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BETZEFER (AVITAL TAMIR/ MATAN COHEN)

IN THE PAST YEAR THINGS STARTED HAPPENING PRETTY FABULOUSLY QUICK. DO YOU SOMETIMES HAVE TO PINCH YOURSELVES TO PROVE THAT YOU’RE NOT DREAMING? Matan: Well, you know, we’ve been waiting for like seven years. We’ve been working for seven years and waiting for this moment. So, no, we don’t need to pinch ourselves. We know this is real, this is what we wanted, and this is what we waited for. Avital: We’ve kind of like been preparing ourselves for this, and this was always like on top of our wish-list: signing with Roadrunner, exactly what’s going on right now. And we just kind of like felt prepared already for this to happen when all of this was started taking place. So, this is really cool right now. YOU WENT TO EUROPE LAST YEAR TO RECORD THE ALBUM. AND FROM WHAT I UNDERSTOOD IT WAS A CO-INCIDENCE THAT YOU GOT THE SLOT ON THE FEAR FACTORY TOUR. Matan: Actually, we only had one show with them. And it happened like two days in advance they wanted a support act, and the promoter from the club knew that we were recording our album. So he contacted us two days ahead. We weren’t really ready for it but we were really prepared, you know. So it was cool. And then after the show we met with one of the Roadrunner representatives who was there and watched our show. That’s how this whole thing got started. SO IT MORE OR LESS WAS A VERY LUCKY CO-INCIDENCE. AND YOU DIDN’T HAVE A DEAL AT THE TIME YOU CAME TO EUROPE, RIGHT? Avital: Well, we did happen to be in the right place at the right time. We knew the right people. Yeah, it all got like sorted out like real quick two days prior to the show. Yeah. ONE COULD TELL THAT YOU WERE REALLY SERIOUS ABOUT THE BAND AT THE TIME YOU CAME TO EUROPE. ESPECIALLY SINCE YOU DIDN’T HAVE A DEAL AT THE TIME. AND I CAN ONLY IMAGINE, THAT THE COSTS MUST HAVE BEEN ENORMOUSLY HIGH. WHERE DID YOU TAKE THE MONEY FROM? HAVE YOU BEEN SAVING MONEY FOR THE PAST SEVEN YEARS? Matan: Well, we’ve been saving it for the past, I guess, a year and a half before we went to record it. And also, you know, we have a pretty big fan base in Israel. So we kind of made some money out of the band’s activities in the last couple of years as well. So, we just put a lot of money aside. And when we felt ready to do this we just booked the flights and booked the studio and recorded the album. IN 1998 YOU STARTED OUT AS A HIGH SCHOOL COVER-BAND. AND THEN IT TURNED INTO A REAL BAND – OF COURSE – BECAUSE OTHERWISE YOU WOULDN’T BE SITTING HERE. WHEN DID YOU REALIZE THERE WAS MORE TO IT THAN JUST A FEW COVER-GIGS? TO BE A BIT MORE METAPHORIC: WHEN DID THE MAGIC UNFOLD? Avital: Just from the beginning we had a really good time playing together. So, that’s why it just kept on rolling, cause I guess we kind of sucked for the first three or four years. So, yeah, what kept it going is that we’re best friends, and we enjoy playing music, and especially live shows together more than anything else in the world. And all of us are extremely dedicated to the band, and everyone just gives a hundred percent, whatever, personal sacrifices he has to make for the band to work. So, that’s why it all keeps happening. BUT THE STYLE OF MUSIC WAS DIFFERENT WHEN YOU FIRST STARTED. I READ THAT YOU WERE INTO “NU METAL”. HAVE YOU BEEN USING SCRATCHING AND SAMPLES AND ALL THAT? (both of them shaking their heads in unison) Matan: I don’t think we ever played “Nu metal” exactly. It’s the same people, same equipment, same everything, same tuning. It was just a bit less aggressive than the music is right now. And it was maybe even more groovy than it’s now and less up-tempo. But, you know, we started out as a rock band and we just kind of evolved and got like a few years back to the style that we felt is right, and how we wanted always BETZEFER to sound like. And so we just kept going on the same way. Avital: We went through several stations in the way we sound, but we never had like a DJ or like emo-singing or whatever in our music, so… Matan: It’s not that we set new standards every time. It’s the way the band evolved. SO IT WAS OBVIOUSLY JUST A