Interview by Mark Bayross
1. What was going through your mind when you began writing CROSSING THE INVISIBLE LINE?
The songs on CROSSING THE INVISIBLE LINE each represent a moment in my life. There never was a block of time that I dedicated to writing this album, instead when the time came to finally put the songs together as one body of music, I chose these eleven songs from a number of songs I had written over the years, because they best formed one body of work. The process of documenting my life through song is an ongoing one and today, just like when I first began writing, the art of writing a great song, remains the most valuable factor in what I do and is the one constant going through my mind whenever I am writing.
2. Are you pleased with the way the album has been received?
Yes, absolutely. I am thrilled by the way it has been received but I have to admit that I am also somewhat anxious because the real test of a great album is its ability to survive and age well. This is a very young album. It has only been available to the public for a few months. So I am most curious to see whether years and years from now people will still be enjoying it and talking about it.
3. Is there anything on the album you would change now?
That is a hard question. Some days when I hear a song from the album I am astonished at the wealth of musical textures and other times I hear its unrealized potential.
4. How much does your upbringing in Iran affect the themes you choose to write about?
My upbringing in Iran, through a revolution and a war, obviously affects me psychologically. In some ways I was forced to grow up very fast and as a consequence there are other important aspects of growing up and childhood that I missed out on. This can leave a very strange emotional canvas to deal with. I have to also say that the music silence in Iran, which was enforced by the religious government, had an enormous impact on me. When my father first gave me CAT STEVEN’s ‘Tea For The Tilerman’, and SIMON & GARFUNKEL’s ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’, as goodbye presents before sending me to England, he chose two of the most powerful albums ever made to shatter my musical silence. This is important and must be put in perspective. If I had heard a lot of music while growing up then the impact of these records would not have been as dramatic and they probably would not have cast the spell which they did.
5. You have received a good amount of critical success so far are you hoping that translates into commercial success?
Critical press is great and so is commercial success but I am working so hard building a career and a body of work that if I take my eyes off the goal for a minute and start thinking about what is going on today, I fear, I may lose the bigger picture.
6. What is your approach to playing your songs live?
I love nothing more than standing in front of an audience who has no idea who Buddahead is and converting them into fans. During the past tours that we have done I have always tried to picture who the audience is and what they are expecting. For example, when we played with Everlast, I tweaked our sound and brought in loops and beats, because I knew this was what they ultimately wanted to hear. I think an unwillingness to bend like that by some artists is a sign of arrogance.
7. Who are your musical kindred spirits?
They are always the ones who I look to when faced with a decision and ask myself would “so and so do that?” So many names come to mind. From Bono to Dylan, I always look to the survivors.
8.Do you believe music has the power to bring about permanent change?
Let’s remember that music is created by the artist and I think artists with enough conviction can bring about permanent change. Whether Bono is trying to save Africa or I am trying to put a smile on the faces of sick children by playing for them at their bedsides in hospitals (we work closely with Musicians on Call), all our actions I am sure in some way lead to permanent change even if only one person feels that change.
9. What are you looking forward to most about touring Japan?
Being there. I am so excited about being there that all the waiting until that tour begins is killing me.
10. Do you have any plans to come to Europe?
I would love to play Europe but I am just waiting for the master planners at the labels to plan it out.
11. Where would you like to take Buddahead next?
For the time being I think it is important to keep doing what we have been doing which is to go from town to town and build our audience organically. That was always the plan and we are still working it. I can’t even start thinking about where to next because we are so involved with where we are now.