Time is Fire will be performing at Galaxy Hut on Monday. (Tony Hitchcock)

There are only four songs on Time Is Fire’s debut EP, which was released in November, but they seem to come from a dozen places. The D.C. quartet, which plays Monday at Galaxy Hut in Arlington, melds American rock, funk and punk with reggae, Middle Eastern music and styles from both East and West Africa.

“This is a band of people who came up playing punk rock, but who also all know the ‘Éthiopiques’ series,” says guitarist Matthew Perrone, referring to a French label’s influential compilations of Ethiopian pop, jazz and traditional music.

Time Is Fire began about two years ago with Perrone, formerly of Alma Tropicalia, and drummer Jim Thomson, who had played with Gwar and Alter Natives in Richmond and the CSC Funk Band in New York. The two jammed with various percussionists, one of whom was Kamyar Arsani, who spontaneously became the vocalist.

Bassist Ashish Vyas was the last member to join, but he was there when Arsani first stepped to the microphone. “To be a frontperson, to be a singer, has nothing to do with how great of a singer you are,” Vyas says. “Or how good-looking you are. There’s that chutzpah, that juice. And he has it. So when I saw him do that within the context of the four of us, I was like, ‘Yo, we’re done. This is the band.’ ”

Vyas, who is of Indian descent, arrived in Washington from San Diego a decade ago, when Arsani was still in his native Tehran. Arsani and his family left during the frustrated Green Movement in 2009. “I lived under the regime of mullahs for 20 years, and that was enough to know where I stand with them,” he says. “And to know where we separate.”

Arsani writes the lyrics for the group-written songs, taking inspiration from the rhythmic music of the Sufis, Islamic mystics whose ranks include “whirling dervishes.” But he was also a fan of Western rock who remembers that Nirvana’s “Nevermind” had “the same protest energy that I heard on the streets.”

“Obviously I grew up on punk, and at a certain point I graduated to Afrobeat,” Perrone says. “Sort of putting up the antenna and listening to different sounds. It’s interesting to realize he was doing the same thing on the other side of the world.”

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Brazil’s arty and eclectic 1960s pop was the model for Perrone’s previous band. Thomson is one of Washington’s leading exponents of African, Latin and Middle Eastern music, which he books at such venues as Tropicalia and Bossa Bistro and releases on his label, Electric Cowbell (home to Time Is Fire as well). Vyas also plays with Thievery Corporation, whose myriad influences include Jamaican, Brazilian and Indian styles.

“I think that’s why we call it music from a country that doesn’t exist,” Arsani says of Time Is Fire’s style. “Because we come from different locations and backgrounds. We connect so many things that were not supposed to be mixed up.”

The group’s punk aspect draws from the off-kilter verve and left-of-center politics of such bands as the Minutemen, Gang of Four and the Pop Group, as well as D.C.’s hard-core legacy. The quartet’s EP was co-produced by Fugazi drummer Brendan Canty, who Thomson says “always has great ideas.”

Arsani credits some of the group’s intensity to the atmosphere of his adopted home town. “I’m from Tehran, the capital of Iran, a city I thought was tense — before I came to D.C.,” he says as the others laugh. “I come here and people are going down this fast-paced highway in their head. Every day.”

“We wouldn’t have met, probably, in another city,” he adds.

Another source of energy is that the band is intergenerational, with members who range from 27 to 50. “It’s not like the old days of rock-and-roll, where it’s a bunch of 17-year-olds, and we all have the same m.o.,” Vyas notes. “Where we’re coming from is the same background. It’s just different generations. And that is what makes this band powerful.”

One thing that unites the four musicians is a shared regard for the Velvet Underground and the late Lou Reed, its principal singer and songwriter. Thomson calls them “sort of an eternal fountain of inspiration.”

Arsani remembers listening to Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side” as Iranian police fired on demonstrators and finding it “the perfect soundtrack for that moment, in my mind.” And the band took its name from a poem by Delmore Schwartz, one of Reed’s professors and a poetry mentor.

“Time is the fire in which we burn,” Thomson recites.

“Then we started fighting about it,” interjects Arsani. “And it became Time Is Fire. No ‘the.’ ”

It almost sounds as if dropping that three-letter word was harder than bringing these four diverse musicians together.

If you go

Time Is Fire

With Martin Bisi and Tidal Channel on Monday at Galaxy Hut, 2711 Wilson Blvd., Arlington. Show starts at 9 p.m. 703-525-8646. galaxyhut.com. $5.