Wicked Mike: With seemingly a million bands out there, didn’t your parents tell you to rather become a lawyer? 🙂
Zeeshan: Haha! I’m guessing you’ve probably noticed that I actually am a lawyer! Haven’t really been a practicing one — have spend most of my career as a label executive and then a tech entrepreneur. Fortunately, my parents have always been supportive of my choices, including this musical journey.
Wicked Mike: Seriously though, the indie music scene is tough. What are the biggest challenges you face?
Zeeshan: It is definitely a tough scene — with lots of great bands out there and millions of artists trying to make it. The biggest challenge as a result is competing for everyone’s attention. Every potential fan has so many options not just for music but for all kinds of entertainment — the internet, social media, video games, video. Every musician faces an ongoing struggle just to get people to care.
Wicked Mike: And what thrills have kept you motivated?
Zeeshan: One big thrill is hearing people all over the world say that my songs move them. That’s the ultimate — knowing that you’re connecting to other people with the songs. The other major thrill is playing live — it’s always electrifying to play for a packed audience in a club. Love it.
Wicked Mike: Your music’s as good as any radio rock out there. Have any labels been nibbling for a piece of you?
Zeeshan: Thanks! I set up my own label to market and distribute The Commuters, but, like you guessed, I’ve definitely had some interest from other labels. It’s very flattering but, at this point, things are going well so I’ve decided to keep building this organically…and I’ll know when the time is right to partner up with someone else.
Wicked Mike: You don’t make an album as solid as Rescue without having already paid some dues. Where are you and your band mates coming from musically?
Zeeshan: I’ve been a musician most of my life. Been playing guitar and piano since I was a teenager, been singing and performing at open mics around New York for a while…and I’ve also been an engineer and a producer for many years now. I wrote all the songs on the album over the past several years. Uri and I have been friends since we were 6 – and we picked up the guitar around the same time. He is a producer in New York and we co-produced the album at his studio. Ben (bass) had worked with Uri before, and Lorne (who played drums on the album) is also a producer, and Uri had worked with him before.
Wicked Mike: I compared some of your tracks to the more commercial material from Better Than Ezra and Our Lady Peace. What influences do you hear?
Zeeshan: I noticed the comparison on your blog — very interesting. I actually like both those bands a lot — neither made it as big in the US as I was hoping they would. Personally I have a range of influences — some classical (Bach), some classic rock (Led Zeppelin, Allman Brothers, Eric Clapton), some 90s rock (Radiohead, Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins), some world music..even some pop.
Wicked Mike: Given the ultimate gig, where would it be held and which 2 bands would be supporting you?
Zeeshan: Central Park in New York City. I’d love to play with the Foo Fighters and Radiohead but, realistically, we’d be supporting them 🙂
Wicked Mike: What are The Commuter’s plans for 2013?
Zeeshan: More touring outside of the New York area for sure. Plus I’m writing more songs now so hopefully we’ll have new material to put out.
Wicked Mike: Leave us with your favourite line from your own song…
Zeeshan: I’ll figure it out as I make my way.