The beat of Farhad Humayun’s drum

Published: September 3, 2010

Farhad Humayun, the driving force behind the critically acclaimed band Overload. PHOTO: G.M. Shah

Good drummers are rare in Pakistan. Only a handful of good drummers are actually out there on the live playing circuit. Farhad Humayun happens to be one of them.

He has played sessions for a lot of famous acts and has produced good music as a sound engineer. From being an active part of the heavy duty Lahore underground scene in the 90’s to being the driving force behind the critically acclaimed band called Overload, Humayun has seen the music scene grow from garage bands to the industry it is today.

Since the release of their first self titled album, the band has inducted two new members – Mehmood Rehman and his lovely wife Meesha Shafi who blew the nation away with her smooth tone and diverse range in the latest Coke Studio. Overload recently released their second album called “Pichal Pairee.”  You can download their music here.

I sat down with Farhad to discuss drumming in Pakistan, the Overload tour.

1)  How has music evolved in Pakistan?

When we started the underground scene there was only PTV and then came NTM, but the music we played was not for the awaam anyway. I have never heard Alamgir or Vital Signs personally. I only heard a bit of Junoon when they came to the forefront. I was never a fan of Pakistani music and I’m so very glad! I think musicians have improved a lot and so has their sensibility. TV, radio and internet provide ample airtime to good music. As for the evolving scene, musicians have done it on their own. We don’t owe anything to any record labels or sponsors because they take advantage of musicians and never pay.

2) Why is there a dearth of good drummers in Pakistan?

Drums are expensive to buy, very loud to play so parents don’t recommend them. They’re hard to learn because you have to be strong and articulate. Basic guitar chords and 3 chord songs can impress girls easily so kids choose to play a guitar and be cool.

3) A lot of people criticize you for not playing live – how would you respond?

What do people know? We are 100 per cent live. That’s why everything from banking to art is all wrong in Pakistan because everyone thinks he’s an expert on everything!

4) How do you think people have responded to the ‘new’ Overload?

Response has been great! In concerts we still play the first album as well as four songs that Meesha sings. Overload is all about reinventing itself.  You can expect something totally rebellious and radical from us because we are not working under any restrictions. We play what we like to play. There’s something for everybody in an Overload album and concert.

5) Meesha Shafi was a success in the latest Coke Studio season; do you see yourself taking Overload on that show?

We will think about it if they ask us but I don’t see it as the qualifying round for an artist. Especially after having nobodies like ADP and so many random bad folk singers I think Coke studio has lost its charm. We are very busy playing our shows overseas and we are happy with who and what we are.

6) What are overseas tours like?

We laugh, we party, we have fun doing what we love to do and we make money. What more could a band ask for?! We played for about fifty thousand people in festivals across Europe. We also recently released a video filmed in Oslo for the track Vichar Gai.

7) You have recorded and played on SYMT’s album, do you think SYMT is the next big thing?

Yes. I have produced the album. I think they are a great act and are very talented.

8) Is Overload planning to address the floods and current state of the nation in your music?

People in Pakistan are suffering as they have suffered for decades. When it’s not floods it’s electricity, joblessness, shortage of everyday basic supplies, medical care and of course terrorism. Rich people like us have trouble paying over invoiced bills the government sends us for electricity when we don’t even use it. All we can really do is keep playing music and not give up. We can contribute on an individual level but I don’t think music can do much at this point. The country has completely collapsed although most of us choose to turn a blind eye. Strings and Atif can sing ten songs but it won’t make a difference. What will make a difference is meeting the basic needs affected people and I hope individuals are doing that.


Hashim Nauman

A photo blogger who works for a Telecom company who loves to write and plays the guitar.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.