in 2010 Mehran burst on the progressive guitar scene with his
New Age Flamenco meets World Beat meets prog-rock instrumental album
entitled Angels Of Persepolis. In 2012 Mehran follows the critical
acclaim of that sensational CD debut with an even stronger album called
Subterranea. All instrumental, while covering
a wealth of musical genres, the nine track Subterranea
a definite Pink Floyd type feel to it however, Mehrans flamenco
and electric guitar is still the center of the sonic storm here. On
his latest CD masterpiece, Mehran's Pink Floyd meets Segovia in Chicago
via Persia creates the perfect instrumental sound storm. On Subterranea,
Mehran really fleshes out and develops his sound this time around
with the help of a full band including Carl Kennedy (keyboards),
Sam Werk (drums) and Krushanu Joseph (bass). Maybe it
has something to do with Mehrans exotic Iranian roots but his
guitar-centric music is even more fascinating here and Subterranea
for an indelible sonic experience. In addition to the music, the Subterranea
CD graphics, perfectly
evoking the progressive content of the music within, sets
a new 21st century standard for album artwork. www.MehranGuitar.com
presents an interview with
mwe3: Your new Subterranea CD is a fantastic follow
up to your 2010 album Angels Of Persepolis. Why do you call
your new album Subterranea and how do you feel its different
from the Persepolis album? It certainly sounds a lot heavier
in a rock kind of way, in places. What did you set out to achieve
musically, sonically and otherwise on the Subterranea album?
Subterranea is a concept CD as was my previous work Angels
Of Persepolis. Only this time I am not targeting the events in
Iran. Here, my focus is on humanity in general. Subterranea
is the perfect civilization that exists beneath the earth. They live
life through transcendence and love yet in tune with nature. They
lack all the bad human attributes such as hate, greed, crime, war,
and consumerism, did I say war? Basically the idea is a sarcastic
reminder of an alternative path for humans.
Musically, it is very different from my first album, Angels Of
Persepolis. It is a lot more focused because I formed a band to
record and perform with. All four musicians in the band are the ones
on the recording. No studio or session players were used. I wanted
to create a certain continuity throughout that required this. I also
wanted to draw from my past influences in psychedelic and progressive
rock such as Pink Floyd. I grew up in the 1970s focusing on
the contemporary music of the time. What I had in mind this time to
have a rock band as the backbone and play with Flamenco guitar.
mwe3: Who plays with you on the Subterranea album, how did
you choose the players and how would you describe the chemistry between
you and the other musicians on the Subterranea CD?
Mehran: On drums we have Sam Werk who is heavily influenced
by John Bonham. Sam also performs regularly with Afro Cuban and Puerto
Rican ensembles around town. On keys we have Carl Kennedy who is a
jazz keyboardist/pianist and currently finishing up his masters degree
in jazz performance. He is well versed in blues, rock and world music.
On bass we have Krushanu Joseph who was my Flamenco guitar student
for a couple of years. The fact that he was familiar with Flamenco
was very important to me.
have had many different musicians in and out of my group since its
inception a couple of years ago but current lineup seems to be working
very well so there is no need to change it. We have been together
for about a year now in this form and it is getting to the stage where
we work very naturally together. In general I bring a new song in
and the guys put in their touch in there and together we orchestrate
mwe3: On Angels Of Persepolis you were impacted by the
current events in Iran. Even though your music is instrumental in
nature, how has the latest news from Iran in 2012 (and future events)
influenced your writing and recording on the Subterranea CD?
Has your music been heard in Iran and what has been some of the other
reactions to your music in other places from around the planet?
Mehran: The new CD has nothing to do with Iran. Previously
I created Angels Of Persepolis as my personal reflex and reaction
to what was going on there. What we were seeing from outside of Iran
was very strong and emotional. It impacted all Iranians abroad. Most
artists, musicians, writers one way or another responded the way they
could. My music is being heard in Iran and I know that from the amount
of response I get from there. Being it other musicians wanting some
guidance in Flamenco guitar or just people who like my music. This
time around my target is our current society and all humanity. It
seems like something has gone wrong and we have reached this current
state where so many people die in wars and crimes and still we are
so numbed to it. Tomorrow the sun comes out and we forget about it.
Why? Because our current state has made us so consumed by the day
to day matters of our fast moving society. I feel like humans have
become so stressed that the mindset has become, as long we are okay
here who cares about disease and famine in Africa and who cares about
60,000 killed in Syrian civil war? Our world is being run by corporations
who only care about profit and greed. Our governments have become
tools to manipulate humans to an eternal submission. So this is what
inspired me to create Subterranea.
