When the music plays, there will always be fonder memories of the times that were.
Popular Pakistani band Strings has broken up after collaborating for 33 years and fans on both sides of the border are unwilling to digest the news. But as the reality sinks in, Faisal Kapadia spells out the bitter fact for all, “95 percent of the bands break up,” he says, adding, “Me and Bilal (Maqsood) used to discuss often, every couple of years in fact, that how long do we want to continue doing this. There is always a moment in time when things start to come down. So, shall we wait or end it on a high note?”
“Last year, pre-Covid was a fabulous time for us. We released Thirty, our album, marking three decades of Strings. We toured, played concerts and everything was amazing. We did not want to linger on for another five or ten years. With the glory, fame and money coming in, it is a difficult decision to take. We saw what was good for Strings and decided to end and celebrate it. We both turn 50 this year and frankly, we had a great run with the band.”
Sitting in Dubai, Faisal reminisces announcing the end of an era with a push of a button. “It was an emotional moment for me. The time I was about to share that post (announcing Strings dissolution), my wife was sitting beside me and I asked her ‘shall I go for it or not?’ because once it’s out, it’s out! But it was a mutual decision between me and Bilal and we wanted to end it on a note where we felt we were the strongest,” he shares.
Strings burst onto the music scene in the early 90s with their song ‘Sir Kiye Yeh Pahar’ airing on MTV Asia. The group that was formed in college is still looked up to by the youth as the ultimate success story in the industry. The connection was instant and looking back now, Faisal recalls all the fond memories he and the Strings have from the time they played in India. “The response we got from India has been amazing. We saw so much of love there. Apart from the music that we made, people praised the fact that we are from Pakistan. These things really mattered to us.”
Faisal shares that when the bilateral relations soured, Strings “missed” performing in India and waited for an opportunity to come back and play for their fans. Now, he wishes for upcoming musicians to tour back and forth. “We used to have an amazing time performing in India. The audience there is fabulous and they especially love the Pakistani music. They used to love Strings. We always used to wait for the opportunity to come to India. Unfortunately, things turned in a different way and it wasn’t the same. We were hoping for it to get better so that we get an opportunity to come back. I wish the new musicians from Pakistan and India get to experience the exposure we got.”
His message for fans in India is loud and clear. “Thank you for all the support during these years. We are going to cherish it and miss it for the rest of our lives.”
For a band that has left behind a legacy of timeless tracks, Faisal is happy to pass on the ingredients of successful music collaboration to the newer generation. “Hard work is irreplaceable. Times are changing and different tools and platforms have come up. One must use them to their advantage. In our generation, the only way to make music was if a record label picked you up. Those were difficult times because the company had to approve your music and that was the only way. Now, you have Spotify and YouTube to showcase your music. But at the same time, everybody out there has the same tools and platforms as the others. Consistency is also very important. Earlier, people used to listen to one album for years through cassettes and CDs. They used to remember the songs. With so much of content going around now, the life of your material is very short. New talents have to keep on making music.”
On a parting note, Faisal lays out his plans for the future but sounds unsure whether music will be a part of his life as the next chapter unfolds. “Right now I’m on a break. The new phase will be something that can excite me and give me inspiration. Whether it will be music, I have no idea. I am just going with the flow and enjoying the love coming our way. Everything has been very humbling. Let’s see when and where life takes me,” he signs off.