The Commuters
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The Commuters

New York City, New York, United States | SELF

New York City, New York, United States | SELF
Band Alternative Rock




"The Commuters Giving Away Free Download of "As I Make My Way""

New York City-based indie rockers The Commuters will be releasing their debut album, Rescue, on April 17 via Communal Records.

In anticipation of the release, we've teamed up with the band to offer a free download of their first single, "As I Make My Way." Stream or download it via the SoundCloud widget below.

Rescue was recorded in Manhattan at guitarist Uri Djemal's Madpan Studios.

"Uri's studio was a few blocks from my apartment and he was telling me for years to come work on my songs there," said frontman/guitarist Zeeshan Zaidi on how the album came together. "One day - when I knew it was time - I just walked over with a dozen demos and we started."

For more on the band, check them out at -

"Backstage with NYC rock band The Commuters"

Meet The Commuters: one of the rare bands that can release a debut album, give it away for free, and then play their album release show to an almost sold out venue. Talk about letting the music speak for itself.

Fans of Snow Patrol, Matchbox 20 and Deep Blue Something should pick up "Rescue," a solid introduction to this rock band. Plus, when was the last time you legally got an awesome album for free?

On the eve of their release show at legendary Fontana's, Examiner caught up with lead singer Zeeshan Zaidi to chat about going for what you want in life, their biggest influences, and what giving birth and releasing an album have in common.

Examiner: What’s the story behind the name? Feels like a lot of New Yorkers can relate.

Zeeshan Zaidi: Yeah, we are all New Yorkers, I mean everyone all over commutes, I think everyone can relate. But also, we’re all commuting from different parts of the world – the band itself is from all parts of the world. The name is actually something my brother came up with. It just seemed perfect.

The album came out today, how does it feel having it out now?

Awesome. It kind of feels like giving birth in a way [laughs], I mean less pain – not that I would know. I mean it was a long time in the making, it’s been done for awhile but we put an EP out in the fall just to get traction and build up excitement.

AOL is streaming the album (for free) and the minute you get on there, it says The Commuters sound like Smashing Pumpkins and Snow Patrol – pretty huge bands. Who influences you?

It’s so funny and flattering that all the bands we’re being compared to are influences. I mean I’m such a huge fan of Smashing Pumpkins, Foo Fighters; bands like that. It’s such a compliment and we still have a long way to go.

Was there a certain feel you wanted the album to have, or something you wanted to make sure came across with it?

I think that the message of the album is really captured by our first single “As I Make My Way.” I was in the music industry for a long time and a musician on the side; never really going for it. And I just said “I’m going to go for it.” I guess the real message would be that it’s never too late to do what you want and just go for it. Don’t worry about the results or anything like that, just think about what you want from it and do it.

I know you said you worked in the music industry before this, do you think that gave you an edge when recording and dealing with this whole process verses maybe someone who hasn’t really had the experience from the other side?

It’s a huge blessing to have worked in this industry. Just to see how hard artists are marketed and valued, just to see it from that side I’m not really intimidated by the things that happen and I know what to expect. On the hand, having been on the other side, I do see the value. It’s not like I’m a DIY artists – we have radio promo, Big Picture Music doing publicity. To make an artist successful it takes a community, it takes a team.

When listening to “Rescue” I noticed you maintain a general sound, but every song kind of has something special to it to make it stand out from the other. As a new band, how important do you think diversity is with a debut album?

I think it’s important, personally. People’s attention spans are so short now – if you want to hold people’s attention for the whole album, you kind of have to mix it up. We put a lot of time and effort into it. There was no rush, you know? No one’s really waiting for your first album. We took a lot of time in the studio so I’m glad it’s coming across that way.

In the video for “As I Make My Way” it starts out with you coming out of the door in a suit then kind of rewinds and you come out with a guitar. Was that kind of a personal metaphor or biographical in any way?

