Considered “One of the five defining pop acts of Pakistan” by The NEWS International, noori is making its debut tour of the United States this June and July. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State through the program Center Stage, the band performs in Washington D.C., New York and Connecticut before it appears at the Ann Arbor Summer Festival tonight.

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During a break in New Haven, Conn., bandmates Ali Noor, Ali Hamza and Louis J. Pinto (otherwise known as Gumby) took turns in a conference call to describe their U.S. experience to The Michigan Daily.

“It’s been great. It’s been one of the best experiences we’ve had so far in our careers,” said singer and guitarist, Ali Noor.

“Back home we’re one of the main acts over there, so obviously playing gigs you start to get very comfortable,” said percussionist Gumby. “And here we are, just performing where no one knows you, especially American audiences, and we have to play like any other band that’s just starting out. That’s a very different feeling that we haven’t experienced in a while. So it’s a great learning (experience).”

The three original band members (six play on the tour) were influenced by a range of music styles from East to West. When they began working together over 10 years ago, they blended their interests into a multicultural style.

“There’s a little bit of punk rock, there’s a bit of Indian rock, there’s a lot of Eastern folk melodies,” Gumby said. “We all grew up listening to diverse music … and when the three of us are together in the studio writing stuff or recording stuff, you’ll see different things happen in the music.”

While the trio has developed it’s own flavor of music, Ali Hamza (vocals and bass) explained that he and his brother Noor are truly songwriters. They strayed from the usual Pakistani genre of love songs, deciding to project stronger messages.

“Our songs have revolved around the youth,” Hamza said. “There was very little about what journey a single individual goes through, and what an individual goes through within context of society. This became our focus.”

Noor is a trained lawyer and Hamza graduated from Lahore University of Management Sciences with a degree in Economics. Yet their passion was music, and they embraced this to form their energetic and successful band. Today they continue to urge others to take risks and follow their dreams.

“The youth over there, everybody has a lot of creative passion, but most of them tend to forget that along the way,” Hamza explained. “They start doing engineering and law, and they obviously want to get into their professional career. They don’t get much time to carry on with their hobby or their passion.”

Perhaps Pakistani youth are not the only ones to learn from the band’s message. Many American students today are pressured to seek an “appropriate” career rather than to follow their dreams.

With words at the heart of their music, Noor and Hamza were thrilled for the opportunity to write lyrics in English for this United States tour.

The group felt that American audiences would not get the full impact of their words if they only sang in Urdu, the Pakistani language. The band wishes to really communicate with and connect to their audiences.

“We wanted ourselves to be kind of an example, that if you’re passionate about something, you should definitely go on out and do it — it might be very difficult for you, but you definitely should not stop,” Hamza said. “And that’s the message that we communicated to the youth in our country.”

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