Watch Indo-Pak-U.S. Trio Brothers In Arms Deliver Molten Rock with ‘Khuda Ke Bandey’
The band comprising Pune-based vocalist Prateek Bhaduri. Hollywood drummer Greg Ellis and Islamabad-based guitarist Khurram Waqar
Drawn together by the need to make rock music that speaks for humanitarian causes, Pune/Islamabad/Hollywood act Brothers In Arms have released their grungy, hard-rock debut single “Khuda Ke Bandey.”
The band comprises Islamabad-based guitarist-composer Khurram Waqar (a part of the Pakistani rock circuit since the Nineties, best known for his work with the band Qayaas), Pune-based singer-songwriter Prateek Bhaduri and American seasoned drummer-percussionist Greg Ellis (a regular in India over the last two decades and the man behind the kit for the music of films such as 300 and Iron Man). Together, they’re channeling a whole lot of explosive rock energy reminiscent of bands like Soundgarden and Stone Temple Pilots on “Khuda Ke Bandey,” which released in July.
There’s the obvious Dire Straits influence that they all shared, which led to the name of the band, Bhaduri says he brought in his love for prog and alt-rock, plus Indian folk influences to the song. Waqar name-checks everyone from Led Zeppelin to Guns N’ Roses and Alice In Chains and Soundgarden. “We wanted to sound like ourselves and stayed away from following current trends,” he adds. Ellis, for his part, says, “Honestly, I just loved the raw energy these boys bought into the song. More than taking inspiration from any specific influences I feel I just wanted to be in my element and add more life to what was already sounding like a great song.”
Bhaduri and Waqar connected during the first half of the pandemic in 2020, after the latter appreciated the Indian artist’s single “Inner Love.” “I floated the idea of working on a song. With a lot of time in hand during the lockdown, both of us connected within the next five days and started to discuss the potential of working on a song together.”
Although they originally started out with acoustic guitar riff ideas and Indian classical melodies, the duo felt the song needed heavy riffs and “some good old rock ‘n roll to do justice” to their lyrical idea of how humanity was suffering not just due to the pandemic, but because of “war situations everywhere in the world,” as Bhaduri says. He adds, “We used to have weekly Zoom calls checking on the Covid-19 situation in our respective countries and jamming on the progress of the song.”
The melody was in place over the next four months, when Bhaduri began writing Hindi and Urdu lyrics. “We had a common goal here; To write a powerful song that unites people and not divides them. A song that tells people we are all one in this world and war is the worst thing for mankind,” the singer-songwriter adds. Extending the idea of universal issues, they felt that involving one more musician from another country would reflect well. “The first person that came to my head was Greg Ellis,” Bhaduri says. An organizer of Ellis’ Pune show in India a few years ago, Bhaduri had interacted with Ellis both on and off the stage at the time.
According to Bhaduri, Ellis resonated with “the power and the message” of “Khuda Ke Bandey” as well, going on to rewrite drum parts and recording them even as he juggled other projects over the next seven months. They then began remotely shooting their parts for the music video, which also projects a punchy “say no to war” message, all edited by Waqar. Bhaduri adds about the 10 months the trio spent on their first single, “The three of us have been more in sync than a band from a single city or country, to be honest.”
Together, they’re working on new ideas and a second single is already being crafted. Just like with “Khuda Ke Bandey,” they may have to work separately at first for the video, but Brothers In Arms promise an “exciting video concept and message planned” for their next song. “The one thing we can give out is expect this one to be acoustic with soulful vocals from Prateek, a lot of ambient guitar layers from Khurram and sublime rhythmic percussions from Greg that will surely connect to our listeners spiritually as well as musically no matter who they are,” the band says in a statement.
Brothers In Arms operate alongside the members’ individual projects. Bhaduri has a total of four songs releasing this year via streaming platform Wynk Music and a tour of the U.K. in September, while Ellis is just returning from a Europe tour with composing/production duo Two Steps From Hell. “I also released a duet album in Iran of Persian music with Kamancheh (Persian violin) Maestro Medhi Bagheri. We will be doing some shows for that,” Ellis says. He hopes that Brothers In Arms can tour together soon as well. Waqar adds that he’s managing his community platform for guitarists called Guitar Collective, alongside his rock band KW & The Facedown Movement, instrumental compositions and working with powerhouse Pakistani vocalist Abida Parveen.
Listen to “Khuda Ke Bandey” below.