I never wore a suit to work but that was the point to get across. I was living my life and one day I said to myself, someday I’ll die and when that comes I don’t want to -

"The Commuters: Rescue"

I’ve listened to all sorts of songs about “great escapes,” from We Are Scientist’s to Boys Like Girls (I know, that’s something I probably shouldn’t have admitted). Between them both, their high-energy sounds articulate that adrenaline that surges through the body during fight-or-flight response; there is an immediacy to flee from the troubles of monotonous routines and thoughts. But yet, when I turned the volume up on The Commuters debut album, Rescue, it was like an old friend sat me down in desperation, dropped to their knees, and pleaded with wet eyes asking me to help them disappear from people’s timelines to “feel more alive.” Ironically, time slowed, and I had the opportunity to pack my thoughts and run properly, leaving only what I wanted to behind.

While “Great Escape” isn’t the latest single off the album, I also didn’t listen to this record in a linear fashion. I found it more emotionally stimulating to shuffle the songs, allowing a different narrative to pan out each round. That’s the beauty of this record: you have yourself convinced that you’ve heard a track enough to know how much it is going to hurt on impact, but the collision is never the same; you can be murdered and resurrected by the same instrument.

The Commuters have captivated the essence of personal experience. With a band from New York, I expected the sounds of the city. However, what I heard, were the tales of those individuals who bustle through crowds, quietly searching their minds, reflecting on the relationships of the people around them. “Hope to Be” and “You’ll Stay Right Here,” are soft rock ballads with compelling lyrics that explore the simple details that plague so many minds.

There are a dash of upbeat tracks – a temporarily release from the more serious slow jams. “As I Make My Way” and “Bombs Away” are comparable to an angel food cake; The Commuters have a way of making the listener feel light and airy without overindulging in the sweetness of false-hope.

Rescue is set to be released on April 17th. But before I take my things and run, I have to say that I have become rather attached to this band, if only because vocalist Zeeshan Zadi’s voice reminds me of Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody, but also because I recognize myself in these songs. That is something I will not dare to run from. - Golden Mixtape

"Indie rock act comes to the rescue with debut album"

In a music industry largely dominated by pop, it is often difficult for a rock band to gain any sort of attention. Last summer, the New York-based indie rock band The Commuters bucked that trend by making waves with their first EP, "As I Make My Way." With their debut album "Rescue," the band is well on the way to positioning itself on the forefront of today's rock scene. "Rescue" is a collection of 11 anthemic rock songs that are sure to place the band among others like The Fray and Coldplay.

The album opens with the band's first single, "As I Make My Way." One of the band's more up-tempo songs, it features echoing guitars that provide a warm and welcoming feel. It is big and bold, a fitting sound for a song whose narrator is going on a journey and trying to "figure it out/ As I make my way."

Despite its slow start, "Kneeling" transforms into another of the album's faster tracks. It picks up the pace as the bass drum and vocals make their entrance and continues to gain momentum from there. The chorus's lyrics ("I can't explain what I'm going through/ But it's gonna bring me back to/ Distant days/ Another time") provide comfort and reassurance that, despite what the listener may be dealing with, everything will work out.

One of the most poignant songs on the album is "Fallen From Grace." Slow and steady, "Grace" opens with a catchy acoustic melody that carries on throughout the track. The lyrics ("Is this a choice that I have made?/ Or is it just my fate/ To end up in this place?") are a beautiful reflection on the past, questioning the circumstances that have made life the way it is.

"Take A Step Back" is perhaps the most striking song on the album. It begins with a cautious piano tune that mirrors the tentative yet hopeful nature of the chorus, pleading with the listener to "See the view from above/ Take a step back/ It's not that bad/ It's not that tough."

"Rescue" is a solid debut from start to finish. The mellow feel that pervades the album provides perfect easy listening. With their catchy melodies and thoughtful lyrics about real human emotions, The Commuters are the latest worthy act to hit the rock scene.

