The first instrument I picked up was the bass guitar. I was 8 or 9 years old and desperately wanted to join a choir as a musician.
At the time, Christ the King parish needed a bassist so I jumped at the opportunity and taught myself as much as I could and joined the choir.
This did not last long as my mum sent me off to Quetta in the mid 70’s, where I attended St. Francis’ Grammer school and lived at the hostel. I couldn’t continue playing bass but did join the school band where I picked up the side drum and that’s how my interest in drumming started.
I played in the school band for about three years and then returned to Karachi. I joined St. Patrick’s Technical School and stopped my music for a while but always had this urge to form my own band.
In those days I was into hard core heavy metal, following bands like Deep Purple, Led Zepplin, Mega Death, AC/DC, Accept, Doken, Aero Smith, Athrax, Boston, Alice Cooper, Def Leppard, Ronnie James Dio, Dokken, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, KISS, Quiet Riot, Ratt, Rush, Scorpions, Slayer, Ted Nugent, Tesla & Van Halen.
I idolized drummers like Ian Pace (Deep Purple), Alex Van Halen (Van Halen) & Nikko (Iron Maiden) and picked up a lot from their performances. As time passed, I mellowed down. Started listening to Rock and other genres.
It was sometime in the early 90’s when we moved to Mehmoodabad (FUNKY TOWN) and our neighbours were Darryl and Ricky Leachay. Ricky was playing for ‘Visions’ and Darryl and I would go to Village and hang out with the musicians.
We used to play sessions with them and the drummer in me returned followed by this desire to form a band.
All credit goes to Ricky and Darryl; these guys really encouraged me. At first, I was pretty uncertain as Karachi had seasoned musicians/bands like Visions, Black Jacks, Keynotes, Experiments etc performing all over town. But when Stephen Gonsalves joined the same company that I was working for, us wanna-be musicians decided to give it a shot and formed RAZZMATAZZ (1).
RAZZMATAZZ started off with Stephan on bass, Me on drums and we pulled in Atif Mujahid (Ricky’s student) on Lead ‘n’ Rhythm. The three of us jammed at my place for a couple of months. Lined up 10 songs and then pulled in Ashley Clements (vocals) and Thomas “TIM” D’souza on keyboards.
There was something missing in our band and it wasn’t sounding as “BIG” as I wanted it too and after we did a session at the Village, I felt we needed more musicians. So in came Tahir Khan (guitars) to support Atif and Jason D’costa (sax/vocals) to back up Ashley.
At that time the only guys with professional equipment were Atif & Tahir. Stephen had a Chinese bass guitar ‘n’ local amp. I had a local drum set (Made in Sialkot). Ashley sang thru mono mic and we used a stereo deck as a PA, Timmy had a small Yamaha key board and plugged it into Stephen’s amp but we jammed continuously, 6 days a week, happily for a year on these instruments before we actually came out of our cocoon and started hitting the main stage.
Again, it was Visions that gave us our first break on the main stage when they invited us for a full session at Hotel Metropole and after that Razzmatazz took off. We started getting gigs from all over; weddings, corporate shows, private shows.
This line up lasted a good five years after which Stephen and Ashley decided to part ways and formed a three piece band at the Pearl Continental. Atif left for higher studies and everything kind of drifted apart.
During those 5 years I started upgrading my kit. I went from a local set to a DIXON and then I heard that big gun Malcolm was selling his Fibre Glass/ transparent kit, I jumped to that and bought it off him and had it for the longest time when I finally got myself a TAMAROCKSTAR when I went to Singapore.
When Razzmatazz split, I was disappointed but determined to recruit some more musicians and form up again. After a couple of months I met Alan D’cruz and threw the idea at him. We hooked up with Kevin “Bobby” Fernandez and pulled in more guys and the line up for RAZZMATAZZ was REBORN with: Kevin “BOBBY” Fernandes (Vocals), Alex Manuel (keyboard), Titus Periera (rhythm / lead), Charles Suares (rhythm guitar and vocals), Alan D’cruz (bass and vocals) ‘n’ me (drums and back up vocals).
This new line up hit the stages again and spent another good 5 years together after which we called it quits and I put my sticks away.
I kept up with the music and after about 6 years, Kevin “Bobby” Fernandez, approached me about forming a Rock band where we would concentrate on our own compositions and music and go main stream.
It was a great idea and I had been away from live music for a long time so I was quite eager to get back into shape and behind a kit. Kevin introduced me to Omar Khalil who played the guitars and we pulled in Blaise “Carlos” Pereira on bass and started jamming covers.
After a few months I felt the need of pulling in another guitarist to support Omar, so I met Sean at St. Anthony’s Mela and we spoke about music and I asked him to come and jam with us and he certainly impressed us so Sean Arnaz got a spot on rhythm ‘n’ lead and the line up was complete.
We named the band Phoenix which was later renamed HALF AN EYE. We started off with covers from Creed, Nickelback, Metallica, REM, Chris Daughtery, Chris Cornel etc as well as our own original compositions.
During the 6 years that I was outta the live music scene I wrote several lyrics/songs, so Sean, Kevin and myself started working on those compositions. Sean came up with some real good melodies and with input from Kevin and myself, we recorded some amazing tracks which are available on:
HALF AN EYE: Winners of GBOB Pakistan:
One of my colleagues from Indonesia told me about GBOB (GLOBAL BATTLE OF THE BANDS /http://www.gbob.com ) where bands from over 30 countries take part and when I checked the website, I saw that Pakistan was also on that list so I contacted the organizers and signed up ‘Half An Eye’ for this competition.
It was tough and only bands with original compositions could join. We got in and found out that bands from all over Pakistan were participating. On the day of the performance, which took place in Karachi, there were about 10-12 bands but we performed with full confidence and put up a good show and won the GBOB and were ready to go to the UK for the world finals. But unfortunately having green passports, the British Embassy declined our visas so we couldn’t go.
‘Half An Eye’ split after a couple of years when I moved to the US and Kevin got a job in Dubai. But we left behind great memories.
And God willing… will not die out in the Underground Music World of Pakistan.
MY IDOL DRUMMERS:
Ian Pace (Deep Purple)
Alex Van Halen (Van Halen)
Nikko (Iron Maiden)
Neil Peart (Rush)
Carter Beauford (Dave Mathews Band)
LOCAL DRUMMERS THAT INSPIRED ME:
KITS THAT I OWNED:
Paki Made Kit
LUDWIG FIBER GLASS / TRANSPARENT KIT
TAMA ROCK STAR
TAMA SWING STAR
TAMA SUPER STAR
TAMA SUPER STAR HYPER DRIVE
KITS THAT I’VE JAMMED ON:
ALL THE ABOVE AND
MY DREAM KIT:
TAMA STARCLASSIC BUBINGA OMNI-TUNE