Decades into his career, the musician revisits the underground music scene of his formative years
The year 2000. Musician Shishir Ahmed was a teenager, wandering the streets of midtown Manhattan. It was his first time in New York. While most people follow to-do lists for their first time in the "big apple", Shishir, however, made a silly decision. More about that decision later.
Fast forward 20 years, Shishir settles down in his couch for a phone interview with us. For a private person, he talked in a frank and informal way.
"I did not know much about the guitar until I saw a friend play. I borrowed it from him and learned to play "Knocking on Heaven's Door",
Shishir said. As soon as he learned some basic chords, he knew he was destined to become a guitarist.
Shishir found inspiration in the former Megadeth guitarist Marty Friedman.
"I listened to Marty Friedman's album before I had heard any of the Megadeth records. I am a huge fan of Marty," Shishir said.
To some of us, the pre-internet era exudes nostalgia. For Shishir, it was a time when guitarists had to pick up chords just by listening to a song. In the era of cassette tapes, Shishir learned his first song "Hands of Time", a Marty Friedman track. Ear trained musicians- that is what Shishir called the guitarists of his time.
Shishir joined the band Aurthohin in 2003. How did he cross paths with the underground scene bigwigs?
Musician Saidus Khaled, who goes by the moniker "Bassbaba Sumon"- was looking for a keyboardist for his band Aurthohin. Shishir, who is also a keyboardist, auditioned. He eventually earned a spot in the band.
"This one time, I picked up a guitar and started playing some stuff. I was a guitarist, but he did not see me play until that day," Shishir recalled. Bassbaba being the great musician that he is, could spot the "shredder" in Shishir.
Till this day, Shishir adeptly handles guitar as well as a keyboard for the veteran band. Recently, his piano cover of "Right Here Waiting For You" by Richard Marx was well received. Masha Islam lent her voice for the song while Shishir played a chic grand piano.
In between our conversation, Shishir told us about a story that could have changed the course of his career.
"It was 2000 when I was vacationing in the USA," Shishir remembered the day he went to a music shop to try out a new guitar. "It was a shop in Washington DC. I went there and started playing. Then I realised people were watching me. A lot of them."
As a teenage Shishir played to his heart's content, a woman approached him from the crowd. She was a music producer- as told by Shishir. She instantly offered him to sign up for a project. "She wanted me to play for an album, but I politely declined," Shishir chuckled as he recalled how naive he was at that time.
"I could have said yes to that lady. Maybe I would have landed a deal should I have accepted her offer," Shishir said.
In January, he released "Nijeke Harabar Bhoy," featuring Rafa on vocals- the first of many tracks he is currently working on with various artists. "I will explore different genres in each of the tracks," he said. The pandemic halted the production but Shishir wants to figure out a way to release the songs in ones and twos.
Let us unwind the anecdote where Shishir explores the Manhattan of 2000. Baggy pants and a "Megadeth" T-shirt: Shishir's go-to attire as he strolls through the sidewalk. Then a billboard caught his eyes.
Shishir was passing by a concert hall where Megadeth was due to perform that day. Hence, the billboard bore pictures of the most celebrated line-up of the band: Mustaine, Marty, Menza, and Ellefson.
The die-hard fan in Shishir must have been a little whimsical that day. He did not give a second thought about watching his favourite band live. He simply walked away.
"I regret not watching that show, how could I walk away!" he confessed. "I was pretty young. I did not think I would never get to see that classic line-up ever."
However, the grown-up Shishir believes a reunion show will happen with the surviving members.
When the coronavirus chapter is over, Shishir wants to go on a tour with his solo acts with various artistes.