The ATif bring about a creative take on alternative indie pop with this latest single Prickly Heat. From the offset you get a strong sense of character from the band, the leading voice and indeed the instrumental set-up and production style all offer something that enjoyably fuses various styles and genres in a subtle but effective way. As the song progresses though, the experience becomes less about the band’s sound and more about their songwriting.
This particular release offers both great melodies and a great riffs, not to mention an addictive level of energy that gradually increases throughout. The latter half sees passion take the wheel entirely – the melody reaches a new peak, the vocals and the musicianship all meet the bar perfectly well, and the moment evolves into genuine rock intensity; rightfully uplifting its audience.
Every time this track appears within the playlist something new stands out and appeals. The intro presents so much in the way of colourful, hopeful riffs and irreplaceable personality. There’s really very little to compare this with right now, the band just do their own thing – and it works.
From a songwriting perspective this track hits in a wonderful way, becoming more and more of a go-to moment than a simple release you scroll by. The various stages of the song each seem to surprise and yet satisfy, suggesting there is hope for the future of songwriting and that there is undoubtedly plenty of creativity left to emerge as 2019 peaks its head around the corner.
Prickly Heat grows to be something of a huge indie-rock hit, complete with a smooth and skillful guitar solo. It’s an easy release to enjoy and I look forward to hearing more from The ATif.
Interview by Tim Brown
When and why did you start playing?
Ans. I started playing keyboard when I heard the title music of Airwolf and Knight Rider. I was also obsessed with Chariots of Fire (theme music) by Vangelis. In fact, the first once I transcribed when I wanted to be an astronaut- that gave me a feel of outer space. Later I picked guitar because I loved the strumming guitars in To Be With You of Mr. Big, Daughter by Pearl Jam and Fast Car of Tracy Chapman. It gave a very raw feel.
Which famous musicians do you admire? Why?
Ans. There are literally hundreds of gifted and inspiring musicians. Those I admire are of course all gone Freddie Mercury, Jeff Buckley, MJ, George Michael and Prince. In terms of virtuosity Jeff Beck of course, Steve Vai, Yanni and there is A. R. Rahman with immense compositional range. Phill Collins, Richard Marx, Sting, Rod Stewart and last but not least Bryan Adams. Band related rock vocalists also include Paul Rogers, King Diamond and of course the great Robert Plant.
Were you influenced by old records & tapes? Which ones?
Ans. Absolutely, I am all triggered by Deep Purple, Queen, The Doors- sorry I forgot to mention earlier. How can you imagine 60s rock without Jim Morrison. His approach to song writing and The Doors musical reciprocity is all mind altering. Of course, Elvis, Beatles, Louis Armstrong and Little Richard are also part of everyone’s musical memory.
Who are your favorite musicians? Groups? CD’s?
Ans. Though I am primarily a piano driven vocalist but I think like a guitarist. So I try to maneuver groove along progressive musical lines. I think three periods are really important to our music in general. Mid 60s, 1991 and 2001. These three year zones were home for great musical outputs. I’d be a liar if I deny GnR, AC/DC, U2, Police- I also really like The Darkness and their vocalist Justin Hawkins. I am a big fan of Joe Satriani too. CD’s- well, Use Your Illusions, Waking Up the Neighbors, Ten, Battle of LA, Significant Other, Hybrid Theory, Toxicity, Nobody’s Perfect are all landmark albums and records.
Have you been in competitions? Fleadh’s? Any prizes?
Ans. I was finalist in American Idol- Dubai Chapter but because to my work contract as a Creative Director, I was not able to go to Las Vegas. Beyond that I think music is art and it cannot be compared because it’s relative and subjective. It’s meaning differ from person to person like a Stanley Kubrick movie.
Do you perform in public? Describe those occasions? Concerts, radio, TV
Ans. Yes I do unplugged gigs around NYC. Additionally sometimes I go live with the 30k something following that I have on my Facebook page. I have done loads of TV and Radio in Pakistan but yet to breakthrough in here.
What makes this kind of music “good” to you?
Ans. There are few indicators for the great songs I like. And believe me the songs remain the same. The success of Greta Van Fleet speaks volumes as to that rock is not dead. And that 60s music can still be successful. That’s why Led Zeppelin and The Beatles still sell more than Taylor Swift. So for me a good song is the key- that’s what people associate with. An outrageous or risky concept that push the envelopes further in terms of norms and boundaries. Catchy music and easily recognizable and recallable song writing.
Why did you choose to play this kind of music?
Ans. Rock is the real deal. Mostly because it is live. I find it more appealing than sex. Electronic music to me is like making love to a robot. So though I respect metronome I just follow it without feeling restricted. And then you can see AC/DC is timeless. Not very tacky but so much fun. Rock also brings people out- so that Woodstock togetherness is the social essence of rock for me. And that’s why I choose topics around celebrations that connects people. In the days of cellular isolation- coming out is the real deal.
Let’s Talk about your music and your last work…
Ans. So my last song is about April Fool. It’s about Pranks, Gold-Diggers and Lip Service. Naughty as it may sound- yes naughty it is. Might remind you about Black Dog in terms of riff. Although my previous release was If I Was a Girl for the Women’s Day and it was kind of late for me to do a song of April Fool. But then I thought The @if is all about eFFF. Fun, flatter, flirtation. I leave the rest to your imagination. So going without addressing the Pranksters and Prank community was not something we could overcome and ignore. The guilt would have lived forever.
How do you feel about the internet in the music business?
Ans. I think it is amazing it broke the clutter of labels and music channels that had limitations in terms of marketability and content. Now you have total creative freedom, you can choose your community and create music at a fraction of the cost and hassle. I have session musicians and even rappers that I have never met but are on my records. So this is a great time for anyone that has originality to offer and has the creative streak. All else will fall apart because there is no scarcity of content. But yes severe scarcity of good new content.
What are the plans for the future?
Ans. Songs every month till December. Prank U (April)- April Fool, Tiger into Kitten (May)- Mother’s Day, Hover Your Top (June)- Father’s Day, Silent Warrior (July) Independence Day, U Turn (August) Girl Friend’s Day, Edgy (September) 911, Dream Stalker (October) Halloween, Mirage (November) Holidays, Avalanche (December) New Year. So pretty tied up roster because I will make videos of them all as well. So it’s roller coaster but so much fun- making the entire process full of excitement. Next year I will be releasing rock covers of MJ hits and Dubstep remixes of my originals.
How has your music evolved since you first began playing music?
Ans. Dramatically, but I think my approach is still the same. I still admire songwriters like MJ, Phil Collins and Bryan Adams. But my fascination how music alters our passage of time and then makes it fun to revisit it.
Could you briefly describe the music-making process?
Ans. So I am struck with a fascinating (naughty mostly) topic and then I come up with a hook, riff and/or groove that would reciprocate that feel. Then I develop the intro because in this dna- we have 5 seconds to capture anyone’s attention. And then every 5 seconds should be so captivating, engaging and sweet to the ear that they go through the entire song and share it. Listeners should be able to relate with it. Then I put catch phrases, anecdotes and private jokes to make it original in lyrics. Do the tracking, add solos and rap if the sound/song demands- record final vocals and harmonies before sending it for post production to mix and master.
In the meantime- we come up with ideas about video and we have already started compiling props, wardrobe and director’s vision. We shoot, edit and add special fx for stylistic appeal.
Out come our song.