WikiLeaks Cable: The Yellow Dogs Iranian Indi. Band/CNN video story re: the band etc.
WikiLeaks have released a 'Plus D' Cable, dated December 16, 2009, in relation to the Iranian Independent rock band 'Yellow Dog Band' and the Tehran Independent music scene.
The author of this cable suggests that the Iranian regime had been allowing the independent music scene, of which the Yellow Dog Band were a part, to flourish, both live and on the internet.
The author suggests, reasonably, that this indicated an alternate view to an oppressive narrow Iranian culture.
The author describes the members of the Yellow Dog Band criticizing the conservatism of the Iranian regime and their fellow citizens. This suggests a lack of fear of serious reprisals among the members of this sub-culture or at least confidence enough for cultural rebellion.
The cable also provides information about the use of illegal drugs, being part of the musical sub-culture and indicates the recreational use of methylamphetamine, which was being produced in small illegal laboratories.
In Paragraph 14, the author questions whether the band members believed they would be at greater risk from the regime, as a result of their CNN interview (see below video of that program). The band were of the view that this would not be the case, as they were singing in English and not criticizing the regime.
All in all, the cable suggests that Tehran possessed and appeared to be reasonably tolerant of, an independent music scene which was not unlike those in every major city in the West.
This information could be construed to be at odds with the United States' preferred image of Iran as a culturally repressive, simplistic, brutal country, where it's members were afraid to express their thoughts or rebel in any way. The information could not have been seen as helpful to apparent U.S. Government aims for regime change or eventual military intervention.
The author of this cable appears to have had a healthy knowledge of American Rock history, as evidenced by the personal flourishes expressed in the section titles. The information in the report suggests a political-musical zeitgeist, existing in Iran, similar to Western youth culture of the mid 1960s to early 1970s. The author's section titles, which include references to Bob Marley, Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, Buffalo Springfield, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and the Beatles, suggest that the author was of the same opinion.
(Note: 'The Ayatollah of Rock-n-rolla', however, was a description of 'Lord Humungus' in Mad Max 2 a.k.a. The Road Warrior - obviously too pertinent a reference to resist.]
1. (SBU) Summary: An Iranian rock band described to us on
December 8-9 Tehran's "small but crazy" underground club
scene, where drugs are cheap and easy to find, creative
expression is at its most free, and participants are among
Iran's most tech-savvy citizens. They said the regime's
fierce post-election political clamp-down has not impacted
the underground music scene, as the regime remains too
preoccupied with political protests to go after cultural
targets like rock music. The band members, though not active
with the Green Movement, dismiss the regime as out of touch
and certain to fall, though they also told us that a majority
of Iranians remain "stuck" in a conservative, traditional,
inward-looking worldview. As a result they assess that
political change will only come slowly. Comment: These
musicians -- astute, well-informed, and resourceful
20-somethings -- offered up an insightful glimpse into a
vibrant but mostly hidden sub-culture in Iran. Their views
reinforced the impression that Iranian society spans a far
broader and more complex spectrum than many outside observers
realize, and underscored the possibility that the regime --
though radicalizing -- remains calculating and sensible
enough not to pick unnecessary fights on social issues, at
least while it is engaged so desperately in trying to counter
more immediate political threats. End comment.
The Ayatollahs of Rock and Rolla
2. SBU) ConGen Istanbul's NEA Iran Watcher and other
colleagues met December 8-9, 2009 in Istanbul with an Iranian
"underground" alternative rock band (please protect) called
the "Yellow Dogs," after they applied to the Consulate for
visas to perform a concert tour in the United States. The
four band members, who enjoy a growing local and internet
following, shared their perspective about life as rock
musicians in an Iran beset by growing pressure on political
oppositionists and widening fractures within Iranian society.
What can a poor boy do but sing for a rock and roll band?
3. (SBU) The four musicians, in their early twenties, were
first inspired by rock music that they heard as pre-teens
during the more socially tolerant Khatami presidency. They
said that rock music, despite its English-language lyrics,
spoke to them more viscerally about conditions they faced in
Iran than traditional Persian music did. With the support of
their (well-educated, professional) parents, they decided to
forego more traditional Iranian academic pursuits like
engineering to pursue music full-time. The self-taught
musicians began performing in high-school, quickly
discovering Tehran's "small but crazy" underground music
scene, a scene that one band member insisted grew
significantly in size and creativity after Ahmadinejad's 2005
election. They estimated that several thousand Tehran youths
are die-hard alternative- and hard-rock fans who regularly
risk fines and detention to attend underground concerts and
clubs, and that there are similar followings in Esfahan,
Shiraz, and Tabriz.
