Interview: Anoushbard

On our social media channels we had already announced that we are very happy to be able to present you an interview with a metal band from Iran for the first time: Anoushbard. We talked to Sherwin (guitar, vocals) about their amazing latest album Abandoned Treasure, which deserves to be high up on many annual bestseller lists in December. In addition, of course, we talked at length about the challenges a band like Anoushbard is currently facing in their home country.

André: Thank you very much for taking the time for us. How are you?

Sherwin: Hello André, thanks for having me in this interview. I’m fine and thanks for asking.

André: Some readers might not know your band Anoushbard that well yet. Please tell us something about your band history so far.

Sherwin: Well, the band was formed in 2017 by Siavash Motallebi and me. We have released two studio albums so far, Abandoned Treasure (2023) and Mithra (2020). We decided to talk about our history, myths, tales in our music and also use some traditional instruments, influenced by traditional music – such as using old rhythms or time signatures. During these years we have faced lots of difficulties, for instance finding band members and players is really hard these days and we have worked with various players but unfortunately we couldn’t find permanent members.

André: What does the band name mean?

Sherwin: It is an old Persian name. The meaning is “you will be forgotten forever“. Let me explain the story behind this name. There was a political prison during the Sasanian Empire (224-651) AD, and it was called Anoushbard. Most of the high-ranking and noble families who had risen up against the king were banished to this prison. They were not killed by the authorities, but simply left to die. I know it was horrible.

André: How would you actually classify yourselves stylistically? The Metallum says progressive metal – do you think that fits?

Sherwin: It is a tricky question! Well, I would say we have different styles in various tracks. We have used some folk materials and also death metal vocals in some tracks and also in some tracks we sound progressive, but to be honest we don’t want to curb our feelings in music and limit ourselves to a specific genre.

André: What do we see on the cover of Abandoned Treasure?

Sherwin: Well, it’s an old palace that is in ruins, we were looking for something conceptual that not only fits the name of the album but also shows our culture. Our glorious past is like a treasure and is unfortunately not perceived by modern people these days.

André: Your opener “The Righteous Ardaviraf (Preparation)“ starts with dreamy, melodic guitars that remind me of Iron Maiden since their “reunion” in 2000. Are Steve Harris and Co. an inspiration for you?

Sherwin: Actually, I am a big fan of Iron Maiden. Honestly, I didn’t think about Iron Maiden when I was composing that track. I have to say I was influenced by a song by Ali akbar Moradi (traditional tanbur player), and the song is called “Goblet Of Wine“.

André: Which other artists have influenced you?

Sherwin: It’s been a long time since I listened to metal music. I think Opeth has the biggest influence on my musical taste, but I can mention Amon Amarth and Arch Enemy as well.

André: How important are the lyrics to you? And how do they usually come about? Is there always the music first – and then the lyrics? Or can it also be the other way round?

Sherwin: Good question. To be honest, it’s the most difficult part of composing, I prefer to write something meaningful and I find it really frustrating because English is my second language. Usually, we decide on the story of the song, then we compose all the musical parts and after that we finalize the lyrics. But sometimes we do it the other way round.

André: What I like most about your songs is their depth, their drama and their variety. One has the impression at every second that you give everything. There is full passion in your music. Does this perhaps also have to do with the fact that it is very dangerous for a metal band in Iran in 2023 to pursue their passion for music?

Sherwin: Firstly, I am glad to hear it from a professional person like you. Secondly, I think many factors caused this, for example we have a big history with many dramas (victories, wars, defeats, tortures and …) and we also had very famous poets and philosophers who have a big influence on me as a musician, and finally, living in a country like Iran with restrictions and obstacles can make you an introverted person. Metal music is banned by the authorities in Iran and we can’t give concerts or release our album officially.

André: What does your band’s everyday life look like? Where do you meet, where do you rehearse and how do you get your equipment?

Sherwin: Well, because we can’t make money with metal music, we must have another job to make a living, so we rehearse occasionally, there are some studios where you can go to rehearse. What we do is gather some ideas and then in the home studio we record those ideas and in the end, we finalize the track and then go to the studio to prepare for the next concert or gig (recently we had an offer from Armenia but unfortunately we missed it). For buying instruments, there are some shops where you can buy guitars and … but if you are looking for something specific, you should order from another country.

André: How popular is metal in Iran? Do you think there are many people who secretly listen to heavier sounds at home, which are mainly from the West?

Sherwin: I guess there are only a few people who listen to metal music, although we have good underground rock and metal bands, but pop music is very popular among people. For the minority who listen to metal music, I would say that western metal bands are very popular.

André: What do you think Iran will look like in 25 years?

Sherwin: I’m pessimistic about the future of Iran. I guess everything is getting worse. The majority of young and educated people are emigrating to other countries.

André: Let’s dream a bit: Which bands would you like to perform with one day?

Sherwin: Well, I would say OpethGojiraAmon AmarthArch Enemy. Maybe in the future we can participate in festivals with these huge metal bands.

André: Have there been any albums released this year that have excited you?

Sherwin: Most newly released albums are disappointing, but the last Arch Enemy album (Deceivers) was one of the best albums ever, great music and conceptual lyrics and also the production is unbelievable.

André: Last question: Which book did you read last?

Sherwin: I am currently reading The World as Will and Representation by Arthur Schopenhauer.

André: Thank you for the interview and I wish you all the best for the future! You are a very special band that will hopefully win a lot of new fans with their new album.

Sherwin: Thank you very much, André, it was an honour for me.

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