Sub Pop & Hardly Art
Best of 2016

Sohrab Habibion

SAVAK, Obits & Edsel

Guitarist, vocalist, more of SAVAK, Obits, more

The List

  • 1. WFMU

    Thee toppermost of the poppermost radio station on the planet. Obits got to do a few in-studio sessions over the years and in January I had the chance to record a live set there with SAVAK on the terrific Evan “Funk” Davies Show.


  • 2. Positive Force: More Than a Witness

    Robin Bell’s documentary about DC’s punk activist collective Positive Force is a nice companion to Scott Crawford’s ‘Salad Days: A Decade of Punk in Washington, DC (1980-90).’ Beyond the superb music, of which there is plenty in these films, they are an inspiring reminder of the spirit of punk rock and why many of us continue to make a racket.

  • 3. Nowruz

    It’s the Iranian New Year, which falls on the March equinox—for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, it means it’s the beginning of spring, which is always welcome. It’s a secular holiday and perfect for hanging with family, having tea and cookies and cranking up Iranian jams like this.

  • 4. Burn to Shine, Vol. 6: Atlanta, GA

    Though filmed on July 29, 2007, Brendan Canty and Christoph Green’s sixth installment of their excellent series didn’t see the light of day til April of this year. SAVAK was asked to play the NYC screening and, not only were we thrilled to participate, it was a treat to see the movie on a decent sized screen with the volume up. The whole thing is excellent, but Shannon Wright tore the dang roof off the joint.

  • 5. Kid Congo & The Pink Monkey Birds

    La Arana Es la Vida is a killer LP. Kid Congo is a whole lotta fun and the Pink Monkey Birds are the real deal. We opened for them in May and, man, if you haven’t seen them live, get on it.

  • 6. Seattle

    I only get out there once a year or so, but it’s always a blast and seeing the Sub Pop extended family is truly the cherry on top. Riding out the high of friends’ connubial celebration in June, the double header of oysters at Westward and pinball at Shorty’s confirmed how much there is to love about this town. And since that trip was in the fine company of Mr. Alexis Fleisig and my brothers in METZ, here’s a couple of their tunes I regularly get stuck in my head.

  • 7. Josh Sinton

    Rick from Obits met Josh doing the Brooklyn Rock Lottery a couple of years ago. Then we hoodwinked him into playing sax with us for a couple of shows in exchange for beer. That’s how you know a dude is solid. So, when SAVAK was recording, I contacted Josh and he kindly helped out on a few songs (along with our other saxy man, Greg “Blabbath” Vegas). Josh plays baritone sax and bass clarinet with all kinds of folks, from the Nate Wooley Quintet to Anthony Braxton’s Tri-Centric Orchestra. Here he is tearing it up with drummer Ryan Sawyer.

  • 8. Drifters Wife

    My wife and I (more of a wanderer than a drifter) spent the better part of a week in Portland, Maine in August. Lots of excellent food and drink to be had there. The beer at Oxbow was tasty and the raisin pecan rolls at the Standard Baking Co were delicious, but my favorite meal was at Drifters Wife. And if you like wine, this place is something to behold. While we were driving around Portland we listened to Devo a bunch. I never get tired of Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo! "Gut Feeling / Slap Your Mammy" is rock'n'roll perfection.

  • 9. Cocksucker Blues

    Greg Simpson and I went to BAM in late September to see Robert Frank’s candid doc about the Rolling Stones ’72 tour. For years I had a nearly unwatchable DVD of it, so seeing it big and with good sound was awesome. This film captures the band when they most epitomized the unholy trinity of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll. It’s completely riveting, occasionally horrifying, and a total delight to see how funny both Jagger and Richards are. I remember Silkworm covering “Cocksucker Blues” back when Edsel toured with them and from that I would sometimes bite the line “I know where to get my ...” I couldn’t find that online, so here’s The Crust Brothers (Silkworm + Malkmus) doing "Bitch".

  • 10. DIY touring

    When I was in Edsel we started out cold calling clubs to try to get shows. It was rough. I’ll never forget the guy from Rockafellas in Columbia, SC saying, “Give me ONE good reason to book your band.” I didn’t have one. But then we’d meet other bands when they came through DC and stay in touch and slowly a route could be carved out that was peppered with comrades and floors to sleep on.

    It works. Just like D.O.A. and Black Flag promised! We did that in parts of Europe for Obits and I still utilize the basic format to book SAVAK. We had a great tour in Europe this October thanks to friends in Prague, Berlin, Munich and Zagreb. Doing it yourself isn’t for everyone and we often joke that YDI (You Do It) is better than DIY, but I wouldn’t trade our community of friends and sympathetic spirits for anything. Here's some tunes from Ringo Starwars, a cool new band we played with in Berlin: