I’ve genuinely never heard a metal band with vocals in the Farsi language. While that unique characteristic was the initial factor that hooked me about Padra, after hearing their story, I was intrigued even further. The four piece sludgy thrashers consist of Ramtin Dashti (vocals, guitar, producer), Amirali Khajavi (guitar), Ahmad Chegeni (bass), and Keyvan Musavi (drums).
Enjoy our interview about the authoritarian politics in Iran, the key characteristic of Farsi, and their perspective on conforming to Western audiences with Ramtin below.
Last year, you moved from Iran to Turkey. I understand that Iran has a controversial past with metal music with reports of bands being arrested. Did you ever face threats from authority in Iran? Was this a part of the reason you moved to Turkey?
Legally speaking, we never had official permission to publish music in Iran and we’re active as underground artists. However, we were successful in attaining legal permission to play two live shows. We
actually fooled the Ministry of Guidance and Culture, who’s in charge of giving those permissions, by giving them edited versions of our lyrics and our music and then performing the original lyrics and music on stage. Government authorities realized this and added our band to a blacklist of artists who are never going to be allowed to perform shows.
Videos of our performances were also added to conservative websites with close ties to the IRGC (Sepahe Pasdaran) and they threatened us, saying that they would take action if we ever played live shows. After two years, the political and social climate of Iran grew even worse; that’s why we decided to immigrate.
Historically, thrash metal has political-fueled lyrics. Can you briefly describe the political situation in Iran and Turkey for our audience?
The Iranian government is comprised of religious extremists who are considered the minority of Iranian society, who remain in power by suppressing, threatening, and killing the people. People in Iran become poorer every day. Their livelihood and welfare as well as their medical possibilities are getting smaller. The government acquires the wealth of the people through various means and spends it on Islamic extremist
groups in the region. The cost of Islamic extremist groups gaining power in the region is the death, poverty, and the depression of Iranian citizens who didn’t choose this, but were forced into it by an autocratic government. An example to best get a sense of the depth of this tragedy would be the 2019 Iran protests, where 1,500 normal citizens including women and children were massacred in just 5 days. Even the corpses of these people weren’t returned to their families, who were threatened to be arrested and tortured. Mothers were tortured for speaking out about how their sons and daughters who were killed were actually innocent. Because of their own agendas, international media outlets don’t bring worldwide attention to
these issues, which has turned the Iranian people into an oppressed nation who’s dying a slow and lonely death.
Your latest single “Jabr” has an amazing modern twist on thrash metal with some sludgy moments too. Can you briefly discuss your writing process for the new single?
We went back to our roots with “Jabr.” We used the style from our first album to write this song. It’s like letting go of your inner anger to feel free; we try to reflect this in our music.
Can each band member choose their favorite band?
Ramtin: Black Sabbath
Amirali: Iron Maiden
It’s very impressive and unique that your lyrics are exclusively in the Farsi language. Is there an overall message that you’d like to spread to audiences who may not be able to understand those lyrics or Persian culture?
The Persian language is a legacy left behind to us from a time even before Islam. The Persian language is a language with a lot of poetic possibilities. This includes using more than one concept or meaning in a single sentence, a technique that is called Iham (ایهام) in Persian.
Padra has been active for over a decade. What has been the most significant moment in the band’s history for you?
Our biggest moment in my opinion was our first show. It still feels like an unattainable dream to me because we had decided not to censor ourselves during the show just to get the permission to perform. Instead
we were actually successful in fooling the imbecile government authorities. Even though it was dangerous, it was worth it since our dream came true.
Due to America and Western Europe’s heated relationship with the Middle East, I never see many American / European bands tour in Iran or Turkey. In your life, have you had the experience of seeing any American or European metal bands live?
Yes, bigger bands sometimes play shows in Istanbul, Turkey. The first show I saw was Opeth’s live show in Istanbul. At that time I was a teenager and an Opeth fan, so it was a very fulfilling experience.
As a band residing in the Middle East, do you feel pressure to conform or appeal to a Western audience (US / EU) with English lyrics or certain music styles?
No, I don’t think that the Western audience wants us to be exactly like the bands in their countries; they want to hear something new. There are good examples of some bands who succeeded with non-English lyrics like Rotting Christ, Alien Weaponry, Bloodywood, etc.