Where’s the party at?

The malang of Pakistani rock ‘n’ roll Zeeshan Mansoor discusses way forward after band’s ‘Coke Studio’ debut

Humay Waseem November 15, 2015
Malang Party frontman said the music scene is improving because people are now interested in supporting musicians. PHOTOS: PUBLICITY


Towards the end of the noughties, a number of acts emerged from the underground music scenes of the country’s major cities. Islamabad was interestingly leading the line, with Qayaas on the forefront. While the band succumbed to differences well before seeing its prime years, there was another rock band from the federal capital that capitalised on this new wave of Pakistani music.

The year was 2011. The band was Malang Party. It wasn’t just the name that had a ring to it. Their music was fresh and surreal, comprising groovy arrangements carrying satirical undertones. Their tracks Dil Jalay and Uth Malangi earned them a cult following within the underground scene. Next came their single Bara Meel in 2013 following which, the band plunged into a prolonged slumber. Little was known or heard about them up until Malang Party finally resurfaced on billboards of Coke Studio’s latest season.

Coke Studio: Pulling the strings tight

With Zeeshan Mansoor on vocals and guitar, Zain Ali on bass and Ibrahim Akram on dhol, they played a rendition of Dil Jalay that relieved many who were suffering from heartburns seeing the state of rock and roll in Pakistan. Talking to The Express Tribune, Mansoor stated the break was intentional. “The situation became such. Security arrangements were tightened everywhere and with the introduction of this NOC system by the government, we had practically nowhere to perform.”

So is the band planning on another hiatus or has decided to remain operational. To this Mansoor answered, “We will be playing at the World Music Festival [Rafi Peer Festival] in Lahore in November and at NCA in Rawalpindi.”

Ultimately for musicians who are striving to survive in an industry like ours, it all boils down to the finances. “We have new music but it is quite expensive to release. We have some stuff in the pipeline that we were going to put on Soundcloud but then Taazi and Patari came along and we decided to curate them there,” he added.

The band’s frontman said the aforementioned monetising platforms have shown a glimmer of hope for their community. “The music scene is improving because we see that at least people are interested in supporting us.” Mansoor however feels concerts and live gigs are irreplaceable. “If these companies manage concerts as well, we will see a true revival,” he said. According to Mansoor it seems Coke Studio is the only platform to be taken seriously to achieve mainstream recognition. “Other than that there isn’t much else.” Mansoor said the state of affairs is such that, “When we release music on our own on the internet, we get a maximum of 50,000 to 60,000 hits. But when we released through Coke Studio, we manage 600,000 to 700,000 hits, owing to their well-put marketing strategy. We cannot compete with that on our own.”

Fading away: Can you hear the music?

Mansoor feels piracy is also to be blamed for the current state of affairs. “We’re trying to stop piracy but we don’t think that we can. There should be cultural property rights,” he added.

We wonder whether Malang Party will be interested in prospects of working on film music like many of their contemporaries are doing. “Only if the theme of the movie matches our tastes and it’s a decent film like Jami’s Moor. But we’d never do an item number! Also, as musicians we need to be paid well for our work,” maintains Mansoor.

Malang Party will be auditioning for Center Stage, whose team is coming to Pakistan soon to pick local talent for their tours and performances in the US. “We’re really hoping that they select us when they come here. They hold some very nicely-organised shows that you get compensated for.”

Published in The Express Tribune, November 16th, 2015.

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Malang | 8 years ago | Reply @Rashid: Dude are you serious? How many of their songs have you you listened to? The musicians put their hearts and blood out in making a 4minutes song. Its so easy for guys like us to say 'overrated'.
Rashid | 8 years ago | Reply An overrated band nothing else.
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