For those of you who don’t know who Nusrat Hussain is, here’s his claim to fame (and it’s a mighty big one!): he has been part of two of the most popular bands in Pakistani history – Vital Signs and Junoon – but went solo in the 90s and released his album “Amrit.”
He later decided to pursue a career in aviation and became a pilot but says he has never been out of touch. “Music has never really been out of me.” Fifty-three-year-old Hussain has decided to resurface after a 19-year hiatus and decided to release his new album “Kaho” this fall.
“It’s just something I had to do, but it got delayed by 15 years,” chuckles Hussain, referring to his album. “These songs were about where we are going as a country. It is quite depressing that nothing has changed but I guess I am sadistically happy because the music is still valid today,” he added.
The eight-track album has been produced by Sarmad Ghafoor, who has ensured that the music’s original feel remains intact while adding a contemporary touch to the musical arrangement. Hussain, who is currently in the process of shifting to Doha, said the listeners would be able to relate it to an art movie
“I think it was fate that I was able to find someone who could adequately read my thoughts,” Hussain said happily, referring to Ghafoor. With his album finally complete, Hussain said he is unwilling to “sell his soul and compromise on the artistic integrity of his album”. “Music should be fun,” he said, adding that music does not get old as long as it touches the heart.
When asked about the kind of music he has produced this time around, he said, “It’s going to be a pop-rock album but with the signature Nusrat Hussain melody.” He explained that unlike “Amrit,” which was about love, this will be more politically charged. “I am a politically-aware person. I tried to vote but found out I was registered in a remote village some 25 km away. It’s a scam – we are being lied to and I think that we have to protest,” he added, upset with the political situation in the country. His first single, “Maza Dard Ka”, which was directed by Zeeshan Parwez, shows Hussain’s propensity towards sweet melodies and progressive rock music. While he produces music that tries to push politically-charged motives, there is a philosophy and sense of class distinction that seems to be inherent in his work. “Shor”, his second single, clearly depicts this theme; it’s clever poetry combined with beautiful music compositions has a dark side that listeners will certainly enjoy.
Hussain was amongst the musicians who struggled during Ziaul Haq’s era, where the music industry was not encouraged to expand. As a result of this, Hussain feels a sense of pride. “In those times, unless you were a really serious band and passionate about music, it was very difficult to think of it as a career,” he said.
“I remember bands playing guitars that had missing strings. They just stared up at the skies during Ziaul Haq’s reign. It is sad that regardless of their effort, many of these people are not even remembered now.”
When he talks about being a part of the popular bands Vital Signs and Junoon, he says he has no regrets about leaving the bands early, saying that it was an honour to have contributed to two major musical acts.
“A lot of people tell me I have King Midas’ touch,” he laughed. “I am usually part of the band when it’s not popular but when I leave, it becomes famous,” says Hussain jokingly.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 9th, 2012.