WASHINGTON, DC – As a metal rock band whose founder, lead-singer, and bassist: Arash TarantisT admits to not having a “stable genre,” because they play “whatever feels good” to them, TarantisT is not your average post-revolutionary Iranian rock band.
Playing at the famed Whiskey-a-Go Go after only being in the US for a month-and-a-half while managing to become the muse for LA-based and Iranian-owned print-design house: Modern Prophecy – inspiring a set of custom-made t-shirts – Iranian punk-rock band TarantisT is taking a big bite out of the metal-rock scene.
With their album, Tarantism, now available for purchase on iTunes, we were delighted to catch Arash during a respite from writing his music, for a charming and enlightening chat.
Sanaz Khalaj-Santos: Where were you born?
Arash Rahbary: Shiraz
SKS: Where did you grow up?
AR: Shiraz, Tehran.
SKS: When did you leave Iran?
AR: March 2008. Our paperwork however, didn’t come together as soon as we had hoped and unfortunately, because of the delay, we had to pull out of 20 concerts that we were scheduled to partake in. The concerts are still listed on our site, that’s how sad we are about this.
SKS: How did TarantisT form?
AR: My brother, Arsalan, and I formed it some 8 or 9 years ago with great support from our parents. Our mom was our manager.
SKS: Is the whole band related?
AR: No. My brother and I are. The other guys are friends.
SKS: What are their names? And what instruments do they play?
AR: Arsalan, my brother, plays the guitar. Bahman plays guitar and does back-up vocals. Reza plays the drums.
SKS: What’s behind the name TarantisT?
AR: The word means someone who has been bitten by a tarantula and gets a form of “dance-madness” as a reaction to the poison of the tarantula. Head-banging, to us, seemed like this human reaction to want to take this poison out of one’s body through dance – and so we related our head-banging to this dance.
SKS: Who were your first metal influences?
AR: Slayer, Metallica, Black Sabbath, and Ozzy… were probably my first influences. But my mom always listened to very different music. She listened to Pink Floyd, Rolling Stones, Hendrix, etc., and as I was in her belly, I would listen – or head-bang – to it. So you could say that my ear got used to good music early on. And when you’re into music, you always search out.
SKS: Did you ever play in Iran? If so, is there a large metal following in Iran?
AR: Yes and Yes. We had some underground and on-the-ground shows, even some gigs in festivals! There is a huge rock and metal scene in Iran. We actually started playing and practicing in a basement – two floors underground – in Iran so as to ensure going unnoticed by the moral police. Metal music has many fans in Iran. In the bigger cities it was more prevalent before but now, kids know what’s up. There’s a large group of followers in Shiraz, Mashhad, and Esfahan as well.
SKS: Who did you listen to as a teenager in Iran?
AR: Well, in childhood I was deafened by the sound of war planes and their bombing, later, I heard the rhythm of the city, birds singing, neighbors suffering, and the others laughing…
SKS: Who is your favorite metal musician?
SKS: Who are your top 3 favorite Metal bands?
AR: Old Metallica, Slayer, Testament.
SKS: What’s your favorite TarantisT song?
AR: When you picked your favorite child, then I will answer.
SKS: Are you classically trained in music?
AR: Yes, since I was 6 years old.
SKS: Do you write, perform, and produce all of your music?
AR: Yes, we all do. Essentially, I write the music and the lyrics, and the rest of the guys and I go over it, then it will grow from there, and sometimes they make changes – but there are generally no complaints.
SKS: How many instruments to do you play?
AR: Santour, Guitar, and I play Bass in TarantisT.
SKS: What’s your favorite instrument?
AR: Definitley Bass guitar.
SKS: Has your metal sound been influenced by Iranian music in any way?
AR: Yes, via ghere kamar.
SKS: Who has inspired you the most in life?
AR: My Mother.
SKS: Is your music sold in Iran?
SKS: What time of day do you find yourself to be the most creative?
AR: Hard question… it comes to your mind at different times and situations but, early mornings and late nights for writing, and after 11am for music.
SKS: What’s your favorite Persian dish?
AR: My Mother’s cooking.
SKS: Gojeh Sabz or Zoghaalakhteh?
AR: Vaay… Gojeh Sabz.