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- Posted on Mar 15th 2010 9:11AM by Hilary Hughes
Tell me about TarantisT, how did you come to make music together?
Ten years ago, I started TarantisT with my brother and one of my friends in Tehran. We started practicing together, and after awhile we just started writing songs and doing demos and passing them around to our friends. In turn, they'd pass our music around to their friends, and that's how we got fans some publicity. We started getting emails from different media outlets outside of Iran, from all around the world, and it was very weird for us. I mean, it was great - we were shocked that all of these foreign media outlets had found out about us, where meanwhile we were just playing in a basement in Iran! People would actually come to watch us in our rehearsal space. The media started coming to hear us play. We wanted to tour Europe and the United States, and we were accepted at SXSW in 2007, but due to visa problems we couldn't make it to the festival until 2009. Because of more visa problems, other band members were forced to return to Iran. I asked some other friends to play in TarantisT for SXSW in 2009. We had a great show, and that brings us to where we are today.
The transition between living in Tehran and Los Angeles must've been challenging. How has that affected you as a band, with members having to remain in Iran?
That was very hard, moving here. It's a completely new environment. The main problems for us were financial, because we could only do small jobs. Not having established sources of income made it really hard. It was difficult for us to move around because we only had bikes and we didn't have a car, and the temperature in Los Angeles and the rain in the winter all just made it hard.
How'd you come up with TarantisT as your band name?
Tarantists are mentioned in a book by Nietzche, where he talks about being bitten by a tarantula, and how being bitten by a tarantula is an expression for madness. That's where TarantisT came from.
Can you describe your sound in your own words?
Rock and Roll. Hard. Hard Rock and Roll. [laughs]
What has been useful advice?
I guess "make it or break it" comes to mind. It's a lonely road for me! [laughs] There's no written route.
What's in your festival survival kit?
I'd have to have my bass guitar; I'd definitely bring that. Last year at SXSW, I didn't have my original band members, my drummer and my brother, with me, so I had their pictures on my guitar. I'm going to use those pictures again and I'm going to look at those pictures before I play so that I can talk to them in my mind. I wish they could be there! Right before I went onstage last year, I looked to their picture for motivation. It's important to keep the hope alive that we'll be together again because they're stuck in [Iran], and they can't leave right now. That problem can only be solved with money. In Iran, unless you go through the military service, you can't have a passport and therefore you can't leave the country. There are other ways that you can pay and have that magic card, but we don't have that much money. We're trying to afford it, but it's a lot. We've been asking for help from charities in order to keep this band going. If I make it big, I want to give back to the bands who need help the same way we did.
Who would be your musical guilty pleasure?
Marilyn Manson! He makes me crazy! [laughs] He's just great. I'd definitely say that Marilyn Manson is my guilty pleasure.
What's the craziest thing that's happened to you on tour?
We had been traveling in Europe and we came to Paris from Amsterdam. We had been traveling by train, and we then we hailed a taxi upon arriving in Paris. We had our hard cases for our guitars and stuff, and the guy said, "Hey, what are you doing?" I said, "We're in a rock band, these are our guitars." He said, "Where are you from?" I said, "We're Persian; We are from Iran." He said, "What do you have in your cases, a nuclear bomb?!" That was crazy, and we told him that. I'll never forget that. It's not a nice thing to remember. [laughs]
That's got to be really difficult to deal with.
What are you working on now?
We just released our new album two weeks ago. It's available on iTunes and Amazon. It's called Distorted Brain. We have some new songs in addition to the album that are ready, and hopefully we're going to be heading back into the studio soon because we have lots of things to say, you know? Every day, every moment we're working on making new things and hopefully we can be successful in being new and different.
How is Distorted Brain different from previous work you've done?
I wasn't as angry as I was when I was writing the previous album and I was more thoughtful when writing Distorted Brain. I think that you can hear the difference between that record and our other songs.
What's one thing that your fans might not know about you that they wouldn't necessarily expect?
Different people from different parts of the world are just human. We're all the same. There's no difference between the things we do and the things other people do. There shouldn't be difference between us because we're from a different part of the world.
Hilary Hughes is a contributor from Seed.com. Learn how you can contribute here.