TERM THE MEDIA CAME UP WITH IN LACK OF A BETTER WORD? SPEAKING OF TERMS… DESCRIPTIONS OF YOUR MUSIC RANGE FROM “NU THRASH METAL” TO “METALCORE” TO “NEO THRASH”, ALL THESE BOXES… IN WHICH TRADITION DO YOU SEE YOURSELVES? Avital: I think in the past decade metal broke up into so many sub-genres, as you just said. And every band is just trying to find their own spot right now, and saying: “I’m playing super-multi-grindcore-emo-bla!”, and we’re like: “Yeah, we’re a rock band and this is what we like!” Like straight-forward in-your-face rock music, like simple tunes that people can relate to, a good guitar-solo every now and then. That’s what it’s all about. YOUR ROOTS ARE QUITE EASY TO IDENTIFY. FOR EXAMPLE IN THE TITLE-TRACK “DOWN LOW” YOU CAME UP WITH THE MOST AUDACIOUS SLAYER REFERENCE I’VE HEARD IN YEARS. A LINE EVEN SAYS: “REIGN IN BLOOD IS THE BEST DAMN FUCKING ALBUM EVER!” Avital: It is! DON’T YOU THINK IT’S A BIT CHEEKY TO PICK THE TITLE-TRACK AND CRAM IT UP WITH SUCH MASSIVE SLAYER INFLUENCES? Matan: We didn’t mean for this song to be the title-track, you know? But, you know, we really like SLAYER and we were listening to “Reign in blood” like constantly when we were writing this album and when we were recording it as well. So, it just felt right to pay some respect to some of the other bands that have been working for so many years and being so successful. This is our way to pay our respect, you know. SO YOU GAVE THEM SOME PROPS LIKE PEOPLE FROM THE HIP HOP COMMUNITY WOULD DO, HUH? (both of them laugh) Matan: Yes, something like that. Why not? Yeah, exactly. BUT ISN’T IT SOMETIMES ANNOYING WHEN YOU’RE GETTING ALL THE COMPARISONS WITH OTHER FAMOUS BANDS SUCH AS SLAYER, SEPULTURA, PANTERA OR MACHINE HEAD? I THINK THIS IS JUST ABOUT TO START WHEN PEOPLE FIND OUT ABOUT YOUR MUSIC… Avital: So, obviously it’s only just positive references, and yeah, we’re happy with it. I mean, people who come to me like ten times a day, interviewers like yourself, and go like: “So, you’re the new PANTERA!” And I’m like: “Whoa… well, we’re not PANTERA, man, but thanks!” You know, it’s cool! IT’S A VERY CHARMING REFERENCE, BUT I WOULDN’T EXACTLY CALL YOU “THE NEW PANTERA”. I COULD HEAR A BIT OF DIMEBAG-RIFFIING, BUT THE ALBUM HAS MORE TO OFFER THAN JUST RIPPED-OFF PANTERA RIFFS. THE KERRY KING-RIFFING IS OBVIOUS AS WELL IN SOME PLACES… LOVE IT! BUT HAVE YOU EVER GOTTEN ANY CRITICAL PRESS BECAUSE OF THAT FROM ANYBODY? Matan: No, we didn’t get any negative press at all until now, you know. Everyone has been really fucking cool, and everyone has been positive, and we got some really good feed-backs on the album as well. So, up until now everything has been positive, you know. YOU HAVEN’T GIVEN ANY INTERVIEWS BEFOREHAND THE RELEASE, THE WEBSITE IS SHUT DOWN AND IT’S HARD TO FIND ANY INFORMATION ABOUT THE BAND. WHAT WAS THE REASON FOR YOU TO DO THAT? Matan: We shut down the website ourselves, cause when we started looking for a new label, we figured out we don’t want to show all of the history of the band with everything. We just put online the things that were happening with the band right now, which was the “Down Low” video, and another track from the album we just recorded. And you know, like a photo. So we didn’t want people to see all the fucking boring history of the band, you know. We just want the people to see what’s going on with the band right now these days. Avital: The reason we stayed in Israel up until now and only recorded EPs and not a full-length is that we didn’t feel ready for the whole world to be exposed to us right now. But then it came to a certain point, where we just knew we have to make this album, and when it was ready, that we need to like drop the old design. Let people from all over the world experience BETZEFER as like – not as something new – because we do have our history. And of course, if fans will dig into the net just a bit, they can find our old stuff. But yeah, that’s like, we only want people to know what’s going on with the band right now, which is what’s really important. IT’S KIND OF EVIDENT THAT YOU’RE NOT ONLY ROOTED IN METAL MUSIC, THAT YOU OBVIOUSLY MUST HAVE