The Bambir
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The Bambir

Yerevan, Yerevan, Armenia | Established. Jan 01, 1994 | SELF

Yerevan, Yerevan, Armenia | SELF
Established on Jan, 1994
Band Rock Folk

Calendar

This band hasn't logged any future gigs

Nov
22
The Bambir @ Traffic

Yerevan, Yerevan, Armenia

Yerevan, Yerevan, Armenia

Nov
12
The Bambir @ Calumet Ethnic Lounge Bar

Yerevan, Yerevan, Armenia

Yerevan, Yerevan, Armenia

Oct
31
The Bambir @ Klub Alekseya Kozlova

Moscow, Moscow, Russia

Moscow, Moscow, Russia

Music

Press


The Bambir dropped into the Sessions for a chat and some tunes.
Interview by Alan Weldon. Songs: Internationale 05:49, Eveline 17:08. Beezzy 26:24 - Near FM Sessions, 2012, Dublin


The Bambir performs live for BalconyTV Dublin. - Balcony TV, 2012, Dublin


The Bambir performs live for Balcony TV Cork. - Balcony TV, 2012, Cork


When was the last time you saw a rock band that took a meat cleaver to everything you thought you understood about live music? For State, that moment came earlier this year after we met tireless New Yorker Ani Sarkisian and went along to see The Bambir, the group she manages. Describing the Armenian fourpiece is no picnic. One could mention Jethro Tull, The Mars Volta and Gogol Bordello and only give half the story. The spaces in between are filled with as much sensuality and grace as outright wildness. All four are virtuoso-grade musicians, yet they never resort to masturbation. The Bambir don’t so much play rock ‘n’ roll as voyage through it. Watching and hearing them do so is what you might call a dear diary moment.

Since crash-landing in Dublin at the start of the year, they’ve made a real impact. Dublin’s Dame Lane rock scene didn’t know what hit it and any band who’s seen them has since been possessed by “must try harder” voices in their heads. They played to one of the biggest crowds of the weekend at Knockanstockan and are now lined up to play five sets over the weekend at Electric Picnic. Ahead of their big festival debut, State decided it was time to track down Ireland’s hairiest and hardest-working band to find out more about them. Their story turns out to be a good one.

We found out, for example, that guitarist Narek and bassist Arman have been joined at the hip since infancy, growing up in Gyumri, the second capital of Armenia known for its arts and culture (and a devastating 1998 earthquake). The two began playing music at the age of seven. Yes, seven. We also learned that they were nine years of age when they began to play and write music with flautist Arik, using one of their mother’s phonetic English books for lyric writing (“I’m in the garden, I’m crazy!/I’m taking a walk, I’m crazy!” was one early example). No covers were learnt.

The truth is that The Bambir was actually formed in the 70s by Narek’s father, and as youngsters they all cut their teeth playing with the older musicians. This incarnation now considers itself an extension of that original band (they even went under The Bambir II for while). In their own charmingly quirky English, they elaborate on life in Armenia.

Narek: For Armenia, when it comes to rock music, it’s not so popular. Playing rock music is very alternative and a very unique path. Some people play covers and then quit after that.

Arman: It’s hidden in pubs.

Narek: Rock music, because of maybe the structure of Soviet system, wasn’t popular because it wasn’t marketable, and maybe 80% of musicians get into it because they want to be famous. Gyumri was a more alternative, rock-able city. Yerevan [the capital] was this pink, pop, not even jazz or something… I remember us putting our first music video on TV. It was probably the first rock band that had a video and a song that appeared on the charts. Other rock bands were angry and started accusing us of being pop. After a while, when stations stopped airing the video, a lot of bands appeared with their songs on the radio and TV.

Arman: It was the same with the Armenian National Music Awards – they thought it was unacceptable for a rock band to enter this.

Narek: It was 2003. We were nominated as a rock band and we took the prize. And the next year we won again.

That prize was apparently broken in a hotel foyer over the head of a TV presenter, but this cannot be confirmed. Gongs aside, The Bambir were now drawing a mixed audience made up of lovers of not just rock, but jazz and classical too. Spells in the US followed. There, they once crossed paths with fellow Armenian Serj Tankian of System Of A Down (“his singing blew me away, it was a new approach,” recalls Narek). By 2007, they’d found jaw-dropping drummer Vardan and The Bambir line-up was complete. A few years later, Sarkisian and old friend Tigran Paravyan had come on board to manage the group. The next logical step was… Dublin?

Narek: Because we made a program of songs and we wanted to perform as much as possible. The only country that wasn’t in a system of music business and you could perform as much as possible was Ireland, and is. UK is more structured, and the first stage for us was to find some place with more anarchy, that is more open to everyone. Besides that, we know that culturally Ireland is more musical than other countries.

Arman: It fulfilled our expectations, maybe more than we were expecting.

Narek: When you present your music in US, if you play this or that type of music you have to go to a certain place, to New York or Seattle or whatever. Dublin doesn’t have that structured system. Probably in the pop scene they have, but in the underground scene, when you can play every day, it’s not so restricted.

Arman: We’re playing here almost seven months. It’s always something new. You find something new in every concert even when you’re playing every day or all weekend.

What did you make of the music scene here when you arrived?

Narek: Rock ’n’ roll scene here is more about imitating what is popular and what is nowadays fashionable for ‘big’ countries like in UK or in America. That’s the sad thing about rock’n’roll here in Ireland; for example they’re telling us: ‘Oh, your time signatures are so strange.’ But if they look back to their own traditional Irish music, they’ll find even more complicated time signatures and structures.

Initially, Sarkisian remembers, gigs – or more precisely, audiences – were tough to come by. They would physically have to be dragged off the street to hear the band, and took much convincing to part with admission fees. But word slowly got about. Soon, Fibbers and Gypsy Rose couldn’t contain them. After a while, Balcony TV, Knockanstockan and a Friday-evening residency in Whelan’s were pencilled into the tour diary.

What sort of reactions have you found from Irish audiences?

Narek: Hmm. I can see that, I don’t know, somehow audience is audience, it doesn’t have any nationality or specific… In Armenia, when people come to your show, it’s always the same; you’re playing the music, they are the audience. If there is vibe connection, it’s good.

Arman: Mostly we hear “that was cool, that was great, we’ve never heard this before,” which is good. You want that. We never do something special or behave in some special way to get more attention. We’re just ourselves.

What can Electric Picnic audiences expect this weekend when they come to see you?

Narek: Already after playing so many shows, for you it doesn’t matter if it’s Electric Picnic or the basement of someone’s house. You have to do it the same way. You have to. It’s not, “I’m going to keep my energy for Electric Picnic,” you do what you do. For me, that’s the key to rock ’n’ roll compared to other styles. For rock ’n’ roll, you keep it simple, keep it natural, wherever you are, just do what you’re doing.

What does the future hold for The Bambir?

Arman: Living the life, as we did. Maybe live a better life than we did, I don’t know.

Narek: Not in terms of being rich, but always thinking “oh let’s change some stuff and everything will be better as a person.” By education, Arman is a cinema director, I’m a theatre director. We’d like to include all these parts; sometimes you can’t just get something across only in sound – there has to be movement. Always to never be restricted, to be open to everything, that’s the way to make sense for you and for the audience. I can’t see myself being 50 and still singing ‘Imitate’. Every era brings something too. I don’t want to be like a museum – ‘One day these guys sang this song and they will always sing it.’ Things change, and you have to be open to this. You didn’t hear The Beatles constantly singing ‘Please Please Me’.

While creativity and wowing strangers is effortless for the hirsute quartet, the group have some very real challenges to overcome, namely visa complications and making enough to sustain their seven-man touring operation. Even if they themselves don’t sound too worried, Ireland should cherish The Bambir while we have them here. We may not see their kind around these shores again for a long time to come. - State.ie Online Music Magazine


The gig was awesome! They play with so much passion and hearing them live is a totally different experience, but in a very good way. The energy of their songs, combined with the delicate sounds of the flute and their strong voices makes their music stand out. If System Of A Down (by the way, Serj Tankian – the lead, is also Armenian) and Jethro Tull had kids, The Bambir would be the the most talented one. Besides the music, seeing how much Narek, Arik, Arman and Vardan enjoy playing is a treat you can only get by seeing them live.

