A Chat with Kevin The Persian (14.02.21)

Compared to bands like Soundgarden and Alice In Chains, US-based musician Kevin The Persian fuses alt-rock, hard rock, metal and grunge in his unique sound. We speak with Kevin The Persian about his new album Southern Dissonance, early memories, future plans and more.

OSR: Why did you choose to become a musician?

Kevin The Persian: Because of the way music made me feel, even when I was a kid. The first record I owned was Into The Gap by the Thompson Twins when I was five years old back in 1985. As a kid, when I heard an interesting harmony on the radio, I’d get goosebumps and stop what I was doing for a closer listen. In junior high, I wanted Metallica’s The Black Album, but Metallica was considered an evil band back then and my parents didn’t approve, so I got Nirvana’s Nevermind instead. Even though I love Nevermind now, at the time I was so underwhelmed by it that I returned it and got The Black Album against my parents’ wishes. That began a musical journey into thrash metal with all the usual suspects like Megadeth, Slayer, and Testament. If I had to name one album that made me want to learn guitar, it would have to be Metallica’s Master of Puppets. I got my first guitar when I was 13, a knock-off Les Paul made by a brand called Masada. My friend Scott Clayton picked up the bass around the same time and we formed a band called Synergy Park with a drummer named John Kangas, playing mainly high school keg parties. That was 25 years ago.

My dad, having immigrated to the U.S. from Iran in the 1970s, placed a high value on job security and discouraged me from pursuing music.  My mom, white and born in rural Louisiana, felt the same way. So I ended up going a more traditional career route and went to law school. I have been a practising patent attorney now for over 15 years. I also owned a craft beer bar in Dallas for five years, which I sold in 2017 and is still in operation. But two major events happened when I was almost 40 that altered my path: (1) my mother passed away and (2) the pandemic happened. Feeling an urgency I’d never felt before, I finally committed to making an album…better late than never!

OSR: WHat can you tell us about your new album Southern Dissonance?

Kevin The Persian: To write and record Southern Dissonance, I rented a room that looked like a prison cell in a dilapidated industrial building in New Orleans. Then I made a few rules.  There would be no internet and no contact with the outside world when I was in the studio. I haven’t owned a cell phone in over four years, so I made myself completely unreachable when I was in the studio. Then I committed to going to the studio most mornings at about 7 am to write and record music for the album. I also had a morning ritual in which I would practice zen meditation in the studio before I began working on the music. In fact, the song ‘The Regulations of the Auxiliary Cloud Hall’ from the album came from my meditation practice.

The purpose of these draconian rules was to go deep on each song with zero distractions for several hours at a time. Since most of the music I grew up loving was composed in a pre-internet world, I wanted to replicate that creative process as much as possible for Southern Dissonance to explore unorthodox musical and lyrical directions. The album is self-produced, but was mixed by Austin Deptula and mastered by Marc Frigo.

OSR: Did you face any challenges when writing and recording the album?

Kevin The Persian: Since I still practice law, making the time to write and record the album was the biggest challenge. I had to adhere to a strict schedule of music in the morning and law in the afternoon.

OSR: What inspires you to make music?

Kevin The Persian: To create in others what I feel in myself when I listen to a kickass song.

OSR: What do you hope people will take from your music?

Kevin The Persian: First and foremost, I hope the music gives them that elusive feeling that only music can give. For me, the key to a great song is harmony, by which I mean the rhythmic or musical interplay of two or more instruments. So, I spent a lot of time writing complementary bass lines, vocal melodies, and drum parts that underlie and strengthen the guitar riffs without slavishly following them.

Second, most of my lyrics have a philosophical or psychological bent to them and while I realise most won’t agree with them, I hope they are at least thought-provoking and provide a unique perspective on things.

OSR: If you could change one thing about Southern Dissonance, what would it be?

Kevin The Persian: I would have left off the song ‘Flameleaf’, made it a B-side and written another song to replace it. I like the song, but it was recorded very differently from the others and sort of stands alone in that respect.

OSR: What is your earliest memory?

Kevin The Persian: I can’t remember the chronological order, but I have a number of cherished memories being with my parents and grandparents in and around the town of Church Point, Louisiana, in the early 1980s.

OSR: Do you have any advice for emerging artists?

Kevin The Persian: Cut out as much bullshit as you can from your life to make time for music. Making music means saying ‘no’ to a lot of other things.

OSR: If you had a soundtrack to your life, what would the theme song be?

Kevin The Persian: ‘Scarecrow’ by Ministry.

OSR: What are your future plans as Kevin The Persian?

Kevin The Persian: I figure I’m halfway through my life and I’d like to dedicate the second half to making music. I plan to start going to my little studio again soon, but this time to rehearse a live acoustic set for local shows later this year.

Many thanks to Kevin The Persian for speaking with us. For more from Kevin The Persian check out his official website, Twitter and Spotify.

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