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Mehran

Interviewed by Gary Hill
Interview with Mehran from 2010
MSJ:

Can you catch the readers up on the history of your involvement in music?

I started to play keyboards at age 9. I came to the US at age 14 to live with my uncle who was a pro guitarist back in Iran. I saw Jimmy Page and Led Zeppelin and I was amazed with the way he played guitar. From then on I wanted to learn to play guitar. So I started to study with my uncle and after a while in college I started to play with different rock and blues bands. Eventually I became interested in Flamenco and went to Spain several times to study Flamenco there. Angels of Persepolis is my first progressive Flamenco work and it took me a year to record. I have now formed a group in Chicago and am performing many shows as a soloist or in the group setting. 
MSJ: If you weren't involved in music and writing what do you think you'd be doing?

I come from a medical family. My father was a doctor and my mother was a nurse. In college I studied chemistry and after college I got a job in a hospital in the field of Neurophysiology. I guess that is what I would be doing if it was not for music.

MSJ: Who would you see as your musical influences? 
Early in my career I was influenced by Jimmy Page, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, David Gilmour. When I switched to Flamenco I became interested in people like Vicente Amigo, Paco de Lucia, El Viejin. 
MSJ: What's ahead for you?
I am working on my second album, of course another concept album. I have formed a quartet and performing my music in the Chicago area for now. I am hoping to continue writing and performing for as long as I can.
MSJ: Your music combines flamenco with things like space music, at least to my ear. How would you describe your music?
My music is personal music under the influence of Flamenco. Everything I play now I do using Flamenco technique and approach. I am not recording hardcore and pure Flamenco as lots of guitarists in Spain do. Most guitarists in Spain add a lot of modern and jazz to their compositions. I like to push the boundaries of jazz, rock and classical music with my Flamenco technique and of course there is always the Persian and Middle Eastern influence. This is how Flamenco evolves. If we play the same Flamenco as 50 years ago, this beautiful style of music would eventually fade away. 
MSJ: Are there musicians with whom you would like to play with in the future?
Of course I would love to jam with Jimmy Page, David Gilmour, and so many others. But if I dig a little deeper in my influences I cannot avoid the Eagles, Rod Stewart and Steve Vai. 
MSJ: Do you think that illegal downloading of music is a help or hindrance to the careers of musicians? It's been said by the major labels that it's essentially the heart of all the problems they are having in terms of lower sales - would you agree?
I tend to agree with that. Illegal downloading is hurting this business. However, I think musicians should make some of their music available for legal downloading and free. If your music is intriguing enough, people will pay to listen to what you have not made available.
MSJ:

In a related question, how do you feel about fans recording shows and trading them?

With the advancements made in technology it is virtually impossible to fight so many ways of recording audio/video of shows. I think if fans paid for a ticket to see you, they have the right to document what they are seeing. Watching a show on a handmade video or a recording done on your Iphone or minidisc recorder will never take the place of being present at a concert. This practice has been around for 40 years, why fight it now?
MSJ:

If you were a superhero, what music person would be your arch nemesis and why?

Illegal downloaders.
MSJ:

 If you were to put together your ultimate band (a band you'd like to hear or catch live), who would be in it and why?

I would have Rod Stewart singing, the late John Bonham on the drums and the late Rick Wright on the keys. For bass I would get my buddy Louie Marini. Of course I would be in charge of the guitar duties. Bonham, because he was so experimental. I mean how many Zeppelin songs we know that the drum riff has a strong stamp on it? I think many. When you think “When the Levee Breaks” you remember the drum riff in the beginning. He would be one person that if I asked him to learn a Flamenco rhythm he would come out with his own version.

Rick Wright because of his immense imagination. Rod for his choked up voice, Lou because he knows all my songs and he is such a great bass player.

MSJ: If you were in charge of assembling a music festival and wanted it to be the ultimate one from your point of view who would be playing?
Assuming that this is a guitar festival, Vicente Amigo with Paco De Lucia in one show. Steve Vai and Jimmy Page in another show. 
MSJ: What was the last CD you bought and/or what have you been listening to lately?

The last Czf I bought was by a group “Days Between Stations”. I have been listening to it many times lately. It is like a Pink Floyd instrumental CD.

I really like the compositions and the guitar and keys are wonderful on this recording. I am always listening to new Flamenco music coming out of Spain.

My last discovery is a guitarist “Antonio Rey.” I am amazed with his playing. He is so expressive yet very technical in his playing.

MSJ: Have you read any good books lately?
The last book I read was Genghis Khan and The Making of the Modern World - definitely a different and a much more positive view than the traditional western historiography. 
MSJ: What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?
I saw a Flamenco group from Spain in Chicago a few months ago that were backing up a dancer “Concha Jerena.” I really liked her style and the musical accompaniment she had with her. 
MSJ: Do you have a musical “guilty pleasure?”

"Maggie May," Rod Stewart.

MSJ:

 What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?

Playing with my old rock band “No Romeo” in the 90’s. During one of the shows, one kick in the air and my pants tore open on stage and had to get it duct taped to continue the show. To my account what followed in the dressing room and how I had to change back into my regular cloth was very painful and accompanied with loud screams of pain from hair being pulled from my body.
MSJ: If you could sit down to dinner with any three people, living or dead, for food and conversation, with whom would you be dining?
Sean Connery, Chris Rock and Al Pacino. 
MSJ: Are there any closing thoughts you would like to get out there?
I really enjoyed this interview and I am so honored and yet surprised to see that my music is arousing this much attention and curiosity from the progressive side. I always thought that because of the stamp of Flamenco it would only attract that crowd. But I think if you are honest to yourself as a musician you cannot hide your influences. One way or another they will come out. I think my music is so flexible that can be categorized as many different genres. The reason for that is because I felt free to express myself with my instrument without letting a specific set of rules or using a template dictating to me how to write or play. By the same token I tried to adhere to the basic structure of flamenco and keep its integrity and not compromise it but yet compliment it.
 
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