It seems that they’ll have plenty of gigs in the near future, so make sure you don’t miss them - Dublin Concerts


The Bambir: The most eagerly awaited gig among those I speak with before the festival, I arrive for The Bambir fresh from President Michael D Higgins’ rousing and passionate opening speech at Clifden Community School.

The venue is filling up nicely and there is electricity in the air. Many in attendance have caught the band before and have some idea what to expect, whereas I’m pretty clueless except for what I’ve read in the festival programme.

I'm seated between poet Shaun Griffin and Robert (one of the festival photographers), and their conversation turns to Robert having seen The Beatles back in the day.

About 15 minutes into The Bambir’s frantic aural onslaught, and somehow I’m reminded of The Beatles – not that they sound anything like them, but wait, did the singer just say ‘I want to hold your hand’?

Turns out he did.

They’re four lads, the bassist and the guitarist hare the same mic, and the music is so original that the comparison to The Beatles seems somewhat apt. Of course, no matter what sort for rock’n’roll you’re into, bits of it can probably be heard when listening to this amazingly tight Armenian quartet.

One of them plays a flute, and halfway through the set a song is definitely Jethro Tull- esque. I end up just losing myself in the experience, and stop trying to analyse it, though my notes contain weird references to Sonic Youth’s intro to Teenage Riot, and The Chilli Peppers’ cover of Higher Ground.

At one point the singer says they are going to do a Chinese song and I have to laugh. The music is eclectic, but hardly all over the place. As mentioned earlier, ‘tight’ is the word most used to describe the concert afterwards – a few people mentioning that they have been playing together since they were kids.

Makes sense, and they seem to enjoy themselves on stage immensely.

One of the best live bands I’ve seen in ages, The Bambir is not to be missed on their next visit to Mullarkey’s. - The Connemara journal


Hailing from Armenia but soon to become official honorary Irishmen, The Bambir have been making a) a wonderfully wild folk-prog racket and, b) tonnes of new friends, since they crash landed on our shores at the start of the year. One gushing punter described them as "Jethro Tull jamming with System of a Down", but don't let that put you off. The quartet have been playing music since childhood, and their unhinged energy comes packaged in virtuosity but not all-out self-indulgence. Genuinely unforgettable live, they headline Sweeneys this Saturday, have a Friday night residency in Whelan's and will be all over a variety of festivals this summer. - Heineken Music.ie, 2012


The Bambir are not of this world. They are from another dimension, where 13/8 times signatures are the norm, where music isn't an industry but a religious institution, where beer and cigarettes make up a healthy diet. They are actually from Armenia and sound like the Horslips. They have come not to conquer, but to explore the limits of music and humanity. "An artist's job is to search" says guitarist/ vocalist Narek. The Bambir's search pushes the boundaries of musical norms, combining progressive rock with traditional Armenian folk, and steeping the result in the spiritual, the poetic and the love of a good time. Since adopting Ireland as their home the quartet have played on every available surface, from footpath to festival stage, and will even be invading EP with their undeniable charisma and propensity for mischief./ Jerath Head. - Le Cool - Dublin, 2012


The Bambir – Urbane/Urban
25 Oct 2012

Catchy guitar-driven music video filled with soft vocals captures and holds attention from the beginning.

The Bambir released a video for their song Urbane/Urban, a catchy guitar-driven song filled with soft Radiohead-influenced vocals, harmonies, and an original sound that captures and holds your attention from the beginning.

The video itself is directed by band member Arman Kocharyan and put together by the rest of the band and many pairs of scissors. Like the song itself, the video is very original and literally takes you on a journey with the band.

The main ‘theme’ of the video is the band travelling in a vehicle, showing you the journey that they have taken so far to get themselves out there. It portrays the long hours sitting in a vehicle waiting to get to the next venue so they can play their music and do what they purely love to do.

