New Pakistani garage band Char Payee took the country by storm last year when it came fourth in the Red Bull Tum Tum Pa World Final in Rio De Janeiro, an international freestyle percussionists competition held between universities.
The band, which sparked an interest in the music world due to its freestyle drumming, is back with its latest cover this year, a mash-up of the highly infectious single “Somebody That I Used To Know”. Produced at Walnut Studios, this cover has accumulated over 30,000 hits since its release just one week ago.
Currently, the band comprises of Raja Nabeel Banwa, Ahmer ‘Kichoo’ Mubashar, Talha Jamil and Usman Qureshi, who are known for creating great music out of all kinds of unorthodox things: stationary items, makeshift instruments and even household utensils.
“We have officially launched the concept of a garage band in Pakistani music,” said Raja Nabeel Banwa, the percussion player and vocalist. “We felt that percussion drumming was becoming monotonous so we sort of expanded upon both concepts,” the vocalist said. “When we were in Brazil, we had conversations with an Egyptian band who said we should definitely have a garage band.”
Their latest track is an upbeat cover of Gotye’s song, which also includes a mash-up of several Pakistani classics including Bunny’s “Dil Mein Tum”, Junoon’s “Husn Walon” and Awaz’s “Jadoo Ka Chiragh”. The chorus is uniquely defined by the use of several home appliances and heavy percussions, which provides visual aesthetics as well.
Banwa explains that the concept was to take something familiar and make it their own. The video is eccentric but purposefully shows the usage of a wide variety of instruments.
In order to stand out, the band decided to make use of wine glasses for the chorus. Banwa revealed that it was not an easy task and required around four to five hours of managing the water volumes to ensure the correct sound was replicated for the song.
“All of us have a basic understanding of music, so it further helps us to experiment and create new instruments,” explains Kichoo. “I think the visual impact has made a difference. When people see the type of music we are doing and how we play it, it makes us a lot different from others.”
Kichoo further adds that the band is always on the lookout for new sounds and ideas. “Wherever we go we are looking for new sounds; the other day we went to a bakery where we saw a red ribbon making a hissing noise. Another time we took a straw and transformed it into a mini-trumpet. So, basically, we always have something to play with.”
Banwa adds that with the quantity of music produced and released online now, the market has become saturated. So in order to keep people interested, “We are trying to bring something that is original and not run of the mill so that it’s new, as listeners want to evolve.”
The band is looking forward to head back to the studio and record a patriotic track for this year’s Independence Day, August 14.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 30th, 2012.