[Illustration by ALEX FINE]

PHILADELPHIA WEEKLY: Jahan Zeb Malik, “Zeb” to friends, was living in his tiny practice space on Columbus Boulevard, sleeping on a dirty mattress he’d crammed in amongst the maze of gear and the straggle of guitar cords. He had no shower. No fridge. No stove. No closet.

His diet at the time mostly consisted of gas station hot dogs. Though sometimes he’d splurge for a gas station hamburger. The year was 2008, and everything had pretty much gone to shit. […]

Opening for Nine Inch Nails as early as they did, as green as they were, was more a curse than a blessing. Being hand picked by Reznor, Zeb says, “was detrimental to the band.”

It made them less hungry. They were handed something out of the gate, given a first-place trophy just for showing up. They hadn’t earned it.

“We got to see the end of this long race before it started,” says Zeb of the music business. “Trent was really angry that tour. He didn’t hang out with his band at all. We saw the view at the top of the mountain and the people up there didn’t seem all that happy. We began to wonder if it was what we wanted. We—my brothers and I—never wanted the band to come between us. Fuck that. We’ve been through too much together.”

After Athens, when the crew got back to Philly, they hooked back up with Diplo. They began playing basketball regularly together at the courts next door to Diplo’s Mad Decent Mausoleum near 12th and Spring Garden streets.

Mad Decent signed the group. Diplo made the brothers some of his early, near-legendary psyche rock mixtapes, curated from deep cuts of rare gems he found while crate digging. Upon Diplo’s invitation, PO PO moved into the Mausoleum, which was quickly redubbed “the Mosque-oleum.”

“There was a shower!” says Zeb. “We were finally clean enough to pray.” MORE



Produced by Jahan Zeb Malik.

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