If you were reading Greenpointers last week or keeping up with the news in general, you probably haven’t been able to shake a general feeling of shock and horror in the wake of the tragic triple murder-suicide that happened in an unassuming East Williamsburg apartment just after midnight on Monday. Arash Farazmand (27) and Soroush Farazmand (28), brothers and members of the local indie band, The Yellow Dogs, were killed, as well as their friend and fellow musician, Ali Eskandarian (35).
The memorial will feature performances from Nada Surf, Habibi, James Chance of the Contortions, Luke Temple of Here We Go Magic, Dirty Fences, TV on the Radio’s Kyp Malone, Shirin Neshat, and Hamish Kilgour of The Clean. There will also be DJ sets from Paul Banks (Interpol), Vito & Druzzi (The Rapture), Jonathan Toubin, Nick Offer (of !!!), Sinkane, The Men, and more.
The victims were all expatriates who fled Teheran to pursue freedom of expression, in search of a place where they could perform their music, free of political constraints. Several months ago, Arash Farazmand became the last member of the band to be granted political asylum. But despite the way the story is being reported in the mainstream media, the band’s Iranian roots did not define their identity as artists.
“We try not to say Iran, Iran, Iran; because the essence of the band is not only that we’re from Iran,” basist Siavash Karampour (who was not in the house at the time of the shooting) told Rolling Stone in a 2011 interview, saying that their songs were “surrealistic, symbolic” stories. “You can relate them to Iran or to America, whatever. We don’t want to be a political band only.”
The shooter was 29-year-old Ali Akbar Mohammed Rafie, who had been kicked out of another band, The Free Keys, last year. He used .308-caliber assault rifle to kill the three men before ending his own life on the roof of the building.
Pooya Hosseini (28) was in the building at the time and managed to survive in a confrontation with the gunman. He recently shared his experience with the NY Times in brilliant detail, describing crouching in the corner of his bedroom behind a coat rack, hearing the sounds of gunshots as the shooter slowly ascended the stairs to his room. When the door burst open and the shooter pointed his weapon in Hosseini’s face–all he could do was keep talking to save his life.
The Times writes, As Mr. Rafie’s eyes settled on a spot just above Mr. Hosseini, he announced, “I need to kill you and then I need to kill myself. This is what I have to do. This is what I have to do.”
The men then physically wrestled over the weapon, until the shooter heard police sirens and went to the roof, where he shot himself. Clearly, Rafie was a deeply disturbed young man in need of mental help. The tragedy is that this had to end the way it did, with four lives lost in rapid succession.
“We were closer than brothers,” Karampour told Rolling Stone after the incident. “I wish all this attention was just for a new release of an album. It took us three bodies to become famous.”
The surviving band members are also accepting donations in support of the victims’ families. Their statement: “With your donation, you will be helping the families memorialize and honor their beloved deceased victims. And you will also aide the surviving friends/roommates pick up the pieces and recompose their lives.” Read more from them here.