Clips of airports, airplanes and flying only back up the fact that they have come a long way, both musically and personally, from their home country, Armenia.

The video, just over three minutes long, keeps you entertained with the constant cuts and clip changes. You also see the individuality in the band members. Whether it’s by resting with arms folded, waving at cars going past or playing an instrument, each member keeps himself occupied while on the road.

“The Bambir is not a band. It’s a way of being and a mode of understanding” is what greets you on the Band Profile of the Bambir’s Facebook Page.

Made up of Narek Barseghyan (song-writer, vocals, guitar), Arik Grigoryan (song-writer, flutes and woodwind, vocals, percussion), Arman Kocharyan (bass, vocals) and Vardan Paremuzyan (drums, percussion, vocals), the band have had a storming 2012, appearing on the main stage of Body&Soul and Knockanstockan – both very popular and well known music festivals. They have also been playing gigs in Dublin and beyond. - Sub Mag, UK, 2012


Interview during Platonov Music Festival in Voronezh (Russia), 2015 - TVgubernia


on the bambir (and making serj tankian proud)

if you are one of these people who consider everything with the word “folk” in it to be dead boring, then you have probably never heard of The Bambir. The Bambir are from Armenia and they’ve been playing folk-rock in all of its varieties and interpretations since 1978. while it is not all too improbable that The Bambir are not everyone’s cup of tea, they are for sure anything but boring. and most importantly, these guys just freaking know what they are doing.

as a band with an almost 40-year history, The Bambir has seen quite a few musicians come and go, and the current four members that are performing under that moniker belong to the second generation of The Bambir. what these Armenian dudes are creating is both so convincingly “rock” and so “folk” that you might start believing this is the most natural combination in music ever - or maybe even the only worthy one there is. the works of the Bambir are sort of a split between the badass System-of-a-Down-kind-of-sound on the one hand and the solemn ethnic sound of what one might normally associate with “traditional Armenian music” on the other hand. and it is a very deft split indeed that could make the band’s first generation as well as the one and only Serj Tankian proud.

there is music that mirrors and amplifies our moods and dispositions and there is also music that creates them in the first place. i would dare to say that the tunes by The Bambir belong to the latter category. regardless of your starting point, they can put you into adventurous, happy, mischievous, reflexive, nostalgic, dreamy or any other state of mind on the spectrum. and as it is always the case with any truly good ethno music, listening to The Bambir will make you feel like you understand something important about Armenia and its people - even if you cannot point out the country on the map.

where to start:

”Children’s games” - my personal favorite number one. this song is all about these metaphorical splits i’ve been referring to. it is very much about rocking and rolling, but flute and the Armenian language add the ethnic spice that (at least in the case of such a sucker for all things fusion as myself) is 100% goosebumps-inducing. make sure to also check out the live version to see how fantastic these dudes are.

”Do you love?” & ”Khio” - for my personal favorite number two, i couldn’t choose between these tunes. they both sound like parables or even like stories from Thousand and One Nights. there is something mysterious and even slightly spooky about them, but in a beautifully intriguing way.

”Broken TV” - if you think that listening to an Armenian band that sings in Armenian is a little bit too much, this tune might be for you. very fun and likable song with a very straightforward message suggesting that you should break your TV. yeah, well, maybe we all should.

“Dark City Train” - this is basically a must track for any road-trip or travel-themed playlist. all the better if the road leads you to Armenia, of course, but regardless of the destination this tune will be an excellent trip soundtrack.

