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Progressive Rock Interviews

Shumaun

Interviewed by Gary Hill

Interview with Shumaun from 2019

MSJ:
Can you catch the readers up on the history of your involvement in music – sort of a "highlight reel?"
Farhad Hossain: I’ve been playing music since I was 14 years old, and played in gigging bands all throughout high school. After graduating university, I started the band Encompass. Jose Mora and Tanvir Tomal were also in that band. Brian Dobbs (Iris Divine) played bass after Jose’s departure in the later years. We opened for a ton of international touring bands like Spock’s Beard, Sonata Arctica, Kamelot and several others that slip my mind. After I unfolded Encompass I started Iris Divine with Navid Rashid. We basically recruited the then rhythm section of Encompass to complete the band… Tanvir on drums and Brian on bass. I played guitar and keys while sharing lead vocals with Navid. After leaving Iris Divine I started Shumaun which sounded more like an indy rock band before I went back to some of my more metal roots. Tanvir left Iris Divine soon after I did and joined Shumaun. Navid and Brian continue with Iris Divine and have released two fantastic albums as a trio with Kris Combs on drums. Shumaun released our second album One Day Closer to Yesterday back in February of this year.
MSJ: If you weren't involved in music what do you think you'd be doing?
Farhad Hossain: If I wasn’t involved in music I would probably be doing art exclusively. I majored in art. I am also currently managing a team of creatives for a private company.
MSJ:
How did the name of the group originate?

Farhad Hossain: It’s my middle name and translates to "peaceful" or "calm mind." I initially started the band as a solo project. I later wanted to make it a real functioning band that also plays live.

MSJ: Who would you see as your musical influences?

Jose Mora: Growing up my father would listen to a lot of great stuff - Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Yes, The Beatles...so they definitely influenced me. As I got older I gravitated to the “progressive” side of things. Rush was a huge influence on me, especially as a bass player. Genesis and Marillion are definitely on top of my list. In my later years Incubus and Tool for sure. 

Tanvir Tomal: Music is an unlimited learning process for me, and I have had a growing list of influences along the way from local to international levels. Metallica, Ozzy, Zeppelin, Megadeth, Journey, Ozzy, Deep Purple are among some of my biggest influences.

Tyler Kim: Metallica was my gateway to wanting to listen to music, and play the guitar.

Farhad Hossain: I’ve had a number of influences throughout my life. When I was a child I grew up to 80s radio music. The first band that I was crazy about was Def Leppard. Later it was Queensryche,..however, Dream Theater was the band that really got me serious about guitar. They were also the band that opened the gates to progressive music for me. My biggest influence would be Rush, though. I’d say that my top five bands that always make my favorites lists regardless of what day you’d ask me would be Tears for Fears, Faith No More, Rush, Genesis, and Pink Floyd. I am also a huge eighties pop music fan.

MSJ: What's the best thing that's ever been said about your music?
Farhad Hossain:  A fan once emailed me to say that our music got him through a really tough time in his life. That is always pretty amazing to hear.
MSJ: What's ahead for you?

Farhad Hossain: Playing shows to support our new record, and start writing again for album three.

MSJ: I know many artists hate to have their music pigeonholed or labeled, but how would you describe your music?

Jose Mora: Yeah that’s always a tough thing because what helps to identify you also confines you to that genre. I would say we are a rock band with elements of progressive, metal and world music all mixed in. In a perfect world, we would let the listener decide, but since we can’t, progressive rock is the closest thing. 

Farhad Hossain: I think we generally consider our band a hard rock band with progressive tendencies and metal influences. Most of our songs are short, catchy, and to the point, so that really goes against a lot of what traditional prog fans feel a song be. However, within the short times we do try and use time signature shifts and melodic decisions creatively. Of course, we do have longer songs, as well.

MSJ: Are there musicians with whom you would like to play with in the future?
Farhad Hossain: Honestly, it’s an honor working with any musician I respect. However, to be in the same room writing with someone like Roland Orzabal or Nitin Sawhney would be pretty amazing.
MSJ: Do you think that illegal downloading or streaming of music is a help or hindrance to the careers of musicians?

Tanvir Tomal: I strongly believe that illegal downloading/streaming of music is a hindrance to the development process of a musician's career. An artist should get paid for his/her creation. I support sharing music as a form of encouragement in order to appreciate the artists, but illegal downloading does the exact opposite of that.

MSJ:
In a related question, how do you feel about fans recording shows and trading them or posting them online?
Tyler Kim: Fan recordings are great, as long as they are done with good intention and for the love of the music.

Farhad Hossain: I am with Tyler on this. I do think it would be nicer if more people put their phones away for a bit and just focused on connecting with the music or just having a good time at shows.

