Q&A with Sohrab Habibion of SAVAK
Formed in 2015 by members of The Obits, Holy Fuck, Nation of Ulysses, and The Cops, NYC's SAVAK just released their debut album, Best Of Luck In Future Endeavors. Sohrab Habibion recently talked with us about the album, working on a new project and future plans. Read the interview below and pick up Best Of Luck In Future Endeavors now!
Can you tell us a little bit about SAVAK for anyone who may not be familiar?
We are a band from Brooklyn, New York. We’ve all been in other bands since the 80s/90s: The Obits, Holy Fuck, Nation of Ulysses, The Cops, Edsel, Enon, The Make-Up, Virgin Islands. It’s electric guitar-oriented music, falling somewhere between the four corners of 60s garage rock, 70s punk, 80s American underground and random other things like free jazz, musique concrète, Zamrock and Chicha. If you’re into The 13th Floor Elevators, The Adverts, The Dream Syndicate and Chrissy Zebby Tembo, you might dig what we do.
You just released your new album, Best Of Luck In Future Endeavors - what does this album mean to you?
It’s essentially a collection of the first 10 songs we wrote that we felt were worth recording and releasing publicly. It represents the first year of this group. I think it turned out well, captures our ideas accurately and I look forward to making the next record. And then the one after that, etc.
This being your debut album as SAVAK, was there anything you wanted to accomplish while writing and recording?
Albums are snapshots. This one seems pretty decent now, but I won’t know what I really think for another 5 or 10 years. Making records is kind of like doing a crossword puzzle. You keep chipping away at it from different spots, using the most obvious clues first and then slowly filling things in until it’s complete. Or something like that. We’re not really an accomplishment-oriented band. We make music together because it’s what we like to do, which is good enough for us.
Do you feel that each of your other projects influenced the sound of the album at all? How so?
Over the years we’ve all learned more about our instruments and how to better interact with other musicians. It’s a conversation. One that just continues until the subject is exhausted. I feel like this group is still assembling a shared dictionary for the conversation we’re going to have. We all are inspired by a variety of music of different styles and geographical origin. The bands we were in before gave us a shorthand and basic understanding of what we might do, but I think we’d all like to keep the possibilities as open as we can.
Is it refreshing to have a clean slate, so to speak, when you’re stepping away from working with one project to something completely different?
I suppose so. This isn’t that different in the scheme of things. It’s not like the metal band went new wave or anything. I do like that idea, though. Like after making Reign in Blood the guys in Slayer decided to make a Flock Of Seagulls-sounding album. Anyway, it’s a clean slate in that we’re a new band and we have to start from scratch. There’s a challenge to it, but that’s okay. You gotta work for stuff sometimes.
What do you feel you have you learned while working on Best Of Luck In Future Endeavors?
The process confirmed that, as always, it’s good to play music with friends and record with friends and keep the atmosphere low key and convivial. It’s not like we’re getting rich doing this, so it’s gotta be fun. Sweat it out and create something worthwhile, but make sure it’s a swell time, too.
One of the first songs you shared from the album was “Drop The Pieces” - can you tell us a little bit about the track?
This might be the most left field tune on the record. Inspired by Amanaz and early Funkadelic, with subtle horns and a free jazz drum break. I hope for more of this in future songs—moving away from the rock’n’roll mold a bit. Lyrically it addresses the idea of all “history” being revisionist, with affluence and power shaping what we come to accept as truth.
What would you like listeners to take away from the album or your music in general?
That’s for the listener to decide. Hopefully people connect with what we’re doing, which is sincere and done with conviction. We don’t traffic in irony or lifestyle marketing. There’s a lot of garbage music in the world. We’re desperately trying to not add to it.
You played a couple of shows in May - could we expect any more after now that the album is out?
We’re playing the Northside Festival on June 11 at Union Pool, then in New Haven with Hamish Kilgour from The Clean on June 25. In August we’ll be at Saint Vitus with Milemarker and Puff Pieces, who are a great band from DC. And in October we’re going to Europe for about 10 shows, including 3 with Mike Watt and his Italian band, Il Sogno del Marinaio. We’re very excited about that.
Thank you for taking the time to chat with us! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Take it light, amigos!