Face to Face with Sumon
Kono ek nijhum raatey, jhauboney chander alotey
Gaan geye jai ekti chhele, ekrash bedona bukey niye
Tar shei gaan tho keu shoney na, hotashar kotha tho keu
Tobuo tar ashar prodeep tho nebhey na, jodi phirey pai
shei harano din
The song created ripples among the young music lovers in early '90s for the unorthodox story it narrates. It's about a deceased young man and his undying love for a girl. The song, one of Sumon's numerous hits, made him one of the most sought after rock musicians in our country.
"I started playing Hawaiian guitar in the '80s," says Sumon. He continues, "One has to sit and put the guitar on the lap, when playing in the Hawaiian style and the genres of tunes one can play are limited as well. As the sound of a Hawaiian guitar is soothing and serene, I used to play tunes of Tagore and Nazrul songs. However, I wanted diversity. This is when one of my friends asked me if I wanted to play rock music. I was instantly intrigued and wanted to know what would I have to do to be a rock musician. My friend answered, 'For starters, instead of sitting you have to stand and the guitar can't be on your lap, it would hang from your neck.' And that's how I started learning Spanish guitar."
Sumon along with friends, formed the band, 'Frequency' in 1986. He was the lead guitarist of the band. In '89 he joined 'Feelings' as the bass guitarist. He became a part of the acclaimed band 'Warfaze' in '96. Sumon's skills were recognised in Warfaze's album Oshamajik. In '98 Sumon O Aurthohin was released. Other popular musicians were featured alongside Sumon in the album and it was well received.
Sumon's current band 'Aurthohin' was formed in '99. So far the band has released four albums: Trimatrik, Biborton, Notun Diner Michhiley and Dhrubok, all of which have been widely popular. Songs like Judhho, Odbhut shei chheleti, Amar protichchhobi, Bhabchhi boshey, Guti 1, Guti 2 and Guti 3 (Guti from hell) are familiar to the rock music aficionados in our country. Sumon and Aurthohin's songs often speak of death and depression in a way that is not so prevalent in Bangla songs. In his songs, death is not some sanctified phenomenon, it's just an unavoidable reality. The depression that his songs speak of, is not romanticised either, its harsh and gripping, as it should be.
According to Sumon, "I don't plan the subjects of my songs. I write about recent issues that have somehow affected me and experiences that I've been through. In 2003, I had certain physical complications and the doctor's diagnosis was, I'll never be able to sing. I wrote the song Bhabchhi boshey, as I was thinking what my life would be like, if I can't sing. Amar protichchhobi is about my love for my son. Odbhut shei chheleti is about a struggling musician. I have been through that struggle. Judhdho, written by Shojib and I, is about the social and political injustice that prevails in the current world, where a superpower can do whatever it wants with the third world countries.
“Jyotsna (moonlight) is often mentioned in my songs, because I'm a 'night person' and that's when I feel charged to write songs. I feel emotions taking over me at the dead of night."
About the current music scene in Bangladesh, Sumon says, "I'm optimistic about our rock music scene. Talented young musicians are producing quality music and the palette of the audience is improving as well." It should be mentioned, Agontuk 1, 2 and 3, coordinated and produced by Sumon are highly successful mixed albums where alongside the leading bands, 'underground' rock bands have also been featured. The albums created a window of opportunities for talented newcomers.
Sumon says, "Besides rock, another genre of music that has grabbed my attention is fusion. I know, a group of sneering 'critics' are always deprecating this genre but honestly, if it wasn't for the band 'Bangla' or Habib and their music, the young generation would've never listened to the folk songs, they now hum."Sumon is currently working on an album that comprises translations of John Denver's popular country songs, incorporated with Bangladeshi elements. His band Aurthohin is working on its next album, which is going to be titled Oshomaptho. A rock music based TV show is also in production that will be directed by Sumon and noted guitarist Jewel.