By Fariha Rashed
August marks the release of Karachi-based Karavan’s long-awaited new album that comes after an extended gap. The year 2007 is also one in which Assad Ahmed (former Awaz member and guitarist) and Tanseer Daar (vocalist) complete a decade as a mainstream band. Currently recording the yet unnamed album at Assad’s studio, they have done three songs with another seven to go. It is the fourth studio and fifth overall album by the band.
“It’s not going to be a small affair because with it we also celebrate 10 years in the music industry. The feel to the new album will be different this time with more mature songwriting and heavy in all the right places. The stuff we have been working is miles ahead of what we had been doing in the past,” says Assad.
However, lyrically speaking, Tanseer doesn’t feel it is much different from their first four albums. “This time the songs are by Adnan Ahmed. He used to write for us before and the album Safar was by him. He co-wrote Gardish with Sajid Zafar and this time Anees Ahmed is doing two or three songs as well besides Adnan. We sit down with them and sense the direction of the songs they have written. If we leave them on their own, it gets complicated for us as performers because they use a lot of heavy words. This time there will be easier words and beats,” he explains.
One thing that Assad says they have learnt over the years is “when you write a song that connects with people on any level it’s great because it will always take them back to the moment when they first heard it. This time we have all the ingredients to make a great Karavan album. I think that if Gardish was the bar that we were measured by, we’ve managed to raise that bar this time.”
“People mostly go to India to become famous but we are beyond that. We want to go there and look at India as another territory to play in. We don’t care about record sales. Pakistan may be home, but you can’t stay here for the rest of your life,” says Karavan guitarist Assad Ahmed
There is an element of motivation in one of the songs on the new album, called Sara Jahan. There is also one called Kaise Mumkin Hai, which is something the band has never done before. According to Assad, it is one of those songs that take you away to a far-off place. “We try to do what we do best and evolve within that frame.
“People are now listening more with their eyes than their ears. With all the TV channels coming up, now people only know you for the videos you come out with. So if you have an album out and you’ve done a video, they only know you through that one song. This is apart from your hardcore fan base of course,” he ****.
Tanseer feels that his vocals have kept on changing through time, “Usually, it occurs naturally. It’s the fans and band mates that make you conscious of the change. Your voice is not an instrument that you practice with and it gets better. Also, we are not from a family that supports careers in music. As a result, in an environment where you have no support, it is quite difficult to improve oneself,” says the lead vocalist.
Assad **** that if you stop evolving as a singer, bassist or a musician, it’s all over. “Just hang up your instrument and say thank you very much, it’s been a good ride and good night — Elvis has basically left the building. I remember when Tanseer first joined the band; I thought to myself ‘what are we going to do’? This guy can’t even sing. I told him to lock himself in a room and practice. In those eight months, on a scale from one to 10, this guy went up to at least 7.5. It’s all about applying himself.”
For the future, Karavan plans to come out with videos that are both cost-effective and creative. Assad explains that they picked out art students from the Indus Valley School in Karachi and asked some young students to come up with interesting concepts. “It’s about promoting young talent. We got in touch with a few people, Aman Ahmed being one of them. I’m not a big fan when it comes to making videos because I come from a generation that thinks radio gives artistes a break whereas television is just a marketing tool. However, you have to have good videos and for this album we’ll pretty much do the same. We might spend more money on them and have them done on film rather than video format.”
The band also plans to go to India with the new album this time. “People mostly go to India to become famous but we are beyond that. We want to go there and look at India as another territory to play in. We don’t care about record sales. Pakistan may be home, but you can’t stay here for the rest of your life,” points out the Karavan guitarist.
All of Assad and Tanseer’s attention is on the new album right now that will not just be released in Pakistan this year, but worldwide. “Most people want to go to the East but I believe our place is in the West. Desis and Asians, in general, are tuned in to rock music as much as the white man. I want to bridge the gap between us and the white man through this album. Hence, there are two English songs on the album which will be released there, not here” says Assad Ahmed sounding off.