MSJ: If you were a superhero, what music person would be your arch nemesis and why?

Tyler Kim:  In high school, I thought I was a good guitarist and a musician, but then I heard Yngwie Malmsteen.  His talent made me depressed for weeks for making me realize I was quite a bad guitar player.  I don't think of him as an arch-nemesis, but Yngwie was the first to make me feel that bad about my guitar playing.

MSJ: If you were to put together your ultimate band (a band you'd like to hear or catch live), who would be in it and why?
Jose Mora: Danny Carey on drums, Geddy Lee on bass, Tony Banks on keys, Nuno Bettencourt on guitar and Freddy Mercury on vocals. All these guys are absolute beasts on their instruments, and just imagine that Freddie magic on vocals. It would be interesting what they come up with. 

Tanvir Tomal: I'd love to see Journey with Steve Perry live.

MSJ:
If you were in charge of assembling a music festival and wanted it to be the ultimate one from your point of view who would be playing?
Jose Mora: Okay, now we’re talking. It would be a three-day festival. Day one for the “prog” heads - so Genesis, Pink Floyd, Yes and Marillion. Day two is for rock, so Queen, Rush, Guns N Roses, Foo Fighters. Day three is a mix of things so Tool, Incubus, Extreme, The Police, Symphony X and, of course, Shumaun closing it all out.
MSJ: What was the last CD you bought and/or what have you been listening to lately?

Tyler Kim: The last CD I got was our last release One Day Closer to Yesterday. Lately, I've been listening to songs from Shumaun's first album, but the songs that haven't really been played live, like "Floods," "We Always Disappear," "When It's Our Turn," "Numbers," etcetera.

Tanvir Tomal: I haven't bought a CD in a while as I buy music through iTunes, Spotify, etcetera. My last purchased CD was Metallica's Hardwired. I've been listening to a wide range of selections lately including the top 50 hits.

MSJ: Have you read any good books lately?

Farhad Hossain: Sadly, it’s been a couple years since I’ve picked up a book. The last one I read was The Art of Being and Becoming by Hazrat Inayat Khan. 

MSJ:
What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?

Farhad Hossain: The last show I attended was Drowning Ares, which is Navid Rashid’s other original project outside of Iris Divine. They are a blast if you like your music heavy, filled with brutal guitar riffs/vocals, and melodic elements as well. The last big show I attended was Queensryche with Fates Warning in Baltimore Maryland. Funny enough, I was there with Navid as well. Seems we’re still friends or something.

MSJ: Do you remember the first concert you attended?
Tanvir Tomal: My first concert in the US was Megadeth in Wichita, Kansas back in 2001. I even got the opportunity to speak with each of the band members after the show while I was waiting by their tour bus.
MSJ: Have you come across any new gear recently that you love?
Jose Mora: It’s not really new gear, but I always loved the Wal Mark 2 bass. Problem is they’re all custom made in the UK and it takes like two years to get one...not to mention they cost about $8000 dollars. Maybe when we sell a million records I’ll consider it. 

Tyler Kim: I got a new Schecter guitar last winter.  When you play it, you can actually feel the modern technology/design on it -- pretty much the opposite of the Fender Strat that I have had.

Farhad Hossain: I haven’t really purchased any new guitar gear in a while, so I can’t really comment on that. I do really want a Gibson Explorer someday.  I’ve upgraded my DAW in my home studio to Studio One 4, and I dig it so far!

MSJ: Do you have a musical “guilty pleasure?”
Farhad Hossain: No, there really isn’t anything I listen to that I am ashamed of. I love music from most genres, though I can’t bear the mainstream pop music of today.
MSJ:
What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?

Farhad Hossain: Playing one of our heavier songs at our last show with the clean channel of my amp. There was no sound coming out of my monitors, and the stage volume from my amp was practically inaudible. I wasn’t allowed to turn up above 1… It’s a tube amp so you can imagine how bad it sounded.  The complete opposite of “these go to 11!”

MSJ:
If you could sit down to dinner with any three people, living or dead, for food and conversation, with whom would you be dining?

Tyler Kim: I always enjoy dining with the other members of Shumaun.

MSJ:
What would be on the menu?

Tyler Kim:  We'd be having bone-in chicken kabob followed by Snickers Ice Cream bars for dessert.

MSJ: Are there any closing thoughts you would like to get out there?

Farhad Hossain: I just wanted to thank you for having us for the interview. I’d love for everyone reading to go and check out our new album One Day Closer to Yesterday. Visit us online at shumaun.com and/or follow us on social media if you dig our sound. Thanks again!

MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2019  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.
 
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