The Yellow Dogs
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The Yellow Dogs


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"Iranian Rockers Call Time on Tehran"

The phone line has gone dead for the third time, and it takes a few minutes to dial the epic sequence of digits that connects a shaky New York cell to a Dubai office. When Obaash, frontman of Iranian band Yellow Dogs, comes back on the line he is laughing: “Man, maybe I talk too much,” he says, as we try to pick up where we left off. Something about an illegal show in a Tehran basement. Oh yeah, he says. That show.

It had been Yellow Dogs’ first, held in the days before the documentary No One Knows About Persian Cats made Iran’s underground music scene the stuff of legend, and before subsequent heat motivated the indie-rock four-piece to head for safer pastures. It was just a couple of hundred kids gathered in a basement garage, two local bands – dancing, smoking, mingling, rocking out.

“We really had no idea what crime we were committing by playing music,” explains Obaash. “In our concerts everything that was illegal was legal. People didn’t have to wear the veil; boys and girls were together; there was a dance floor. None of those people had been to a rock concert before, including me.

“We did everything we could to avoid being seen,” he recalls. “But after our second show we heard that some neighbors were calling the cops, telling them that weird activity was going on. So we said, ‘F*** that. We’re never playing here again.’”

After the venue was shut down, Yellow Dogs moved to a rooftop ‘practice room’ on the outskirts of Tehran, which was where they met filmmaker Brahman Globoid. Globoid included the band in No One Knows About Persian Cats, which told the story of musicians fighting censorship and repression in Iran. The movie won a Special Jury Prize at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, but – perhaps unsurprisingly – was not received quite so sympathetically in Tehran.

“The government suddenly got very interested. They made a TV series about musicians and said all these people are Satanists and we have to execute all of them and they don’t believe in God. So, after we saw that stuff and after the film, we thought, ‘Man, we have to get out of the country before we get our asses busted,’” Obaash explains.

And so they did, first flying to Istanbul at the end of 2009 – where they played their first legal show – and then to Brooklyn, where they hooked up with Iranian-run record label Never Heard. Since then the band has come forward in leaps and bounds, playing a U.S. tour which encompassed everything from empty halls in Phoenix, Arizona, to sell-out shows in L.A. and Brooklyn. In 2010 they released In the Kennel, their first EP, and in March they started a run of shows at SXSW (South by Southwest).

“We didn’t expect any of this, no. Of course we always had the dream to do this and just travel around playing shows but we never expected that it would become reality,” Obaash says, pausing for a second before adding, quickly, that it is not only luck that has brought Yellow Dogs from a Tehran basement to U.S. tours. “We really pushed ourselves,” he says. “We pushed all the limits.”

Persian Cats certainly gives the impression that the majority of young bands from Iran seek eventually to flee the country, unlike in Saudi Arabia, where musicians face significant odds but still choose to organize shows and record albums. It’s a point that Obaash is happy to concede, not only because of the risks that bands are forced to take in Iran, but because the future of the music scene is, shall we say, bleak.

“I’m telling you, it’s a sick society. In Saudi Arabia they don’t automatically punish you and throw you in jail for playing rock & roll, but in Iran they will put you in jail. When we did all those concerts and all that crazy stuff in Iran, we were just playing for a small community, it was all passion. You’re never going to play stadiums in Tehran,” he says.

“There’s no future for musicians in Iran right now, even the folklore musicians, any kind of musicians. It’s really hard, you have to either sell yourself to the government or get out of the country. That’s it.”

But if Yellow Dogs moved from Iran to make it, it is just as true that they want to make it on their own terms. They are not, Obaash explains, going to rant and rave about their country every chance they get as a way of garnering support. Yellow Dogs may hail from Iran, and their experiences in the country have certainly shaped the band, but Obaash believes that the music speaks for itself.

“We try not to say ‘Iran, Iran, Iran;’ because the essence of the band is not only that we’re from Iran. I like our music and I know a lot of other people who like our music. We really want to play and make progress like any other band from any other country,” he says.

“The things we sing about right now, they are surrealistic, symbolic… They are stories. You can relate them to Iran or to America, whatever. We don’t want to be only a political band.”

