Anything related to Pakistan holds a dear soft spot in my heart. As a Pakistani first and foremost but also because of my own unique situation of actually never having lived there thus not really knowing what life is like for fellow brethren – especially those brethren who are flying the flag of heavy music.
So, out of nowhere one day I come across this incredible person named Hassan Dozakhi who lives in Pakistan and is an all out heavy music fanatic, much like myself and most of you reading this site, and I spent the next couple hours reading through stacked full of Asian-related interviews, scene reports and music reviews on his blog entitled: Eternal Abhorrence.
Over the coming weeks, months and quite possibly the existence of this website, I will be relying on this goldmine of Asian information (especially South Asian) to bring you the best content we can.
To honor this dude for his commitment to Pakistani music in general and for all that he has done for plenty of others through his blog, I decided to do a super casual but informative interview on all the huge things he’s currently a part of.
I certainly think that if you take the time to read through this – you will be pleasantly surprised about what’s going on in Pakistan in terms of metal and punk rock.
So Hassan – how’s Pakistan treating you right now? Where are you exactly as we do this interview?
Pakistan’s treating me the same way it always has, haha, just throwing in extra traffic and commuting problems because the fucker in charge only wants to build roads!
And I’m sitting in the living room of the apartment which I share with my siblings, uncle, mother and maternal grandparents.
Are you in Karachi or Lahore? In terms of music it seems like people always say Karachi is where it’s going on.
I’m in Lahore. Karachi definitely has a more “happening” music scene as compared to Lahore right now, but Islamabad trumps them both, really. Every city has had its glory days, Lahore had its days in the late 90s til mid 00s.
Wow! I’ve never heard that Islamabad was where things were happening. Is that in terms of music generally speaking or specifically heavy music?
Music generally. Rock, metal, I think even pop music. I believe it’s partly to do with the extra entertainment taxes in Lahore but the Islamabad audience at the moment is bigger than Lahore right now. The biggest metal event in the country happens annually there, Hellfest. They’ve had a good scene since around 2008.
Tell me more about Hellfest in Pakistan! That is incredibly exciting news for me (but I’m biased because I am Pakistani) because Hellfest has a history in the US and then France has a MUCH larger version of it which I got to experience when I toured with Sick of it All in 2013. To now know there’s a Pakistani version is insane! How big is the festival? What bands have come down? Where is it held – I presume it isn’t that easy to openly promote these types of events in Pakistan for various reasons (mainly security)?
It’s a pretty big event, and it’s the only event of that scale that caters exclusively to metal. It’s hosted in Lok Virsa theater in Islamabad, the stage is fucking epic, the bands come from all over the country and so do the crowds. It’s basically that big stage big crowd experience that you don’t get in regular gigs. Oh, and no relation to the Western Hellfest haha It’s not easy to put on gigs of such magnitude in Pakistan in any case, security issues happen but there’s a shitload of other stuff that could go wrong too, much like any other country.
That is seriously some exciting news! How many years has it been going on? Where could people find out more about this Pakistani metal fest?
It’s been going on for a fair few years now. The people who put it on are good hard working people who are doing what they can to promote metal in Pakistan. You can find out more from their FB page. https://www.facebook.com/HellfestPakistan
In terms of heavy music development in Pakistan – what are some bands that we should definitely be checking out?
Some of the best local bands would be Karachi Butcher Clan, Dionysus, Irritum, Tabahi. KBC play death metal pure and unadulterated. Dionysus and Irritum are part of Pakistan’s new doom metal wave and Tabahi are ripping German style thrash from Karachi.
Shows are rare. When I entered the scene a decade ago gigs used to happen in rented theater halls. But by the time I started my own bands, there were no shows happening. It was too expensive to put one on. So I organized shows in backyards, paintball fields, my university’s acting studio, and a jam room since then. Kids have also put on shows in whatever place they could rent such as swimming pools or wedding areas.
But it’s a lot more infrequent now than it used to be in the early 00s. We went from having 4 gigs a month to 2 gigs a year.
And what’s the turnout for these types of events and how do promoters go about promoting events? Strictly online or is their a culture of flyers etc? Why do you think it is that shows are so much more infrequent now? Is it the typical ebbs and flows of the musical cycle that things are hot one minute and then not so much the next? Or in Pakistan’s case are their other factors involved?
Online I guess. We post flyers too but mostly online. Turnout depends on the promotion. We’ve had audiences from 50 to 350 since 2010 in Lahore.
