-Tell me something about you, who are you?-
My name is Shayan, I was born and raised in the Islamic Republic of Iran which is also known as Persia. The very basic version of my story is that at the age of 16 I moved to England on my own in order to have the freedom of playing music and expressing art as I wish. It is nearly 6 years later now and I'm still here for the same reason, while continuing what I started back then. Most of my life so far has been dedicated to my quest with my band Trivax. It is a very big part of me just like I am a very part of it and at this point we can't really exist without each other.
-You were born in Iran and most of us know what it is like from media. Tell me from your point of view what living there in general is like. -
I'm not sure if the media has an accurate description of what Iran and Iranian people are truly like, whether it's about the safety of people or culture or even the weather, because I know that a lot of people think that I come from a hot desert, while it's actually mountains and we get a lot more snow there than say compared to here in England. Iran is generally quite a large country and it's certainly a very important piece of land, not just because of its current state of affairs but also very much because of its history and its role in the earlier civilizations of humanity in general. I don't think that Iran is what people would expect it to be, but I'll try and explain how I see it as best as I can.
Growing up there, I personally never really felt like I belonged there, the mentality of the people and how they look at things and what they value were just things that never interested me or seemed important to me. There's this sheep mentality there in the culture that even the most intelligent people can sometimes really fall for. People are generally quite confused I think, because the government wants them to be one thing, yet on the other hand there's the influence of satellite TV, bootleg Hollywood films and of course the internet which influence everyone to be the exact opposite of what the government wants.
There's also one subject that hardly anyone ever points out, but over there, there's this massive wave of sexual frustration that just sits with everyone. Boys and girls can't fuck if they aren't married and if you take a girl's virginity without having married her then you may as well count yourself dead if anyone finds out about it. Schools are separate for male and female from the age of 7. Above all, there's basically zero education about relationships, all they say to you is that 'trust god and you and your wife will be okay' and that's it.
I know it's strange that I'm talking about this topic to explain where I come from, but you wouldn't believe the impact that something so simple has on everyone's lives over there. Everyone is constantly stressed out, there's always traffic and people beeping and swearing at each other, then of course there's the younger generation where half of them are just high beyond repair. Nothing wrong with being high of course but I think that you know what I mean while talking about the general scheme of things. So yes, personally I never really felt like I belonged there even from young age and I didn't particularly find it hard to communicate in society, I just never found anything that I could relate to. There's a very unnecessary amount of pain and oppression over everyone's shoulders.
-Shayan live, 2016-
When was the first time you got in touch with metal and how did it happen?
Well music for me was always a very important thing, pretty much since birth actually. Both my parents were and still are very huge music fans as it defines life for them in some way, so it was always around when I was growing up. One of my favourite toys as a kid was the stereo player and the cassettes that we had.
It could have been anything, from traditional Iranian music to stuff like Aqua, which I really liked at the time. As I got a bit older obviously my attitude started to change and I started getting really interested in violence in entertainment form, so naturally wrestling (WWF at the time) became a huge thing for me. I think that it was at that time where I really started to get into the rock type of sound with stuff like Stone Cold Steve Austin's music theme and Kane's early theme track and also even the Undertaker's track. I don't exactly know why but there was just something about it that really fucking moved me.
I remember when I was about 10, I had this disk for Wrestlemania 19 and there's this fight trailer for The Rock vs Steve Austin and there was this Limp Bizkit song over it called Crack Addict or something hilarious like that and one time I was watching that in my room and then when the song came up I turned the lights off and cranked up the volume and then started running around and throwing myself at walls and just headbanging until my head started spinning so much that I fell. It was incredible, I had never felt a rush like it up to that point. I know it sounds completely insane, but it makes a lot of sense to me, especially knowing the path that I ended up on. I don't really have any shame in admitting that I listened to that stuff and enjoyed it, knowing that no one around me including myself had any idea that this kind of music and culture was even a thing. It was never something that I was attracted to because I wanted to look cool, I legitimately had this thing in my heart that really needed to crawl out and this music was the best tool to make that happen. It's still the same today.
