Tête-à-tête: The boys are back in town ... again

Tête-à-tête: The boys are back in town ... again

A conversation with the Noori brothers, Ali Noor and Ali Hamza
19 Sep, 2015

At the start of the summer Noori marked yet another comeback into the music scene by releasing the video of their latest single 'Aik Tha Badshah'. We talk to the brothers behind the band, Ali Noor and Ali Hamza, about band breakups, growing older and what to expect from their upcoming album.

Dawn: The sound exhibited in 'Aik Tha Badshah' is quite radical, is that the approach you’ve taken with the rest of the album?

Ali Noor: Not at all; in fact 'Aik Tha Badshah' was like me discovering a new toy and going ballistic with it. 'Aik Tha Badshah' is a very different song. The album doesn’t sound anything like this. It sounds like good old Noori with lots of bells and whistles and lots of growing up added to it.

Dawn: In your own short description, “After 10 years and three break-ups this band still survives.” How many more breakups and reunions do you think the band is going to have?

Ali Hamza: I really can’t say. Even with this album, Ali Noor and myself are also at a point we’ve been the two consistent factors that came out of this band.

The reality of it is I joined the band at the last minute. I’d been there very silently and subtly before that. One day our guitarist left and (then drummer for the band) Gumby suggested why don’t I come on board. That was the beginning of my proper membership of Noori.

I think the smart thing Ali Noor has done is that Noori was never meant to represent a set of individuals coming together. Noori is meant to represent an idea. Today it’s gone beyond Ali Noor and Ali Hamza and all of the musicians in it.

I don’t see it as a set of four individuals who will come together during a performance. They’re just the face of what Noori represents. The greater part of Noori is what happens backstage and all the people that work together to bring the idea forward.

We brainstormed this current album with 15 other people. That’s the kind of collaboration that keeps the idea of Noori alive.

Ali Noor: I think all of the breakups are over. As Hamza said, this is now a totally different journey. I know for a fact that for me now I have clarity about what Noori is all about. If all goes well, Noori is about to go on a journey that’s going to set a lot of people free — including us.

I don’t see it like a break up; I see it like a make up.

Dawn: Does inner-band conflict fuel creativity?

Ali Hamza: Conflict and tension in a band is a very natural thing. If people try to make it seem like there’s nothing wrong, then that’s probably an unnatural outlook.

Ali Noor: Things that make us unhappy are generally things that are external. To make music I need to be happy.

Ali Hamza: As an artist I can say one thing, I am definitely fuelled by (inner) conflict. It helps me explore many aspects of my creativity. Probably I come up with the sadder songs and Ali Noor comes up with the happier songs.

Ali Noor: My creative process is very different. My creative process changes when my life starts to change and I start exploring. For me, all of my creativity comes out of new attractions or certain new factors of life.

Dawn: I was wondering if you guys could talk about the previous breakups and reunions, why did they happen, getting back together and not being together again, learning from that.

Ali Hamza: I don’t want to get into that for the simple reason that I’m at that stage in my life where going over these things seem almost fruitless, redundant and unnecessarily… I’m so focused on the album right now that these kind of thoughts, analyses… it’s kind of like, boring for me. I could, but I’m not in that place right now where I would want to.

Ali Noor: We’ve gone through all of that, it’s a part of our journey. I would love to answer all of these questions, but I feel now is not the time. One thing needs to be added here is that the relationships are still there, there are a few skirmishes here and there, but we’ve moved on.

Ali Hamza: We’ve grown up with all these guys. The relationship is still there but musically we’ve gone into a different zone.

Ali Noor: Now people come and go and it’s simply not an issue. It’s not a bad thing anyway. If things go as planned, it would be surprising the number of people that would be a part of this band.

Of course Hamza and I are more than just the band, we’re brothers, we function in a different way. Unless one of us dies, we’re stuck in this relationship (laughs) there is not much we can do!

Noori - Publicity photo
Noori - Publicity photo

Dawn: You’re set to release the third album in the Noori trilogy after Suno Ke Main Hun Jawan (2003) and Peeli Patti Aur Raja Jani Ki Gol Dunya (2005). It’s been 10 years since your last album and 12 years since your first one. Why did you take such a long time before releasing the third album?

Ali Noor: It’s because we’ve been very, very confused. We were trying to do a thousand things all at the same time. I can safely say in hindsight that ever since releasing 'Do Dil' we’ve just been releasing music.

The thought of never releasing an album never occurred to us, we always wanted to release an album. We’ve been writing (expletive) loads of songs.

Add to the fact that I’m almost turning 40. Normally by this time, people usually give up. Everybody around me, not in Noori’s case, but a lot of people who started around me are literally giving up.

Having said that, I don’t think the country’s situation has affected us.

Ali Hamza: That only affects us when we’re ready to release the album.

I think one factor we’ve failed to take into account is that for 10 years we’ve focused on putting out a decent live act which is a huge problem in Pakistan.

Ali Noor: And the one main reason behind that is because live acts are our only source of income.

Dawn: Are there any singles that you’ve released otherwise, that you plan to incorporate into this album?

Ali Noor: Yes. There is 'Mujhay Roko', '1947' and 'Kedaar'. We were thinking of putting 'Nindra' from Pepsi Smash but we changed our mind because we don’t have the time to develop that song. I think it’s a brilliant song. Other than these three songs, they’re all new songs.

Dawn: In this day and age, with people more focused on releasing singles online, do you think it’s wise to release your music in an album format? How important is it for you to release an album vs singles one by one?

Ali Noor: Album to album hai bhai, album to karna zaroori hai. Album is my book. I don’t want to do short stories anymore.

Ali Hamza: How can you not put out an album? It’s a thematic trilogy.

Now that the trilogy is on its way to completion, what’s next for Noori? It feels like the end of one era for the band, what are the plans for the next one?

Ali Hamza: Let’s wait for the album to release, then we’ll start talking about the next one.

Ali Noor: There are lots of plans. Loads!

Published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine, September 13th, 2015


sa Sep 20, 2015 04:20am
when you are together ,you always nailed it !
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