As a young kid in school, Louis J Pinto aka Gumby, would stand during morning assemblies and marvel at the marching band as they’d perform Pakistan’s national anthem.
With the passage of time, Gumby’s love for drumming kicked in and he went on to perform alongside notable Pakistani musicians like Junoon, Ali Azmat and Noori, but his childhood aspiration to perform the national anthem on a big scale never materialised.
Alfred De Mello
This summer, McDonald’s floated the idea of a Pakistani drum circle – conducting the national anthem – to Gumby and see his childhood aspirations finally turn into a reality, the former Coke Studio drummer immediately agreed.
“The idea was pretty unique, because a drum circle has never been performed in Pakistan. Plus conducting the national anthem alongside bagpipers and a dholak player would be something very different,” Gumby told The Express Tribune.
Qaiser Zainul Abideen
After agreeing to the project, Gumby went about the task of organising his dream team and considering the nature of the project, it did not take him long to recruit the desired musicians. “There were a few drummers who had prior commitments but apart from that, the others agreed immediately.”
Apart from Gumby, the drum circle also includes Kami Paul, former Aaroh member, Jason Anthony, Raheel Manzar Paul, Qaiser Zain ul Abedin and Alfred D’Mello of Mizmaar fame with Ashiq Ali on dholaks.
Even though the band could have chosen to perform a milli naghma, Kami explains why they decided to go with the national anthem instead. “Even the original arrangement of the national anthem features snare drums like we’ve done it. Apart from that a milli naghma would not illicit the same kind of feeling like that of our national anthem.”
Jason, on the other hand, noted how other musicians had previously performed renditions of the anthem on different instruments but never on drums. “The national anthem has been performed on the guitar and keyboards before but not on the drums as it is a percussion instrument”.
Louis J Pinto aka Gumby
The video of the 6-man drum circle collaborative effort, alongside bagpipers and dholak player, is expected to release just in time for Independence Day but was actually recorded during Ramazan.
“We showed up at a (local) mall at 10.30 PM at night and slowly people started gathering as they were curious to know what was going on. And by the time we finished the whole place was packed and it was around 1 AM,” says Gumby.
Recalling his nerves on the big-game night, Kami did not know how the crowd would react. “When we were doing the sound check in the morning, I kept wondering how the crowd would respond but fortunately, they really enjoyed our music.”
Despite this being their first attempt, the band members were hopeful this was not just a one-off gig and they will be getting together for more collaborative ventures in the future. Gumby even joked about how they had even prepared a working title for the band – The Lean Mean Drumming Machine – and was keen on bringing more drummers on board.
“Over the past few years a lot of interesting stuff has been happening in the Pakistani music industry, like shows such as Nescafe Basement, and we want to continue doing that by inviting more drummers into our drum circle.”
According to Jason they’ve already started work on the next song, the details of which they’d announce very soon.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 13th, 2015.