So far the CD is getting very good reviews globally specially in Europe.
Many music magazines, websites and blogs are writing about it and
giving it high praise. We are hoping to be able to finance a tour
there this year.
mwe3: There are nine tracks on Subterranea. Which tracks
stand out in your mind and why and can you say something about your
favorite Subterranea tracks? Even though you love both art
forms, was it challenging to combine your Flamenco / classical expertise
with the rock edge in play on the Subterranea CD?
Mehran: It wasnt hard at all, it was very natural. I
am surrounded with good musicians who understand fully what I am trying
to accomplish. That specially makes it easy.
piece on this album is special and very personal for me. For example
on the title track we are trying to introduce Subterranea, a
majestic and mysterious place. The music starts very cinematic and
full of depth. The way it starts and the way I express the first few
lines is full of air with room to breathe. It almost reminds me of
Shine on You Crazy Diamond by Pink Floyd. Very dramatic!
The next song Into the Abyss caries the rock influence
to its fullest with all the tension and release it would make a good
action movie sound track.
Both songs Sunshower and Breathe, back to
back are very special to me. Sunshower is a bluesy ballad,
although a French review out today called it a jazz ballad. Breathe
is definitely an airy Pink Floyd influence, a modern version of something
you would hear on the Meddle album.
Natalia is another favorite. It is almost a gospel instrumental
with all the Hammond sounding keyboard accompaniment.
I can say Desert Moon is perhaps my favorite if I were
to rank the songs. It carries the concept well. It has mysticism and
drama. It has all the spoken words and hints to what the CD is all
about. Musically it has a lot of Persian and Kurdish influences mixed
with western scales and a pretty jazzy guitar solo.
mwe3: What guitars are you featuring on the Subterranea
album and are you still playing the Jose Romero classical and
the Flamenco guitar you spoke of during our last interview? Are there
other guitars featured on the Subterranea album and were electric
guitars featured as well on the Subterranea CD?
Mehran: Two guitars were used on this recording. All the clean
sounding guitars were done with my Romero and all the distorted electric
sections were done by a Strat body Jackson that I have had since I
was involved with rock years ago. The Romero was recorded with a high
grade audio Technica and a Neumann mic. The Jackson was sent into
an Alexis effect processor and then into a Trace acoustic amp.
What currently interests you in the current guitar world and who are
the guitarists and recordings you currently listen to and that you
Mehran: Vicente has always been the guitarist that inspires
me the most but so have David Gilmour and Jimmy Page. Although we
are talking about two very different genres of music but the special
thing about each one of them is the command they have on the instrument
when they want to be purely technical versus when they want to show
feel and energy.
mwe3: Can you say something about the fantastic artwork on
the Subterranea album? Its quite amazing and even harrowing
in places and what do you think it says about the music on the CD?
Mehran: The creator of the artwork is a friend, Siamak Zarrin
Ghalami. He and I discussed the content and idea. A few weeks later
he presented to me his work. There were a few green islands on water
and their reflection were modern buildings that were downward, pointing
to their being inferior and less desirable. This is the way he interpreted
the concept and I really liked it, so we chose to use it. As you move
to the right the structure and designs of the buildings in the shadows
become more ancient, representing the passage of time.
mwe3: It seems like you have achieved a true guitar masterpiece
on Subterranea. What are your plans to further expose the new
CD and what are your plans, musically and otherwise moving forward
into 2013, which I hope will turn out better than people are expecting!
Is there a way to address the pessimism of the world as it is today
through the power of music and in your estimation, how can music make
our planet a better place?
Mehran: Well, thank you. We are exposing the CD by doing performances
and hopefully if we can finance a European tour it will further popularizes
all know the power of music is immense because of its interaction
with our emotion. For example, in certain moods we want to hear certain
type of music and not something totally opposite. Music can evoke
emotions in us and in a way pull aside a curtain in our mind and expose
a subconscious existence, experience, feeling... It penetrates deeply
and that is why when a tune is stuck in ones head, it is difficult
to get it out.
I tried to do this on Subterranea. I tried to create music
that matches the mood I was trying to express. Whether I succeeded
or not, I am not a hundred percent sure but I know that was the intention,
to get the listener to think a little deeper and use their imagination
to let the music interact with them.
Thanks to Mehran @ www.MehranGuitar.com