Although the music scene in Iran is extremely strict, it’s been growing for sometime now. Many Iranian Metal bands are born in from the exact same place it’s banned. This band has been around for over 15 years, performing music in the dark. Now, for the very first time, they are preforming in Dubai in the Metal Eastern Night 3. Without further ado, let’s get to know more about Kahtmayan.
You mentioned the meaning of Kahtmayan on your website, but what does it mean, or what does it represent to you?
The name means ancient Iranian astronomy, the 26th night of the moon in specific. It is different, because it stems from ancient Iranian beliefs, with astronomical meaning.
You guys had major line-up changes, many people leaving and many joining, why so? And who is the final line up?
We started about 17 years ago, and we had around 6 different line-ups. We started as a progressive metal band; however, the situation in Iran made us an Instrumental band. At that time, we had a keyboardist, and around 2001, a guitar, bassist and a drummer joined in. Then we shifted to a style more of thrash metal with our album Exir. We dis-banded, and then all members changed, except for the bassist. We worked with a lot of vocalists, because of the situation in Iran, in addition to lack of performances.
How did the idea of starting Kahtamayan come to you?
When I was 14, I was flipping channels on a DVD, and I was trying to get the European channels. Suddenly, I found a band called Iron Maiden! And they were IT for me. Simply, DVDs were truly a savior, because at that time there was no Internet or satellite.
When was your first time on stage, and how was it?
12 years ago in Tehran, it was the first live metal gig to take place. We did a lot of concerts at that time, and then all of a sudden, there were no concerts at all.
We heard that you had a concert in Iran not long ago, how was it? And how did you manage to put a concert under this government?
Since we are an old band in Iran, they trust us. Accordingly, we want to start a new state and build a safe atmosphere in line with this genre of music. It was the first real metal concert in 10 years.
You are now rehearsing your new album Rising from The Ashes, when is it expected to be out?
We do not have a release date yet, but we will play some tracks in the next few concerts.
Comparing the two previous albums together, how do you think you guys developed since you started till today? Musical and lyrical wise, in Exir and Virtual Existence.
The first two albums were not exactly an idea. I like to write and compose; it is part of my Middle Eastern identity. But there were a lot of problems. First, it was the ability to complete and use a single Iranian riff in a track. I like harmonies and making real Middle Eastern music, because of my beliefs in mystical themes. I like to use many riffs. Second, the problem was with the vocals. We tried a lot of Iranian vocals, and I was looking for a specific thing. I had in mind someone who can sing tradition Iranian music, alongside the standard metal music, and I just did not find someone like that. I tried to fix everything myself. I tried to sing, and the direction of music, about the concept, and after that. These tracks go back to 10 years earlier. Now, those ten years of hard work are of course way tougher in comparison to the current capability to compose more effortlessly, and in harmony with the other members.
What were the obstacles you faced in Iran in recording and producing your music?
Around 7-8 years ago when we started recording Exir, we did not have anything to help with recording. None of the studios available in Iran can provide what would record an up-to-par metal song. The quality was never good. It was not easy to find our favorite equipment or instruments. The time you would find something you like, the prices were awfully ridiculous! I tried to learn it all by myself, both the mixing and mastering. I tried to read a lot about those. However, these days you cannot do it all by yourself. Conversely, in our upcoming album we are going to have impeccable sound. We learned a lot through the past decade. We are going to use the best of what we have right now. Technology has made a lot of things possible.
How does the Metal Scene in Tehran look like?
The metal Scene in Tehran is growing every day, as a guitar mentor, I see a lot of young people coming to learn how to play the guitar and drums. It is getting huge, still underground, but huge.
Have you performed outside the Middle East region?
No, but we are planning to have live concerts in Europe.
What are the bands that influenced your music?
Everyone has his own style, from thrash and glam metal in the 80s, especially when taking into consideration that Folk Iranian music is a huge influence. We use a lot of Arabic instrumental signatures, in contrast to some Iranian harmonies. Interesting as it is, there is this Arabic music tradition called “Zar” – it’s like a big tradition to dismiss evil spirits from people.
Does your songs come out from personal experience?
I am a big fan of Shaman, magical and mystical things. I had my very own real experience with that. Many times I hear the melody in my head. Coming out from this experience, it transforms into guitar riffs, just as ‘Dark of the skies’ mean sacrifice, it means a lot for me.
Share with us your funniest moment on stage.
Once at a concert, the fans were sitting down, acting conservative, while we can see them eager to move and head-bang. It is just not possible because of the government.
A word to the bands who just started?
Be you! Believe in your music, and play from your heart, and have some fun.
What is your dream?
The first goal in our lives is music. Everything else revolves around it. We want to be the biggest rockstars! We want to preform at the biggest festivals on huge stages. We believe in our music, and I wish it reaches everyone around the world.
What about today’s show? Are you excited?
We never played in Dubai or a club before. It is very exciting. Usually in Iran, there are a lot of guards, big stage, and only one band playing. So this is must be very cool, and I am looking forward to it.
So, tell us a little bit about it. How did you get in contact with Metal East Records and the idea of playing in Dubai?
Our manager Amir does most of the planning. He has a lot of good connections with great event managers. We want to introduce the real meaning of Kahtmayan to the people, and because we never played abroad, we thought Dubai would be a good start. After all, they gave us the green light and here we are!
What do you guys expect from the metal music scene in Dubai?
I do not know what to expect! This is a completely new metal scene to me, and different music standards from both the bands and the fans. We are strange for them, and I am worried about their reaction towards us. That is why we thought we should play many of our instrumental tracks tonight.
There’s something confusing your fans is that they don’t know the exact genre of your band. Give us the final thing.
Oriental, technical and eastern metal.
Interviewed by: Jimmy Bakr and Mustafa Knoxville.
Written by: NJ Bakr
Edited by: Duha Mousa