© Legendary Musicians of Karachi
An unpretentious human being who is ever so eager to make you laugh with his infectious sense of humour but when he’s behind that drum set…. he transforms into this relentless beast!
He coyly says that he simply makes all the noise in the background but he knows it’s much more than just ‘noise’.
It has been said that drummers are the backbone of a band and Malcolm has always been one outstanding backbone even way back when he was with the Communication.
It took a while to get hold of Malcolm but I am truly thankful to him for doing this interview with us.
Let’s hear more from him.
ldg ~ Your band of the 70s ‘Communication’ without doubt was in a league of its own. ‘Communication’ was one of my ‘most’ favourite bands of the 70s. Not that I got to see you perform live but from the tracks that we’ve heard on LMK, the superiority of the musicians is pretty evident. Tell us how it all started and what drove you guys to produce such high-quality music/sound?
Malcolm ~ We had the effortless Edgar Saville on keys, the versatile Vandy (Alan Vanderlowen), the rave bass player Alan Dias, the hard working and talented Errol D’silva on lead and ‘Saxy’ Franky on sax. I just made a lot of noise at the back.
We chose to rehearse and play songs from Crosby Stills and Nash, Little Feat, Steely Dan, while also doing other popular songs of the time. This perhaps kept it fresh. We did ‘Credence Clear Water’ and ‘King Crimson’,
I give Alan Vanderlowen much credit for introducing us to a wide selection of music, from Bob Marley to Jethro Tull, King Crimson to Little Feat and many others.
Click on Communication live to listen to some of their old recordings or the youtube video above.
Malcolm with the Communication
ldg ~ Malcolm when did you start playing the drums and what led you to it?
Malcolm ~ My first bass drum was the wooden crate that housed the fridge that my dad bought from overseas. That bass drum worked a little differently. I had to bang my heel real hard on the crate to get a bass sound (ouch!) and a stainless thali! was my snare. That’s how simple it was and the best sound ever (at least to me).
I was in Year 6 when I joined the ‘St Patrick’s School Band’ (marching band) as a drummer and played alongside Lawrence Andrade and Godfrey Mendes.
Back then we used to march down the streets of Saddar playing for processions, sports day events etc. I vividly remember enjoying the Channa Puri from Joseph’s canteen at St. Pats that Monty (our band master) would treat us after performing.
I used to live at FCCHS opposite Edgar Saville’s apartment on the ground floor. In those days the ‘In Crowd’ was considered the best live band in Karachi. The In Crowd would practice at Edgar’s apartment and we kids would climb on the windows to try and get a peak at them (they would not let us in and rightly so!).
Edgar, Ivan, Sydney and can’t remember the bassist at the time. Perhaps it was Noel and they jammed some mean tunes. The sound of the snare drum just killed me… I was so inspired and knew it was time that I got hold of a drum set. My “Stainless Thali” would not cut it anymore. After a few weeks of relentlessly bugging my parents, off we went to ‘Saeed Music Palace’ and came back with my first drum kit. Bright shinny tinsel blue, all with shiny silver looking cymbals and rims and camel skins, little did I know that camel skins don’t work in the winter LOL! We had to light bulbs to heat the skins to get any sound from them in the colder months.
Excitement soon turned to frustration! Those shinny silver looking cymbals never did sound anywhere close to the sound coming out from Edgars house!
A bit of a deviation from the question but I remember playing on a Pakistani drum set with Errol, Alan, Cookie and Busheen at someone’s house in Defence and we called ourselves the ‘HAMMER HEADS’ …. Yeah
Anyway, my first kit was just a starter kit and I started bugging my parents again. My dad was working on a ship that regularly docked in Singapore. At first he said No, and that I should concentrate on my education but I was persistent and kept bugging him till he finally gave in. Two months later he returned with a Red and Black Pearl kit with Zildgian cymbals. I was over ecstatic.
A big shout out to Pawan Rawat from India for sharing these videos with LMK!
ldg ~ Who inspired you at the time?
Malcolm ~ Thaddeus Pinto was by far the best drummer and his playing technique really inspired me.
ldg ~ Your favourite ‘live’ band/bands of Karachi?
