By: Anum Khan
Beginning with two Kashmiri-American brothers, Mubashir (guitarist/songwriter) and Mohsin Mohi-ud-Din (drummer) and later being joined by Greg Eckleman on the bass, form Zerobridge, an alternative/rock band. They began playing in New York City’s East Village and have taken the opportunity to bring their rock and roll style to the Muslim world and help Muslim disadvantaged youth along the way.
Having no idea what the audience’s responses would be outside the United States, they were amazed to find themselves being invited to play in rural areas of Morocco and Malaysia. Mohsin received a Fulbright to do music, film and photography workshops with the youth in Morocco. While in Morocco, he was able to get the American Embassy to sponsor the entire band to play in 6 cities in 7 days, with a gig playing in front of 5,000 people. Mohsin told Elan Magazine, “That tour was extraordinary and it never got the attention it deserved in America where most bands are full of themselves.” Mubashir said touring in Morocco gave the band a plethora of inspiration because the youth provided much needed untapped creative energy. With Moroccan youth, Mohsin produced several songs as well as created seventeen short films with street kids themselves, addressing local Moroccan youth issues such as poverty, hunger and drug abuse. (Watch a YouTube video about the project here.) Mubashir said that there are not any programs or encouragement for the youth in Morocco for self-expression. Nonetheless, Zerobridge may have shown the youth that through art and music can facilitate a future of hope and empowerment.
Zerobridge was invited by the Islamic Economic Conference to play in Malaysia, doing six shows outside the conference. They were invited to a gig at an underground punk show in Kuala Lampur with a sign at the entrance stating, “No shoes, no drugs, no sex.” Asked later about the no sex, the kid replied, “Well, maybe a little sex.” The youth are ordinary, but have been forced to take their talent underground because of the lack of encouragement from society. Zerobridge hopes to see rock and roll music come out of the sand and onto the streets with platforms for youth to express themselves.
Zerobridge has been able to tap into the music culture in the Muslim world and show them that you can be Muslim and still rock and roll. With receptive audiences in Morocco and Malaysia, Zerobridge hopes to expand their tours across the Muslim world. Their goals include being recognized in the “cannon of greats” in the rock and roll music industry. Zerobridge is releasing their fourth album in fall 2011, being produced by JP Bowersock (who also was the Strokes guru/producer and guitarist for Julian Casablancas and Ryan Adams).
Access Mohsin’s blog about his experiences in the Muslim world here: http://dangerville.wordpress.com/