This week, I turn my column over to Farzan Ali Bawa of Indian Metal Ezine Global Metal Apocalyse. This interview first appeared in GMA and is reproduced with kind permission.
Foreskin, a thrash crossover band are making huge waves with inclusions on various compilations (including http://ghalazat.bandcamp.com) and their music is available via http://foreskin.bandcamp.com/.
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Foreskin, the Thrash Metal band belonging to the Huge Muslim locality of Lahore, the cultural hub of Pakistan and ancient capital of Punjab, speak up on how Metal in general has evolved in Pakistan and about their journey into making music, life and the ever raging battle they face against preserving Metal against other genres.
Farzand: Greetings from India, how is it going out there brother?
Hassan: Hey bro. Going alright, we're finishing up our EP recordings and jamming for an upcoming gig.
Farzand: How has Pakistan had its effect on its Metal?
Hassan: Difficult to say. On one hand, you'd expect that places like Pakistan would be able to produce some of the most insane, original, ass-kicking Metal on the planet simply 'cos of the daily shit we go through. There's been a precedent in history for this, New York and Brazil in the 80s for example, which were fucked up dangerous places but with some of the most forward-thinking Metal/Hardcore/Punk scenes.
But with Pakistan, music as a whole seems dead and stagnating. There are some prominent 'popular' Metal bands these days but none of those tickle my fancy, a lot of them lack originality and just have a basic understanding of Metal, ends up making them feel soulless and contrived.
It wasn't until recently when Dionysus, us, Lohikarma, Necktarium, Khorne, Irritum, Myosis, and some other bands injected some originality and genuine underground ethos back in the scene. Dusk is also returning which is great. Those guys are by far the best Metal act to have existed in this country.
Farzand: Bands like Strings, Jal and cults like The Zeest have been quite known before,but the curiosity as to how the Metal scene evolved back there still remains and where it is now?
Hassan: Metal started back in the late 80s with a Heavy Metal band called The Barbarians, apparently. Then Dusk started in the early 90s, influenced by the growing death, doom and black Metal scenes. They ended up being a very creative and forward thinking doom Metal band responsible for some of my favorite music.
In the late 90s to mid-2000s Karachi was the basic hub with frequent gigs, Lahore giving it a run too, but most of those bands never recorded and were just there to play gigs. A lot of them just died out when the Music TV channels started, cuz everyone suddenly wanted to play pop or rock. Bands like Soul Vomit stuck around but disappeared eventually despite a decent comeback. Some people involved with Hell Dormant/Autopsy Gothic can be seen in Karachi Butcher Clan these days.
In the mid-2000s, Eleventh Hour/Venom Vault was responsible for thrusting Islamabad into the limelight and it's still one of the top places for Metal, though personally I think the quality has dropped since the golden days of Venom Vault and Depletion. Some of the folks from that scene are still around, and you can find them in the bands Black Hour and Inferner - Black Hour especially being a fantastic live band.
Lahore is a bit strange. It starts something then dies out, then starts again. We had the legendary Corpsepyre a decade ago along with other death Metal bands but when the gigs died out, they died out too. There was then a kind of revival with Dementia, Orion, Odyssey, Takatak, and other cool bands... but it died out too. Nowadays the Lahore scene has bands like Keeray Makoray, Takatak, Dementia, Dionysus, Foreskin, Irritum so it's a pretty musically varied environment, though splintered.
Farzand: Now coming to Foreskin,how did this project come into existence?
Hassan: 2009. Me and Amar were sick of the scene at that point and wanted to start a punky crossover/thrash band. We just hated everything around us and wanted to give everyone the middle fucking finger. We named ourselves Foreskin cuz, well, fuck the world we're FORESKIN. hahaha. We played some gigs, the first gig we played was also Dionysus' first gig - we've been sister bands ever since. We put out a demo called BITP in 2011 showcasing our old crossover sound in all its sloppy fervor and then split up for a time. Got together again and puked out the Anger Management demo with longer songs and more extreme influences added along with Sheraz of Dionysus doing the most of the songwriting while I continued to just focus on Vocals/Lyrics.
The Anger Management demo was well recieved, especially Hack N' Slash which is my favorite song from us to this day. So we started working on an EP after buying some new equipment. You can hear two promo songs from it on our Bandcamp, but the final version will be different. The song Anti-Kvlt is also available on the Ghalazat compilation.
Farzand: THVG! Explain what it refers to?
Hassan: THVG started out as me parodying the KVLT behavior and ended up just defining us as a band hahah. Basically THVG is thug with a v instead of a u. What makes you THVG? Nothing in particular, we're just your normal everyday streetwise hooligans, always ready to kick up a fucking storm.
Farzand: What are your major influences on writing stuff for your songs?
Hassan: With Foreskin I just try to write fun stuff with a sing/shout-along feel. I usually finish writing the lyrics within 30 minutes of hearing the instrumental, and it's usually done as a freestyle rap sorta thing at first and then adjusted and worked on a bit. It's not anything overly serious, it's just fun rants, drunk thoughts about random shit. Hahah.
Farzand: You guys are known to raise hell, something you guys would like to share with the viewers?
Hassan: Hahahah. Back in October, we had this gig at the National Hockey Stadium. Halfway through our first song, the organizers and some goons from the Pakistan Student Federation told us to stop, because apparently I used the word 'Fuck' and parodied Muslim preachers when trash-talking before our set. Our fans started to riot, all of them drunk as fuck, going crazy like hell. There was total chaos and I managed to steal some equipment and run off with our drummer on a bike haha.
We start up shit wherever we go, man. Wether we be chillin in the marketplace or going up on stage. As the rapper Scarface once said "I don't take no shit, but I'm about to start some!"
Farzand: How difficult does it become to put up a Metal gig in a place filled with a conservative crowd of cult Muslims, as in Lahore?
Hassan: Yeah every once in a while we come across the bastard who says music is Satanic, Metal is the Devil's music and all that shit. But underneath the surface Pakistan is a pretty musical culture so most people don't really care, even if they can't understand our scene. Most people's concern is not with the music being played but with the liquor being drank and the hashish being smoked at the gigs hahah.
Farzand: How was it like featuring on Ghazalat as the only Pakistan band?
Hassan: It was pretty cool, Kshitiz of Sangharsha was kind enough to ask us after the Anger Management demo, to join the split. I contributed with the name of the split as well, as they wanted a cool name and I said "hey, Ghalazat means Filth in Urdu. Use that!" haha.
I love all the bands on the split especially Jugaa and Sangharsha. Nepal and Nepali people are fucking awesome.
Farzand: So,when do we expect a physical release from you?
Farzand: And now the last one,any message for all those headbangers out there supporting Foreskin?
Hassan: Stay THVG.
Thanks again to Farzand for allowing us to reproduce this interview. Please visit the GMA and check out what else is coming out of the subcontinent. Global Metal Apocalyse