Now to actually answer your question, the defining moment that made me get into metal was that one afternoon, the TV was on and then this Metallica music video came on and even though the volume was off, there was something that really clicked with me! I don't know if I saw into my future or something but it was a really powerful moment. I had never even heard or known of them before, yet when the name came up at the end and it said "Metallica", I turned to my mother and for some reason I started screaming that I knew who they were. After that I ran straight to my room and wrote their name down on a piece of paper, that same week I happened to find a bootleg CD of them at this disk store that I always went to. A couple of weeks later I bought their entire discography on bootleg, then a couple of months from that I already bought my first guitar and amp and started practising, then through my guitar teacher I got to discover tons of band and listen to them... and finally about 3 months after I picked up the guitar, Trivax was born.
-Is there any special reason why you decided to play black metal in a heavily regulated and restrictive country like Iran?-
I think that it should be surprising that not everyone in Iran has a Black Metal band, knowing the oppression that they go through. It should have been a natural choice having lived in that kind of place, right?! I think that if it was an acceptable and popular thing then the whole 70 million population should have been in Ross Bay Cult cover bands...
But yeah, I think that just like how fast I was discovering music and metal bands, I had the urge to go heavier, so I asked my guitar teacher to bring me some bootleg Death Metal CDs because I wanted heavier music and I did eventually get them but they really didn't satisfy me the way I was expecting it, these were classic bands as well. But I think that at some point Black Metal was mentioned and I kept asking him to bring me some stuff from that genre as well.
Keep in mind that at this time there wasn't much point in using internet to find things because back then everything was filtered and internet was only really good for emails or Yahoo 360. Anyway, he eventually brought me some Cradle of Filth and Dimmu Borgir music videos but I really didn't like them and thought that they were annoying, I also think that he didn't want to corrupt a 14 year old too much which is understandable. After hearing them I was kind of intrigued, I think that I basically said to him that Black Metal is shit, but he didn't like that so he immideately replied that "No this isn't even real Black Metal I only brought it to introduce you to this type of music".
So then the next time that I saw him he gave me De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas. I swear to you to that the first time that I heard that is still crystal clear to me, I had no knowledge about Mayhem
and the history or what they even looked like so it was just the music that I was listening to, we were on a trip to north Iran where it's a lot more secluded over there so it's the perfect
environment. So while during the journey, I put on the album and then obviously Funeral Fog is the first track that came up, and I think that the second that Attila's vocals came in I just shit
myself. Even more so when the chorus hits and it's like "
But yes, there was this really sinister energy there that somehow felt very familiar and I think that I just really bonded with the music over that energy. The music was okay but there was something very black behind it and that thing really captured my heart from there on and then because of it, Black Metal became an obsession in my life. So it was only natural that my own music was going to sound like that as well, except that it felt very right that I started playing those set of scales and chords, it fitted like a glove for me.
-Shayan secretly rehearsing in a basement, Iran, 2010-
-What were the reactions from family and friends? Did they know about anything?-
I think that most of them were okay with it or at least no one said anything bad to me about it. My mother was very cool with it actually, my father didn't like it at first but eventually he came around and realized how much this sort of thing meant to me. But yeah, my mother sort of became a metalhead at the same time with me anyway, I know that she still enjoys Behemoth and Nile and stuff like that.
I know that this is probably not the kind of answer that you were hoping to hear but do keep in mind that I was raised by quite open minded and free spirited parents. Even if they weren't like that at first, they became a lot more relaxed about things later on.
In school I had a bit more mixed reactions compared to what I had with family. I do have to say that in school there were a few people that obviously didn't like it, I had a Koran teacher and the cunt was telling me this story about how one time Metallica released a set of chickens on stage and then started stomping on them as they were playing their music. While the story is hilariously fake, it actually made me like them more. There was this other teacher that told me that if I listen to metal then everyone will start to hate me, which they didn't of course, but again that motivated to listen to metal even more.
I will say though, I don't think that I was running around telling everyone about it, or even if I did, I don't think that people reacted too extremely because it was either expected from the kind of person that I was or people just didn't really know what it actually was.
