‘Hippie/happy, free spirited, vagabond, gypsy, green peace activist and a recycle artist. ‘Some More Unknown stuff’! and also a doctor, writer, painter, musician, photographer and a gardener by choice!’ That’s the way Mr. Ali Tim describes himself and that is exactly what he is and more!
Creativity oozes out of his very core and there is so much in there that it flows into everything he lays his hands on. However, this description does not encapsulate everything.. Jang Group has obviously captured that creativity aspect by making him GM of Marketing Content & Interactive Media but besides all of the above he is a simple guy that loves music and has promoted many upcoming musicians through http://www.aag.tv/ AAG.tv. He also directed the first ever Christmas show ‘Jingle Bells‘ on tv that focused on the talented Christian musicians of Pakistan.
Therefore thank you Mr. AT for doing this interview of your old band ‘The Milestones’ for LMK. ~ldg
So let’s talk about ‘The Milestones’! http://www.themilestonesband.com/
I was doing my house job at Jinnah Post Graduate Medical Centre in 1990 when I met Ziyyad through some friends. He was a college student and already a musician. I had gone to his place with some mutual friends and discovered that he had a basement with a drum kit, keyboards, guitars and amps.
His friends were jamming and all of that sounded cool to me. I looked at the list of songs his band played. The Beatles, Hendrix, U2 and at the end was CCR. I asked Ziyyad if he liked CCR? He asked me for my phone number. I had to go back to the hospital where I worked and gave him my digits and left.
Next day Ziyyad called me “Do you want to play in my band”. I wasn’t sure, to be honest. I had just acquired my first bass and was trying to figure my way around the instrument. I asked him if his band really knew how to play Suzie Q by CCR. He said “Hell yeah”! Ok, then I will come.
Same evening I was in Ziyyad’s basement playing Suzie Q. I kinda loved that. Line up was Ziyyad (Lead), Rizwan (Rhythm/vocals), Carl Miranda (drums), Samar Saleem (Keyboards). Ok so now we have a band …..with no name.
I did not know how to play bass but then gradually the guys in the band taught me basslines taking help from keyboards and guitars. Rest I figured out on my own. It all sounded great. In 2 weeks we had rehearsed over a dozen songs and also acquired fan following of Ziyyad’s friends. Awesome! I said to myself!
Few months later we played a gig at Anthonian Blessings, Karachi. This band line up had no name. At the end of the gig Ziyyad told me that this girl sitting in the front row wants to sing in our band. Her name is Candy. I said, okay! Call her over.
Next day Candy walked in with an electric guitar. She plugged in and started to play Black Velvet. I looked at her and then Ziyyad shook his head. 1990 had begun. I told “Ziyyad , we are gonna make it big”! Candy found the band she wanted to sing with. The band with no name found her.
A friend christened the anonymous band with a name …. and ‘The Milestones’ began rolling……. 90-95 we had recorded 2 albums and played almost every arena.
1994, we three are crossing this road in front of the Empire State Building in New York at 4 am. We are singing, laughing after playing for almost 2 months in USA. I let Candy cross the road alone. Ziyyad smiled. I asked him “now do you remember I said, we are gonna make it big one day?’ He said, Yes and you were right!
The Milestones performing Jan e Jaan (live)
Candy Pereira (Vocals/rhythm Guitar)
Ziyyad Gulzar ( Lead Guitar)
Ali Tim (Bass/backing Vocals)
Allan Smith (Drums/backing vocals)
Ishtiaq Ahmed ( Sound Engineer)
All Milestones music available here http://www.themilestonesband.com/
As you know we here at LMK are promoting all the live bands and musicians of the past. Tell us about your initial years with ‘The Milestones’.
Were you playing live music regularly?
With ‘The Milestones’ we played 365 days a year 7-11 pm every day. It was a rigorous training we went through learning chords, harmonies and preparing sets for shows and recordings. We had offers to play at restaurants and hotels but I had a different idea. I wanted to make albums and travel the world. Ziyyad agreed. Candy did not say anything!
I had melodies and words in my head. Ziyyad knew how to sequence on keyboards. I wrote the first song and then 2nd and 3rd. It took me and Ziyyad a while to complete the first batch of songs. I went and approached EMI Pakistan with a demo. Syed Mansur Bukhari, head of EMI, liked it and signed the band. We had set the first Milestone of our career! All three of us knew that now we will have an album.
For those new to The Milestones; Who played what instrument?
Ziyyad ~ all instruments; guitar, bass, keyboards, drums , sequencing and vocals
Candy ~ almost every instrument too; guitar, drums, keyboards and vocals
Ali Tim ~ Bass, rhythm guitar, compositions, melodies, lyrics and vocals
Carl Miranda, Gumby (Louis Pinto), Allan Smith, Samar Saleem played drums
Allan Smith was also a part of compositions for MS 3rd album which couldn’t be recorded with Candy at that point in time.
Samar Saleem and Asad Khan played keyboards
The best part about MS songs was that in both its albums there was not a single complete song. Structure wise they were never complete with intro, verses, bridge, high part, chorus etc.
Your front lady, Candy is an incredible vocalist and we hear she’s now living somewhere in downtown Toronto. There are so many people that keep asking about her and we have received many emails requesting us to locate her. But you and I know that she prefers to keep a low profile? Is there any chance of us ever hearing from her again?
Candy never announced a formal departure from the band. She was a low profile person during the MS days too. Her immigration case was pending for decades before she joined the band and once her visa came through she left. Seriously doubt if we would hear from her again but never know. A well known Tv channel and media group approached the band for a reunion album and series of concerts in 2008. That could not happen because Candy could not be tracked in Toronto but Allan Smith and Ziyyad were game to the big idea .
