A few weeks ago, I was browsing the pages of Orkut, the very popular social networking web site on the net, when I noticed that there was no community dedicated to the new Iranian rock band Kiosk [See Behrouz Bahmani's “The revolution is here“]. Now, it’s not in my habit of creating communities here and there on the web, but I seriously felt that this was an aberration. After all, it wasn’t long after I downloaded their album “Adame Mamooli” from the iTunes music store, that they grew on me as one of my favorite music bands. Before I go on about the community, I’ll give you a little background about why the music of Kiosk has stricken me as much as it has:
Some twenty years ago, when I programmed music on (and managed) the radio station of the university I was enrolled at in the US, I always felt that there was a lack of anything Iranian in the world’s rock music scene. I used to be able to play French and Spanish rock on our station, but my own native land’s place in music was empty. Sure, those were times when it wouldn’t have been possible to even think of any music coming out of Iran, and the only thing I had to cover for this lag back then was my pre-revolution tape from Faramarz Aslani, “Delmashgholliha”. But even that was not exactly what my audience enjoyed entirely.
Throughout the years since, and mostly recently, a few acts have been able to surface from inside Iran and I’ve always asked myself whether the music of those bands could have been played on our radio. The answer, to my own dismay and after a lot of pondering, had always been negative. That is until now, when I have finally come through Kiosk. Twenty years later!
I think Kiosk is the turning point in modern Iranian music in that the lyrics of their songs are, contrary to the work of most other Iranian rock bands, quite unpretentious, actual, and heartfelt; not to mention the humor you can sense in them. More, the music is quite innovative, and for once arranged in a manner that goes with the Farsi lyrics, so the combination gives something outstanding compared to the other available stuff. I should mention however, that one can sense lots of talent in the music of other bands, and my aim is not to put them down. To the contrary, I just think that their music needs to “mature” more through further experimentation and trying out different combinations.
Back to the subject of the Orkut community: As you may have been able to guess, I decided to create one for Kiosk myself! And the funny thing is that It wasn’t even a few days old, when I noticed that I can recognize a certain name on the member list. When I checked up, I found out that I was right about the hunch I had: The name was that of Arash Sobhani, lead singer/songwriter and guitarist of Kiosk –in fact, the man behind the band– himself! Imagine my surprise! To me, it’s like you create a community for “The Police” and in walks… Sting!
So I decided to engage in a conversation with the man to see what gives. Keep in mind that this is something that I hadn’t done in ages. Now I have had quite a few informal conversations with people who were involved in music, not only due to my involvement with that radio station, but also simply due to my passion for music, which made me, in some instances, go backstage at some of the concerts I attended in my twenties to talk to the musicians.
These were people ranging from some who became legends later to a few who didn’t really quite make it – people like U2’s band members (when they were still not as famous as they are now) or R.E.M.’s, but also musicians from “10,000 maniacs”, “They Might Be Giants” and frankly, quite a few others. The point that struck me back then about those who made it big later on was that they weren’t really focusing on their fame, but on their music. In fact, Bono showed to be quite scared of going mainstream and I don’t believe Michael Stipe (of R.E.M. fame) really even thought they would make it as big as they did later on.
Now as soon as I started my conversation with Arash on Orkut, the first thing he asked me was to remember that he wanted to remain an “Adame Mamooli” – an ordinary man (also the title track from their album)! This is something that made me think that he had the right attitude from the beginning and I wasn’t proven wrong in the conversation (and friendship) that ensued. Without further due, what you will find here is the bulk of the conversation we had on Orkut. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I have.