Catching up with the Legendary Rizwan-ul-Haq from Vital Signs

Rizwan-ul-Haq from Vital Signs is all set to return to music once again - this time with a strong will to be more consistent and regular in terms of new releases. 

Rizwan-ul-Haq from Vital Signs is all set to return to music once again - this time with a strong will to be more consistent and regular in terms of new releases.

A career spanning over 2 decades, Rizwan-ul-Haq has been a prominent part of timeless melodies without which the early days of our lives would be incomplete. Not only has he been a part of those evergreen compositions, but it would be safe to say that he is responsible for all the musical memories that we cherish to date. 

Musicians of Pakistan caught up with the legend and one of the pioneers of the music industry, Rizwan-ul-Haq to talk about his return to music, new projects, his time with Vital Signs, insights on the music industry and so much more. 

You made a comeback to music last year. Where had you been all this time? 

Basically, the comeback to music last year happened in a way that I got into the studio with Sarmad Ghafoor in Islamabad. I don't know what happened to me but I just started making songs, composing songs. I recorded quite a few songs with him in the studio. We also made an animated video of a song 'Boondh Boondh Pani Pani'. This particular song was very much appreciated in the United Nations for which I also received an email of appreciation and acknowledgement. The video was directed by Zeeshan Parwez. So, I just felt the urge to get into the studio because there came a big gap after Vital Signs. Before that it was underground sort of a scene for me. Reason being I had a band by the name of Rock Lite and what we were doing were cover of English songs. We were quite active in the diplomatic scene, performing in events and stuff like that. 

I have been around observing what's going around in the country in terms of music - appreciating lots of musicians. There is a lot of talent in the country and it amazes me. Music is a type of a virus that has spread across the country, which is a very positive sign. The youngsters need an outlet; they need a very positive outlet. Music is like medicine, people don't realise it but when they are singing, they are making music, they are like giving medicines to themselves and the people listening to them. 

Where did the inspiration come from?

It just came within me - my own self. As I mentioned, I just felt to get into the studio after so many years. There were so many ideas in my head and I wanted to take them out musically. 

How different is it going to be this time? 

I don't know if it is going to be different this time but it is going to be consistent this time around. This time, I won't go back to the underground scene because, to be honest, I am 50+ now and I have been a musician all my life. I just want to go on and on now. This time I won't stop, I am going to be more consistent. I have setup my own studio here in Islamabad - thank God after so many years I have my own studio that I should have set up probably 30 years ago but it's never too late to start. Things have changed in life - times have changed, whatever time I have left, I'll be doing music. So, yes, this is how it is going to be different. I'll be making songs in my studio. 

What are the projects that you are currently working on? 

I am just going by the feel now, like I mentioned I have my own studio at home. There is a song 'Ijazat' that I composed years ago. I sort of redo it with a very talented guy Jawad Asif. He is a very talented rapper, he writes on the spot with feel and everything. Currently, I am redoing the songs of Vital Signs that are very close to my heart and I have played all my life. 'I am thinking to redo 'Goray Rung Ka Zamana' with Jawad and I want some rap touch to it. I want Jawad to talk about 'Sanwali' - to add 'Sanwali' to 'Goray Rung Ka Zamana'. So, whatever comes in my mind, I'm playing along with it.

We may never see a band like Vital Signs in Pakistan again. Do you wish to take us down the memory lane with a few covers or is it going to be original music? 

Yes, we may never see a band like Signs ever again. Because we were damn too unique people. Everyone in the band had their own charisma and place - everyone was a celebrity and star in their own way. Vital Signs was a lovely feeling - great great times when we were there. Yes, I would do cover songs of Vital Signs like I mentioned earlier. Going down the memory lane - there's so much to talk about and you would go bored. I learnt a lot in all the years that I spent with Signs. We were very fortunate - the four of us. We were travelling around the world, meeting people, performing for audiences that didn't understand even a single word of Urdu but we were so popular that they used to invite us and they just loved the feel and sound of the music.I still think about those days and they were quite remarkable. 

Rizwan ul haq vital signs performing live

We have seen Shahi Hassan and Asad Ahmed reunite at Pepsi Battle of the Bands. Can we expect you to make an appearance with them in the coming season(s)? 

