EAST WILLIAMSBURG — After years hiding their jam sessions in underground rooms and soundproof attics in Iran, The Yellow Dogs felt they were living the dream in Brooklyn until two band members who were brothers and a friend were shot and killed Monday.
A day after police say fellow Iranian musician Ali Ahkbar Mohammadi Rafie broke into their Williamsburg home and opened fire, the surviving members of The Yellow Dogs expressed their grief on Twitter. Band members and brothers Soroush Farazmand and Arash Farazmand, and a friend, Ali Eskandarian, were killed in the attack.
"From Koory and Obaash: still in shock, we lost 3 of our brothers... Rest In Peace," the band's surviving members Siavash "Obaash" Karampour and Koory "Koory" Mirz wrote on Twitter early Tuesday.
The shocking violence followed the band's skyrocketing rise toward musical freedom, following their hidden lives as aspiring rock stars in authoritarian Iran.
"We appreciate everything," the group's lead singer, known as Obaash, said in an interview about moving to Brooklyn in 2010.
"If just for a second each one of us thinks what we've been through and where we're from and where we are now, it’s joy and adrenaline. It's exciting."
The band gained new fans and friends by the day, partying at night and playing at famed Brooklyn music venues including the Knitting Factory and the Brooklyn Bowl. But the dream turned into a nightmare early Monday.
Sourosh Farazmand, 27, who was the guitarist for the band, and his brother Arash Farazmand, 28, the drummer, lived and played music in the Maujer Street building where they were gunned down. Ali Eskandarian, 35, was a fellow musician and author who often traveled with the band, according to reports.
Rafie fatally shot himself in the head on the building's roof after the attack, police said.
"If you look at what they brought to the table, the quality of music was high, they weren't just going to be a local band," the group's former booking agent Chris Carr said.
"They had the drive. They had the intensity. They had the charisma. They came here to have the freedom they didn't have at home."
The friends came to New York from Iran in 2010, fleeing repression in Tehran, where the authorities were hostile to their rock 'n' roll ambitions, according to reports.
Once in New York they celebrated their freedom with frequent parties in their home and practice studio, and with music videos of girls dancing through streets, on subways and in Times Square.
The band played shows at Bushwick's main DIY spaces and in Williamsburg's popular venues — plus they toured around the country, and played at this year's festival SXSW in Austin, Texas.
"They had an entourage thing going on," said Roland Torick, a friend of the band who praised the group's "upbeat" tunes and reminisced about playing shows with them. "They were a musical house."
Torick said he'd spoken with Obaash on Monday morning after the killings. He assumed the remaining band members would be taking a significant break from making music, though the band's future was not discussed.
Local musician James Watson, who co-hosted a Yellow Dogs show at the Bushwick venue NXT LVL a few years ago and attended one of their concerts last month, said he'd been blown away by the band's most recent performance.
"They were head above shoulders awesome, surprisingly good," said Watson of the show at the venue Shea Stadium just a few blocks from the band's home. "They were always really friendly dudes."
And Michael Cabrera, who hosted the Yellow Dogs at his gallery in the past and compiled a mixtape with their music, praised the members for always having "all good vibes" and "never being upset."
The members also supported their fellow musicians and held open events like a recent rooftop art party to display paintings they curated at their building.
The success the band had reached stemmed from their passion, fans said.
The members arrival in New York came after the film "No One Knows About Persian Cats" brought attention to the group in Iran's illegal underground music scene, past articles have reported.
"The law has a problem with rock music so we can't make it here," one of the members told CNN in a 2009 interview. "I know with the kind of music we make, 100 percent we'll make it."
One of their recent songs, called "This City," was dedicated to New York, their "adopted home," a past article about the group notes.
"This city is more than a city," they sing.
Trevor Kapp contributed reporting.