaqeen” in 2004. Currently, The Trip is going back to its roots, recording a couple of tracks which allow for The Trip fans to revisit the band. “We have recorded a track called ‘If’, which is about the possibility of various situations; for instance, ‘if this or that happens, then what’,” says Chaudhry, while adding that if the band can put together eight tracks, they’ll go for an album.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 5th, 2012.
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