Karavan has bounced back on the scene with some entertaining sound. Expectations are high and they are delivering so far
by Huma Imtiaz
Karavan does not need much of an introduction. Switch to any music channel and chances are they are on air. The visuals will grab your attention, while the vocals will force you to tap your feet. Five minutes later, the song will be over and you will still be humming it. Ten minutes later you could even be singing it out loud. Ladies and gentlemen, you have now become part of the magic that is Karavan.
Karavan started off years ago, when Assad Ahmed, former lead guitarist of the pop band Awaz and Sameer Ahmed got together. They also roped in Najam Shiraz as vocalist but he left some time later to concentrate on his solo career. Fortunately they discovered Tanseer Dar, who had been playing keyboards for the pop/bhangra star Fakhr-e-Alam. Tanseer joined the band as a lead vocalist and Karavan continued their journey of good music.
Two brilliant albums, Safar and Gardish down the road, the band suddenly vanished from the scene. There were rumours of a break-up since Karavan was nowhere to be seen. Fans thought Karavan was gone for good.
Then in 2003, the Karavan website – http://www.karavanonline.com – was launched. The band had been missing from the music scene for more than a year. According to lead guitarist Assad Ahmed, they decided to re-emerge after seeing the fans’ enthusiastic response to their website. Interest in Karavan rekindled and touched an all-time high when they came up with a video for the song Yeh Zindagi Hai, directed by the upcoming director Amaan Ahmed. The video was very well made and highlighted various social facets.
Since then, things have been going well. They have released new videos, performed at major events such as the unveiling of a gigantic Pakistani flag at the National Stadium in Karachi on 14th August. There has been a hiccup or two as well. The band has been accused of plagiarizing the Led Zeppelin track Kashmir for the album Gardish and their drummer Alan Smith is currently on hiatus and is performing with Junoon instead. But that has not stopped them from making it big in an industry where new artistes abound and where fresh music, whether good or bad, is now just a click of the remote button away.
When asked how he felt about all the rock/pop bands that had cropped up in Karavan’s absence, Assad was very forthcoming and said he thought the new music was great, with bands like [eP], Noori and Aaroh coming up. He said it just showed that the stuff that Junoon and Karavan were doing earlier had spawned all this.
“Like, when I meet the guitarist of Aaroh, he tells me that when he was a kid he saw our video on TV and we inspired him to pick up the guitar. Or, you’ll hear some bass player saying something similar to Sameer. That’s the kind of feedback we get from these kids, they’re all fans.”
Of late Karavan have been touring like crazy – they were part of the recent Cyber Junoon tour that featured major bands such as Junoon, The Mekaal Hasan Band as well as some underground bands. Karavan have also played at major schools and universities.
Their impressive performance at concerts is what makes Karavan the favourite band of so many. Watching them play live is a treat in itself. Not that their performance is flawless – they are human after all. But more important is the fact that they are so much at ease when they perform and are genuinely having fun. Whether playing impromptu rock covers of the popular ditty Channo or making fun of themselves on stage, the band love what they’re doing. In a sea of musicians who are uptight, nervous or giving last minute orders to their sound technicians, Karavan’s positive approach is a welcome relief.
Right now the band is working on their next video – Shor – as well as their next album. Let’s hope Karavan continue in their journey of good music.