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From Tehran to Thee Parkside

It’s been a long road getting to a real American tour for Hypernova.

Formed in Iran, not exactly the most hospitable of environments for young rockers, they fled to America in pursuit of a career in music. And recognition came quickly, in part because of such an unusual back-story. A rock band from Iran? See for yourself July 15th at Thee Parkside.

“When we first came to the States I’d probably give myself a 1 out of 100,” says singer Raam. “We really sucked, we didn’t know too much about music”.

He isn’t kidding. Barely able to practice in Tehran, when Hypernova arrived in the U.S. the band’s members didn’t even know what a sound check was. But they learned fast, blessed with a serious work ethic — the band has been known to rehearse for five hours a day — and a whole lot of determination.

Although Hypernova would rather the focus shift toward their music and away from their back-story, there’s no question that their origins have left their mark. Notably lacking is the laziness and sense of entitlement that characterizes a lot of young bands starting out, any conversation with Raam inevitably drifts back to concepts like hard work.

“In the end it’s all about earning your way to the top,” he says.

It’s refreshing to encounter a band that’s actually willing to put some effort into improving themselves, and even more unusual to meet young musicians who aren’t determined to play down their intelligence.

“Being a good lyricist takes a lot of effort,” Raam says. “I’ve been reading a lot and obviously my vocabulary has expanded. Trying to express yourself in a poetic way … in the beginning, it was a little more difficult but now trying to find the right words is a little bit easier.”

And then there’s the music. Although their early sound was eerily remniscent of Interpol, Hypernova have grown quite a bit during their time on the road opening for bands like the Sisters of Mercy and settling into New York’s music scene. More and more electronic elements have found their way into the mix, and the sound is richer than it was on their early recordings.

“It’s become much more epic,” Raam says, not a surprising thing to aim for if you’re a guy who loves Queen and classical music.

With a guitarist who prefers darker-tinged stuff like NIN, and a drummer who loves Kasabian, there are a lot of different ingredients going into the mix, and Raam claims that the newer songs they’re writing now sound “much more full and operatic.”

They’re planning to record a new album soon, possibly in March, but in the meantime they still have a 30-city headlining tour to finish, and then possibly another support tour in the fall.

So far, the band seem to have acquired an eclectic fan base, with some of the older goths who first encountered them when they were opening for Sisters of Mercy turning out to see them, as well some younger folk. With a sound they describe as “a mixture of dark New Wave with a little bit of electronic dance music,” it’s not quite sure what niche they fit into in America’s increasingly Balkanized music scene.

Maybe they’ll make their own niche. The one thing that remains constant is that they’ll never be a chirpy, upbeat sort of band, and that’s part of the appeal.

“Because of what we’ve been through we’re intrigued by the dark side of life and we find something sort of sexy and romantic about it,” Raam says.

It’s not a style that’s for everyone, but for those who like their music dark and brooding but still want to shake their asses occasionally, Hypernova may be just what they’re looking for.

Hypernova performs at Thee Parkside on July 15th. Tickets are $8 and the show starts at 9pm.