Islamabad-Back in 2007, underground bands in Islamabad were booming, there were regular gigs and a concert happening every fortnight, a regular feature of the underground music scene was the battle of the bands.

It was also a time in the Pakistani music industry when bands like Jal, Aaroh, and many others were gaining explosive popularity among the masses. It was the time of CD’s and albums were being sold out like gold, fast forward to 2018 and Islamabad barely has any bands or an underground music scene left, all we have is a bunch of super talented but highly underrated artists like Adil Omar, Osama Com Laude, Maria Fatima, Rap engineers and some others who release their singles and drop an album or two every few years. In reality, Islamabad/Rwp wasn’t really known for its musical talent until the most famous band in the history of Pakistani industry “Vital signs” was discovered in Rawalpindi.

In a twist of events, a new band from Rawalpindi was discovered at the latest season of Pepsi Battle of the Bands called “Jasim Haider &The Pindi boys”, for those who are unaware of the term Pindi boys, it is used as a slang for tacky street boys, so I was very curious to ask the band members about why they named their band “The Pindi boys” and what it really means. On a hot summer evening, I sat down with Jasim and the rest of the band members to talk about their new album, their journey on Pepsi Battle of the Bands and about the future of the Pakistani music industry in “Naya Pakistan”. Jasim who is a filmmaker by profession, is the founder of the band, he tells me that music was his first love as he started playing guitar at the age of 13, after graduating from university he worked as a producer in MTV Pakistan but he was confused about what to do with his life so after producing a couple of shows such as MTV Unplugged, MTV covers, he realized that he was better in front of the camera than behind it, and that’s when he realized that the empty part in his life could only be filled with his ultimate passion of making music and that’s how the journey began. Initially he released solo songs but then he formed “The Pindi boys”, not only did the band gain instant fame in Islamabad after their first single was released but it also became one of Fawad Khan’s favourite band in the last season of Pepsi Battle of the Bands.

 When asked about how the band was formed, Jasim said, “While Eiman was learning how to play the drums, I started writing some songs. I wrote our debut song “Pindi boys” in the winters of 2013, which Eiman and I started performing on open mic nights and it became an instant crowd-puller. After seeing us perform, Adeel also agreed to join the band, followed by Mohsin’s entry and that’s when our band came into existence.” Jasim was born and bred in Pindi, so his music has always been connected to Pindi. When asked about why he attached the label of “Pindi boys” to the band Jasim said, “One specific event really coerced us into calling ourselves the Pindi boys, we were at a TV station where a woman looked at us with disgust right after we told her that we were from Pindi. This really made us think about the stigma attached to being ‘boys from Pindi’, so we simply wanted to attach something positive to it instead.”  Jasim gives credit to his debut song and the band for changing this stereotype, as the song was an instant hit, and went viral on several occasions. The band members explained that “Pindi boy” is a term used for a flashy individual who’s happy about being alive, so they believe that there’s nothing wrong with being called Pindi boys. 

 The band gave some phenomenal performances in the 2nd season of Pepsi Battle of the Bands and reached the top 4 slot but their elimination in the 5th episode was a big let-down for their fans, when asked about their entry in the show Jasim said, “ Once our debut album was completed, we released the song “Geet” and sent our demo for the selection round, when we got the selection call Eiman (Drummer) was in Turkey, so we saved money and called him back just for the audition round, my dad had arranged a govt job for me in case we ended up getting rejected.” Eiman added, “That day Fawad Khan was in a bad mood, right before our performance I fell on the stage and was really embarrassed but once we wore our sunglasses and came into character we started rocking the stage and got great comments for our performance, the judges started singing our song and we were just over the moon.” I asked them whether they had any regrets about their losing performance, to which Adeel explained, “We used to get 3 hrs every day for jamming. Korina was the one song we had really practiced, they made us cut our song for TV since it was too long, so we got really stressed, and we kept on practicing it all night, the studio was jam-packed with people waiting for our performance, people really liked it and we thought that we had a decent chance to win the competition but we were dropped out of the season because we weren’t playing an original, but whatever happens, happens for the best.”

Despite the surprising elimination, the band progressed musically and gained hundreds of fans all over the country. When asked about the experience of working with Atif, Fawad and the other judges, Mohsin said, “We were scared of Atif, but Fawad loved us, we got first-hand tips from the judges, they gave us constructive criticism which really helped us. It was an honor for us to even share the same platform as all these immensely talented judges.”

 I asked them what the inspiration was behind their new single “Hun bas”, to which Mohsin proudly remarked, “I composed it, as it resonated with the current political situation. We received a wonderful response, fans were surprised that we shifted to rock & roll all of a sudden.” Jasim excitedly informed me that the band is releasing a new song titled “isloo lady” very soon. “We do everything ourselves, video, audio, lyrics. For “isloo lady” we didn’t have any sponsors, so we shot it ourselves on a SAMSUNG S8, it will be Pakistan’s first music video to be shot on a phone,” said Adeel. In one of his interviews Jasim mentioned that everyone can sing romantic songs, but he wants to sing songs that would have an impact on people around him, so I asked him what sort of social issues he felt strongly about, “My aim is to break all the stereotypes, so I try to entertain people while touching on important social issues such as bullying, discrimination, lack of political awareness,” said Jasim. He further informed that nobody in the band received any formal training whatsoever and that it is his dream to make a proper music school so children could receive some sort of training on a very basic level.

 I asked the band about why a slump came in the underground music scene in Islamabad, to which Eiman said, “2008-2009 brought coke studio, security issues started, music producers were very difficult to find, so bands couldn’t evolve. Social media became popular in late 2011, 2012, and all the external factors such as social media presence and online marketing became more important than just the music, so I guess time and circumstances took its toll on Islamabad’s music scene.” When asked about whether they would ever relocate due to lack of resources in Islamabad, Mohsin said, “We would never relocate since we have a big advantage as we are considered stars when we go to KHI or LHR because there isn’t a lot of saturation here, but yes lack resources is a big problem and all the artists are trying to overcome this problem collectively.” I asked them about their hopes and expectations from the new government regarding the entertainment industry, especially since the industry has really helped the party achieve its goal, “Imran Khan understands artists since he was also a celebrity, he introduced Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan to the international environment, and introduced stipends for musicians in KPK, so we are very hopeful for new policies and events but most of all we are hopeful for the new nation,” said the band members. The Pindi Boys are full of talent and energy, in fact they are quite similar to the original Pindi Boys i.e. vital signs, but will they be able to reach that level of fame and success only time will tell.