Multinational Corporations Interview
The metal scene in Pakistan is really underground. It is hard to find information about bands from the country and even hard to get hold of their music. I was unaware that there were grindcore bands in Pakistan until last week I came across Multinational Corporations from Lahore. The angry duo of Hassan and Sheraz recently released a EP ‘Jamat-al-Maut‘ meaning Congregation of Death in Urdu about the ‘fucked up conditions of living in Pakistan.’ I spoke to the vocalist Hassan about the EP, the writing and recording of the release and also about the metal scene in Pakistan. Read my interview with him below:
Hassan and Sheraz (Left to Right)
Your EP Jamat-al-Maut was released last month. Tell us a bit about the album.
Hassan: The idea of Jamat-al-Maut EP came about at the tail-end of 2012 when MxCx was in hiatus. Aneeq Zaman of Throttle Instinct (Grindcore band from Karachi) made this cool artwork and came up with the title too, and I showed it to Sheraz. We both got stoked as fuck and decided to bring Multinational Corporations back to life. We made the song “Salaab” for the Tam89 Pakistani Punk compilation which announced our arrival back on the scene haha. That and the track “Advertisement Overdose” made up our 2013 Promo. Due to working on other personal projects, university and a little laziness we never could dedicate time to completing the EP in 2013 but we took 4 days out in March 2014 to just let out all our dormant hatred and disgust with everyday life in Pakistan. Musically we wanted to harken back to the days of old school crust punk and grindcore, taking influences from the music and aesthetics of Terrorizer, Brutal Truth, Disrupt, Driller Killer etc. There’s a lot of hardcore punk influences in there too since we love bands like Integrity and Nails and wanted a bit of a fresh touch in there too. So alongside d-beats and blasts you have total mosh parts too hahaha. The lyrical themes present in it are an indicator of the band’s identity and our stance against religious fundamentalism, sectarian divisions, capitalist exploitations, foolish mundane patriotism and everything that grinds our gears. We wanted to make something that we could look back at ten years from now and feel proud of. I think we achieved that much, at least.
How long was the songwriting process for the album?
Hassan: The song-writing process was parallel with the recording process. All songs were written as we recorded. Basically we would discuss a song idea, Sheraz would write riffs and in an hour or two the song was made and recorded. Except for “Salaab,” “Advertisement Overdose,” and “White Collar Communism” which were written in 2013 – Salaab and Advertisement Overdose were a part of our “Promo 2013.” For the lyrics I either used poetry/rants I had written in the past or wrote new lyrics on the spot.
The album was recorded over 4 days. What was the recording process like?
Hassan: Like I said, the recording process ran parallel with the writing process. It was very laid back and fun. I mean, despite all the hate, aggression and rage running rampant in the music – it was just 2 friends having fun and making music that they could relate to. Often friends from other bands we were linked to such as Ahsan from Irritum, Amar from Foreskin, etc were at the recording. Even random strangers were sometimes there watching Sheraz lay down stomping riffs and me put down my vocals. A guy from my university was there taking pictures for some research or something which was really fucking rad as well. In retrospect, it was a ‘hit and run’ job. Once a song was done, we didn’t look back or think much on it. I guess we could have wrote a few more songs or whatever if the electricity wasn’t going after every damn hour but those little frustrations just added into the overall pissed off vibe of the music hahaha. We’re satisfied with all the songs and we listen to them ourselves because they’re shit we wrote for ourselves first and foremost.
How does the album compare to your previous release, “Equality” demo? Hassan: It’s miles and leagues ahead of what we did on “Equality.” That demo was just in our nascent stages and we weren’t completely sure of where we wanted to go with our music. There were also two vocalists on the album – me and Haider. I was more of an old school hardcore, crust, grind kinda guy and Haider was basically a slam and deathcore fan. Once he left the band, me and Sheraz were able to iron out the kind of sound we wanted – the fact that me and Sheraz share a great musical chemistry helped too. We had grown as human beings, as music-makers, as friends, etc since Equality and it shows in Jamat-al-Maut. The production is better, the songs are more defined, the riffs are more badass, the vocals and lyrics are more poignant. But we’re not gonna stand still at Jamat-al-Maut. We know how and where we can improve and we wanna keep on taking things to the next level.
The cd version of the album is going to be released on Salute Records (Sweden) and Extreme Terrot Productions (Holland) will be releasing the tape version. How did the deals come about?
Hassan: Salute Records put out Dionysus CD two years ago and Dionysus is Sheraz’s doom/death/black metal band so we had that connection with him. Salute are great at what they do and are one of the coolest DIY underground labels around. Tony has been doing this for years and knows everything about good promotion, distribution and whatnot – and is overall a very cool guy! Extreme Noise/Grindfather are doing a joint release on tape. I basically got into contact with A-Doom Martin of Extreme Noise Productions after he discovered my other grindcore band Kafir-E-Azam. He runs a really nice label, some awesome bands have put out their stuff through him so it’s gonna be nice working with him! We’re also gonna be on a compilation album with 2-3 new songs, released by his label.
You are also part of Foreskin along with Sheraz. Sheraz is also part of Dionysus. Do you have any other bands? How do you’ll manage between the bands?
Hassan: Managing between bands is not such a big problem for me since I have just one job to do – scream on a microphone. The real busy motherfucker is Sheraz ahaha. He’s a badass guitarist and a dedicated individual, splitting time between Dionysus (Doom/Black/Death), Irritum (Funeral Doom), Foreskin (Thrash/Hardcore), Flaw (Experimental Rock), Ilhaam (Black Metal), Marwolaeth (Death Metal). He does most of the songwriting for all of them as well as the actual recording and it’s just crazy. Whenever you’re at his place, something is going on musically and I think he may be starting some new project soon too! As for me I mainly dwell in the realm of grindcore with my band Kafir-E-Azam with Myosis guitarist Asadullah Qureshi and Nihilist Holiday which is a noise/grind/punk/industrial/etc long-distance project with Jeff Fischer. My first band was Foreskin which I began as a crossover thrash band but it’s grown a lot while still being a mix of hardcore punk and thrash metal, Sheraz also plays in it.
You also have a blog Eternal Abhorrence. Can you recommend bands from Pakistan that we should check out.
Hassan: Yeah Eternal Abhorrence was started after I ended my Paki Metal blog “The Iron Markhor.” I lost interest in Pakistani music and wanted to focus on the hardcore/metal/grind/etc bands from foreign countries, including India. I’ve managed to do some interviews with my favorite bands Doom and Integrity as well as talk to prominent US Hardcore bands Skinfather and Xibalba so I’m content with how the blog has developed. Being able to make connections in India through partnerships with Kunal have helped me a lot as well. As far as recommendations go. Apart from the bands I’ve mentioned so far, check out Bvlghvm (Powerviolence), Marg (Punk Rock/Heavy Metal), Tabahi (Thrash Metal), Lohikarma (Post-Metal/Black Metal), Necktarium (Shoegaze/Black Metal). Check all the names I’ve already dropped in my answers too!
Any Final words?
Hassan: Don’t restrict yourself to any one genre. Don’t attach yourself sentimentally to any single frame of thought. Keep an open mind. Don’t let the bastards keep you down. Know your rights and always keep a DIY mindset. Cuz in the end no one’s gonna do you any favors.
Listen to Jamat Al Maut below
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