Photograph by Sylvester Zawadzki - THE ROLLING STONES


Tehran band Yellow Dogs formed in 2007, but the restrictions imposed upon them by the strict Islamic government meant that even their rehearsal room had to be built in secret. Two years ago, the band was featured in No One Knows About Persian Cats, a film that (illegally) documented the underground music scene in Tehran. The coverage encouraged unwanted attention from the authorities so, faced with a choice between disbanding and fleeing, they decided to move to the United States. In an extract from our interview in Oyster issue 92, guitarist and vocalist Obash talks about their experiences in Tehran and how their lives have changed since moving to New York.
The band have also VERY kindly offered a free download of their track ‘Gastronomic Meal’, especially for Oyster readers. Visit their Bandcamp to get it!
Ariane: How did the band start?
Obash: Our bass player Koory and our guitar player Looloosh used to play in an Iranian band called Hypernova — they’re in the US right now and they’re really well known, among the Iranian community especially. When [the other members of] Hypernova left Iran, they [Koory and Looloosh] decided to create their own band. They found our drummer, Zina, and they made a practicing room on a rooftop in Tehran, like a cosy practicing room — really small, but still a cosy place. One day Koory, the bass player, called me and said, “Do you wanna join us and play with us?” and I said, “OK! That’s perfect, that’s awesome.” That’s how it began; I think it was the beginning of 2007. But back then it was just for fun, playing music to get out of the routine of everyday life.
Your practice room had to be built in secret. Is being in a band as dangerous as it’s made out to be? Or are there so many laws that it’s hard for the government to enforce them?
No, it’s really dangerous. First of all, our space was in a really traditional neighbourhood, all the neighbours were really religious. If the neighbours called the cops, and the cops came and checked out the space and saw that we were playing this kind of music without permission, it was going to cause a lot of problems. For making any sort of art we have to get permission from the Ministry of Culture in Iran, so if you don’t have that permission it means that, somehow, you’re a criminal. That’s why we tried to soundproof that place [the practice room].
Did you ever try to get permission from the Ministry to play your music?
No, because from the beginning … it was impossible for us to get permission. If we showed them the lyrics of some of the songs we’d maybe even get arrested, or they’d ban us from publishing any sort of art. We really, really decided to make our own music and not give a fuck about those authorities. We wanted to be different.
What was involved in the process of moving to the States?
We were invited to come to the US and perform in different festivals each year, like South by Southwest and CMJ [the College Music Journal Music Marathon], but we had passport issues. I had a passport, but the rest of the band couldn’t get passports because they had to do their military service. In Iran all the boys have to do their military service and after that they are given passports that allow them to leave the country. So with a lot of help, we found a way to get passports without going through military service — maybe even by bribing the governmental people, because with money you can almost do anything in Tehran and Iran. But we’ve been through a lot of bullshit, and we struggled a lot for a whole year. Some of us got in trouble, but we finally found a way out. We wanted to come for CMJ 2009 but we couldn’t make it on time, so we went to Turkey … we played a concert there, then went to the American Embassy and flew to New York, because we got the invitation for South by Southwest 2010. - OYSTER MAGAZINE

"The Yellow Dogs: In The Kennel EP"

?Post-punk as a genre has a wide range of variability in the sound of bands ascribing themselves to this label. When I think of post-punk in a fundemental sort of way, what is envisioned is a sound that has its roots in punk, but transcends the limitations of the medium and musicianship associated with punk. That is an apt description of The Yellow Dogs. The Brooklyn quartet's debut In The Kennel EP has an authentic sound, with all of the best influences of punk and indie. There is a subtle edgyness along with melodic tendencies. The band is from Brooklyn, but yet there is an air of the UK in the vocals and arrangements. Repeated listenings to the four tracks keep bringing me back to the comment of authentic. The Yellow Dogs sound as if they should have been contemporaries with the Gang of Four and other founders of the genre. The In The Kennel EP deserves a lot of attention. This is a debut effort which signals a band that will have much to say. Stream and download The Yellow Dogs at the link below.

Footnote: When I wrote this review, I was not aware that the band was originally from Tehran, Iran. It is amazing that such strong music has found its way out of such an oppressive place. These guys deserve huge kudos and much success. - FLOORSHIME ZIPPER BOOTS


Iranian Indie Rockers Make a Defiant Debut

When you hear about a band escaping political repression to make their music, it raises expectations for their debut in way that isn’t really fair. In the case of Iran’s The Yellow Dogs, who resettled Brooklyn because rock music is illegal at home, it doesn’t really matter, because their debut EP In the Kennel easily lives up to their dramatic backstory.