A multitude of reasons has led to the infrequency of shows. The original promoters and sponsors lost interest in making gigs happen when it was making less profits. So it was left to kids like me to put on shows for metal bands. I was 18 when I put on my first gig in a backyard. It’s impossible to find an affordable venue. We lack normal indoor places where bands can just play to audiences. There isn’t much of a gig culture left in Pakistan and people aren’t even enthusiastic about live music anymore. They’ll spend 2000 rs at a restaurant, 1000 on hashish, but 300 rs for a ticket and they flip a shit.
So tell us more about your band – how long have you been around and how many releases have you put out?
My band Multinational Corporations has been around since 2011, we put out a demo in the same year before going on a bit of a hiatus. We returned in late 2012/early 2013, took part in a vinyl compilation of Pakistani punk/hardcore/grindcore/crust stuff and eventually put out our debut EP “Jamat-al-Maut” last year.
I’ve heard and seen online that this EP has gotten amazing reviews from the world over! That must feel great!
Indeed it does, man. We recorded that shit in a small room with equipment that we bought with our own saved up money, recorded it in a few days, put in hours mixing and mastering, getting all our rage out on it haha. To see it continue to have a great response is an incredible motivation to continue making more angry shit.
What has been the response in Pakistan for all these great accolades you guys have been getting? What are you hoping to accomplish with Multinational Corporations?
The best thing about our response in Pakistan is that people unfamiliar with grindcore or crust punk have enjoyed our material. Kids as young as 17 want to start their own grind bands now. The live shows have been great as well. People sing along to the lyrics and mosh to the riffs, it’s all very fun. My favorite moment was our last gig where I threw our newly arrived cds in the crowd at the opening of Stratum Slave, it breaks out into a mosh and ends in a circle pit
Awesome! So tell me more about the inspiration behind your amazing Eternal Abhorrence blog that you’ve been doing for a few years now.
I used to run a Pakistani metal blog called Iron Markhor for many years. Eventually I became disillusioned with Pakistani music and wanted to just cover my favorite bands from my favorite genres across the world. I reached out to labels and musicians on my Facebook list and the blog started doing very well. What sets the blog apart is its focus on South Asian heavy music as a whole, while still maintaining an overall international outlook.
Definitely – it’s been a great resource for our site and I want to personally thank you for putting so much heart and soul into documenting and helping promote what’s going on out here. It’s through your site that I found unbelievable bands like Exalter from Bangladesh and Jugaa from Nepal…sick bands! In your response above you actually mentioned Pakistani hardcore bands? I feel Pakistan and India (much like the rest of the world of course) is certainly metal heavy and less into punk rock and hardcore. So I’d love to know what, if any, development there is on the punk/hardcore front.
Pakistan is definitely a “metal” country. The punk/etc bands on the vinyl compilation were basically side projects of metal dudes. Even MxCx was originally a side project haha. Some good punk bands are Bvlghvm, Throttle Instinct, and Marg. Marg actually does their stuff purely in Pashto, a language common in Afghanistan and Pakistan
Bvlghvm is power violence or fastcore stuff influenced by Spazz. Throttle Instinct is a blend of early 80s hardcore punk with early 90s death metal and grindcore. Marg is influenced by 70s punk and late 80s grungey punk.
Amazing…alright man – I think this has been incredibly insightful in terms of getting the word about Pakistan, your band, the scene both metal and punk rock, and your site…to wrap up this incredibly informative interview I have to ask about popular misconceptions about Pakistan and hope that you can help shine some light on the reality of every day life in Pakistan. I know for a fact that Pakistan has some of the MOST hospitable people on this planet, whether people believe me or not, and beautiful picturesque scenery to top it all off. What would you say to people who are a little wary of wanting to come out to Pakistan to travel and/or check out the music scene there?
We’re just a bunch of normal people trying our hardest to live normal lives. We wake up, we put in work, we go to sleep. And repeat. We’re not some camel-riding bandits hahaha.
Don’t think of Pakistan as another wartorn Muslim country. Understand that we are a multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, multi-layered country, with each culture having it’s own rich history. Don’t believe mindless propaganda.
If you come round here you’d be taken aback by everything you have to take in, really. But what else can you expect from a land that’s wedged between Central and South Asia, home of the ancient Indus and Gandhara civilizations, a land where everyone from Alexander to Cyrus has exerted some sort of control over, a land where everyone from the Scythians to the Turks have ruled over directly? It’s a fantastic place when you put aside the mindless political mumbo jumbo. Just like any other place in the world.
Word – good luck to Multinational Corporations and your blog Eternal Abhorrence buddy! Let’s keep this Asian train moving forward and upwards!
More info on the band can be found at their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/multinationalcorporationspakistan
Pick up their latest release Jamat-Al-Maut at their bandcamp: