Indie Band Yellow Dogs Members Die In Murder Suicide

Two members of the up-and-coming indie band The Yellow Dogs were among the dead in a Monday morning murder-suicide in Brooklyn. It's a tragic ending for a band that came from Iran to escape crackdowns on rock music.

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Now the story of a band from Iran that was poised for success here in the U.S. But their rise was cut short by a shooting in Brooklyn that left four dead. As NPR's Dan Bobkoff reports, The Yellow Dogs came to the U.S. in 2010 seeking asylum from a country hostile to their kind of music.

DAN BOBKOFF, BYLINE: The Yellow Dogs were part of a small and semi-secret underground rock scene in Iran, where rock musicians were often punished. Lead singer Siavash Karampour told the website eMusic last year that he wasn't sure why his government would crackdown on bands like his.

SIAVASH KARAMPOUR: I don't know, really, why rock music is illegal back in Iran. But as they say, it's because it's against Islam.

BOBKOFF: The band's gained international attention when they were featured in a film about Iran's underground music scene. Fearing retribution, the band left for the U.S. Like many an indie band, they landed in Brooklyn, New York.

KARAMPOUR: Brooklyn, I can - I feel like I fit in perfect. You don't feel like a foreigner in New York City at all.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MOLLY")

BOBKOFF: The Yellow Dogs became a fixture in the indie music scene. Luis Velazquez is a Brooklyn event organizer. He remembers putting on their CD for the first time and hearing the song "Molly."

LUIS VELAZQUEZ: Which is a really awesome tune. It really made me kind of like - kind of bang my head and, like, have a good time while I was listening to it.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MOLLY")

KARAMPOUR: (Singing) Raised in a decent family...

BOBKOFF: As Velazquez booked them on shows, he became a friend.

VELAZQUEZ: They could've been big, man. You know, a lot of people liked them.

BOBKOFF: The Yellow Dogs sounded more Brooklyn than Tehran, singing in English, in a style they described as a combination of post-punk psychedelic rock and dance. And most of all, they had energy. Alyse Lamb of the band EULA played with The Yellow Dogs many times.

ALYSE LAMB: I've never seen them play a bad show.

(LAUGHTER)

LAMB: They always, you know, gave it their all. And I guess it just kind of attests to them just loving to be in America and just doing what they love to do, just play music.

BOBKOFF: The Yellow Dogs shared a house in the East Williamsburg section of Brooklyn that doubled as a performance and rehearsal space.

ALI SALEHEZADEH: We all lived together. We had a communist life. If someone ate, everyone ate.

BOBKOFF: Ali Salehezadeh lived with the band at that house. He's also their manager and happened to be out of the country the night of the shooting that left two of the four band mates dead. Just after midnight Monday, police say they found five people shot in that Brooklyn home. Four were dead, including the shooter. A fifth had an arm wound. Among the dead were two brothers in the band, 27-year-old Soroush Farazmand and 28-year-old Arash Farazmand. A roommate was also killed.

On the roof, police found Mohammed Rafie, the suspect, dead of self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. He was a former member of another Iranian band called the Free Keys. Salehezadeh, The Yellow Dogs' manager, says they always got a bad vibe from Rafie, who had minor disputes with them.

SALEHEZADEH: Never, ever would we have think that those little conflicts would ever lead to this.

BOBKOFF: The other members of the band, the lead singer and bassist, survived. They were not at home at the time of the shooting. Manager Salehezadeh says the two brothers who died could be shy. Arash, the older of the two, really just wanted to play drums all day long. Soroush, the younger, was quiet, but could still deliver a laugh. In the eMusic video profiling the band, lead singer Obash Karampour asked Soroush the advantage of having a moustache in Brooklyn.

SOROUSH FARAZMAND: And respect.

KARAMPOUR: And respect, yeah. I'm afraid of you.

(LAUGHTER)

BOBKOFF: Manager Salehezadeh says he always wanted the band to be noticed for its talents, not because they're Iranian. Now, the attention is for the worst possible reason.

SALEHEZADEH: I can't tell you how hard it is to think this is what we're going to be known for now.

BOBKOFF: He hopes The Yellow Dogs' music lives on, too. Dan Bobkoff, NPR News, New York.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE CITY")

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