We sat down with Behind Blue Eyes after the SOLD-OUT show at ULU, London, where they supported Normandie and headliner Dream State.
Behind Blue Eyes are a metalcore band from London, formed in the summer of 2016. Since then, they have released their EP, multiple singles, and have toured throughout the UK and mainland Europe. The band consists of four members: Stone Behzadi (vocals), Kiahn Zamani (guitar), Joe Sweeney (bass) and Joe (JB) Baker (drums). They’re a lovely bunch of guys, and besides being super talented, they’re very down to earth. The interview felt like a chat between friends, with witty and sarcastic comments along the way, as they’ve shared some of their journey so far with us.
- In order to get to know you guys and the band better, tell us a little bit about how you met and how the band formed?
Stone: It’s a bit of a long story to be fair, because we’ve had a few member changes, but Kiahn and I went to school together and we both played guitar and we started jamming together. We had different singers, different drummers and bass players, but about a year and a half ago, the singer of the band left- I started singing, Kiahn did all the guitars, and then I got a message from some random guy on Facebook saying ‘’Hi, I play bass and I’m moving to the UK’’ That turned out to be Joe, and Joe joined our band in – what month was it?
Joe: The first tour was in June.
Stone: It was in June of last year, so that was what, a year ago and three months or so?
Joe: We all loved each other then and now we all fucking hate each other.
Stone: We clicked, and we had the best time together. And then we had a different drummer, but things didn’t work out in the end. Luckily, we’d had JB over here on our radar for a while – we knew that he was a sick drummer, we’ve known him indirectly for years. So, we messaged him and everything worked out. So that’s how we became the band that we are; Kiahn and I met in school, Joe messaged me on Facebook randomly and we scouted out JB months later. So JB has been in the band for like six or seven months now?
JB: I officially joined in April, but my first tour was in March
Stone: Yeh, he wasn’t officially in yet… We’ve been having the best time ever since.
- And what about the name of the band – where did ‘Behind Blue Eyes’ come from?
Stone: We really love The Who.
Kiahn: Stone tried to make up some random excuse saying it’s like ‘’seeing behind the exterior’’…
Stone: Appearance vs reality.
Kiahn: Basically, he just listened to The Who and then he was just like ‘’oh, that’s a sick band name, let’s come up with a better story for it’’.
Stone: To be honest, it was probably subliminal, because I was watching so much KerrangTV.
Kiahn: We both did a cover.
Stone: I only knew the Limp Bizkit version, but I thought ’wow, that’s a nice name’.
Joe: [sings] behind blue eyes…
Stone: Exactly! But now every single time that I’ve ever thought maybe this is a bad plan, because we’re like the seven thousandth result on google, we’re just like, nah, we’ve come too far now, so, it’s stuck with us for now and we really like the name. Someone complimented us on it today – actually, it was CJ from Dream State.
Joe: Yeh, but she was like ‘oh.. where do I know that name from?’
- If someone was new to your music, which song would you suggest they listen to first, a song that sums up the band best, in your opinion?
Joe: Forever Here – It depends what they’re into.
Kiahn: But if you wanted to sum up the band, like – check out this song, this is our band.
Joe: Forever here, for sure, because like, girls love it.
Stone: Kiahn, what do you recon?
Kiahn: Lie To Me, our new song, because it’s uh, groovy.
Stone: JB, what do you recon?
JB: I’d say Lie To Me, because it’s the first one with me on it and it’s decent drums.
Stone: Very, very decent drums. Weirdly, I would probably say Growing Cold, because it has the perfect mixture of heavy and melodic, and that’s kind of what we go for a lot of the time. Some of the songs are super melodic, some of the songs are super heavy, but I feel like that’s the middle ground.
- And who are your influences? People or bands that you look up to in terms of sound, lyrics and performance?
Kiahn: To be fair, Northlane influenced our newer stuff, but I don’t really listen to bands that are in a similar genre to us when writing, just because otherwise it’s very easy to basically end up ripping someone off in a way that you only notice later on. I like listening to bands that are a lot heavier than us and try to find a bit more melody in it.