In the Kennel reveals a band with a lot to say, musically and lyrically. The quartet claims influences like Arctic Monkeys,The Faint, and Modest Mouse, but they actually sound a lot cooler than that.

The four carefully crafted songs on the EP hearken back to the dissonant yet danceable post-punk of groups like Talking Heads, The Fall, and Gang of Four more strongly than do most latter-day groups like Arctic Monkeys. Though the heartbeat bass, electro synth, and politically aware lyrics on “Where He Belongs” touch on The Faint school of dance punk.

“Gastronomic Meal,” the group’s first real single and the second track on the EP, packs the funk of Gang of Four but loses that group’s asceticism and fear of the sensuality threatening to break out amid those angular grooves.

Guitarist and lead vocalist Obaash’s English-language lyrics and vocals conjure the abstract and surreal storytelling of Talking Head’s David Byrne,The Fall’s Mark E. Smith, and Gang of Four vocalist Jon King. Their music doesn’t sound dated, however, it just sounds raw and unfiltered in the same way that their predecessors did. Hints of an Eastern melodic sensibility set them apart as well.

This short statement from the young band is crammed with ideas just begging for more room to stretch — raising expectations yet again for a debut full-length. This time those expectations will be well justified. - MTV IGGY

"YellowDogs opening for BlackLips at WebsterHall"

rooklyn/Iranian band post punk band Yellow Dogs are playing a show at The Morgan tonight (4/11). It's free and Cole from the Black Lips is DJing (the Morgan is located at 25 Bogart St). The Black Lips are in town for their big headlining show at Webster Hall on Tuesday (4/12), part of their tour with Vivian Girls. Tickets are still on sale for the NYC show, and I have a pair you can win. Details below.
If you miss Yellow Dogs in Brooklyn tonight, they also play Wednesday (4/13) at Pianos with Ohnomoon and others.
Contest details, the Black Lips' new video for "Modern Art", and updated tour dates, below...


We’re sure you have a lot of questions for The Yellow Dogs, the oddball rock band that left Iran for Brooklyn in order to play their music legally. But we decided to have The Yellow Dogs ask the questions instead. Watch Obash, Looloo, Koory, and Zina ask SXSW-goers about perceptions of their home country. - MTV IGGY

"SPIN's 50 Must-Hear Bands at SXSW"



HOMETOWN: Tehran, Iran
WHY THEY MATTER: They may be from Iran, but they're a badass, Gang of Four-influenced punk band with dancefloor-moving songs.
YOU SHOULD KNOW: To write and perform in their homeland, they had to secretly create a practice space on their drummer's roof to avoid the attention of Iranian authorities. - SPIN MAGAZINE

"The YellowDogs Interview: SXSW 2010"

If medals were given for determination and perseverance, the four young rockers of Iranian underground band the Yellow Dogs would now be standing proudly on top of the podium. Since 2006, the bandmates have been secretly rehearsing five days a week in a tiny, soundproofed rooftop closet overlooking the streets of Tehran. At the risk of being jailed, flogged, or accused of Satanism, the Yellow Dogs have found their way to SXSW 2010 by traveling a path strewn with the debris of authoritative censorship and political boulders. Their illegal performances, crackling with the combustible heat of performing under a constant fear of being found by government crackdown agents, have served to inspire universally human and simplistically humble goals. Now, with new digs in a Brooklyn, N.Y. loft, Obaash [vocals and guitar], Looloosh [guitar and synth], Koory [bass and vocals] and Zina [drums] are ready and able to turn up the volume. Obaash recently took a moment to talk about the Yellow Dogs with Spinner.

Describe your sound in your own words.

It's an indie sound -- rock with heart. We're passionate about music. Some of it has elements of dance music. Some [of it] has elements of oriental music. It's always different. It's definitely our own style.

How did the band form?

Two of our members were originally with Hypernova. I used to go to their studio all the time. When Hypernova left Iran, their former members tried to make their own band. One day, they called me and asked me if I'd like to join. I said yes.

What are some of your musical influences?

Joy Division, the Kinks, Arctic Monkeys.

How did you decide on the Yellow Dogs as a band name?

At first we used to call each other yellow dogs. Yellow dog is Persian slang or Farsi for "brother of the jackal." One day we decided that would be a great name for the band because we always called each other that.

The Yellow Dogs were scheduled to perform at the 2009's SXSW, but couldn't make it. Has the wait been tough?

