From being heralded as Asia’s biggest rock act that redefined Sufi rock, Junoon has come a long way. The band that was applauded by U2’s Bono for their efforts at propagating world peace, is finally taking a break, what with all its members concentrating on their solo careers.
“The band has not split, but yes, we are concentrating on our solo careers,” is how Ali Azmat, the radical vocalist of Junoon, sums up the situation. “Brian left the band last year and is back in the US of A now. We were continuously on the road and he was missing his family like crazy. He was always talking about his kids and how he missed being with them. He went into depression and we would often find him crying inconsolably. There was no other option but to let him go,” he adds.
Salman Ahmed shifted base to USA as well, but for his own reasons. “I have known Salman for the last 18 years. But now the dynamics have changed. Priorities have changed. He wanted to give his children the best education and environment for growing up. That was Salman’s priority and he responded to it by shifting base. Today we are giving each other the room for personal growth. The respect for each other, however, is intact,” says Azmat.
As for himself, Azmat has been signed up by the Alanis Morisette Music Company. “I have been signed up as a solo artiste by them. Both Alanis and me are going to work on a song together which will be out soon,” Ali says with a hint of pride.
But back to the times when the band members were together, what was it that made Junoon such a vocal supporter of world peace and Indo-Pak friendship? “It wasn’t a conscious thing we did. Any intelligent, educated human being who has morals and ideology would want peace to work at any given point of time, considering the amount of strife in the world over diverse issues,” avers Azmat. But surely thing have changed: six years ago it was difficult for Junoon to even come to India to perform. And like Ali Azmat puts it, “Today, we have to be smart and harness our resources and make the best of it. We have to increase trade and bilateral ties so that both the countries can prosper,” said Ali.
Azmat asserts that Junoon’s music reiterated the band members’ belief in the Indo-Pak peace process. “As independent nations, India and Pakistan have a history of a little over 50 years. But collectively, they have a history of more than a thousand years. Naturally then, there are more similarities than dissimilarities between the two countries and we have to understand that. That is what we have tried to portray through our music. A song like ‘Saiyonee…’ dealt with issues like lack of education, abject poverty and other social issues, common to both the countries,” said Ali. And like they say, music is the universal language.