Once urged to pursue Fine Arts by his parents, Kazi Faisal Ahmed now plays the guitar in front of thousands. Starting from his first band Metal Maze in the late 90s, Faisal is still going at full throttle as the lead guitarist of Artcell.
The Business Standard had a conversation with Faisal at his Dhanmondi office where he candidly spoke about his affair with six strings, fellow rock stars and more.
His first guitar
According to Faisal, every guitarist has a reason for which he picks up the instrument in the first place. For him it was 'keep the faith,' a Bon Jovi song.
"I badly wanted to play the song!" Faisal said, sharing snippets from his teenage days. His parents would only allow him to play the guitar if his SSC result was up to the mark.
When he secured impressive grades, his parents were content and just the day after the result was published, he was handed an acoustic guitar.
In his words "It all started with an 850-taka guitar".
Letters from Chattogram
We asked him "How was it like to learn guitar back in those days?"
Faisal shared about the hardship of learning how to play a musical instrument before the advent of handy technology.
One morning when he was taking a stroll in the New Market area of Dhaka, he stumbled upon a guitar-learning guide and bought it. That manual book primarily dictated his guitar lessons.
However, it was not enough, so he took lessons from his cousin in an unusual way. He wrote letters to his cousin in Chattogram, seeking guitar lessons. He wrote Faisal back with instructions so that he could cut his teeth on the instrument."
Forming the band Metal Maze
Just like young people of a certain age, Faisal and his school friends also wanted to form a band to fulfill their passion for music. They recruited members and eventually formed one.
The only missing piece for them was a perfect name for the band.
"We came up with a handful of names but none of us could decide upon one. So we opted for a lottery and Metal Maze was the name that ," Faisal said.
"Metal Maze was the name we picked up from the lottery and it was conceived by our lead guitarist Sazzad Arefeen," Faisal said.
An offer they could not refuse
It was hard for Metal Maze to find a practice pad back in those days. They used to jam in a secluded room in Kamalapur, which was Rozer's (the bassist) house, so they could practice and make tons of noise unashamedly.
"It was a regular practice day when a legend came at our door, with an offer that most bands dream about", Faisal carried on as the story became more interesting.
The legend was pop guru Azam Khan. He lived nearby, so their jamming season was loud and clear to him.
"I want to bring underground bands under the same umbrella and do some projects," Azam Khan said to them.
That is how the door to the underground band scene had opened to Metal Maze.
An invitation from Artcell
Artcell was going through a critical time as they had severed ties with their founding lead guitarist Ershad Zaman who was a fundamental part of the band. Filling in his gap was a big challenge for any player.
Everything changed for Faisal when Artcell's vocalist Lincoln called him up one day and asked him to join the band as their guitarist.
However, Faisal did not immediately jump at the proposal, he waited for three months to greenlight the idea of joining Artcell.
The meme we could not get over
Just before wrapping up our conversation, we asked Faisal about the Dave Mustaine meme that surfaced after the Joy Bangla concert.
"What was your reaction after seeing that meme?" we asked.
Faisal chuckled, "I bought my first Jackson guitar prior to the concert. It was a black V-shape gear and I wanted it to be perfectly visible."
"The night before the concert, I was trying to select my outfit for it. Apparently, a white shirt was the only fitting dress I could go with. The guitar would not have been visible if I had not worn white," he said.
Somehow, the guitar, the shirt and the long hair combination resembled Dave Mustaine. Faisal, who fondly calls Mustaine his 'Boro Bhai,' had a fair share of laughter after seeing that meme.
A musician's life contains a myriad of stories. A three-hour interview could only scratch the surface. We had to call it a day and walk out of his office, all the while anticipating for something that pulsated in unison in our minds, a third album by Artcell.