Hypernova: An Iranian Rock Band In Brooklyn In Iran, Hypernova faced lashings for playing rock 'n' roll. In Williamsburg, it's practically a crime not to rock. After leaving Iran, band member Raam has encouraged other musicians back home to escape to the U.S., where their art can't be controlled.
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Hypernova: An Iranian Rock Band In Brooklyn

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Hypernova: An Iranian Rock Band In Brooklyn

Hypernova: An Iranian Rock Band In Brooklyn

Hypernova: An Iranian Rock Band In Brooklyn

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In Iran, Hypernova faced lashings for playing rock. In Brooklyn, it's practically a crime not to. Shereen Meraji/NPR hide caption

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Shereen Meraji/NPR

In Iran, Hypernova faced lashings for playing rock. In Brooklyn, it's practically a crime not to.

Shereen Meraji/NPR

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MICHELE NORRIS, Host:

This week, an Iranian indie rock band made history. Hypernova is the first Iranian band to emerge from the underground rock scene in Tehran. It's signed to an American record label, and released an album in the U.S. NPR's Shereen Meraji spoke with Hypernova's frontman, Raam, about the new release.

SHEREEN MERAJI: I met Raam in 2007, when Hypernova first landed in the U.S. I profiled them for NPR, because what doesn't scream story more than a rock band from the Islamic Republic of Iran, where it's illegal to rock?

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG)

HYPERNOVA: (Singing) Living life in the heart of Iran. We had a dream of becoming one...

MERAJI: He insisted we talk on top of a super tall, rusty water tower on the roof of his artists' loft.

RAAM: I'm doing probably the most dangerous interview I've ever done before. How we're going to get back down is still a mystery.

MERAJI: He formed a rock band in a country where you can literally get lashed for playing Western music, but he got sick of jamming in his Tehran basement. On a whim, Hypernova tried for the 2007 South by Southwest music festival and some real exposure. The musicians got in but didn't get their visas in time to make South by Southwest. But they came to the U.S. anyway.

RAAM: You know, in the beginning, there was a lot of media attention around our story. There was this exotic, oriental element to it - where, oh, wow, look at this, this underground band from this theocratic state, where we never even imagined of hearing this kind of rock and roll. To be honest, I felt that we didn't deserve a lot of the attention 'cause when we first came here, our music really sucked.

MERAJI: The four members of Hypernova had two years to work on their sound. Their debut album, "Through the Chaos," is the result of that effort. The second track, say it, Raam...

RAAM: "Viva La Resistance."

MERAJI: ...is an ultra-hyper, danceable song with a blunt message

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "VIVA LA RESISTANCE")

HYPERNOVA: (Singing) The boys, they are shouting and the girls, they are dancing 'cause it ain't no (bleep) crime.

RAAM: Growing up in Iran, where we were raised in this very Orwellian state and we're always afraid of the authorities, and kids were told to squeal on their parents. And you know, you reach a point where you're just like (bleep) it. I don't care if I'm going to get lashed or thrown into jail. I'm going play my goddamn guitar.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "VIVA LA RESISTANCE")

HYPERNOVA: (Singing) Your theocratic, neo-fascist ideology is only getting in the way of my biology. Your rock says no, but my body wants more. Oh, Lord, won't you help me out? I've lost control...

MERAJI: Raam has encouraged other musicians from back home to escape a government that controls their art. And they have. He shares his messy Brooklyn loft with the Yellow Dogs, another band from Iran. Beds are scattered on the floor, a bag of basmati rice hangs from the ceiling, and a gigantic, half-finished bottle of Carlo Rossi collects dust on a shelf.

RAAM: I hardly have any money, but I've never been happier in my life, either. Because if we go back home, we'll probably get arrested, and that won't do any good to anyone. But the fear of the landlord kicking you out is something parallel, too.

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Album
Through the Chaos
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Hypernova
Label
Narnack Records

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