Thursday, November 30

10 tracks, 26 years

If you’ve been loosely following the exploits of our band, Muhammad Seven & the Spring, and would like a fuller picture of the album we’re making, this is for you.

I’ve been making music since 1992, when I was 14 years old and my mother bought me my first guitar. Some of you will remember me haunting the halls of the high school, picking out melodies. Songwriting was my first love.

As an Iranian-American first generation immigrant, I really struggled in the early days to find my place as an artist. It seemed like there was no room for my experience or perspective in U.S. culture - but I wouldn’t give it up, I was driven.

(You can hear me talk about this with Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires here.

I was also not a terrific songwriter (few of us are from the start). I’ve lost count of the number of times I wanted to give up on music over the last 26 years.

“My songs are bad.”

“Well maybe you’re just not cut out for this.”

“My voice sounds like shit.”

“Who wants to hear a songwriter who can’t sing?”

The inner dialogue is a trap - you’re a dog chasing your tail. Anyhow, I fought on. I kept writing, playing, singing, trying to join bands (none would have me), playing open mics, playing small shows.

In 2010 I had a chance to tour nationally with my long time friend, underground folk hero Chris Sand. I knew I wasn’t ready. But I decided I either needed to take a chance on being a songwriter for real - or stop torturing myself and give up. I went for it.

We played 30 shows from Boston to Spokane, touring had been a dream of mine and it was a thrill to realize it. I practically wet my pants on stage for the first 15 shows…and then something happened in Marfa, Texas. I had one of those shows where everything went right, I was on fire. And from then on I was a different artist. Maybe a different man.

After so many years of feeling like there was no place for an Iranian-American in the landscape of American music, I started to understand that ONLY I could change that reality. I’d spent years trying to carve that space out - and now it existed, it was a thing.

A whole new catalogue of songs sprang forth from that tour, better than my previous work. I sat on it for years (I was busy getting married and starting a family) but then managed to record them in my very first album - “Bedouin Cowboy”, which I made entirely on my cell phone (you may remember, I made this video to tell the story.)

That album was terrifically received for the little thing that it was - write ups in my local paper, an interview on NPR’s “The World”, features on the Filmspotting podcast…you can see all that here.

Somehow it was enough encouragement to light a fire under my ass. I started writing. I wrote like a crazy person, 20 new songs in 7 months. My best work but a huge margin - unrecognizably different from all my previous stuff (though Amanda encourages me not to disrespect my early work.)

I started playing them live and, instead of the uphill slog I expected for booking shows, the shows started just coming to me. As a working parent there wasn’t lots of time to play live but I was steady with it and I started getting sharper as a performer.

My close buddy of 20 years, Patrick Mussari (also a working dad now) caught wind of what I was doing and he wanted in, trading in his axe for a bass. We had always dream of starting a band together. After a few months of rehearsal, we managed to woo my new but dear friend Kelly Jo Reed - the first time I heard her sings I said to myself, THAT’S IT! THAT’S THE SOUND MY SONGS WANT!

Then, after interviewing about a dozen producers (mostly young recent college grads) I finally found Collin Lester Fleming, a seasoned and inspired producer (and incredible drummer) - who got me and my music right off the bat. Our mutual admiration and excitement for the work has us both buzzing for the task at hand: laying down 10 tracks, in 3 different studios, with M7 & the Spring along with 10 other session musicians.

This album is, for me, the ultimate labor of love, 26 years in the making. In the past I wished I could have gotten here faster. At this moment in my life, I feel like it all went exactly the way it needed to.

I can’t wait to share the record with you. It will be free.

We have currently raised $5,561.99 out of $12,700. If you’d like to help make it happen, you can find fast, simple links here.

yours in the struggle,