It's been a long time I haven't met Shahi, I haven't met Rohail, which is very sad. Asad Ahmed - he is a darling of a person. Asad Ahmed is one guy who has been in touch with me since the days I was with the Signs. Asad is like a true brother and a true friend. He has kept contact with me all these years, even when he doesn't need to. He is a very decent man - very decent man and I love him for that. Shahi and Asad's collaboration in Pepsi Battle of the Bands was quite brilliant. It had its own charm. I don't know if I would be a part of Pepsi or not but let's see if things take a turn for me in a sense that I get to be on stage with Asad, Shahi, and Rohail. Let's see. But I love and respect all of them from the bottom of my heart because they are great people in their own sense. 

How do you see the current state of Pakistani music? 

I think it's very good. Back in the day, our genre used to be typical pop but Junoon introduced the audience to some rock music. Awaz and Vital Signs had more or less the same sound. The current state is quite good and that reflects in the sound as well. There is so much talent in the country but we need more platforms for the budding musicians. Musicians in our country keep jamming together and most of that talent is not brought to the limelight. There are a few big names like Atif Aslam and Ali Zafar that are discussed the most. What they should do in my opinion is to sacrifice some time and energy for the youth now and bring more stars forward. All the young musicians need a helping hand and they will prove their worth. The industry is going good but there is still room for betterment. 

Besides the genre, what are the other differences that you see in today’s music as compared to that in the late 90s and early 2000s? 

There's a difference obviously. 90s was more peaceful, there was a different situation altogether. Back in the day, there used to be no snatching of mobile phones, crime rate was very less and that's why you listen love and affection in Vital Signs' songs. All that stuff affects artists the most. That situation is no longer the same and the musicians of today, observe more violence and competitiveness in the environment around them. The inspiration they get from the environment is quite negative from that in the 90s. The romantic songs, for example in that time were more towards the lighter side. If you listen to romantic songs of this time, they have pain, violence and some sort of discomfort in them and that I believe comes from the environment. Time changes people and musicians also think on those lines and the same reflects in their music. 

Do you have a personal favourite from this era? 

Many! To be honest, if I listen to the song of an unknown artist, I like it. If the song is nice, it has a nice feel to it, I like it. The concept of a personal favourite is no longer in me. It can be a known name or an underground artist - if the song is nice, it'll be my favourite.

In which guitar player do you see a glimpse of Rizwan-ul-Haq?

I don't know honestly! I am a very simple guitar player and not someone who would just comes to forefront when it comes to playing. I just support the song with my playing as much as I can. You have seen my work, it is very simple and I think no one would want to do that. I live in Islamabad and there are so many talented kids who play so well. Back in my day, there was no YouTube. I still remember I used to go to different hotels where bands used to play. Whenever I got to know about a band playing in a hotel, I used to go there and observe the guitar player doing his stuff. I don't know, I haven't seen any guitar player who plays like me and the simple reason for that is my guitar playing is very down to earth.

Considering the exposure internet gives to art and artists, what’s the reason that you are not on social media? 

I have never been a social media guy to be honest with you. I never bothered about it and still don't. I am happy about one thing that bloggers like you who know the ins and outs of social media and promote us. I know you will also promote this interview that I cannot. 

Can you share your favourite memory from Vital Signs? 

I met my beautiful wife Christina in 1993 on a tour to the USA. I met my wife in Houston Texas and we were performing in University of Texas in Houston. She was a student over there and we fell in love day one. Alhamdolillah, we have been married for almost 27 years now. I have a son Hamza who is 25 now and the other son Mustafa who is now 19. The life is good Alhamdolillah and I cannot ask for more. The Vital Signs memories remain in me till the day I die.  

An exclusive interview with Rizwan ul Haq from Vital Signs

Can we expect an album or an EP? 

I'll just be doing singles and giving them to radio channels. I also won't go for music videos and keep making songs. I'll keep making songs consistently and sharing it with good people and radio channels. Thank God we have more and more radio channels now! 

Please give a message for your fans. 

I would like to just say to all the fans and all the people growing up and experiencing life as it comes is to never give up on anything you do. If you fail at something, don't be discouraged because when you are trying your level best for anything you are trying to achieve and you fail, it is not a loss but a win. You are trying hard - trying hard to achieve something it is like not in your fate. Failure is a stupid word in my dictionary. Just keep trying at everything you want in life. Even if you fail, don't be angry because you are a winner. Move on and work on another thing - you will succeed. 

Comments

  1. I was wondering the other day where did he go. Internet can be a blessing in disguise at times. Good to hear from Rizwan after long, his charisma on stage was unparalleled.

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  2. You should have included a video message of his with the interview. Would have loved to see him

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