Last year we were prepared, but we had some passport problems that got in the way. Now we are still prepared. We are really ready to play. We are excited because finally, this thing is coming true.

Many of your songs understandably speak about government oppression, and there are also numerous references to American capitalism. How do you relate the two?

Our songs, we have balance between American capitalism and Iranian laws. They are always intended to be truly independent. Even in Iran you can sometimes feel the effect of American consumerism. But the main problem we have is the laws of the government. We want to break the borderline of the authorities and try to make music for ourselves, express our own style of thinking and way of living and being able to make our own music, not speak for everybody.

Describe your first show in America. What was that like?

The performance was really, really good. We had our first legal concert in Istanbul in January, and then [we had a concert] in February in New York. New York was a small local venue near to our house, and we made friends with the people there. The crowd was really chilled. It's totally different than the Iranian underground. In Iran, you feel the adrenaline from maybe the cops coming at any moment. The atmosphere was mind-blowing. Here, people come to hear your music, chill and relax. It was a good reception, and a much more comfortable feeling. Now we have a lot more shows to perform. All we want to do is to play our music.

What is your goal for the 2010's SXSW?

No one knows about the Iranian underground. We were in a movie that won an award at the Cannes Film Festival about the Iranian underground called 'No One Knows About Persian Cats', and that will be showing there too. We'll be there for the opening of the film and to play our show, [and] then in April we'll be back in New York in support of the opening of the film there.
- spinner

"andrea chalupa"

What repression can do for art: The Yellow Dogs are an amazing rock band in Iran, where rock bands are illegal, along with other important things that make life worth living. I don't think I've felt this way about discovering a band since the White Stripes. My God-- the Yellow Dogs are brilliant. You wouldn't believe they could sound this good unless you've seen them live. They're good; I, and the fifteen other people downstairs at The Delancey last night, can attest to their powers.

We were moving and dancing and all smiles last night to music that's illegally practiced and performed in a basement in Tehran, so the downstairs of The Delancey made them feel at home, said the lead singer. It was good, like I-was-just-on-my-way-home-and-tired-but-I-made-myself-see-this-band-good. Oh, the humanity, that you can't see them live, too. Right now.

But you can watch this music video and tell everyone you know going to SXSW that they'll be there:

I caught up with the Yellow Dogs after the show. Standing on a corner on Delancey, all gracious and adorable, they shared their influences: Joy Division, The Rapture, Arctic Monkeys, Modest Mouse, Moving Units, and The Kinks. I wanted them to cite The Beatles as well, but they didn't. Later, when I got home and watched their music video, I saw the poster of John, Paul, George, and Ringo in a shot - ahhh, I knew it. Who doesn't love The Beatles?

Remember when I said that Phoenix, that electronic pop band from France with that big hit back in the day, was going to be huge, music to make the spring ever springier? I'm right when I say that the Yellow Dogs are one of the best bands in the world. If you're in South By Southwest (SXSW) this week, make sure to see them at The Wave on Wednesday March 17 at 8pm. They're playing at 8pm so you know they'll help you get the night started. And they are also featured in a Cannes-celebrated documentary about the illegal rock underground in Iran called No One Knows About Persian Cats, co-written by Roxana Saberi, a journalist recently freed from prison in Iran. The doc, distributed by IFC, will be in select theaters and available by download April 16.

I'm so glad I listened to my friend who emailed me from San Francisco: "undeground iranian band playing NYC tnite...pretty inspiring." This is the friend who first introduced me to Radiohead, so I'm obligated to listen to him, on these matters. (Thank you, Payam.)

Austin, you're going to love them. I want the Yellow Dogs to play at my wedding. - huffington post

"Indie Rock Magazine Review"

