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Following in the footsteps of bands like Strings and Junoon is Call, Pakistan’s latest musical offering. The Record speaks exclusively to guitarist Xulfi Khan for the lowdown on what the band is all about.

No matter what the political scenario might be between India and Pakistan, over the years it has become pretty clear that the one thing that has blurred the borders between the two is music. Listeners across the country have embraced the sounds of Pakistan’s rich musical talent, from the legendary Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, to massive favourites Strings and Junoon, and finally newcomers Atif Aslam and Jal, to name a few. Next in line comes Call – four young men and their melodic alt-rock musings on the 11-track debut release Jilawatan.

The invitation to listen to the band lies in their name itself. According to their bio, ‘Call, the name, implies an invitation; to an abstract and theoretically boundless world of human possibility and play.’ The band has been preparing for their breakthrough for years now. Influenced by artists as varied as Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Pink Floyd, Peter Gabriel, A R Rahman, Linkin Park, Creed, Metallica, and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, the band started out playing live in 1994. Says guitarist/backing vocalist Xulfi Khan, “Back then we used to perform our own original English-language songs. We used to play for a small crowd in Lahore. Then the band actually disbanded for a while and later we created this new line-up and decided to go mainstream. We started again in 2002 and decided to work on our new sound. We did want to be accessible to the audience. I don’t really know what we are bringing to people that is different [from other Pakistani bands]. But we just do music the way we want to do music. And I believe that whatever we are doing will be different because it will have our essence in it. If someone else did the same thing it would be different because it would have their influences and methods in it. So at the end it has to turn out different.”

The early years saw a band with a mission – to change the musical scene of the country. Explains Xulfi, “When you are young you always have big dreams and you want to do really big things. And I think an aim in life is important. If you don’t have aim or direction then you don’t end up doing anything. So we all made sure that whatever we did was always to the best of our ability. I play very simple guitar – I don’t show off with virtuoso playing - but whatever I play I do very nicely. We want to perfectly implement everything that we try.”

They did a decent enough job to impress none other than The Chosen One – The Matrix’s Keanu Reeves, whom the band thanks in the liner notes of their debut album. Says Xulfi, “Yeah, our music had been sent out by our manager to a lot of people abroad some time ago and he got some email back where there was a mention that Keanu Reeves (he is also in a band himself) really liked our music so we decided to thank him for that message in our album.”

You can read the rest of our feature on Call in the June 2006 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.


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