August 12, 2010

Hey, Ayatollah, leave those kids alone

ENTERTAINMENT/RELIGION - A Toronto-based band named "Blurred Vision" has the blessing of Pink Floyd to do a cover song and music video of Pink Floyd's "The Wall"... with a slight lyric change: "Hey, Ayatollah, leave those kids alone!", a reference to Iran's tyrranical religious theocracy.

Co-founders and brothers Sohl on bass guitar and Sepp on guitar/singer are garnering attention across the world with their new variation on the old Pink Floyd favourite. Normally Pink Floyd has been against people using their song because they wanted it to be for the right reasons and not for a band just hoping to make a profit. The new protest song isn't about making money and is focused on rebelling against Iran's older generation, and the video utilizes footage from student protests against Iran's fraudulent election of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (who according to exit polls should have lost by a long shot). The band also donates much of their profits to human rights organizations operating in Iran.

"Blurred Vision" was formed in 2007 by brothers Sepp and Sohl who fled Iran in 1986 with their family in 1986. Their last name has been kept private for fear of retribution against their family members still living in Iran.

"We did a show in Toronto in September and while we were performing we decided let's play 'Another Brick in the Wall' just for the hell of it and as the chorus line came up I just decided to sing 'hey Ayatollah' instead of 'hey teacher' and when I sang that line the crowd went insane," says Sepp. They later released the music video in February.

The fact Pink Floyd has now endorsed the song has boosted international attention for the song, but its the attention in Iran that they're most interested in.

"We get a lot of e-mails, especially from the younger guys, and I remember we were in London for a film festival where we were there to receive an award for best video and Sohl was translating an e-mail into English. And as he was translating he started crying. The e-mail said, 'It is you guys out there that can keep this going for us, that can keep our voice alive. We're here sort of isolated from the rest of the world, we've been shut down and shut off from the rest of the world and all we can say is just keep our voice alive, keep going to allow us to reach this point of freedom,'" says Sepp.

The members of "Blurred Vision" hope their videos and music will circumvent internet censorship in Iran so that many Iranians can see their message of hope and freedom.

Meanwhile in Iran supporters of the Ayatollah and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are not happy about the music at all and instead are accusing the band of promoting anti-Iranian propaganda and working for the U.S. government. The Ayatollah recently made threats to crackdown on music in Iran's youth culture and banning all music in an attempt to ban subversive lyrics.

The band was also worried about Pink Floyd founder Roger Waters and his approval.

"We were nervous because we're thinking we're coming out with our first release as a Pink Floyd cover and along the lines of musicians and music fans the Floyd can't be touched," says Sepp. "… so we laid the track down and right away we knew that we had to get it over to Roger because he was such a hero to us."

Weeks later Waters gave the band the "green light."

"We got the e-mail back from the Roger Waters camp and it said you have Roger Water's blessing and not only that but this track is now in your hands it's now yours as its title "Hey Ayatollah, leave those kids alone," says Sepp. "For me and Sohl it was one of the most unbelievable moments in our musical lives."

"I think it's great that these guys are using the song to protest against the repressive and brutal regime in Iran," says Waters. "I am proud to be a small part of this resistance." "I think The Blurred Vision video is very accomplished and makes its point powerfully," he adds.

Their next song due to be released is titled "Democracy".

"Subversive lyrics are more deeply felt by people who have had their freedoms restricted and taken away."

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