Interview – Zeeshan Zaidi of The Commuters
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Interview – Zeeshan Zaidi of The Commuters

It is time to dive into the alternative music scene for a bit. Local New York rockers The Commuters are folks who will be leading the charge here. With the release of their newest music video, Before I Was Born, the men are on a roll these days. The Commuters consist of childhood friends Zeeshan Zaidi and Uri Djemal as well as Ben Zwerin and Paul Amorese who bring musical bliss to the masses. Zeeshan delved into their work to date and the journey that led them to where they are going forward.

Their musical start proved to be quite the journey for Mr. Zaidi before it all came together. He shared his story. “[It started with] love and insanity! I was working in the music industry in New York but had always been a musician myself. I had written a bunch of songs over the years, recorded and produced demos, and performed them at open mics, but never did much else with them. A lot of people encouraged me to do more, but they were sort of sitting there, taking a back seat to the rest of my life. Uri is a good friend from childhood, we’ve been classmates since the first grade, and a producer in New York. His studio was several blocks away from where I was living for a long time. He heard my songs a long time ago and for years kept encouraging me to come work on them at his studio.”

“I always wanted to do more with my music, it had always been my dream to be a professional musician and would occasionally feel antsy about the fact that time was slipping by and it was just languishing. One day I said to myself, ‘some day I will die, and when that day comes I don’t want to look back on my life and kick myself for not doing what deep down inside I’ve always wanted to do.’ So I called him up, walked over with my demos and we got to work making an album, not knowing what the outcome would be. A lot of people, Uri included, were encouraging me to be a solo artist, because the songs had a singer-songwriter feel, but I had always wanted to start a band, and there was no question that Uri had to be in it. Uri knew Ben from the music scene in New York, and so Ben played on the album. Paul and Ben had played a couple of gigs together before. So it all sort of came together that way!”

Within their discography it can be hard to focus on one piece in particular. “That’s like picking a favorite child! I would say I’m really happy with the way the single Before I Was Born came out. In terms of the song, the production, the sound we were going for. [It] all sort of came together. … It’s been getting great traction.”

Performance aspirations run high for the crew. “Someday I’d love to play Sultan’s Pool in Jerusalem. [it is a] gorgeous venue, and our song Kneeling from our first album is about Jerusalem. Uri’s dad is Israeli so he has a lot of relatives there and we hope to make it over one day.”

Their musical adventure is not always easy. “There was one performance a few years ago where Paul, our drummer, was on a train coming back from upstate New York visiting his family, and the train was stopped/stuck for ages. So we had to start the gig without him, tried to do a piano ballad. Then when he showed up halfway through the set we realized the club’s drum kit had no hi-hat. So he just had to get creative with the snare. Funny in retrospect, but kind of nuts…”

With the expanding music scene always on the move, Zeeshan gave his bit on it all. “Love, love, love! [It is] such an amazing time for artists and for fans, so many choices, so much great music being made, and so many ways to consume. [There is] so much live music. Truly a golden age.”

Music may not be Zeeshan’s only medium as the future creative mind evolves. “I’ve loved making music videos so far so maybe making a longer video [or a] short film could be in the cards.”

Musically, the men have already experimented with new sounds in their latest work. Zeeshan gave some examples on where they may develop further. “Maybe get a new lead singer, ha-ha! The latest EP is slightly more electronic, has more synths, so maybe a continued evolution in that direction, we’ll see. Once we get into the studio we’ll see where inspiration takes us.”

Artists to build off of are plenty. “[There are] so many, too many to mention. One that comes to mind is Bon Iver. Justin Vernon is brilliant and everything he does is so pure and honest.”

The man never seems to slow down and explore. “I’m in Toronto right now for Canadian Music Week, will be checking out some other bands! I’m thinking about making the Statue of Liberty disappear. Seriously though, since David Blaine already pulled that one off, I will focus on the next album! Been starting to work on some songs, will work on them and take shape.”

Jam On.

Give a watch and a listen to Before I Was Born below:

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Written by Myles Hunt

Music fan, simple and sweet.

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