Times Square Magazine, "Poor Rich Boy Brings its Pakistani Indie Rock to the Lincoln Center Atrium on June 19th"

Times Square Magazine, "Poor Rich Boy Brings its Pakistani Indie Rock to the Lincoln Center Atrium on June 19th"

Jun 11, 2014

Poor Rich Boy Brings its Pakistani Indie Rock to the Lincoln Center Atrium on June 19th 

By Rich Monetti 

Singer, songwriter keyboard player Shehzad Noor of the Pakistani Indie Rock Band Poor Rich Boy grew up a middle class life - son and grandson of English Literature professors. His introduction to music began with classical music from the subcontinent before American masters like Tom Waits and Bob Dylan took hold. The Indie Rock sound that generally tags the six member band would follow, but there was definitely a gap between the start of his contemporary evolution and taking up music as a professional pursuit. 

Shehzad Noor(SN): When I was 15 I knew I wanted to pursue music, but it wasn’t until maybe a year ago that I actually had the balls to pursue it fulltime. 

Times Square(TS): How old are you? 

SN: 28 

TS: What else do you do? 

SN: I teach music and drama to kids in school. 

TS: I guess by the area code, you are in D.C. now? 

SN: Yes, our first show is at the Kennedy Center. Then we play in Rhode Island, New York and at a couple of universities. 

TS: Is this your first time here? 

SN: Yes. 

TS: Well, how does it look? 

SN: DC looks beautiful. The people are really warm. We went to a bar the other night where they had live music – very, very welcoming. 

TS: How would you describe the style of music of Poor Rich Boy? 

SN: The thing is we’re a six-member band with six different tastes in music, and so it happens when we all come together, it sounds a lot like Indie Rock. But we all still play different kinds of music. We pride ourselves on that. 

TS: Where does your band stand in popularity in Pakistan? 

SN: Our band happens to be popular among middle class and upper middle class people. That makes us a small part of the country, but that makes up a large percentage of the arts. So to answer your question, compared to what - I think we’re well known in the new wave of art and music. 

TS: Your songs are in English, I assume most of your fans are also English speaking? 

SN: Yes, they speak and understand English. 

TS: Obviously Pakistan has a segments of very religious or overly religious people. How can that be a problem for you? 

SN: I haven’t had a very bad experience, but I don’t go around telling people that I’m a musician because we are generally looked down upon.  It’s kind of unavoidable. As soon as the security threat goes up, fewer people come out, and we don’t get as many gigs. It affects us no matter how you look at it. We live pretty cushy lives compared to many Pakistani’s. I keep bringing that up because it’s really important – how many different experiences there are in Pakistan. I guess I feel a little self-conscious. 

TS: We’ve all heard about the horrible stoning that took place last week. Unfairly, that kind of thing can paint a broad picture of a people. How can you present a more diverse picture for the world? 

SN: My wife was at a protest yesterday at the high court. They really didn’t do shit. I can’t even think about it because it’s that upsetting.  But to answer how do we show that Pakistan has many more aspects – just by simply being who we are. That’s the best we can do. In terms of Poor Rich Boy, what we’re trying to do is return a more accessible narrative to the American Public. 

TS: How about when you hear about some of our crazy stuff – mass shootings for instance? 

SN: I understand that bad things happen everywhere, and it’s really important to have a balanced perspective. That’s what I was taught. It’s one event isolated in time.  This does not paint a cohesive and detailed picture of what a country is. Unfortunately, what we end up doing is oversimplifying these questions. What are Americans like? What are Pakistanis like? What is Islam like? These are broad questions, and that’s why I love the arts because it allows you to represent variations between the extremes. 

TS: Tell me about a few favorite on the album, We are all Your Friends?

SN: Melody is about somebody who’s very depressed with his or her current living situation. They are trying to move away, and it’s about being scared of leaving. So it’s supposed to evoke something that is comforting. That’s where oh we are all your friends comes into play in the chorus

TS: What would you say is Pakistani about your Indie Rock?

SN: We’re very melodic with harmony that is not so fast, and we all have a penchant for improvisation.

TS: What are you looking forward to seeing in New York?

SN: I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of schools and some of their teaching techniques. But we’re really looking forward to meeting people – especially going around with our instruments and playing in the open air.  We’re doing that now here in Washington. That’s something we enjoy the most – being able to express ourselves fully.

TS: What kind of food you excited to eat here?

SN: My wife has an entire list that I’m supposed to try out, but I haven’t had time to go through that.

TS: Finally, what does music mean to you?

SN: Music to me is about containing yourself. I feel that’s a very important aspect of life. That’s what I’ve learned from music, and that’s what it represents to me.

TS: What do you mean by containing yourself?

SN: I mean having control of your desires.

TS: Ok, it was nice talking to you.

SN: Alright. Nice talking to you as well.

- See more at: http://www.timessquare.com/component/k2/item/4270-poor-rich-boy/4270-poor-rich-boy#sthash.dof5eopl.dpuf