While Coke Studio holds our hearts, in reality, it is Pepsi that we have a lot to thank for. Not only Pepsi’s Battle of the Bands blessed us with the likes of Fawad Khan but it also gave us Aaroh. Aaroh was the band of our childhood. It was the band that adorned our walls as posters and the band that we listened to on repeat.
Aaroh came to the forefront through Pepsi’s Battle of the Bands in 2002. They made their mark in the competition by bagging the win, leaving Entity Paradigm (EP) at second position under the showmanship of Fawad Khan, Ahmed Ali Butt and Xulfi.
Aaroh, just like any other every-day normal band has gone through life’s many twisted turn of events, both on a personal level as well as situational.
First, their founding guitarist Nabeel Nihal Chishty left the band. Second, their vocalist Farooq left the country to put his skills to the test in search of greater opportunity. Third, their talented new addition to the gang, Haider Hashmi on guitar, passed away after a stifling cry of battling with cancer.
Aaroh definitely seems like a faint and distant memory with their forgotten hits like Na Kaho, Rang Neela and Jalan. However, news is that 2017 might be the year of Aaroh’s comeback as the band gears up to perform at the upcoming Battle of the Bands as defending champions.
Fast forward to the present times, and Aaroh frontman Farooq Ahmed is back to become a judge at the very show that launched his career. However what led to this moment, are the things that happened between then and now.
Farooq also comments further on the fact that Aaroh had never split due to differences within the band or specific clashes of ego; they only took an early bow because they realized times were changing for music in Pakistan.
“I am really glad that Pepsi remembered us,” adds Farooq. “I appreciate their effort in bringing us back. Nostalgia. Hahaha.” He may be ecstatic about making a comeback after a decade but music hasn’t been his day job since he owned a chain of One dollar stores in the US. “I agree, I have gotten rusty,” he quips, “But hey… It comes naturally to me, I have been singing since I was 8, so I don’t think it’s going make that big of a difference.”
The man who had once dreamed of becoming the next Axl Rose of Pakistan traded his rock star life for a quiet home in the suburbs. However, Farooq took his business forward with the same passion he had for his music.
“People used to laugh at me when I was in school…Now when I say I want to have at least 1,000 stores, people still laugh at me.”
We all can’t wait to see if the industry is ready for Aaroh’s third album. “If we find a decent deal than we might just end up releasing something later this year,” Farooq claims.
The Pakistani music industry has changed in the past 10 years and so is the audience. Where Aaroh’s comeback will give a lot of dead and dormant bands hope, it may also turn out to be a disaster. “We have not been missing out on much,” says Anthony, “I agree that the security situation took a huge toll on the concert culture but things have been great since last year. As far as changing tastes is concerned, music is music, whether it’s an Elvis song or Dream Theatre, if it has to work, it will”.