Formed in 2008, Kabul Dreams is largely considered the first rock band since the Taliban took over control of Afghanistan in the mid-1990s.
The band consists of Sulyman Qardash (lead singer and guitarist), Raby Adib (drummer) and Siddique Ahmed (bassist). The band has paved the way for a modest but growing rock scene in Afghanistan, rebuilding itself after decades of war. The band’s motivation to perform came from their own love for music, but also from a public hunger for a new life after war – a life that included new music and art.
All of the band members were born in Afghanistan, but they were displaced to neighboring countries as refugees during the Taliban reign – Sulyman Qardash in Uzbekistan, Siddique Ahmed in Pakistan, and Mojtaba Habibi Shandiz in Iran. After the fall of the Taliban regime, the band members returned to Afghanistan and met each other in Kabul.
Sulyman Qardash picked up his first guitar at age 14 and never put it down. As a refugee, Qardash says music gave him a sense of home. After the fall of the Taliban, he returned to Afghanistan in 2007 and started Kabul Dreams.
Each of the members of Kabul Dreams spent the Taliban era outside Afghanistan, with Ahmed living in Pakistan and Habibi in Iran. Coming from different ethnic groups – Uzbek, Tajik and Pashtu – their idea was not only to create a rock band but to work towards the idea of a united Afghanistan where all ethnic groups could live in harmony.
Initially, the fledgling band faced problems of resources and logistics, not to mention resistance from many who had never seen a rock performance in Kabul. Today, it represents a new generation of Afghans who see in the band a modern face of their country.
In 2011, Kabul Dreams organized the first street concert at Shar-E-Now, the capital’s main street. The performance took locals by surprise and the experiment generated publicity for the band.
Sulyman also believes that the ascent of Kabul Dreams is an important milestone for the war torn country. Art can bring a huge change in our society.
You would be impressed by the energy and passion youth have towards music. You cannot solve the problems through force or war. Music helps people to understand the value of life and enjoy every minute of it.
Some lyrics by Kabul Dreams also lament past tragedies, alongside criticizing present realities of corruption and mismanagement in Kabul. Yet, perhaps more importantly, the band also presents a vision of hope for the future.
But one thing is certain: A new country is gradually asserting itself and breaking free from the old.
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