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, April 17 print edition. Rebecca Kovach is a contributing writer. Email her at
- Washington Square News (NYU Newspaper)

"The Commuters' "Rescue" -- Song of the Day"

The Commuters make the kind of thoughtful rock music that resonates with all the right emotions and takes serious cues from heartfelt confessionals. Their new single, "Rescue," is a prime example, utilizing soaring guitar work and deeply felt vocals to create a piece of music that's as vulnerable as it is blunt . And, to steal your heart even further, they're offering it up as an exclusive, free download for a limited time. Grab it, and get ready for their debut album of the same name to drop April 17 via Communal Records. -


LP - Rescue - released 4/17/12

1. As I Make My Way
2. Lines On Your Hands
3. Rescue
4. Hope To Be
5. Take a Step Back
6. Great Escape
7. Kneeling
8. We Are Breathing
9. Fallen From Grace
10. Bombs Away
11. You'll Stay Right Here



The Commuters are:

Zeeshan Zaidi – Vocals, Guitar, Piano, Keyboards, Songwriter, Co-Producer
Uri Djemal – Guitar, Keyboards, Co-Producer
Ben Zwerin – Bass
Paul Amorese – Drums

The Commuters might hail from New York, but their kinetic, personally revealing anthems capture an alt-rock essence that aspires toward worldwide appeal. Their debut album Rescue was released in mid-2012. The video for the first single “As I Make My Way” was added to mtvU’s rotation and received extensive airplay at college radio stations throughout the US.

Right from the outset of Rescue (mastered by White Stripes/Ryan Adams collaborator Fred Kevorkian), The Commuters’ signature attributes are front and center. Lead single, “As I Make My Way,” has it all: an unforgettable hook, huge guitars that ring and echo and a grounded rhythm section that anchors the track’s precise tension. Elsewhere, you can hear traces of Peter Gabriel’s work with Daniel Lanois nudge against the delicate bite of Automatic/Monster-era R.E.M. The latter is particularly evident in the title track’s feedback thrust and circa-Bends Radiohead gets channeled via the poised, melodic moodiness of album standout “Fallen from Grace.” And what ties all this together are the Commuters’ poignant lyrics, which eschew cryptic sermonizing, focusing instead on transparently human experiences and emotions.

Such richness and diversity on an inaugural release is no happenstance. As their name suggests, the Commuters have traveled through a lifetime of musical influences, but it’s their own personal global journeys that have guided the foursome to something universal but prevailingly intimate. Before forming the Commuters in 2010, Canadian-born, Philippines-raised frontman Zeeshan Zaidi (whose parents were born in Pakistan and India) spent many years in the music industry. His early accomplishments included producing and engineering Grammy-nominated artist Ryan Leslie’s first demo, and he subsequently worked in the marketing departments of major labels in New York helping to develop the careers of other versatile artists, including OutKast and Cee Lo Green. During this time, Zaidi was also honing his craft as a singer, songwriter and musician, performing around New York’s open mic circuit.

When the time arrived to put his own abilities as a performer front and center, he immediately shared a dozen demos of his songs with childhood friend, New York-based producer and soon-to-be Commuters guitarist Uri Djemal, who was also raised in the Philippines (by parents of Israeli and American descent). The two got to work co-producing Zaidi’s songs at Djemal’s Madpan Studios in Manhattan, where Djemal had produced many well-known artists in New York’s indie-rock scene. Says Zaidi: “Uri’s studio was a few blocks from my apartment and he was telling me for years to come work on my songs there. One day — when I knew it was time — I just walked over and we started.”

Soon, they were joined by Djemal’s previous collaborator, Ben Zwerin on bass and Paul Amorese behind the drums, solidifying the current lineup.

The band is signed to Zaidi’s New York-based label, Communal Records. They’ve established themselves at noted hometown venues in Manhattan and Brooklyn, including Arlene’s Grocery, Lit Lounge and Spike Hill. The Commuters have also received blog acclaim in the U.S. and abroad, and features on major outlets such as GuitarWorld and PureVolume, and are now eager to build their US presence and also extend their experiences outward to an international audience. As Zaidi explains, the already-dynamic tracks on Rescue “sound energetic and alive” on stage. “We love creating songs in the studio but performing them for live audiences is even more exciting,” he continues. “A lot of our online fans in different countries ask when we’re going to play in their hometowns – and we want to make it to all those places.”

And while every band aims to last, the Commuters’ unique combination of its members’ personal histories and creative backgrounds leading up to this moment foreshadows a longer and brighter future than most. “Our hope and our goal is to be around for as long as possible,” says Zaidi. “We want to build this over time — the first album is just the start.”