Popular for his powerful playing and preppy stage acts, Shahed Hossain has now become quite a crowd favourite. Youthsparks sat down with him to have a little chitchat to know how things have been for him since the last time we spoke in 2012.
- Since the last time we spoke, you worked with more artists, with different genres and bands and had much more exposure than any other time of your life. How would you describe this difference and how does this shape the individual musicality in you?
With time, we all gain experiences. And from experiences, we learn. I am the kind of a person who believes that we can learn from everyone and everything around us. I will not be ashamed to learn something new from a kid even if he is half my age. That’s what i do. I get involved with different personalities and learn a little this and a lot of that about music.
I can’t exactly say that I’ve had much more “exposure”, if that’s how you put it, since the last time we sat together, but what I can assure is that I have evolved much more as a musician. I learn, I practice and I develop my skills everyday and look forward to doing so for as long as I live.
There’s no limit to what and how much you can learn. There’s always room for improvement. Who doesn’t like to add a little something to weigh down their bag of knowledge and experience? If you ask me how I feel about working with more musicians and more music, I’d have to say that I feel lucky. I’m lucky to have got the opportunity of working and coming close to all these artists who come from a wide variety of musical backgrounds, which has played a major role to shape me up as the musician I am today.
I’ve come across all different kinds of artists. I’ve adapted my likings and interests to things I hadn’t foreseen myself getting into. I can vividly recall coming across guys who wrote songs about time and numerology, which seemed a little nutty to me back then. But now, not only have they grabbed my attention, their songs have also turned into the kind of songs I like these days.
I have learnt a lot and have developed myself to a stage where I hadn’t predicted myself to be even two years back. I have played metal, thrash metal, rock, progressive and each genre has its own influence in my personal musicality and I try to better myself in every aspect of music. My musical influences and interests are reflected through my songs.
- To work in so many projects, you really need to be well equipped with the knowledge. How did you achieve such versatility in your guitar playing?
To be honest, I don’t think I’m as well equipped with knowledge as I would have liked to be. There’s a whole lot to learn and a whole world to discover.
I do play for bands of different genres but I honestly don’t have a strategy of keeping up with them. I don’t know how I do it. I just love music. Maybe that’s what keeps it together for me. I love playing music; let it be as heavy as Dhrubosshor, as hyped up and groovy as 909 or as touchy as Naam Chara Gaan, which, apparently the crowd enjoys singing along to more than we enjoy playing it (which eventually makes it more enjoyable for us to play it).
Speaking about my guitar playing, I can’t say that it’s always easy for me to keep up with all of the bands at once. At times, it is difficult to adjust my playing styles, one being melo and the other metal. I have to face similar hurdles a lot, especially when I have back-to-back Poraho and Trainwreck slots at a concert. I need to have good control over dynamics, play more plucking, use less distortion when I’m playing with Poraho. The next thing you know, after playing like this throughout a 30 to 40 minute slot, I have to shift my playing to a heavily distorted, super fast and very technical tempo for Trainwreck. It takes time to adjust and it’s not as easy as it looks. So yeah, that’s how it really is. But this does not make me enjoy playing my guitar any less.
- You have been writing songs for the band Mechanix, then you have been doing that with Poraho for quite a while now. Is there a different method for different genres, or do you have something of your own?
Writing songs for Mechanix and for Poraho are not just on different pages but on entirely different chapters. I wish I had known a method for songwriting for different genres, but sadly, there isn’t any to follow. Is there a fixed method? No! Because of course, the approach to each band is different.
Coming up with the lyric of a song is challenging, at least for me it is.
In this context, I can say that I do have something of my own. I have my inspirations that sets me up for writing songs. My key inspiration is Ranjan bhai from Arbovirus. Before sitting down with a Poraho song, I always take out my copy of Arbovirus‘s first album, open it to its sleeve and go through Ranjan bhai‘s words. This always helps and motivates me to write songs for Poraho.
To be honest, Mechanix is a whole other ball game compared to all the other bands that I have played for before. Songwriting varies with the variation of music. Poraho is a Rock band whereas Mechanix follows Heavy Metal. I can’t have the same approach to Mechanix as I do for Poraho. I don’t have any specifics here. I do write stuff for Mechanix, but the other members usually have their share to it as well. For Mechanix, it’s not usually standalone lyric writing as it is for Poraho.
- Since the last time we spoke, how does your influence shape the shape up the kind of music you do? New bands you listen to nowadays, how does it change your songwriting or your outlook towards your musicality?
Like I’ve said earlier, I get my inspirations from everything I listen to.
I cannot draw a boundary around the kind of music I follow because there is no boundary. I listen to everything and every kind of music has its fair share of influence in me and my music playing.
I am a Rock musician. That does not limit my field of interest to just Rock music. I listen to Thrash Metal just as I listen to Pop music. Yes, I am not afraid or ashamed to say that I LOVE POP MUSIC.
