With the recent success of the Cuppa Rock Fiesta and all his bands hitting the peak, especially Poraho headlining almost all the shows, Youthsparks decided to sit down with Shahed Hossain and discuss about his plans for the development of music. Here is how it went.
How did Strident come to existence? Why Strident turned to From The Ashes?
I was in a band called Hedonism, but I had issues regarding the band. I was into heavy and thrash metal but my band mates were not, and also, the band had very low activity which was not amusing to me. So, I left that band. Then, I met the Strident guys. They called me on for a jam, and I loved it. So, that is how I joined Strident, but unfortunately the band broke up as two of the members went out of the country. One of the members is out of Dhaka. So, Rahul and I decided to form a band to satisfy our hunger for metal music. Then Tanin joined us as our vocalist and this is pretty much how From The Ashes started its journey.
How did you put your first steps into the world of music?
It all started in an empty room, with a wooden table and my attempts to sneak out for guitar lessons. “Society went modern and thus there is more freedom”, is a total myth. I struggled to make it to guitar lessons and still study hard for my exams. I struggled with my gears. I fought with almost every aspect regarding my music and I am thankful for the people who were there with me in those times. In the initial stages, my family did not support my music. I started out as a drummer. I went to Shaju bhai [Artcell] for six to seven months for drum lessons. I used to play pop tracks on the drums. I did a few shows as a guest drummer but my cousin, Cezanne bhai [Artcell] suggested me to get familiar with Rock Music and start playing Rock tracks. Meanwhile, he tackled my family and gave them the assurance that music will not ruin my life and career and he fought for me and my music all the time. So, I am thankful to him. Cezanne bhai gave me an album called, “Train of Thoughts” by Dream Theater- an album which marks the turning point of my musical career.
I listened to the whole album and I decided that I will pursue Rock music. Then I got to listen to a lot of other bands until I got stuck to Megadeth. The moment I saw Dave Mustaine shredding and ripping his guitar apart, was the moment when I decided that I will have to be like him in one way or the other. I needed to master the art of the six strings, and this thirst led a pathway for me to take up guitar playing. So, I went and got myself enrolled for Kamal bhai’s [Warfaze] guitar lessons.
The other difficulty I faced was with my gears. It has only been around six months that I got my own gears. All this time I had to borrow guitars from my friends. I had to go through the pain of carrying a guitar from a lot of parts of Dhaka to Uttara in a bus just so I can play for 4-5 hours with complete pleasure. That’s not all, I, being a leftie, had to change the guitar strings every time I brought a guitar home; that was a huge hassle. There were times that my friends stopped lending me guitars just because of the fact that I change the strings. Well, it is justified though. Frequently changing guitar strings can ruin your guitar. I have a friend name Ricky who is fortunately left-handed, like me, and has two left-handed guitars. Whenever the hassles went out of control, I used to borrow his guitar, keep it with me for a few months so that I could do gigs and then I used to return it to him. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Ricky for what he did. I just cannot imagine what could’ve happened if he was not there. So, struggle is always a part of life and if you do not struggle, you do not put the effort in and do not pour your heart and soul into something, you cannot achieve glory. I still have a long way to go but for all that matters, the friends, companions and teachers I had are solely responsible for my walk till now but at the end of the day, it’s a long way to the top if you wanna [want to] rock n’ roll.
Why do you want to bring about a change in the functionality of our musical front?
You see, the society in which you and me live in is very dynamic. The necessities for a good show keep on changing. We have reached a point where it is seen that the crowd itself is being vocal for a change, but the “change” itself is missing. It was not a long time ago that I was busy running around just to get a show out for my band, calling around 10 people up for a slot. When I get one, I am asked to pay a certain amount of money and comply with the push-sell rules which is nothing else than ridiculous. My band used to get up on stage and we used to pray so that the sound output goes fine throughout our gig. I believe all this can work as an inspiration to give all the new bands a break these days. I want to ensure that the new and upcoming bands do not have to deal with the dirty push-sell business strategy. I try to ensure that the new bands get more time to show their skills and talent, rather playing just so they bought their slot. I wanted bands to play with a good sound output so that their performance skill can really be heard and I believe, it is a worthy change to advocate and to put forward as a mechanism. Obviously, if I do not do it for myself, then where is the difference between me and them?
Why exactly did you come up with the concept of Cuppa Rock Fiesta?
