Today’s Feature – August 19-20: Thursday Night All Stars

August 20, 2008 at 9:21 pm (Today's Feature)

I could hit you with the “A Pontiff, a Rabbi, a nun, a Persian Ayatollah, a Friar, a Sheik and a Monk walk into a bar” joke… but I’m sure you’ve already heard it. I can tell you what’s no laughing matter though… the talent behind the Thursday Night All Stars!… well, actually, it’s sort of a joke. In a good way of course. This band of religious leaders from around the world have come together to represent the “sounds and perspectives from East and West, with music, singing, and laughter.” Led by Ayatollah Fancy (Piruz Partow) on the Persian Tar and lead vocals, TNA parodies a world of religion as a “light-hearted way of symbolizing a sense of harmony among all creeds, cultures, and sects under the fictitious ideology they call Selfishtology.”

While the music described as “Iranian jazz-rock that blends world music, jam rock, jazz, and pop” generally aims for your funny bone, it also satires some serious issues from suicide bombers to corruption in our schools. As you might imagine, the live show is pretty insane. The Rabbi of the Beat, Josh Lindy says, “We’re kind of like Spinal Tap meets Flight of the Conchords in the Middle East, or maybe even a religious Village People!” You must get to a show if you can… but if you can’t, you can find Thursday Night All Stars webisodes on both YouTube and MySpace. Get into the XXQ’s to learn more about how TNA “has done a good job of offending no one by offending everyone!”

XXQs: Thursday Night All Stars.

Interview with: Ayatollah Fancy (Piruz Partow) � Persian Tar and lead vocals Rabbi of the Beat (Josh Lindy) � electric bass (PEV): With such a large cast of characters, tell us about how you first jumped into becoming musicians and forming The Thursday Night All Stars.

Ayatollah: Been working in NYC as a side musician and wanted to do something completely unique and also incorporate the Persian Tar. It has been an arduous, but fun process molding the bands aural identity. It seems that we really have made change a constant.

PEV: With such a large variety of personalities there has to be a varied taste in music – what kind of music where you listening to growing up?

Ayatollah: Growing up – Michael Jackson, U2, Smiths, Cure, Dead, Phish, Zepplin, Mohammad Reza Shajarian, Claude Debussy.

Rabbi: Guns N’ Roses, Talking Heads, Rush.

PEV: Tell us about your creative process as a band. What kind of environment do you have to be in to write music?

Ayatollah: A dark basement with no natural sun light….where we rehearse in Brooklyn.

PEV: You are described as an “Iranian jazz-rock band with a revolving line-up that blends world music, jam rock, jazz, and pop music all in one entertaining show, complete with comedy, costumes and a bit of satire thrown in.” What can fans expect from a live The Thursday Night All Stars performance?

Ayatollah: A creative musical endeavor intended to entertain, and shake rear-ends with some occasional amp feedback.

PEV: Tell us about your first performance as a band. How have you changed since that first show to where you are now?

Ayatollah: The first real gig was at Mo’ Pitkins House of Satisfaction in the East Village of NYC. Our shows are never the same. Each show has had variety and has always been different every time since our first gig; not always by design as we seem to be a band plagued with drama.

PEV: What can fans expect from your latest release?

Ayatollah: Since we are much more of a live performance-oriented band, one can expect studio versions of our live music.

PEV: How is this album different from your past projects?

Ayatolla: This is our first recording effort on which I played all instruments except drums (played by drummer/engineer Scott Veenstra.)

PEV: Why The Thursday Night All Stars? No weekends?

Ayatollah: My original intention was to create a Muslim rock band, but in the end I couldn’t reconcile with some of the values and discipline of practicing Islam. I liked the more real view of peace-loving Muslims around the world getting down on a Thursday night, but in the end it wasn’t me. So I thought it would be honest, easier, entertaining and more fun to have a band that’s starting their own religion that pays tribute to the world’s religions, and at the same time I could practice and sing about my own more convenient set of values such as partying and having a good time.

I like how I once heard that Sayed’s (or descendants of Mohammad) reach a higher enlightenment when praying on Thursday night. I don’t know why I thought it was cool enough to keep, but our band motto is “When we play, Every night is Thursday Night!” meaning that we would like to reach a higher self-enlightenment every night we play music�including weekends!

PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about the members of The Thursday Night All Stars?

The Fancy Ayatollah was the Rabbi of the Beat’s R.A. (Resident Advisor) in college.

PEV: Was there a certain point in your life when you knew that music was going to be a career for you?

Ayatollah: Taking a summer science class and escaping out of the back door of the lab one day to go to the adjacent music building. I sat in on a class discussing the Bill Evans trio. It floored me to think of the possibility of dealing with such subject matters in great depth and on a daily basis.

PEV: What one word best describes The Thursday Night All Stars?

Ayatollah: Selfish

PEV: How is life on the road for you? Best and worst parts?

Ayatollah: I would have to say that the best part of life on the road is meeting the fans after the shows. It has been so great to hear people say: “I’ve never seen anything like you guys and I definitely enjoyed it.”

The worst part of life on the road is having to lug heavy gear up flights of stairs and not having a proper mirror to adjust my turban.

PEV: In all your travels, which has been your favorite city to play (US or International)?

Ayatollah: I would have to say that New York is my favorite city to play in. You get a mixture of the best people from around the world. They are all psyched and ready to play along with our act.

PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your success?

Ayatollah: Shhhh! My mother still doesn’t know about the Fancy Ayatollah.

PEV: What can the members of The Thursday Night All Stars doing in your spare time, aside from playing/writing music?

Ayatollah: I am String Department Chair at the Brooklyn School of Music and like to watch football. Go Eagles. The Monk of Funk is starting college this fall and the Rabbi of the Beat is an Attorney. The Pontiff of the Piano is a working magician!

PEV: Which artist would be your dream collaboration?

Ayatollah: Persian Tar player Farhang Sharif would be huge. Would love to see someone like him play the tar with a rhythm section like ours. I would love to play with fellow Philadelphia area bassist Christian McBride. His playing has been a huge influence on me.

PEV: Is there an up and coming band or artist you think we should all be looking out for?

Ayatolla: French guitarist Stephane Wrebml, Iranian-American vocalist named Haale, jam band called Turbine from NYC.

PEV: Poking fun at politics and social norms, have you ever had any harsh feedback in public? Mainly for the people that “don’t get it”.

Ayatolla: I think we have done a good job of offending no one by offending everyone!

PEV: Ten years down the road, where will The Thursday Night All Stars be?

Ayatolla: In our respective heavens.

PEV: So, what is next for The Thursday Night All Stars?

Ayatolla: Stay tuned for all new TNA webisodes on YouTube and Myspace!

For more information on The Thursday Night All Stars, check out


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