Photography by Kim Badawi
Punk rock with a purpose? Sounds farfetched, until you listen to The Komina’s, the band making waves with their lyrical ensembles of culture, Islam, political commentary, and sheer wit. Growing up muslim in the U.S. wasn’t easy for anyone, but The Komina’s actually used their angst, mixed it with talent, and came up with a band. So maybe we rode the short bus to enlightenment on The Komina’s, who have been making waves for a few years now, but we at Sapna have made up for it after listening to their album “Wild Nights in Guantanamo” and becoming a little bit obsessed with their brilliance. Questions you were afraid to ask or statements you suppressed are turned into punk rock infused anthems with twangs of south Asian influence. We decided immediately that we must interview them, and we were lucky enough to have a chance to chat with one of the members, Basim Usmani, for a little break down on the band.
What message are you trying to portray to young generation Muslims?
Young generation, young colored people growing up in America, be yourself, make your own story. Public is the narrative, it’s better to tell your own story than buy your story from someone else.
Also, the band is not supportive of 1947, the partition of Pakistan. It is always much more important to be desi than Pakistani, Bengali, Indian. Having a south Asian identity is much more important than being from a region. You have pride, preserve the tradition, we do not want to see the folk culture disappear. The Kominas is a vehicle to this message.
How and why was the band started?
The band was started to respond to the lack of South Asian representation in punk. Being a non white punk in America I felt very strange in high school. Parents would say why you arenâ€™t into your culture. When I went to Lahore, all my friends were playing the guitars. When I got expelled in school in Pakistan, my family moved to Boston. I decided to start band, but did not know what type of music to write. Rehearsals were always are the hardest thing. I started playing in punk bands in Boston, since it was the diy culture, make your own fashion. My fashion sense is very different, with a Mohawk and all, people would ask how could this kid be from Lahore. He plays rock music and does not want to put to much attention on the desi lifestyle.
What influences did you have growing up which made you be a part of a band?
Mostly friends from Lahore, and as bands emerged in Lahore, Pakistan, in the 90â€™s. This was a weird transition, moving from NY to Lahore then back Boston. The creation of the band allowed a social message to people who did not grow up in the states, to be portrayed.
What’s behind the name of the band?
As a band, we always liked the words The Komina’s, which sounded very punk, and better than Churas.
When and where are your tour dates?
We have just finished touring from NY, to Ohio, to Wisconsin, to Utah, to Nevada, California, Texas, Louisiana, Georgia, Virginia, DC, NY, and Boston, basically a coast to coast tour while hitting the South. In the future, we look forward to touring in Europe and Canada.
What does the future of the band hold?
We have released one album called Wild Nights in Guantanamo Bay and we plan to write more albums. As a band we like to portray a big theme of solidarity, for non-white Americans growing up in the States.
What relationship do you have with your band members?
We are all brothers. We have toured together for over 8,500 miles, so we have a pretty strong relationship with each other.
Have you heard any negatives from Islam extremists?
We have received a lot of negativity from teenage extremists in America, however in Pakistan it is much worse.
For more, visit their MySpace or buy their album on iTunes.
– Interview by Kanwal Ullah