Growls from the War zone

Kabul

Music in Afghanistan was considered un-Islamic under the Taliban for many years. The assault on the arts continued in the '90s, and was particularly focused on music, as tapes and musical instruments were burnt and musicians beaten up. "But for how long will we keep hiding and not express ourselves? Music is a way of expressing what we feel about everything," says Pedram, a regular at the Sound Central Music Festival in Kabul, a sort of secret music festival that is not announced through banners in colleges, but texted about like a rave, and discussed in hush hush tones before it takes place in a basement. And this counterculture movement, in arguably the world's most riotous city, has young Afghans sitting up and taking notice. "There is a lot of anger among people and they consider music as a way of letting it out. You should see them at our gigs headbanging to what we create," says Yusoof.

The band was formed in 2008 when two cousins, Lemar Saifullah and Qais Shaqasi, met the Foushanji brothers through Beard, a musician and filmmaker himself. "We were just a bunch of students who wanted to play music. In fact, we composed really weird stuff in the beginning, apart from singing covers. We learnt everything while making music," says Pedram, adding that their initial audience comprised of expats and aid workers but gradually, many students began to come in. The band's first gig may have been a home performance with friends as the audience but it was soon performing at British Embassy bars and the South Central Festival. In fact, their first professional gig was at the Afghanistan National Gallery.

Hoodies, one of the few clubs in Kabul, has witnessed what these 20-somethings and Black Sabbath fans are capable of, as a few fascinated bopping heads at a recent gig was proof enough of the band's popularity. "People forget their issues while listening to us," says Pedram, adding that they also had to keep a low profile for almost six months after some threats.

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