I listen to Katy Perry, Richard Marx, Ronan Keating, NSYNC, Backstreet Boys, and Mr. Big just as I do to Dream Theater, Arch Enemy, Lamb of God, Megadeath, Carcass, Symphony X, Firewind, Death and what not. Owned‘s album is one of my very recent influences.
- Underground has a lot more exposure now and is very well celebrated, even compared to the last time you sat down with us. Do you think this has done better to the scene?
I do agree that the underground has been bringing up new, young musicians. I am very happy to see such an outburst of enthusiastic new faces. Many new bands have joined the scene but few have lived up to the expectations. We have found some very talented musicians lately. They sound new and fresh. Some of them play pure Funk, some play Djent influenced music and Metalcore. They sound different and they sound fresh. They actually have what is needed to upgrade the underground music scenario. But then again, I have also seen some new bands getting up on stage with the minimum knowledge of what they are playing, sometimes not even that.
It is indeed thrilling to see all these new talents coming up with fresh skills and new sounds.
I would like to believe that the underground has come off from its lackings since the last time we talked. But all I see is more push-sell shows, bands getting up on stage at 10 in the morning. C’mon, man! We’re Rock musicians! We aren’t even supposed to be out of bed before 3 in the afternoon! Kidding (:p).
Skipping all these, I have to admit that I have seen some positive efforts in today’s scene, but sadly that’s not even near enough to get the scene developed.
LIVESQUARE and GET AMPED; they are doing a marvelous job, can’t deny that. They have been working very hard to keep this scene alive. I’m forever grateful to them.
That’s about it. This shouldn’t be all. We need more. I don’t meant to sound greedy, but we do need more.
- You said that push-sells and piracy were the prime concerns that we need to fix in our scene. What do you think should be our prime concern now? The same?
Push-sell shows and piracy; they haven’t stopped. These yet haven’t been taken care of. They still need fixing up. So yes, let’s start at the very root. I’m not saying there aren’t other factors that need amending. We need proper sound systems, exposure of GOOD bands, GOOD music etcetera etcetera. But they are correlated. When one problem is fixed, it will make way for other solutions as well! So yeah, we better change, for the love of music.
- Where do you expect to see the Bangladesh music industry in the next five years?
BIGGER THAN EVER!
I do expect, for starters, to see the problems I have mentioned earlier be taken care of.
There is no limit to what we can want, so I want our music scene to grow as big as we can imagine.
Chaitei pari! (Hums Chaitei Paro by Aurthohin.)
- What would you suggest to the uprising, young musicians to pursue?
The underground scene is bringing out a lot of new musicians these days, but not all of them are very pleasing to hear. You shouldn’t jump right up on stage without knowing what you are doing. I’m not a perfectionist and I do not expect perfection at the very start. But you should know the basics. Like, learn to play with the tempo, please? Listen to what your band is playing and try to cooperate, blend in with the music. Follow your drummer. He’s supposed to maintain the tempo.
Don’t go creating your own beat while playing with your band. You’re messing your whole band up this way. Make sure you tune your guitar right. Reduce unnecessary gain from your tone. With one guitar tuned to E and the other to D#, if you play the same riff, your band is bound to sound disturbed. You cannot expect to go anywhere without proper knowledge on your basics. Fix it. Please. Your whole outlook will eventually change.
Let your ears be your main tool. Let your senses tell you what is disturbed and what is not. So listen! It doesn’t take lessons to develop listening skills. It’s a natural sense.
All these might have come out a little harsh. I’m no legend to be telling you these. I’m not even an expert. But seeing them play it all wrong kills me.
Won’t hurt to realize your mistakes and fix yourself. It’s for the better for all of us.
- Anything more you’d like to share?
I’m no one-man-army. My bands and fellow musicians have shaped me to what I am now.
But firstly, it was Kamal bhai (Warfaze) who helped me take my first steps to music. Cezzane bhai (Artcell) and Ranjan bhai (Arbovirus) who kept on motivating me whether they known it or not. Farazi, Mashiat, Tahmid and Mohai from Heal have taken me up when I was a nobody and brought me up from zero. They, and Ricky, let me borrow their gears when I didn’t have my own. I can’t imagine myself anywhere without them.
Rahul…There’s so much I can say about him, but can’t put them in words. Let’s just say that he brings out the best in me. Samee (Owned) and Ratul (Owned) have always been there with their unending support and friendship. Zakir (Conclusion) has been a huge help in making me sound good on live shows. I cannot just not mention Masrur bhai (Poraho), Tridib bhai (Mechanix), Reaz bhai (Mechanix) and Tarif bhai (Strident). They are like my “brother from another mother”s. My students have faith in me and that really keeps me going.
A musician can’t be a musician alone. His influences, inspirations, band mates and friends make him who he is. It’s always important to keep them in mind and carry on. Even when you lose your motives (we all have that rough phase when we just can’t seem to carry on), pull yourself up, not for yourself, but for the people who have brought you to this stage.