“Dghjak” - a somewhat more lyrical tune to mix it up a little bit. it’s a good illustration of how music can affect the way you feel on atomic level. and it also proves once again that you don’t have to know the language to appreciate the song.

give The Bambir a listen if you like Tigran Hamasyan, SOAD & Serj Tankian (obviously), Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Fiddler’s Green, Tinariwen.

if you don’t know (or don’t like) any of these people (seriously?), give The Bambir a listen anyway. because “hey, what do you think of the second generation of The Bambir?” is an excellent conversation starter. or maybe it isn’t. but the Bambir are excellent, and that’s why you should check them out. - Heyhiggsbosonblues


Last version of The Bambir's press kit -


Discography

2003 - "Alabalanitsa" (Nursery Rhymes) Single

2004 - "Dark City Train" Single

2005 - "BBR" Album (Best Folk Rock Album 2005 / Armenian Music Awards, LA, California)

2007 - "The Black" Album

2010 - "Thats Fine with Us" Single

2012 - "Urbane/Urban" Single

2013 - "Do You Love Me" Single

2013 - "Index Sessions" EP

2013 - "Imitate" Single

2015 – "Upsessions" Album

Photos

Bio

The Bambir is a progressive ethnic rock band formed in Gyumri (Armenia) in 1994, by Narek Barseghyan, Arman Kocharyan and Arik Grigoryan, based on the heritage of the renowned folk-rock ensemble Bambir, created by Narek's father in 1970's.

HISTORY
Narek and Arman, friends since birth, grew up in Gyumri in the creative environment built by their parents and community. They picked up the guitar and bass at a very young age. They met Arik (flute)when they were 9 years old, and their trio began jamming and performing on their own. In 1999-2000 they travelled to Los Angeles and New-York, and recorded their first album (never released) in California but had to return to Armenia, and to school. Ashot Korganyan joined them on drums in 2001. The four-piece returned to LA in 2007, and Ashot left the band upon their return to Armenia. That same year, Vardan Paremuzyan (current drummer) joined the band. 

The band’s notoriety grew as they finished university and continued to perform, they started to attract international attention. The Bambir played in Russia, France, Turkey, Lebanon, Iran, Georgia, Poland, Greece and all over Armenia. 

They moved to Ireland in January 2012. Their incredible musicianship and intense energy on-stage made them stand out immediately, and it wasn’t long before they were booked for major Irish festivals like Electric Picnic, KnockanStockan, No Place Like Dome, Body & Soul etc, as well as special events like launches and Tower Records' 19th birthday. They became known for their relentless gigging,sometimes playing three shows per night. Their final performances in Dublin (2012) were on Arthur's Day, they played three times - in The Mercantile, The Stag's Head and The Sweeney Mongrel.   “State” (magazine) called them "Ireland's hairiest and hardest working band", featuring them as part of their 2012 Electric Picnic coverage.The band appeared on Near FM, Radio Nova 100FM (Ireland), Dublin City FM and WDAR.

While much of their live sets are in English, they continue to perform and write songs in the Armenian language as well. The band has recorded and performed with international musicians like Dietmar Bonnen and  Kasia Kowalska. Their last album "Upsessions", released in June 2015, has been launched on major music platforms such as iTunes and Spotify. Boys write and perform their own music and are known for their vibrant stage presence and unique sound at their live shows.

Since 2015, Narek, Arman and Vardan have been playing as well as a power trio called "Crisis of the genre", punk rock oriented.


AWARDS
2003 - Best Rock Band / Armenian National Music Awards (Yerevan, Armenia)

2004 - Best Rock Band / Armenian National Music Awards (Yerevan, Armenia)

2005 - Best Folk Rock Album/ Armenian Music Awards (Hollywood, California) http://www.armenianmusicaward.com/ama-history-2005.aspx#album15

2010 - Super Finalist / Eurovoice Music Contest 2010 (Athens, Greece) http://eurovoice.tv/profile/the-bambir/ 

http://www.armenianow.com/arts_and_culture/24936/bambir_eurovoice_music_contest

http://www.orangearmenia.am/en/about-orange-armenia/pressroom/press-releases/Bambir/

2015 - For music development / Caucasian Music Awards Phoenix (Tbilisi, Georgia)   http://phoenix.org.ge/new/eng/for-music-development

2015 - Best Ethnic Project / Zolotaya Gorgulya Awards, 16 Tons Club (Moscow, Russia)

http://www.ok-magazine.ru/living/29793-nezavisimaya-muzykalnaya-premiya-zolotaya-gorgulya#gallery


Band Members