The solution is a case of pragmatics taken to the extreme: they decided to name it zerobridge. Along with being a provocative name evoking many meanings, zerobridge is a sentimental place for anyone familiar with Kashmir. Just across the bridge, after passing through military checkpoints and barbed wire fences, is a cafe called the Zero Inn; a place where the brothers, family and friends go when reunited in Kashmir to hang out and have "cold coffees" (which are like frapuchinos, but far better according to the brothers). To describe the sound of a band as distinctive as zerobridge can be tough. Din constantly answers this question simply: "We're just a rock n' roll band." This is true, but upon closer listening one can hear their South Asian heritage weaving its way through their Western influences to create a unique musicality and tonality.
While bands like U2, The Beatles, The Replacements, The Clash, Joy Division/New Order, Bowie are major influences, Din also cites South Asian music like The Sabri Bros and Hindi film composers like RD Burman, A.R. Rahman, and Nadeem Sharavan as inspirations. The band's first record, released im 2003 contains many political songs like "Suffering Moses" (which reappears in newer form on 2007's Havre De Grace EP), "Refugee Citizen," and "Nothing Doing, " because at the time, and even more so now, the world climate was such that you could not ignore the issues. Specifically there are lyrics from the brother's experience traveling to Kashmir in December 2001; that trip set a lot of the tone of the first record. Seeing and learning about the hardships that their family and friends had endured over the last 18 years was an eye opener for the brothers, especially during their time spent there in the harsh winter months.
"I couldn't help but write about what I saw," Din says, "but even then, we still felt like outsiders. So when I wrote songs like 'Suffering Moses' or 'Nothing Doing' I tried to be true to what I experienced and cognizant that I was removed from it all at the same time. Reading authors like Edward Said, Agha Shahid Ali, Sudha Kohl, and Salman Rushdie have also inspired me and enhanced the overall worldview of my lyrics." When their first record was completed, the brothers were in NYC anxious to bring zerobridge to a live audience. Din explains, "It was crazy and kind of a nightmare at first, but exciting at the same time.
There were so many parts and layers on the first record that we couldn't possibly reproduce everything live. Our first gig was absolutely horrible. We played five songs, White Stripes style, to a packed audience at the Sidewalk Cafe in the East Village. When it was over, Mo and I just looked at each other and broke down in hysterical laughter.
It was all so absurd, but it was the first step to what we were trying to achieve. I decided that I had to write new songs for the live setting, and figure out ways we could transpose our recorded songs to the stage." After countless auditions in 2004, zerobridge had finally found their bass player in Greg, affectionately dubbed "The Quota" by the brothers. The band became a strong and tight unit with the newer and older songs blossoming in the live setting. More shows and a bigger following developed, but most significantly the band gained endorsement, guidance, and production assistance from legendary David Bowie/John Lennon guitarist Earl Slick during the summer of 2005.
But as great as these accomplishments were, zerobridge had to continue to work harder, refocusing their energies and honing in on live material and newer songs. In the winter of 2006/2007, they finally finished recording what is to be their EP, entitled "Havre de Grace." The name and title track comes from a town in northern Maryland, close to where the brothers grew up. "It means Harbor of Grace," explains Din. "I always just loved the sound of it and what it could mean.
The tune itself sounds fresh and defines who we are right now and where we have been as a band. I think it's the best thing I've written to date and the band's best performance." A video accompanies the track, directed by Musa Sayeed, who won the best documentary short at 2007's Tribeca Film Festival for "A Son's Sacrifice." Other songs on the EP include "Late Bloomer," a soaring track that celebrates and questions a passionate but fleeting relationship. The incendiary political satire of "The Shake" sheds light on the hypocrisies of religious extremism. A reworking of "Suffering Moses," originally off the bands first LP, is an unabashedly beautiful ode to Kashmir which is followed by the razor edged bravado of "This is My Version," a live favorite that sounds like a mashup of the Smiths and the ragged snarl of Iggy Pop. During 2008 zerobridge embarked on a new strategy to get their music heard, by self-releasing a new single every month since August until the end of the year.
Din explains, "We've been STRICTLY independent for as long as we've been together and maybe even more than we would like to be. We've accumulated a catalog of songs that no one's heard outside our regional fan base and have not recorded until now. It seems that in this digital age for music, the single is the format of choice by the fans – and what better way for a band like us to establish ourselves and get our music heard than to use the internet as our distribution company. It's still a challenge.
Creating music still takes time and money, but it's on our terms and while I still think they are necessary, we don't have to deal with labels - just directly with music fans. It's a tough thing to do, to be self-sustaining in this industry and in New York City no less. But what keeps us going are these songs and that we know that we are worth our salt. What we're doing is real and needs to be heard, God willing." Mo passionately adds, "No gimmicks.
We put our hearts, souls and sweat into whatever we do. It's about love, war, and curiosity I suppose. It's just painfully true, good rock n' roll." Zerobridge will go into the studio in early 2009 to record full length record slated for release in the Spring of next year. Read more on Last.fm.
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