(Comrade Aleks interviews Behrang Alavi, the Iranian-born vocalist/guitarist for Germany’s Samavayo — and of course we have music for you to hear as well.)
Samavayo is the band for those who like stoner music and don’t fear experiments. If you want to know how stoner sounds with progressive, alternative, and Middle Eastern roots, then this band is for you.
Samavayo was born in Berlin somewhere around 2000, and different elements have prevailed in their music in different periods and on different records, but after all of that, the band have found their golden mean. I do think that their last work stands a bit apart from other albums – it’s a vinyl split release by Samavayo and the Russian band The Grand Astoria. We had a talk with Behrang Alavi (vocals, guitars) about this record and some other things.
Hail Behrang! How are you? What is the latest news from Samavayo’s life?
Hi, we had an awesome tour in March across Europe. And now we are working on some shows in the Balkans, Greece, etc., in September 2015. We will also go on working on the fifth Samavayo LP after the summer, after we play some open airs. We will release the album in the beginning of 2016.
With the help of Setalight Records, the band released a vinyl split with the Russian band The Grand Astoria in February. What’s the story of this record? I see that both bands have a similar “progressive” vision for stoner stuff, and it’s like the songs of one band complement the songs of the other.
We have been friends with TGA for many years now. They are label mates and we played two tours together. We met each other when they were in Berlin. We wanted to do a split with them because we had never released a vinyl split before. And it’s awesome to do it with musicians you love. TGA has a more psychedelic, progressive approach to Stoner. We have the more heavy alternative fast-forward approach. On tour it is a very good combination for lovers of psych / stoner rock music.
Samavayo “Cosmic Knockout”
The Grand Astoria used a fictional kobaian language in their song. Do you ever think of using some alien elements in your songs?
No, we mostly use English, and from time to time also Persian. We are thinking about a Russian song as well, with lyrics by TGA, because I have lived in Russia and have some pieces of the language left in my head.
Really? How long did you live in Russia? What were your strongest impressions?
When I was a child I lived 4 years in Minsk, Belarus, and later one year near Moscow. Well it was all Soviet times, I really liked it. The atmosphere and the people. I like to remember those days.
Behrang, I know at least one song that you wrote in Persian, it’s “Roozhaye Roshan”. What is it about? How else do your roots influence your songs?
“Roozhaye Roshan” is about a better future. It means “Brighter Days”, in the meaning of better days. It’s about not giving up hope. Life will change for the better one day! There are thematic influences and some oriental melodies here and there. But all in all, our music has a more Western approach to heavy rock music.
What was the reaction to the song “Tehran Girl”? Did your listeners support and share the ideas that you put into the song?
We have a lot of support, especially from Iranians, for this song. The song was very successful in social media. We made the song before the Green movement in Iran, and when the movement started we put videos and images from social media together and created the clip, and it was shared and watched a lot.
As a man who knows the culture better than most of us, how do you see the destructive processes that have been happening in the Middle East for the last few years?
Due to religion, economic, and social circumstances, the societies in the Middle East are a lot more complicated. Messing around with the structures, especially from the outside, can lead to horrifying results. There is not simply good and bad. There are always many different parties involved. It is a shame what has happened to the region. Totally unstable. War everywhere. The problem in my opinion is that the countries in the Middle East are not united and do not try to solve the problems of the region together.
Does Samavayo have some general lyrical conception that connects all the band’s records together with one idea? What do you usually sing about?
We started singing more about pain, love, feelings, daily life, heartache, and so on. In the more recent records, we sing more about the bad shape of the world, anger, aggression, passion, fate, hope, and how we can lose or save the world. There is no concept before making a song. The lyrics normally follow the instrumental song.
Samavayo “Tehran Girl”
You had a pretty long tour with The Grand Astoria in March, and I know that you play (or at least played) really a lot of shows. Do you have some stories from this tour?
We had a great time in Germany, France, Switzerland, and Austria. All the shows except France were with TGA. It was a blast and we got to know many new people. You can find a roadmap on Facebook. We crashed our bus a little bit, that is the only bad news. The rest was really amazing and fun. We had really good feedback for our new songs (next album) and people loved our split with TGA.
What are your plans for the next record? Will listeners get some notable discoveries in the new stuff?
We have put three snippets from new songs for the next album on Facebook. Our homepage will be online again soon. We will try to do a record with an awesome, energetic sound and put a homogeneous set of songs on the album. It should be some heavy stoner, wall-of-sound thing. We have many song ideas now, but have to work on them still.
How do you see the band’s evolution from the first record to the forthcoming one?
We started finding our style, and by the first record we were doing some melodic, powerful stoner rock. After that we moved toward a mix with alternative rock (the Black & White EPs) and by our fourth album (Soul Invictus, 2012) we were back on the Stoner road. Still, we had some alternative moments, but the album was a good door-opener back to the scene. Right now we have found quite a good way to play the stuff we like most and still be recognizable at first glance.
How have things changed with your gig activities through the years, considering that the band was formed in 2000? Has the number of people visiting your shows increased or visa versa?
We had many different episodes in the band’s history. In general, the trend has been positive. We get more and more real fans, not just random people coming to shows like in the first years. What has changed a lot is that we play a lot more outside of Germany (Croatia, Brazil in 2014, Albania in 2013, plans for the autumn of 2015).
Also we now play real tours, like 22 shows in 26 days in March, and not just here and there as we did in the years before. Now we can plan better and book more shows when we do a real tour. It’s just more structured. And after some years with very few shows (like 2010 – 2012), we now play a lot again!
Samavayo music has a stoner basis. How do you understand the social aspects of this genre?
I think there are no special aspects for a specific genre. Every kind of music should give people something they have a desire for — joy, satisfaction, freedom, and a lot more. We try to give people a good feeling, to give them energy by playing fast-forward, energetic music. We try not to separate people but to unite them, even if we don’t sing about peace and that stuff. Rock ‘n’ roll is freedom, it is rebellion.
Behrang… What does “samavayo” mean?!
Samavayo is a Sanskrit word and means Unity, “To Come Together”.
Good name for a good band! Thank you for your time Behrang, I wish you all the best in your work on the new album. Good luck mate!