4. (SBU) The band members acknowledged that many
participants in the underground scene regularly use illegal
drugs (but denied any use themselves). They said drugs such
as heroin and opium are easy to find and inexpensive, but are
being eclipsed in popularity by amphetamines typically
produced in local home-labs. They acknowledged that despite
the regime's increasing radicalization in most other aspects
of politics and social policy, the GoI continues to follow a
progressive approach to treating drug use and abuse, for
example by referring users to treatment clinics and
medication rather than jail sentences.
Almost cut my hair
5. (SBU) Though their music is not overtly political or
oppositionist the Yellow Dogs described the risks of playing
any kind of rock and roll in Iran, recounting several
occasions in 2007-8 when police raided closed-door concerts
they were holding (typically in sound-proofed basements or
warehouses in isolated neighborhoods). One raid led to the
detention of one band member under official charges of "Satan
worship". A combination of bribes and parental pleading got
him released after two weeks in detention. All the band
members recounted run-ins with police and Basijis over "style
and clothing immoralities" including one band member's
afro-style hair, which the police forced him to cut off by
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seizing his driver's license until he did so. (He did, but
grew it back again.)
6. (SBU) One band-member described the underground scene as a
community that offers "the most free expression" in Iran,
where all political, cultural, and religious views are
tolerated, and where there is a lively exchange not only of
music, but art, books, photos, and other forms of artistic
expression. "Even Ahmadinajed's people can come listen to
our music," one told us, though he admitted few do. He added
that most of his peers spend their days (when not working or
playing music) just like western youth do, playing video
games on Macintosh computers and Xbox game platforms, buying
clothes from the Gap or Benetton, watching online TV ("Lost"
and Oprah are current favorites with Iran's youth), and
blogging. They told us with bemusement that they regularly
play "Guitar Hero" online and beat players from the US or
Europe. When they tell their online competitors that they
are from Iran, the other players express shock that Iranians
are allowed to use the internet -- and that they are so good
at video games.
7. (SBU) The band members told us the social crackdowns on
that community ebb and flow depending on whether the regime
is feeling self-confident or vulnerable, as well as the
degree to which the regime thinks the targeted community will
comply or resist. One band member described the police as
being more selective now about who they detain. Currently,
he said, the regime is totally focused on trying to squash
election-related protests. As one musician speculated,
either the regime does not have the time to go after
non-protesting young Iranians for crimes as mundane as
clothing violations or loud music, or it has made a conscious
decision not to do so, in order not to make more enemies than
necessary among Iran's youth.
8. (SBU) The musicians described Iranian society as two main
communities that are worlds apart in values and orientation.
One side is made up of urban dwellers who tend to be
well-educated, well-versed not only in Persian poetry and
classics but literary and artistic works from other cultures,
have some informed knowledge of the outside world through
television and personal travel, and want Iran to be more
integrated into that world. On the other side is perhaps a
majority of Iranians who are deeply religious and
conservative, predominantly rural, not educated beyond
high-school, tend to have read little beyond the Koran and
local newspapers, and are unaware of global developments or
modern technologies. "Many of them have never left Iran or
even their own province; they never used a computer, never
watched a foreign film, and never heard of the Beatles."
9. (SBU) This traditional community, because its worldview is
so limited, is an easy target for the regime's anti-western,
adversarial, black-and-white rhetoric. The band members
acknowledged that most of these voters probably voted for
Ahmadinejad, and agreed that even though Mousavi probably won
the elections Ahmadinejad retains great popularity with this
group. Moreover, they cautioned, if any foreign country ever
attacks Iran the entire conservative community will rally
behind the regime, and would probably be joined by a
significant part of the more urban, westernized Iranian
There's Something Happening Here
10. (SBU) Three of the four band members said they have not
participated in the post-election protests though they
sympathize with the protesters, goals. The lead singer has
marched several times, explaining he could not stay home
while his parents marched. The band agrees that the size and
energy of the November 4 and December 7 protests confirm that
the Green Movement -- though not cohesive and lacking in
strong leadership -- has become a self-sustaining national
movement. "The government needs to find a way to deal with
these people in a peaceful way." They predicted that in
coming years a new generation of leaders would emerge,
university students and 20-somethings who are already campus
and neighborhood leaders below the radar of national
attention or security force scrutiny.
Same as the Old Boss
11. (SBU) The band members described former PM Mousavi as
"really no different" than Ahmadinejad. They argued if
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Mousavi had been elected and allowed to take office it would
have been the worst outcome for the Green Movement. They
explained that Mousavi would have most likely been a team
player, falling in line to support Khamenei's authority and
"same old" politics, leaving the young activists of the Green
Movement feeling as disappointed under a Mousavi Presidency
as they had been under Khatami.
12. (SBU) Instead, the election fraud and Khamenei's backing
of Ahmadinejad have given the Green Movement a reason to
exist. "Mousavi isn't the leader anymore and it's not about
elections now. They stopped asking for their votes to be
counted. Now they're asking for bigger things like real
freedom." Khamenei's intervention to quash election
challenges also spelled the end of what had previously been a
genuine acceptance by the Iranian population of the Supreme
Leader's neutrality and authority. "Now most Iranians just
see him as a selfish politician who only cares about staying
On the Road Again
13. (SBU) Following the group's U.S. concert tour next
spring they plan to go to Europe to promote a film in which
they played an Iranian rock band: "No One Knows about
Persian Cats" by Iranian film-maker Bahman Ghobadi, with a
screen-play co-written by American-Iranian journalist Roxane
Saberi (which she finished just before she was arrested by
Iranian security services in January 2009).
14. (SBU) We asked if the band's popularity -- helped by a
CNN interview in April 2009 and the Ghobadi film winning a
Cannes Festival award in May 2009, and likely to get a boost
from their forthcoming US concert tour -- might put them at
greater risk when they return to Iran. They assessed not, as
long as they keep their music focused on social issues rather
than using it to attack the regime. They said that as long
as they sing in English the regime will believe they are only
singing to attract foreign audiences, and not singing to
How Do You Keep the Music Playing
15. (SBU) The band members said they never buy music or
movies anymore, given the ease of free downloads. Keeping
internet connectivity is a constant challenge, however, and
requires the use of proxy servers, virtual private networks,
and filter-breaking software like "Freegate" -- which many
Iranians visiting Turkey make a point of downloading while
here rather than try to download such sensitive software from
inside Iran. "We are always trying to stay connected and
almost always we can." Wary of the regime's efforts to use
technology to track its perceived enemies, however, the band
members no longer use Facebook or other social networking
sites, but still rely on Skype and carefully-worded text
16. (SBU) The band members said they and everyone they know
get news from two sources: BBC's and VOA's Persian
broadcasts. But the regime is stepping up efforts to block
satellite signals, they claimed, by installing massive
microwave towers in several areas of Tehran and using
microwave bursts to disrupt the signals. Local authorities
claim the towers are for cell-phone transmission, but the
musicians told us anytime they go near the towers they feel
"sudden shocks", nausea and dizziness, and said most Iranians
(especially pregnant women and the elderly) have learned to
stay away from the towers.
Comment: These Songs of Freedom
17. (SBU) These astute, well-informed, and resourceful
20-something musicians offered up an insightful glimpse --
which we find credible -- into a vibrant but mostly hidden
sub-culture in Iran, reinforcing the impression that Iranian
society spans a far broader and more complex spectrum than
many outside observers realize. We also find credible their
description of the regime's treatment of their lifestyle and
activities and their general conclusion that the regime is
currently too overloaded trying to squash overt political
protests and opposition to care about less-political,
counter-culture "threats" like rock music. Despite its
radicalization, the regime appears still calculating and
sensible enough not to pick domestic, social fights it
doesn't have to, at least while it is engaged so desperately
in fighting more immediate political threats. In such an
environment, the band is optimistic that the underground rock
ISTANBUL 00000461 004 OF 004
scene in Iran -- and the niche arena of free, creative
expression it provides -- will keep growing. End comment.
Yellow Dog Band Interview So Close to fame | 3 Members Killed by Ex member commits suicide RIP
Published on Nov 11, 2013
Yellow Dog Band Interview So Close to fame | 3 Members Killed by Ex member commits suicide RIP. The crazed gunman who slaughtered three of his ex-bandmates in the Iranian rock group The Yellow Dogs had been bounced from the band for stealing, sources said Monday.