-How is the metal scene going over there? Regarding the punishments by "religious police", what are the most difficult parts about listening to this kind of music and even organizing concerts and events?-
It's a very odd scene there, there's a really strange mix of people and bands. As a lot of people know, there are literally no foreign rock or metal bands that have ever played in Iran. When I was there, the idea of a concert was basically impossible, but in the past 4 or 5 years it seems to have increased immensely, although still it is extremely limited. You can't do any vocals there especially if they are in English, period. Unfortunately, the scene in Iran itself however is a bit disappointing to me, because there is zero aggression in the music and everyone is seemingly just trying to get validation and attention.
It's a very conservative vibe when it comes to music because no one wants to get arrested, that is why back in Iran I always had a lot of disagreements with the drummer that we had at the time, because he only wanted to get famous and get attention, while I just said fuck off to everyone and wanted to make whatever the fuck I felt like making, regardless of how extreme it was.
Regarding the religious police, at least back when I was there, you couldn't really let your hair out on street if it was long and you most certainly couldn't be caught playing this sort of thing live anywhere, because I've seen police go and beat up a guy in a park just because he was playing acoustic guitar for a few of his friends. They don't really understand it and it's forbidden to them so if you get in their way doing something like that then they just fuck you up. I had friends back there who were rehearsing and then one of the neighbours reported them so the police came in, arrested them, broke all of their instruments and then cut their hairs as well. I also have a very good friend down in London who has also had the same thing happen to him and he's from an even older generation where the police were a lot more brutal.
I think that up till 2011 I was probably one of the only musicians in Iran that got to play a public show without a permission and then get away with it. I very easily could have died that night but thankfully I didn't. Yay.
-Trivax live in Iran 2011-
-What was the main reason why you left your home country?-
Freedom to play metal. That's about as basic as I can answer this one. Yeah that's it, I really needed to be free, I needed to play live shows and play as loud as I wanted, otherwise I probably would have ended up really hurting myself or someone else. The fire needs to come out and if it doesn't then that's where things can go very wrong. Plus, I didn't really have much of a future there anywhere, I still to this day don't get along very well with other Iranian people and to think that I would have had to work in that environment and make a living, I probably wouldn't have managed. So I know that I'm very lucky to be able to get the opportunity to leave there, as I know there are hundreds or probably thousands of people like myself that are still stuck there in the filth. I think that the most crucial part was when my father said "Fuck it, my son's out of here"
-How did you manage to get out of there?-
Quite simple actually, it was very stressful but once given the chance I took it in the blink of an eye. We had been contacting to several collages in the UK and with some work and perseverance and also getting the money together, we managed to secure a place at a college in Birmingham and that was it basically. I left there and didn't even look back. Fortunately I didn't have to deal with some of the troubles that a lot of my friends have had to go through such as escaping on foot or anything like that. Maybe I should go back there and then escape again on foot just to make for a better documentary in the future when we have 218 platinum albums.
-Arriving in the UK, was it what you were expecting?-
My expectations where that, well, I was finally going to be free. Of course it wasn't completely the case because England's reputation elsewhere is about ten times better than what it really is, especially in Birmingham. I was extremely disappointed to see the mass of mosques and Muslims there and also the people from my region who weren't even respecting the culture that belonged here.
I came here for Rock n Roll, not sharing buses with people who have 12 kids and sit on their ass all day and eat and breathe from their welfare checks. But again, this wasn't my home, I can't really complain too much but at the end of the day, I came here to be free and play live shows with an Extreme Metal band and I did get what I want.
I just wish that the people here appreciated the effort a bit more.
-How did you connect with the local metal scene?-
Not at all, at least for the first few years, their way of looking at this music is so different and laid back compared to what I grew up with. Their way of appreciating music is completely different, I used to actually question if they even enjoyed it. Because for me, if you listen to metal, then it means that you have the fucking devil's blood boiling in your veins and you have to headbang so hard that your soul can finally escape your rotting flesh...
Then when I saw the people here, it was people going to gigs just to either look at their fucking phones or just stare at the bands and hold a cup of beer in their hands... I really didn't understand that, I still don't actually but I try not to get annoyed with it as much.
Of course that same thing happens to the bands as well, so many of them just have no fire, will or passion and they just suck, they're not gonna go anywhere. I'm sorry I always get really angry when I think about that, when people forget how privileged they are... But it's not all bad you know, I've also happened to meet a few groups of people that are really into this kind of thing for the right reason, one of them being the band Funeral Throne. I saw them about 4 years ago for the first time and though fucking hell, finally people that act the same way and they are in that so called free environment and still behaving the same way, so I've definitely learned from them and I think that it's really cool.
