Did you know that Iran has metal music as well? HTN travelled to Iran to meet Hossein Yukband, the lead guitar of Kuadrumana, one of the very rare and controversial alternative live bands in the Islamic Republic of Iran. A beautiful, historical country rooted in its tradition: metal musicians don’t have it easy at all here. We take a look at how they are breaking their path from traditions, and surviving, as also thriving in the ancient country of Iran.
In early july, the HTN expedition hit the Iranian turf. What was in store for us? Friendly, welcoming and gracious hosts on the ancient land of Persia: a region embroiled in mysteries of war and jehad. Or as the media would have us believe.
Hence, we were really looking forward to uncover the other side of Iran: that the media perhaps deems unnecessary to telecast.
In our quest to unravel indigenous cultures, Iran could not be ignored. Sights of nomadic women engaging in trade in the cities, selling and wearing serene traditional garments and bashful children trotting alongside. Their mystical yet famed Arabian architecture: in a country undergoing an immense number of changes at this point and time. Iran can easily capture anyone’s imagination.
Of course, as film-makers our journey in Iran wasn’t easy, to say the least. More than once, Olivier ran into trouble with the visa authorities and could stay in the country only for a limited time.
People in Iran are not eager to speak in front of the camera, owing to the political situations. So far HTN travelled across regions where the social, environmental and cultural problems were different in all its entirety. Iran is a different regime. As we discovered, freedom of expression, in this tumultuous region is a legitimate and serious concern.
Enter: Hossein Yekband, lead guitarist of Kuadrumana, a heavy metal band in Iran, who has defied the accepted mode of expression allowed in his country.
Hossein and his mate Mohammad (aka DJ momo), are the most active members of Kuadrumana a metal band in Iran, and in this part of the world just in itself is something!
Showing interest in metal music or any other kind of alternative or underground cultures in Iran is regarded as immoral and therefore prohibited. Of course all around the world heavy metal may be perceived to be controversial, however, in Iran, it’s way beyond controversial.
Shiraz, known as the ‘city of poets’ as it is the birth and resting place of the famous Persian poets Hafez and Sa’di, is said to be more than 4,000 years old. Shiraz is the sixth most populous city in Iran and the economic centre of southern Iran. It is diverse and progressive; whilst maintaining a strong cultural presence.
And Hossein and his band mates, with their black heavy metal emblazoned T-shirts, long hair et al, certainly stand out in the streets of Shiraz.
In fact, anything that could make you look different is likely to attract the “moral police attention”. It’s a bit like wearing the veil, the hijab, the burkha or any ostensive religious sign in France, it’s interesting to note how different cultures react to each other as they cross paths in this global changing landscape.
In Iran, there’s been a major underground scene that started in the late 1990’s. However, it’s difficult for a metal band to even record their music, and band members are often faced with accusations of Satanism.
“There is an absolute blackout for metal musicians in Iran. There is no way that you can do what you love in Iran. Even if you do, it’s illegal and unauthorised, since the Government claims that metal music is immoral and has labelled it as satanic… it is dangerous for the artists to do their thing,” Hossein the lead guitarist says.
Kuadramana was formed in 2005. A band who’s twice been invited to play the SXSW Festival, one of the largest music festivals in the U.S., and twice had to turn it down because of the inability to acquire visas to come abroad.
“It’s tough to lose an opportunity twice, but I hope we get to play in the U.S. one day,” says lead vocalist Ahmad Motamed.
What is even more interesting to note is that these passionate artists broke out of the educational system.
“I’m a drop-out,” says Yekband, “So is Ardavan (Niikaeen, guitar player) and Mohammad (Rahimi, bass player). The atmosphere of the universities was not favourable for us. I left college and bought a guitar and I have my guitar students right now, and couple of music projects that bring me money for the betterment of the band’s equipment.”
“I used to study design in Italy and that made the situation even harder for us,” states Motamed, “So I dropped the courses and got back to Shiraz to continue rehearsing with the band. Therefore you can assume me to be a drop-out as well.”
Those outside of Iran who have heard Kuadrumana are already in support of them. The band’s EP, The Gamodeme, consists of only two songs, but with just those two songs Kuadrumana has whet the mu