AT, if I’m not mistaken you write most of the lyrics. What inspires you?
Yes, i wrote all the songs …………….. I do not think they were songs ….. They were theorems still unresolved in my mind.
Tell us about your public appearances? Dances, Concerts, radio, TV? Places?
We appeared on Miami Tv station as first ever artist from Pakistan in 1994. We were the favourite band of the US Consulate General back in the days. We played for a number of charity balls for the consulate. We were the first band from Asia to be a part of Amnesty International for raising awareness for the prisoners of war.
We played fund raisers for Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital and also for Pakistan Medical Association. Most of our live concerts were fundraisers for different causes. That was the idea too. We made music to please ourselves but we raised funds to help others.
We played to contribute to the building of Emergency ward in Civil hospital for PMDC.
Probably our best show was in Cyprus where in a club we landed on stage via a capsule lift and Cypriots and Turks went wild to the first note of Sweet Child O mine. They had no idea that Milestones was a band from Pakistan. They were all pleasantly surprised!
What kind of music was ‘The Milestones’ most drawn towards?
You name it and we played it. Everything under the sun. Probably the only band in PK that played everything from BB king, CCR, Hendrix to Alam Lohar. We all had our diverse influences. Candy was into Whitney, Joan Jett, U2, Heart.. Ziyyad followed Clapton, GnR, Aerosmith, Pink Floyd and I was into Allan Fakir, Ustad Wilayat Ali Khan, Elvis………………the result was an amalgam of all our influences.
It was a strange brew we played at live concerts but to keep the matters simple what we recorded on albums was plain pop. No company would have agreed to sign us if we recorded what we actually played on stage.
It may be a lil difficult to understand but Ziyyad during live performance would start out with his wah and flange sounds. Allan did his drum solos, Asad did his synth, Candy improvised and I often played bass making it sound like a table by muting and striking strings on the higher frets.
You are a pretty insightful chap and therefore putting this question to you considering you have been in the media, music business for a long time. Tell me what is your stance on how to get the public to support ‘live music’. Any ideas?
Only if the security issues are resolved somehow in this country the music scene is going to turn into a million dollar, money making business. The biggest spenders on music do want to contribute to live events but then such events are never open to general public because of the security hazards. The only way possible is via internet but that too with its limited services and audience is difficult to grasp. Events in schools and colleges can help a great deal before we move to stadiums.
But keeping it all open for all classes of people is the key. Easy access is the key. More they see it – more they like it and more they will want. No live band will stay alive too long if it is not live in front of an audience playing and getting instant feedback.
Have you ever had to deal with ‘negative publicity’ or ‘pushy media’ people? If so, how did you handle it?
The Milestones were not allowed on PTV and STN in the initial years. The reason stated was “we do not promote music from Minority bands on tv”. It has been 20 yrs and this continues. We fought our part of the issue with PTV and STN via writing against the nonsensical media policy in the press. We fought! We won! PTV had to give in and put us on Tv.
STN categorically asked me to apologize for writing against the channel. I refused that. Music could come from Christians, Muslims, Parsees, Hindus….. We never made music to make money or to become famous……. We could not care less if some part of the electronic or print media was against us. We continued doing our work and in the end even STN had to put us on.
Why did ‘The Milestones’ decide to disband?
Simple! Candy had to immigrate to Canada with her family and i had one more year before i could also move to Toronto. We left almost at the same time. I tried to locate her there and found out that she is singing with Black Jacks in Toronto. I was moving to America for a year. I left for Kansas …
You are now working with 19 year old Alycia Dias. She’s another fantastic upcoming vocalist. We see her clips on ‘The Milestones’ website. Are you by any chance reviving ‘The Milestones’ with her in mind?
Nopes! Not at all! It was just one track that I did with Ziyyad in 97. I used it to check Alycia’s vocal range, litmus test. I have done other songs with her too. She is a very good singer, will go places!
What are your immediate music career goals? (Next 1 – 3 years)
None. I do not plan anything. Music is just a hobby, has always been. For everything else that I do, I have the same answer.
What would you like to impart to the young musicians of Karachi? A thought, a slogan
Live your dreams ……Get an education and always have an alternate career to fall back on!
Some Additional Information:
The Milestones went through many changes in its line up since its inception. Initially it was Candy, Zoren, Zelina (all singers), Carl, Ziyyad, Tim and Samar.
The band was gigging in the local circuit but then plan was to first record original music and then tour.
Zoren and Zelina left. Carl also had to move on because of his studies. Gumby was an instant and solid replacement. He did the first two years and then Allan Smith replaced him with his stunning stick work. Samar Saleem shifted to keyboards and was later replaced by John Saville. After JS, Asad Khan was recruited as the keyboardist.
Other session players included Youseef Begg, Adil and Nadeem!
Ziyyad, Candy, Ali Tim despite their day jobs and routine life kept making original music. After the album was complete and finally recorded at EMI; the band acquired a manager Sajjad Panjawani (late) who bought the MS album from EMI under his management and released it through his label Visible Changes.
Jadu – album 1
Milestones 2 – Album 2
The three Milestones officially stuck it out for 5 years. They kept their day jobs. Ziyyad (banker) Candy (shipping company) and Ali Tim (advertising) but they made time for music ….. and made music.
Interviewed by ~ldg
© Legendary Musicians of Karachi
Photographs/artwork ~ Ali Tim