Brooklyn's Savak discuss touring with Grey Hairs, listening to Sleaford Mods and more...

17 May 18 interview: Paul Klotschkow

Forming in 2015 and featuring members who have performed with the likes of Obits, Edsel, Nation of Ulysses and Holy Fuck, it is fair to say that Savak's punk-rock credentials are undeniable. Sohrab from the band took time out of a busy 5-date co-headline tour around the UK with Nottingham's Grey Hairs to answer some of our questions. Both bands along with Slumb Party roll-up at The Maze this Friday...

Savak, a risky name?
I don’t think so, but I guess it depends on how you choose to interpret it. For people who are inclined to be offended by band names, I would suggest putting that energy into more productive outlets. It’s just a band name. And for us it’s part of a long line of band names like Joy Division and Gang of Four or Dead Kennedys and Butthole Surfers. On the off chance someone isn’t familiar with the Iranian secret police under the Shah’s regime, maybe they’ll look it up and learn about a dark corner of the human experience, which in many ways is still all around us. 

You are touring the UK with Grey Hairs. How did you get to know the people in that band?
I met James and Dave years ago when Obits did our first tour of the UK. Our show in Nottingham fell through and so I contacted James through MySpace (this was before Facebook and Bandcamp were the common platforms for bands to interact with people) and he set up a show at the Chameleon with his band Fists. It was a great night and we really hit it off. A couple of years later Fists came to America and we did a week of shows down the east coast. More recently James sang on a SAVAK song, which was fun.

Your last album Cut Ups as has some angry and political moments on it. Is that a snapshot of the time you wrote the album?
Partially. But also we try to write about what’s relevant to us. In the world we live in now it’s hard to look around and not feel frustrated by the selfishness and myopia on display by those in positions of power. 

There are whole host of different styles and influences going in to the band’s music. I can hear bits of post-punk, British pre-punk, surf, 60s psych, there’s even a bit of a latin thing from time to time. Was it a conscious decision when starting the band to play music that pulled down a lot of different influences or is it more of an organic thing?
We don’t do anything too conceptual or deliberate. Our goal is to make music we want to hear and to do it in a way that remains interesting to us. We all listen to a lot of different stuff and try to find inspiration from various sources to bring into what is essentially a reasonably straightforward rock’n’roll songwriting framework.

What is it that drives you to keep lugging guitar amps around and driving in to towns where you may not necessarily be known?
It’s hard to say, but it isn’t logical, that’s for sure. I know what I like about it: traveling, hanging out with friends, meeting people, learning about new places, eating and drinking local specialties around the world, coming into contact with different ways people live their lives. It keeps my life interesting to me, which is all I really want.

Why should the townsfolk of Nottingham come to your show on Friday at The Maze?
To get out of the house or away from work and see four middle aged American men sweating over a bunch of three and a half minute songs. In all seriousness I think seeing live music, particularly the kind of live music Grey Hairs and we traffic in, is a corner of our shared culture that is important to participate in and support. In a world that is saturated with prefabricated entertainment and sponsored lifestyle events, it’s good to be reminded that there’s still real shit out there.

What are your previous memories of playing in Nottingham?
Hanging out with Tropics near the Chameleon, walking around and playing the show. It was a really fun day and I’m looking forward to returning. Also psyched to see Slumb Party and, by then, day four of Grey Hairs.

The Edsel albums were re-released a few years ago. Has there ever been any temptation / desire to re-start that band?
We got together a few years ago and played a couple shows. We’re all still friends and so it was a good time. It was curious to play those songs again. Some felt very natural and it was just a matter of remembering the parts. We actually found the tapes to our last recording session, which was never finished so we tracked a handful of things and mixed it. Hopefully that’ll come out later this year.

Aside from playing, what do you like to get up to when you are visiting the UK?
Walking around, checking out the sights, flipping through record bins, sipping the suds.

You listed Sleaford Mods’ English Tapas as on of your favourite records of last year. What was it about that record that you enjoyed? There is a lot of slang and very particular British specific references and so I am curious to know how well they translate to non-British ears...
They have a knack for hooky riffs and good narratives. I’m probably missing subtleties, but part of what’s appealing is how distinctively British it is.

Savak play with Grey Hairs and Slumb Party at The Maze on Friday 18 May 2018. Tickets available here

Savak website

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