Vol. 5 Num 964 Thu. February 15, 2007  

Feedback : Bringing fusion into the mainstream
In conversation with Fuad Naser Babu

Fuad Naser Babu is a familiar name in the band music arena of Bangladesh. Music composer and keyboardist of the popular band Feedback, Babu is a pioneer in the organised band music movement. Of the seven albums released by the band, Ullash, Mela, Choddosho Bangabdo and Bauliana enjoyed huge popularity. Moreover Feedback has released two albums from Kolkata, one of which is produced by the prestigious recording company HMV.

"I remember the days when we used to perform at Hotel Sheraton, as there were no production companies to release albums by bands, nor many live concerts. We used to do covers of English numbers," says Babu giving a glimpse of the band music scenario of the late '70s and early '80s in Dhaka.

In 1982, Feedback for the first time performed a Bangla number titled Ei din chiro din robe, composed by Fuad Naser Babu, in a TV show. From then onwards the band began to perform Bangla songs. In 1985, the group released their first album titled Feedback, produced by Sargam," said Babu.

"Production company Sargam was the only platform for rock n' roll bands and solo artistes till the late 1990s," he added.

Feedback attained popularity with the release of the album Ullash in 1987. However, Mela released in 1990, is their most popular album. In Babu's words, "Since the release of Ullash, we have gained mass popularity. Moreover, after the release of our all time hit album Mela, Feedback became the leading band in the golden era of our band music (1985-2000)."

Going over that era, Babu, who is also the vice president of Bangladesh Members of Band Association (BAMBA), said, "In those days band music was such a rage in the country that in each locality enthusiastic youths formed a band. We used to perform live concerts regularly. In fact, band music and youth became synonymous in the urban areas. BAMBA was also very active. But the scene began to change from 2000. Nowadays, the appreciation of band music is limited to the educated urban youth who have a taste for metals and alternative genres."

Why is band music in Bangladesh losing popularity among the masses? Babu's response: "It's partly because production companies are not shouldering their responsibilities. Bands are not consistent with quality productions. Besides, the star vocalists are busy with solos rather than group efforts or live concerts."

Babu is a proponent of the view that an institute ought to be set up to promote band music. He believes that without proper training many talents may stagnate.

Feedback is perhaps the first band in the country that introduced fusion in the mainstream, though earlier a few bands such as Souls used to present folk songs using guitars, drums and keys. However, there was an absence of an organised project to fuse music genres. Feedback's fusion project was called Bauliana. And the band released an album based on their experiment in 1996. On the project Babu said, "Bauliana was a huge project. We got the idea to fuse music when we released an album Dehoghori with renowned baul Abdur Rahman Bayati in 1994. In fact Dehoghori is the first album in Bangladesh, which features only one song -- Mon amar dehoghori, earlier rendered by Abdur Rahman Bayati.

"Later, including other seasoned bauls from different corners of the country such as Hiru Shah from Kushtia, we initiated the project and subsequently released an album in 1996. It was a success. But, we believe we could do better, if we had technical support as in current times. We had to quit the project when the lead singer Maksud left the band."

Babu also composes background music for TV plays as well as jingles for commercials. Moreover, he is the music director of two Bangla movies titled Chholona and Ghar Amar Ghar.

Fuad Naser Babu. PHOTO: STAR