If you’re a music fan, then this period of time must be very exciting for you. Pepsi Battle of the Bands has now reached its 4th episode and now the competition is only set to get more rigorous and intense. There is one band that has been causing quite a stir, especially since their rendition of ‘Dam Mast Qalandar’ aired last week. ‘Xarb’ has been gaining popularity and people can’t get enough of their music.
MangoBaaz spoke to Mobeen, a vocalist and guitarist from Xarb and we got to learn quite a lot about the band, their journey till this point and their plans for the future.
Mobeen, Saud and Qamar (the lead vocalist) all graduated from UET back in 2008. Back then, the boys used to also regularly play with Ahsan and Rahim, who moved to Badnaam, last year’s runner-ups. They were all right out of college and needed to find jobs. Interestingly enough, Mobeen learned (and well, even began mastering) how to play the guitar the year he graduated from university.
During their time at UET, Mobeen, Saud and Qamar were all part of the dramatics society there. However, this wasn’t your usual drama club. The plays they did were heavy with meaning, and often the themes revolved around revolution and reflecting back on society. This experience would then have an impact on the type of music Xarb would play in the future.
With their lives as graduates setting in, the boys found solace in their music. In fact, it was Saud who brought them all together and formed Xarb.
They, of course, went through their fair share of changes and evolution as well. Two band members left to join Badnaam, they were replaced by Shayan and Shahzeb, who added their own flair to Xarb’s sound and style of music.
Their collective theatre experience dictated the type of music they did; they wanted every song they released to be heavy with meaning. To this end, the band made a powerful music video called ‘Besabron’ which featured Afghan refugee children. The basic premise of the song was to raise their voice against the war. This video won them an award at the LUMS Film Festival; the video was also screened at international film festivals.
Then comes the phenomenon that is Pepsi Battle of the Bands. Last year, the band only found out about registrations for the competition a mere few hours before they closed, therefore making it impossible for them to make an entry. However, as the season progressed they saw what the event did for their good friend in Badnaam. So this year, they made it a point to know well in advance when to register!
‘As every musician does, we too worried about our sound being changed as we went into this competition’ Mobeen said when we asked about their experience at Pepsi Battle of the Bands so far.
He went on to say that the mentors and also Pepsi were very supportive of their musical identity and made sure they had the ability to explore and grow within their chosen realm of music.
In terms of response, they knew they were going to get attention but never anticipated it being so crazy! They’re still coming to terms with it. The band, however, wants to make one thing clear, they are NOT a Sufi band; they chose such songs in the first few episodes however at the core of it all, the band is purely contemporary.
When asked about the future, they appreciate the platform Pepsi has given them and they want to use it to propel their brand of music; music whose lyrics is heavy with meaning. Their inner theatre kid loves to perform live, previously they couldn’t since resources were limited but they’re hoping that the show’s exposure helps them to get on to more stages and connect directly with their fans and music lovers.
In this week’s episode, Xarb tried to show their ‘contemporary’ colors. With the episode’s challenge being to perform originals, the band had a great opportunity to shake off the Sufi. The judges loved their change and gave them props for their sound. While Xarb and Tamasha were clearly riding on a high, Kaghaz, DejaVu and Bayaan were in the danger zone in an episode with a double elimination. After soulful attempts to stay in the competition, the judges ruled that Xarb, Tamasha, Bayaan and 21 The Band were moving to the next stage.
We wish all the bands the best of luck, especially now that the competition is about to get so much fiercer and intense.
What were your favorite moments from this week’s episode of the show? Let us know in the comments section.
This post is sponsored by Pepsi Pakistan