The Yellow Dogs is an iranian underground indie rock band which formed back in 2006 in Tehran by Looloosh(guitar/synth) and Koori(bass) and Zina(drums).They built a closet size practicing room on roof top of Zina's house by their own hands.They sound proofed the room for not bothering the nieghbours and to not be founded by goverment agents.They called it Sag Dooni
which is Farsi for dog house.
After a few months they founded Obaash(vocal/guitar),and they started to make music and finding their own style which is a wierd combination but their main influences are,Joy Division,MGMt,Modest Mouse,Interpol,Foals,Moving Units,The Coral,The Rapture and etc.
Playing live concerts had always been like a dream for them,becuz Iranian goverment illegelized western music and they didn't allow them to play in public places,so they decided to ignor the islamic law and do what they loved to do.
In summer of 2007 they came together with their close friends Free Keys which is an iranian prog rock trio to prepared a whole garage/basement with capacity of 200 person for throwing underground concerts.7 members of the both bands put their own money together and sound proofed the whole place by their own hands,they also made a stage and found a genius lightman .The result was 2 mind bending concerts.That experience was unique because 90% of the people who attended in those gigs have never been to a real rock concert,with light shows,and a huge space for dancing and jummping around.The atmosphere was like early Sex Pistols concerts,or maybe san fransico's psychedelic rock concerts in 1967.
In 2008 they played an importent rule in a film about underground music scene in Iran directed by iranian award winning director Bahman Ghobadi which called "Nobody Knows About Persian Cats".They played one of their songs called "New Century" in their practing room.The film rewarded in Festivals De Canne 2009,in section of "Un Certain Regard".
They were invited to perform in SXSW 2009,but becuz of problems with getting visas they missed that oppertunity,now they are recording their first EPK and getting ready for 2010 because it's going to be a busy year for them.
The Yellow Dogs remains on of the most active underground bands in Iran,their courage of doing what they love to do with out thinking about authorities put them on the center of underground avant garde music scene in Tehran. - Indie Rock Magazine

"Interview with C.N.N" - Inside The Middle East-C.N.N


1.Be The Same Again
2.Desert Girl (recorded)
3.Sex Machine (recorded)
4.Pigs (recorded)
5.What A Life I Waste
6.My Woman
7.Modern World (recorded with bad quality)
8.My Country (recorde with bad quality)

9.Dance Floor Rules For Ever (recorded with bad quality)
10.Koskhol (recorded with bad quality)
11.Made In China (recorded with bad quality)
12.Same Old Love Story (recorded with bad quality)
13.New Century (recorded)

14.Flying Carpet (recorded)
16.Where He Belongs
17.Get Use To The Life You're Living



The Yellow Dogs is an iranian underground indie rock band which formed back in 2006 in Tehran by Souroush"Looloosh"(guitar/synth) and Kourosh"Koori"(bassist) after they have left Hypernova(a succesful iranian rock band,now touring the U.S).They searched for a drummer with their taste of music in Tehran,finaly they found Sina"Ziiina" as their drummer.They built a closet size practicing room on roof top of Zina's house by their own hands.They sound proofed the room for not bothering the nieghbours while practicing with high volume level.
After a few months they founded Siavash"Obaash" as their Vocalist/Guitarist in 2007,and they started to make their own musics.

Playing live concerts had always been like a dream for them,but because Iranian goverment illegelized western music and they didn't allow the rock bands to play in public places,so they have never tasted it before.They decided to ignor the strict islamic laws of Iran and throw concerts in safe places with their own money.
In summer of 2007 they came together with their close friends,Free Keys which is a tehran based prog rock trio to prepared a whole garage/basement with capacity of 200 person for throwing underground concerts.7 members of the both bands put their own money together and sound proofed the whole place by their own hands,they also made a stage and found a genius lightman for throwing a series of underground concerts.The result was 2 extra ordinery concerts.That was the first time they made money by their music in Iran.

In 2008 they played an importent rule in a film about underground music scene in Iran directed by iranian award winning director Bahman Ghobadi which called "Nobody Knows About Persian Cats".They played one of their songs called "New Century" in their practing room.The film rewarded in Festivals De Canne 2009,in section of "Un Certain Regard".Now they are going to show the film in the U.S and also Europe and The Yellow Dogs is going to play in opening of this film in the U.S.

In 2009 Reza Sayah interviewed them as one of the only active underground indie rock band in Iran and also in Middle East,in a program called Inside The Middle East on C.N.N.
Also they were invited to perform in SXSW 2009 in Austin/Texas,but because of problems with getting passports in Iran they missed that oppertunity.

Now they are recording their first EP and getting ready for playing some gigs in the U.S and also they invited to perform in CMJ 2009 Music Marathon in New York and SXSW Music Festival 2010 in Austin/Texas,so it's going to be a busy year for them.

The only thing that made them to go this far and try this hard is the love they have for music! It's very hard to have a rock band in the islamic country where musicians are guilty,So they want to leave their home country and try to play music in a free country with more ears to hear their musics