International musicians have always been a rarity in Pakistan so whenever a group from overseas visits the country, it is bound to draw attention. Recently, the Americana group, Mary McBride graced Karachi with their presence for a series of performances. The group which was on a whirlwind tour of the city performing at different events, collaborating with local artistes, took out some time in between their performance at Dar-ul-Sukun to speak to The Express Tribune about their musical journey and time in the country.
Mary McBride, the lead singer of the band spoke of how they’ve come a long way from being a cover group to evolving into a band with four original albums under their belt. “I started my band in 2002 mainly for fun and we played in a little place in New York City, initially only playing covers,” she reveals, adding, “After I wrote my first record, we soon started touring.” The band, since then, has toured a total of 23 countries.
The eponymous band is a five member group comprising of Mary McBride (vocals), John Kengla (guitars), Jon Spurney (keyboards), Greg Beshers (bass) and Mark Stepro (drums). Unlike any other band, Mary McBride’s group members reside in different cities but they do not consider it as a major obstacle. “We tour enough that we don’t have to get together and rehearse, we usually rehearse when we’re on the road,” says the vocalist.
While describing the bands style of music, the singer said that the group plays mainly genre music which in America is referred to as “Americana.” The genre is a combination of various styles like country, blues, gospel and rock & roll. As evident by their choice of genre, the band wants to avoid being typecast into one particular style or sound and have continued to experiment with their music and performances while on tour.
“Since we’re in Pakistan, we’re also trying to learn some Urdu. We played ‘Dil Dil Pakistan’ and also translated the chorus for one of my songs into Urdu. So pray for me, I need all the help I can get,” joked McBride. Currently functioning as an independent music group in America, the band is not officially signed to a particular record label. They believe that the current ‘label system’ is changing a lot and being an independent group would serve them better — allowing members to retain the creative control of their music.
McBride, who is visiting the country for the second time, says the group has collaborated with local musicians like Gumby and his crew for a new track during their recent visit. “Ahsan Bari is producing the track, he wrote the arrangement and helped me with my Urdu,” remarked McBride. She is hopeful that the song would go onto becoming a major hit in Pakistan once released.
Recalling their previous visit to the country the band members spoke of how their experiences during both trips have been similar with the major difference being that they got a chance to hear some of the local music during this trip. It has not all been smooth-sailing for the group as the week-long tour of the city seems to have finally taken a toll on them with some of the band members falling sick and missing out on one of their final performances in the city at Dar-ul-Sukun.
Talking about their future projects the group is hopeful of releasing an album later this year only if they “can get home long enough to finish it.”McBride will be coming back to perform with local musicians at the Music Mela in April and plans on returning for an extended tour some time in the near future.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 2nd, 2015.
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