-Trivax UK at a rehearsal, 2015-
-How did you meet the other band members and what was the development like?-
It was a bit of a desperate search at first because obviously I was quite impatient and wanted to get on with Trivax as soon as possible, but very luckily I met the guys in college and it didn't take long for us to become a band. I think that for a short period of time like a month or so, we were aware of each other from distance, then it came to the first music performance that everyone did and I think that they were quite impressed with what I had to offer so then later we just ended up together and I explained to them the thing with Trivax and showed them some riffs and they were into the idea.
They started out really young anyway, our drummer and guitarist have known each other since they were about 4 or 5 years old and they were playing in a Heavy Metal band cover band from a couple of years before they met me, so there was already some chemistry between them when I first got together with them, which has probably helped our longevity.
So yeah, I think that personally for me the first few years were a bit difficult because I was so unfamiliar with the English culture and the only thing that I had seen were films or TV shows and obviously if you've lived all your life in Iran, you think that everywhere outside of there is the same, like the way people act on an American sitcom is exactly what people in England expect you to act as well, which is completely false! So yeah I struggled a bit with that at first and I used to get offended very often thinking that everyone was being a dick to me, while in reality it was kind of the other way around, but that's how different my cultural background was compared to here.
I must say though that the early cultural and language barriers aside, we've always had a fantastic musical connection with us. Even five years ago when we had only been together for a few months and individually we were a bit hopeless with our instruments, but our vibe and having all of us play in the same room was always very powerful from day one and we always had a really good energy. It took a lot of learning to do but now at this point we're completely an entity of our own and I think that our live shows are a real treat for the fanatics in underground music who are really hungry for energy!
-Trivax Promo Shoot-
-What is your feeling about the current state of Trivax?-
We've definitely shed a new skin after finally finishing the dreadful process of making and recording our first album SIN. We're just refreshing the fuel at the moment and once we're ready again we're gonna unleash everything upon the world in full speed! Snorty speed, yep yep yep
-What is your motivation behind the music of the band?-
I think that change is the key word, but it is also a translation of that fire that we feel inside us. It's taking all the things about life and afterlife, then projecting them out in the most powerful explosion ever.
I also think that deep down inside we are all very unhappy with the world so this music serves as a purpose for us to change the things around us, to make people aware of what we feel and what we see, to use it as a tool to hypnotize souls and tear down walls of reality before them...
And of course, aside from all of this, Trivax and its music is something that really needs to happen, as the source of what comes out is not always by a human entity, so all of our opinions and egos aside, at the end we are just very humble vessels carrying something extremely important that we have to take care of.
-Does your past influence the lyrics and music of Trivax?-
Absolutely! I think that it would be a crime for me to have experienced everything that I have and then ignore them and instead write about problems that aren't really mine, such as religion or politics. I certainly use my past, but I don't look at it too simply, I've done everything that I've done for a reason and I use my lessons from the past to try and get a clearer vision of the true face of the world.
The universe is so much more vast than what's in front of us and it gets really tiring when you pay too much attention to the mundane and unimportant shit that happens around you just because you are supposed to. I'm a lot more interested in seeing where we come from, the mass consciousness of not just our planet but our solar system, or even the super cluster that we are a part of. I'm interested in that, but I'm also very much attracted to the parts where nothing exists and there is only pure blackness, because any form of existence itself is also some kind of disturbance when you look at it from outside.
Anyway, not to get too ahead of myself, the past most definitely influences our art, in fact the last track on our recent album is title "...And He Wandered Off To Nowhere" and that song, is actually a dark joke about myself sacrificing my life to follow what I believe in. If you haven't heard it already then I definitely recommend you to check it out.
-Is there anything that you'd like to say to the people out there?-
To all of the readers, I highly encourage you to go and listen to our new album "SIN" and if you like what you then know that you can check out Trivax on bandcamp where you can support us by buying our merch. To those who are also prisoned by the world that they live in, break free from your chains, step over the laws and let the interesting things begin! Thank you for the interview and hails to all of the German warriors!
-Thank you for the interview!-