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Bangalore band Parvaaz to release debut EP

Parvaaz, who write songs in Urdu and Kashmiri, have defied genre typecasting (including the misleading “Sufi rock”) and are set to release Behosh

Darshan Manakkal Jun 23, 2012
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Photo: Abhimanyu Ghoshal

At the crack of dawn on Feb 19, 2011, under a banyan tree on the outskirts of Bangalore, Parvaaz, a blues and psychedelic rock band, found their voice. The sleepy crowd that had gathered around the tree for the all-night Fireflies Festival of Music, were jolted awake by an energetic set by the previously obscure outfit. There were evident flashes of Led Zeppelin, one of the band’s key influences, on display ”“ frenzied drum solos and crushingly loud music alternating with lilting melodies ”“ and the songs were being sung in tongues the crowd did not understand ”“  Urdu and Kashmiri. Yet, everybody sat up a little, bewildered and took notice. Parvaaz had arrived, or more appropriately, as the band’s name in Urdu translates ”“ “taken flight”. 

“Until that point, we were mainly playing in college competitions, trying to win five or six thousand rupees,” said Sachin Banandur, the band’s drummer. Parvaaz had come together about a year earlier when Khalid Ahmed and Kashif Iqbal, childhood friends from the Kashmir valley met again in a Bangalore engineering college and decided to jam together. They initially came up with a few basic melodies, wrote songs in Urdu and Kashmiri and have been constantly tweaking their songs. Two years since Ahmed and Iqbal rekindled an old friendship, Parvaaz have amassed a considerable following, defied attempts at boxing them into genres (including the misleading “Sufi rock”) and are now all set to release their debut EP, Behosh.

Even regulars at Parvaaz gigs will be surprised by Behosh, the band’s first real studio outing. “To be honest we never thought we were a bunch of guys who could pull this off,” Banandur said. “We had only recorded one single in the last two years because we had a certain sound in mind and we could never get that from the local studios in Bangalore.” With this EP of five tracks, Parvaaz have not just put out an album that meets industry standards, but have also fine-tuned their music in the process.  The songs draw from everyday emotions and experiences. The album begins with title track “Behosh”, a song about a man who wakes from a dream and realizes how naive he has been and lost in worldly pleasures. “Marika” is a more personal track, dedicated to a friend of the band with the same name. “Itne Arse Ke Baad” is one of the band’s earliest tracks and talks about missing home and being taken in by all the distractions when away from it. “Dil Khush”, a track with a three minute drum solo, Banandur said, is about how most of us find bliss in ignorance. And the last track “Lolmatlai”, entirely sung in Kashmiri, is about unconditional love.

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The band has attempted to capture the energy of its stage performances in the album, but has also altered some tracks to make them work for a studio setting. Also, about six to seven months ago, the band’s bassist Neil Simon quit and has been replaced with Fidel D’Souza. “You can definitely say this record has a whole new sound,” Banandur said. “Five months ago we decided to hit the studios, because we had very few gigs lined up and needed something to do. And to be honest we didn’t have any clue about how to go about it.” Recreating their often furious live sets within the confines of a studio proved to be a challenging experience. “We didn’t want to change our songs much, but in the end, the five tracks on Behosh are all a little shorter and different from the live versions,” he said. 

Behosh will be available through select e-commerce sites from July. 

Parvaaz will play at CounterCulture inBangalore in support of their debut EP on Fri Jul 13.

Listen to the title track  “Behosh” here

By Darshan Manakkal

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