Bringing back the jazz: a one-on-one with Red Blood Cat


Murtaza Farooq got the chance to have a frank tête-à-tête with the innovative jazz rock band from Islamabad, Red Blood Cat, which comprises Zain on guitars, Shameer on vocals and Cheems on drums. Here is what they had to say:
Red Blood Cat is a unique name to say the least. Does it signify anything and how did it come into being?
Cheems: To me, Red Blood Cat signifies the moment when your brain freezes and you just put a few words together and mumble something.
Zain: To me, it is a group of friends doing fun things.
Shameer: The name might have been mumbled during a gig, and it took a matter of seconds to make it up, but it signifies more than one would expect: it signifies a cat and our band.
What is Red Blood Cat’s core line-up and what genre do you guys classify yourselves into?
We are Shameer, Zain and Cheems. Together we are Red Blood Cat.
Cheems: I classify our music to be retarded nit-new jazz rock.
Zain: Asad jaaz.
Shameer: Shameer, Cheems and Zain merged into supertripyonic proglaze jazz fusion.
We’re getting a ton of great music from Islamabad, for instance Bumbu Sauce. How is the recording scene different from Lahore’s gritty and mainly independent recording scene?
Cheems: I think it’s a privilege to be able to record and produce your own music. That’s what we try doing. I guess that aligns us with the ‘indie’ scene of ‘wherever-abad’.
Zain: It’s the same I guess, just not as gritty I suppose. Islamabad is a very small place with a few good studios.
Shameer: The scene is pretty much independent and it really needs to pick up.
“Summer Shampoo” was an amazingly thought-provoking song whose lyrics complemented the low-key vocals. Did anything personal affect the lyrics? What is the lyric writing process, what comes first, the lyrics or the beat?
Shameer: The writing process involved a bucket-load of summer shampoo… The objective of this specific song was to make it simple yet flexible, a song that could be stretched in many directions. This obviously could create some confusion for certain people but the song’s interpretation should be left to the minds of the listener. It’s not that complicated.
Cheems: Summer shampoo doesn’t really have a beat per se. It just blends with the vocals and the runny guitars and sort of supports the other stuff.
Zain: Can’t say, it’s not like any one of us comes in with a huge manuscript that everyone else adheres to. So it’s mostly chaos that is used as a common reference.
How did you guys meet up and how did you decide to form a band against Pakistan’s unfavourable circumstances?
Cheems: We met in our school days, when the circumstances were anything but unfavourable.
Is Red Blood Cat just a hobby or something much more?
It’s a cat.
What are your influences, both lyrical and technical?
Cheems: Just about anything that creates a sound inspires me musically. The Canterbury Jazz scene in the 60s and 70s was quite fascinating. I guess I’m quite inspired by some of the bands that were a part of it. Bands like Soft Machine, National Health and Gong made some sweet music. To answer the second part of your question, I’d say as a drummer I regard Bill Bruford to be a kind of god.
Shameer: Music that makes you think. Good music.
It has been ages since anything came out, do Red Blood Cat’s fans have anything to look forward to?
For sure! We are currently in the process of recording a bunch of new tunes. Stay tuned!
Any advice to newcomers to the scene?
Cheems: Improvise.
Shameer: Treat music with the same amount of care and respect as it treats you.
Zain: Try something new.


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