Stone: I’d say the biggest influences for me were rock bands like Mooseblood and slightly heavier bands like Dayseeker, who are some of my favourite bands of all time, but at the same time I’ve also taken a lot of influence from artists such Bon Iver and Damien Rice. I’ve been huge into acoustic stuff for a long time and so, weirdly, a lot of folk and pop bands have influenced the way I write and the way I approach things when it comes to putting lyrics to music. I think lyrically, my lyrics are sort of like straight up into the point – I don’t like the more metaphoric lyrics as much. I was listening to a lot of more like folky-style music, like Damien Rice and Bon Iver and similar artists who say things as they are, which I really like.
- Stone, you started out as a guitarist – how was it becoming the frontman of the band, how was it transitioning from one to the other?
Stone: Not that smoothly, to be honest – I started singing in the band in February of last year, and I remember the first show we played was in front of about seven people in Newcastle, at a weird Star Wars themed pub, and I was literally freaking out. I was panicking, I was super afraid, but it went okay. The next day we played Hull and everything was alright, but it’s crazy how things have come in a year and a half, from playing in front of seven people and me freaking out to going in front of 500 people and being super calm, not worrying about it at all. So, things change, and I’m looking forward to the next year and a half and seeing how far we get.
- Seeing yourselves growing and achieving so much in this past year and a half, as you say, what would you expect from the next year and a half? Where do you see yourselves, what are your goals?
Stone: I think it would be really cool to release a lot of new music, just try to outdo everything we’ve done so far – play bigger shows, get more streams than we’ve ever had, write better songs, things like that.
Kiahn: Just want to get more money, really.
Stone: Yeah, that is the end goal.
Kiahn: Yeah, I’m in it for the money, because being in a band, you know, is a great business plan.
Stone: Yeah, we’re all millionaires.
Kiahn: It’s great how you just spend thousands, and not get any of it back.
Stone: Yeah… except for show like tonight, that was kind of…
Joe: It’s worth it, man, it’s worth it.
- What was it like for you guys experiencing a show like tonight?
Stone: Tonight, I think, was the best day of my whole life. Literally, I spoke to JB’s dad afterwards, and JB’s dad was like ‘I was so emotional…’
Joe: Yes, I know, he said that to me as well!
Stone: …and I was like, what a legend.
Joe: Absolute legend.
Stone: My mom was there, my sister was there, so, it was a special one for sure. But that was the biggest show we’ve ever played, the biggest room we’ve ever played, and I would love to do that for the rest of my life. I couldn’t fault that gig – even though my mic kept cutting out in the end. I don’t what was happening to it.
Joe: Yeh, you went to talk and it kind of funny.
Stone: Then it was funny, because I was like, ‘’Thank you so much everyone for watching!’’ and it didn’t come out, and then I kept saying it, and then I was like ‘’Fuck’s sake!’’ – and as soon as I said that, it came out, and I was like ‘’Oh no…’’ – Honestly, tonight was the coolest thing that’s ever happened.
Joe: Yeah, it’s an honour to be on a show like that, you know?
Stone: It’s satisfying because it’s hard work – we’ve been doing this for a while now and there’s people there who wanted to come up and take photos and hang out; and I signed some things, and people bought a lot of merch as well.
Joe: And we are a small band.
Stone: We are BY FAR the smallest fish on that bill.
Joe: It’s nice to be on a show like that.
Stone: But it means so much that people gave us their time of day. No one really heard of us but by the end of it…
Joe: To even network with people like that and just chat to them, Dream State and Normandie, it’s nice to make connections.
Stone: Insane bands. It was a proper privilege to play on the same bill for sure. Especially at this venue – sold out. Unbelievable.
Joe: Great fun.
- Was this one of the moments when you realise that you are an up-and-coming band and growing as artists?