"He stole money and possibly equipment, and he didn't live up to his end of the bargain," a law enforcement source told The Post.
The alleged gunman Raefe Ahkbar
The band -- which was profiled in a 2009 CNN feature on the underground rock scene in Tehran -- came to the US in 2011, and the unidentified member was tossed out a year later, the source said.
Sources identified the gunman in the early Monday killing spree in Bushwick as Raefe Ahkbar.
He allegedly shot the band's 27-year-old guitarist, Soroush Farazmand, in a second-floor bedroom and then climbed to the third floor where he killed singer Ali Eskandarian, 35, and drummer Arash Farazmand.
He also allegedly shot Sasan Sadeghpourosko, 22, twice in the arm outside the building at 318 Maujer St., the official said. He was not believed to be in the band.
The band's Facebook page identifies other members as guitarist Siavash Karampour and bassist Koory Mirz, who were not injured.
Sources said Ahkbar used a military-style, Century Sporter, .308 caliber rifle to fatally shoot the three ex-bandmates and wound the other man before he took his own life. The killer angrily confronted one of the bandmates before the shootings, sources said.
"He said something like 'Why did you bring me over here [from Iran] and then throw me out?'" a source said. Singer Ali Eskandarian was shot dead on the third floor.
Neighbors were stunned by the carnage and had kind words for the band members.
"You always see them coming in and out of their house with their musical instruments in cases. They seemed like great kids, never bothered anybody." said Martin Greenman, 63, a metal worker who works near the building where the shootings took place
"They resembled each other with the curly black hair and the tight jeans. They looked like typical hipsters," he said.
A neighbor reported hearing multiple gunshots
"There were 45 shots in succession, they sounded like fireworks going off," said Marcus Durant, 56, an electrician who lives nearby.
"There were three or four Iranian kids who looked like brothers. They would ride up and down the street on their skateboards and they were generally very pleasant kids."
He said the band often played at raucous parties in their building. In the 2009 CNN interview, the bandmates talk about dodging Iran's repressive mullahs by playing in an insulated studio adorned with a poster of the Beatles and other rock memorabilia.
"The law has a problem with rock music, so we can't play it" legally, one member said.
Monday morning, friends started offering condolences on social media.The band also appeared in a film about Iran's forbidden rock scene, "No One Knows About Persian Cats," which won a prize at the Cannes Film Festival.
"RIP to the band," said Theresa Afzali on Facebook. "Please let this not be The Yellow Dogs ... I'm really really upset about this," tweeted Sahar Sarshar.
"omg... in shock over the Yellow Dogs tragedy. I've seen them live a few times," according2g added on Twitter.
Yellow Dog band shooting: 2 band members fatally shot, 4 dead in shooting
Two of the Yellow Dog Indie band members were shot and killed over the weekend in their Brooklyn, New York home, along with a third victim who also died in this shooting. Police have released details on the shooter, who turned the gun on himself at the scene, according to Web Pro News on Nov.12.
The Yellow Dog band are a group of four Iranian men who played the underground scene in Tehran before fleeing to the U.S. where they found success. On Saturday, a fellow Iranian and musician climbed to the roof of their home with his gun in his empty guitar case and started a shooting spree, which left four dead, including the shooter.
Ali Akbar Mohammadi Rafie started shooting at the band members through the windows before charging into the home shooting and killing two members of the Yellow Dog band who were brothers. He also killed another man inside the home, who was also a musician, but he was not with the Yellow Dog band.
One of the dead brothers, 28-year old Arash Farazmand, the Yellow Dogs’ drummer, was in his bedroom when Rafie shot him before finding his brother, 27-year old guitarist Soroush Farazmand, on the second floor. He was shot in the chest.
A third musician in the house, 35-year-old Ali Eskandarian was shot and killed when Rafie was first shooting through the windows of the home. Another person in the home at the time was shot twice in the arm, but survived this shooting.
Rafie then made his way back up to the roof where he turned the gun on himself. Police found him dead on the roof of the three story Brooklyn home.
It is believed that Rafie, who was once a member of another Iranian indie band, the Free Keys, had a falling out with the Yellow Dogs. Rafie was accused of stealing money from the members of the Yellow Dog band.
Rafie was a struggling musician where the band Yellow Dog had found success in this country playing in Venues all over the nation. Police are still piecing together a motive in this shooting.