While it can feel like a fictionalized account at times, Abbas Kiarostami’s breathtaking 1990 masterpiece film Close Up follows the real life court case of Hossain Sabzian. One fateful afternoon after sitting next to him on a bus a young mother asked Sabzian where he got his copy of the novelization of Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s local mega hit The Cyclist, to which Sabzian claims to have written the novel himself, offering it to the woman for free. Sabzian is able to convince first the woman and later her whole family that he is in fact legendary director Makmalbaf, imparting the wisdom he imagines Makmalbaf would on the family. Sabzian ultimately finds himself in a several months long standoff with the woman’s family, inviting himself into their home under the guise of making a movie after being overtaken by the opportunity of getting to live the life of his hero Makhmalbaf for even a few hours a day. When the family realizes they’ve been duped, they immediately press charges, realizing that Sabzian had neither the equipment or even the faintest idea about how to go about making a movie. And yet, thanks to Sabzian’s sheer love of cinema, and his deep desire to walk the shoes his hero Makmalbaf walked, Kiarostami finds Sabzian and a movie about this bizarre court case is made. Sabzian and the family give dramatic recreations of their meeting, clearly seeing the movie being made as an extension of their court case. Thanks to his deep passion for cinema and a dedication to his art even in the face of criminal impersonation charges, Sabzian became the star of arguably the most influential Iranian movie of all time, faking it until he made it, immortalized in movie history.
It’s similarly easy to imagine that Eric Reyes, front-person and songwriter behind Snow Ellet, thought they were faking it till they made it while writing the Suburban Indie Rock Star EP. After playing every type of indie rock music under the sun, Reyes found himself gravitating to the pop rock stylings you’d find on old Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater soundtracks. He had been a supporting member in a hundred other bands and decided it was high time they became the indie rock star that had always been living in their heart. Reyes started Snow Ellet so he could play the kind of music he wanted to listen to himself, writing tongue in cheek tracks about indie stardom from his bedroom. The EP’s lyrics are filled with self-deprecating barbs consistent with any era of emo with a sound that effectively splits the difference between the American Pie pop punk of the 90s and the modern day lofi bedroom emo scene. With just five songs Eric Reyes went from someone making fun of himself for seeking seemingly unachievable indie rock success to someone who Pitchfork music was heralding as a torch bearer of their genre. Like Sabzian becoming the film maker he always was in his heart, Eric Reyes became the Suburban Indie Rock Star he always knew himself to be.
This is of course not to say Snow Ellet has been complacent with their recent successes, as the group is in fact capitalizing on their momentum with a deluxe re-release of Suburban Indie Rock Star, fit with two new singles, the first of which was released today. On “wine on the carpet” Reyes lets us know that the new found success has done anything but get to his head. We find Reyes somewhere between the Chicago bedroom where he wrote these tracks and the indie rock stardom he so seeks, opening the song setting the scene, “Yea I play in a bar band, it’s kinda funny and sad. I’m just as broke as the bar back is. Him and I have our differences.” Reyes nonchalantly spins a story about playing in the bar and the people he sings songs about in a way that strangely reminded me of an emo take on Billy Joel’s “Scene’s in an Italian Restaurant”, where instead of getting the crowd in a raucous fervor like Billy Joel, Reyes and the girl he’s been singing to the whole time head back to his place to sprawl out at his new apartment and drink wine on the carpet. For someone who professes not to spend too much time on lyrics, Reyes sure does seem to have a knack for finding an unforgettable turn of phrase, as every line feels like something you can imagine an arena full of fans screaming back to the band. “wine on the carpet” is consistent with the best of Snow Ellet’s output thus far, with experimental touches that point to growth around the corner.
While Eric Reyes and Hossain Sabzian could not be more different as artists or people, I learned the same lesson from both. You might as well articulate your dreams, even if you don’t believe them at the time, you never know the universe you might be setting into motion. There will be one more single before the Suburban Indie Rock Star EP is re-released on August 13th, see if you can’t become the person you’ve been dreaming of becoming in the meantime.