I have jointly organized quite a few shows in the recent past. Rock Out Loud marks the start as a solo organizer for me and from that point till now, all my concentration has strictly remained to develop music and the music scene of this country and I believe, the best idea that came through in developing the music scene was the Cuppa Rock Fiesta. It is a different type of gig comprised of small number of bands, almost half of them being headliners. With the low number of bands, I get to ensure more time for each band to be on stage and perform. As far as crowd response is concerned, it got a lot of positive feedback. Though the public turn-out is small but the ones who walked into the gigs told me that the shows were good and they enjoyed it thoroughly and with the crowd being low, they relaxed and enjoyed some quality music. I hope to come up with new editions every month all throughout this year; I hope all of them will be successful as the previous ones were.
What does “Shahed – the music guy” identifies to be wrong about our music scene?
It will not surprise anyone if I say that push-sell is what is wrong with music in Bangladesh today. What we all need to keep in mind is whenever we try to come up with something regarding music, the sole purpose should be to contribute to our music and its industry and to improve our music scene in anyway possible. There are a lot of organizers who are hampering this process because of their greed, thus hindering development overall. With a growing number of push-sells shows being organized these days, the bands do not put in the extra effort that is required for them to improve. They are buying the slots with a certain amount of money and they just do not care what they do in their slots. Even if they come up to the stage and play some football, you cannot complain! Instead of deserving a spot, they “bought” one! This also acts as an incentive for the greed of those organizers. They know once the bands are in, they have no other responsibility. Therefore, in order to save some money, they go for poor sound arrangements and instruments, which ruin the quality of a show completely.
Those greedy organizers are not the only ones to be blamed. A huge chunk of it also goes to the bands as well. There are numerous bands who do not know their basics properly and never took advanced guitar/drum lesson. However, they still form a band since it’s a “trend” to form a band and “to look cool”. This “trend” is causing the downfall. As the number of bands rise up, the hunger for shows, even though they know they can’t play properly, rises proportionally, and this hunger fuels the ever-so-dirty game of push-sell- that is what is wrong with our music industry, and that is what we should mend.
What can be done to save our music scene?
Simply identify all those greedy organizers, the people who are at fault. Show their faces to the society and warn the people against them. After you do that, it is the responsibility of all those musicians out there to avoid them and their shows. Once you are able to avoid them, you destroy their business and one push-seller down means one enemy down. It is a slow and gradual process but if the bands can stick to the motive, the music world here in Bangladesh is surely to develop and surely to prosper. I’m doing my part and I am trying my best to ensure proper slotting of the bands. I am trying to ensure that the bands who deserve a place gets a slot and gets time to make their voices heard and get their talents all out in a good musical environment and it is not at all hard. It just takes determination and patience: Determination to be a good and a proper musician; patience to deserve a show. When you know you deserve what you got, you are bound to put an extra effort and that extra push can do wonders for you.
As someone who works for developing music, what do you have to say to the people out there?
It is not hard to revive something that is almost dead. We all need to unite together and fight against all odds to stand as a great music industry. We need to save ourselves from push-selling greedy organizers and saving the scene is eventually saving ourselves. All of us should work for the development of music and for the sole purpose of it. We should not be concerned about our own profits. If we are true to ourselves and our music, profits are bound to follow. It is just our principle upon which we stand, and that is what reflects our work ethics. It is still easy to save our own music. It is still easy to make a way for our future musicians to have a healthy musical growth.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those people who were there in my life and contributed to my musical career till now. I would like to thank Cezanne bhai for being there for me, no matter what happened and supporting my music all along. I want to thank “Heal” for staying there with me from when I just stepped into music, till now and supporting me all throughout. I would also like to express my gratitude towards Samee [A.K. Samee, Owned] for being there for me and watching my back all the time. I will give to him a huge share of my credit as he deserves it. He has supported me through my ups and downs and I really owe a lot to him. I thank him from the bottom of my heart. Lastly, to all those people out there who are contributing to music in its rightful manner and to those who are willing to contribute, it is your contribution which can make this a better and a far more developed industry. Music is for passion, not for fashion and I shall stick to my thoughts.
Youthsparks understands the fact that there might be a certain part of our community who would be criticizing this specific piece by simply saying that Mr. Shahed did not come of age to be taken into an interview of such proportions but, we really do not care. What we all need to understand is the motive behind the interview. It is people like Mr. Shahed who understands the need for a good change in the society, who comprehends the fact that our music scenario simply needs to be developed, with no questions asked and yet being so young, he is doing whatever he can to contribute. This is something that needs to be appreciated and applauded. The kind of character he is showing is what we need now and we hope that he can make a change- and a good one, too. Mehdee Hossain Shahed, you are a true role model for the young generation to follow and Youthsparks salutes you. God bless.
Click Here to Visit ‘From The Ashes’ on Facebook
Click Here to Visit ‘Cuppa Rock Fiesta’ on Facebook
Click Here to Visit ‘Poraho’ on Facebook