Malcolm ~ The Talismen and Incrowd were really good bands. If I am not mistaken both Talismen and Incrowd played at the CYC hall for a jam session. Solid sound. Still remember Norman singing ‘Child in Time’ and ‘Evil Ways’ and so many others. The In Crowd also played a very well.
But as far as innovation goes, my vote goes to “Hello Why are You”, with Mansoor Fatah, Farooq Fatah and Atiq Rehman performing songs from Zepplin (Ocean, Rock and Roll), Stevie Wonder. They were way ahead of their time. Super intense sound.
They also wrote a song called “Freedom” and were on National TV. Great rock song but Pakistan was not ready for them. I remember filling in for Atiq for one day at the Horseshoe Restaurant. I felt like a total misfit.
Coming back to my Red and Black Pearl drum set. Hey whoever’s got that drum set it is now worth at least $100,000. It had been through two “water world” scenarios and has a lot of history.
Once the Jamiat guys after firing on us at a Karachi University show, threw it in the pool (of course we all ran for our lives before it got that bad) and the other time is was submerged in water was when I played for Underground 4 at the Horseshoe Restaurant.
God bless “Brave Heart” Mansoor Fatah for diving into the water, tying the rope to the drum set and then swimming back up to help us pull the set up. He did that for all our equipment. Thank you Mansoor!
Did you know that Mansoor performed bare-chested and wore a “dothi” at many concerts. Wow! How incredibly bold. He could have easily passed off as a hippie in Goa. LOL. Farooq was always experimenting with sounds for example putting a speaker on a ” mudca” and playing bass through it.
Live performances of Malcolm Goveas with Junoon. Video courtesy Pawan Rawat
ldg ~ Concerts you played that brought the best in your music? Or your most memorable experience as a musician.
Malcolm ~ I remember we (Junoon) played in New Delhi for the MTV awards and our Tabla Player Ashiq Ali was practicing in the camp (tent) before the show and the Def Leppard drummer came in to see us. He was blown away with the intricate rhythm Ashiq was playing.
Right after we played ‘Sting’ came on stage and we got to meet him.
I have played with many singers and performers but Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, was one singer that simply blew me away. It was an honour to perform with him. The power in his voice, vocal range was so incredibly alluring. I played with Nusrat on 4 occasions ~ ‘Dum Must’ rendition.
I remember playing at ‘the Luvin’ at Hotel de France near the Karachi airport, and our then lead guitarist Huma Azad was leaving for Jeddah. I went to Iggy Fernandes’ house and asked him if he would like to audition for Tears Silence and Laughter (Glen Boyle, Bobby and David Fredrick aka Daoud Rafik, myself and Huma Azad). So Iggy went with me and blew us all away playing songs from Santana and Deep Purple etc. Huma was speechless. Iggy joined the band. One exceptional guitar player! Amir Zaki is another in that league. I played with Amir Zaki for two concerts before Junnoon.
Other than that I’ve enjoyed performing live in Dubai, Maritius, Central Park and a few others.
Video courtesy Pawan Rawat
ldg ~ What styles of music do you prefer?
Malcolm ~ Classic and slow rock. However, when we did covers, I never wanted to play it exactly the same way… nice excuse 🙂 I always wanted to add my own two cents.
ldg ~ Something you really try and try with the drums and could not get yet or are not satisfied with the results?
Malcolm ~ I could never play double bass. My son Sheldon Goveas can play double bass with ease. (Damn how the hell does he do it!) There are many things I cannot do yet…… you always keep learning.
ldg ~ Favourite drummers?
Malcolm ~ Right now Avery Molek is my favourite drummer. Check him out!
When you see 7 and 8 year old drummers play like that, trust me I don’t want to do any interviews LOL.
Back in the day, Ian Paice (Deep Purple) was my favourite drummer. His rock style, intricate rolls, technique, fluency just blew me away and he is still playing.
Billy Cobham ~ I was fortunate to see him perform live in New York at a small club when Paulina and I went on our honeymoon many moons ago. Great inspiration and terrific performance. Jazz rock and rock.
Neil Peart from Rush. Smooth and intricate timing. complex rolls.
Current drummers, just so many. One is Mike Mangini