Stone: I suppose – One of the first moments that we’ve probably realised as a group that we’re an up-and-coming band was… I remember we played a show in Wakefield – Kiahn, do you remember that? At the Oxjam…
Kiahn / Joe: Yea
Stone: …when you [to Joe] had tonsillitis – a month or so after Growing Cold had come out, and I started singing the intro, and then suddenly the whole room was singing it back. I was completely not expecting it – because we were playing a show for Oxfam with a bunch of other bands and no one was really singing for the other bands, but as soon as that song came on, they were singing so loud. I remember putting my mic to my waste and just turning onto stage, because I was in the middle of the crowd at this point, and I was just laughing – I was like, ‘’Are you guys seeing this?’’ That was the craziest thing, that was the moment that I realised that we’ve got something going on. Obviously today reaffirmed that. The last show we played was also sold out in London. It’s been really cool to just be a part of the whole thing.
Joe: But we’re nowhere near were we want to be. We’ve got a long way to go.
Stone: 100% – we’re making steady progression, I think, but hopefully within the next year, maybe even longer than that, we’ll continue to make such steady progress. Hopefully it will be expediential, and we’ll snowball, and we’ll play sold out Wembley. It’s not realistic but still, we’ve been having so much fun and it’s been great to see the gradual process of everything.
- Have you guys noticed any difference between performing on your headline show and performing as a supporting band?
Stone: To be honest, today we opened the show and that was the best show I’ve ever played.
Joe: I like opening.
Stone: Generally, it doesn’t quite work that way, I don’t think. I think the headline shows that we played in the past have been so much fun.
Kiahn: I think the only difference when we’re opening is that we’re trying to win people over as new fans, whereas when we’re headlining it’s usually the case that they already know who we are.
Stone: Today I think about 15-20 people actually knew our songs, there was 500+ people in the room, so that was then our mission to impress everyone, whereas however many people might be at our headline show, they already know who we are and we’ve already impressed them. I do quite like support slots and things like that.
Joe: I think our goal is definitely to get on bigger shows as support, you know, like being the openers is sick.
Kiahn: Each show should always be the same though. If someone takes the time to come and see you, we try to put on a show as good as possible, but I guess on a show like tonight when there’s a lot of excitement around it, and it’s like a step up for us then, naturally, we’ve just tried to up our game a bit.
Stone: For sure.
- Is there anything you guys are working on that you’d like to share?
Kiahn: We’ve got some songs in the works, some things ready to release, it’s all good to go – we just need to find the right time to release it and make sure it doesn’t go under the radar. After playing shows like tonight, we just wanted to reach as big of an audience as possible. Actually, being in a band, we’re always writing and recording, so we’ve got quite a lot lined up that we haven’t really got dates for, but it should be coming fairly soon.
Stone: Sooner earlier than later, I think.
Kiahn: We want to go for a larger body of work than just an EP like we’ve done in the past. We have to see what comes from that.
- Is there anything else you’d like to say to everyone reading this interview before we wrap it up?
Stone: Obviously we’re on a bit of a high from tonight because we’ve had the best time. To be cliché, thank you to everyone who’s listened to our stuff recently, has bought merch, especially people tonight, because that’s the best we’ve ever done for any show ever. We’ve had THE best time. Thank you to the bands who have let us support them and thank to Live Nation. There’s obviously a whole long road that we want to take over the next few years, but every single person who has helped us get to the point where we’re at is super, super cool. I was stood by the door accidentally, because I was in the queue for drinks, and I was chatting to so many people, taking photos and things like that, and they were all saying how grateful they were for the music – and I was saying how grateful I am for their support.
Kiahn: It’s almost as if we’re a band that’s not absolute shit playing to 5 people in a pub.
Stone: Yeh! It’s almost like that.
Joe: It’s kind of nice!
Stone: Literally, thank you to everyone who’s given us any of their time of day across the last however long that we’ve been together and just had a nice conversation, listened to our set and stayed for that extra song when their friends wanted them to leave, or whatever like that. It’s been a journey but we’re super proud of where we’re at now – and it’s only going to get better.
Make sure to keep an eye out for their announcements coming soon!
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