LISTENED TO A LOT OF BLUES AND ROCK’N ROLL. CAN YOU REMEMBER THE INITIAL ROCK’ N ROLL RECORD THAT TURNED YOU ON TO THIS KIND OF MUSIC? Avital: I can tell you that AEROSMITH and AC/DC are spinning quite a lot in our apartment, and well… lots of stuff. I mean, I practically like grew up on BLACK SABBATH and the older stuff like that. And when I was learning guitar, my guitar teacher all he taught me was the blues. So, we’re deeply oriented in that. Plus, I guess we all come from like very different backgrounds musically. I mean, as kids everyone kind of used to listen to totally different stuff. I mean, there is the common stuff between the four of us which are obvious, like PANTERA and SEPULTURA and stuff like that. But some of the guys used to listen to lots of punk, and others didn’t. So there is a lot of variety. Matan: I think we kind of influenced ourselves. Cause I remember when I started playing with those guys, you know, I always liked bands like Metallica and stuff like that. But I didn’t really play it or listened to it at home. And when I met Avital and the drummer, Roey, they were playing METALLICA and BLACK SABBATH non stop, like all the time. So, naturally, I started playing METALLICA as well, and I really got into it. It’s always like that: someone comes with a new CD, that he just heard, and he just plays it to the rest of the guys, we usually get into each other’s bands, you know. THE SINGLE “FUCKING ROCK’N ROLL” HAS THIS REALLY CATCHY VIBE, IT JUST MAKES YOU MOVE – WHETHER YOU WANT IT OR NOT! DO YOU REMEMBER THE SITUATION AND THE MOOD YOU WERE IN WHEN YOU WROTE THAT PARTICULAR SONG? TO ME IT BRINGS TO MIND THE PICTURE OF A WILD PARTY – FIVE GUYS IN A ROOM GOING NUTS… Avital: I think, suddenly there was this change of mood when we all re-discovered AC/DC and our old AEROSMITH records and stuff like that, and I was like: “Yeah! So, in the end of the chorus I’m gonna scream: “Fucking Rock’n Roll! This is gonna be so cool!”" And everyone was really into it, and yeah… so, that was what kind of what’s going on back then. AND YOU CAN SENSE THAT THERE WAS A CHANGE. IT’S DIFFERENT TO THE OTHER SONGS. Matan: Yeah, we felt that as well, when we were writing the song. It felt different from all the other songs. But, you know, we felt it sums everything up, like, you know, that period of time. AS I UNDERSTOOD IT, YOU GUYS GREW UP TOGETHER IN A SUBURBIAN AREA. HOW LONG DO YOU EACH OTHER? Matan: Well, me, Avital and Roey, the three founding members of the band, we’ve been knowing each other for over seven years, I guess. But we’ve been playing and being best friends and real close since the last seven years now. You know, we’re kind of into the same stuff, and we go out to the same places, and we play a lot together, and we go to Europe together. And we live together now – so, we’re kind of all the time, you know, stuck in each other’s asses. WHEN YOU LIVE WITH EACH OTHER, I IMAGINE IT CAN’T BE ALL THAT “SUNSHINY” ALL THE TIME. HAVE YOU EVER GOTTEN INTO A FISTFIGHT WHEN LIVING TOGETHER? Avital: Well, no fistfights. But I guess, for a band, if a band moves in together, then pretty much you can get an idea of whether this is gonna work or not. Because we’ve been living together for two years now, and as he said, we go to the same places, we go to the same clubs, we share the same friends. So, basically it’s like we’re living as a band almost all the time. For a period of time we also worked in the same building, so we pulled car-rides every morning to the same place. So, yeah, I wish for everyone in the world to have friends like I have. It’s really great to get along that well. WOULD YOU SAY IT TURNED INTO A FAMILY THING THEN? DOESN’T SOUND LIKE YOUR USUAL FRIENDSHIP OR A RELATION-SHIP BETWEEN BAND-MATES… IT IS YOUR FAMILY. CAN I PUT IT THAT WAY? Matan: Yeah, you know, I hang out with these guys a lot more than I hang with my girl-friend or my parents or anyone else in the world. So, even if we fight a lot it’s normal, you know. Avital: We’re the REAL girl-friend! RIGHT, I JUST WANTED TO SAY… SOUNDS AS IF A GIRL IS GOING OUT WITH YOU, SHE DOESN’T GET THE ONE MAN, SHE RATHER GETS THE WHOLE PACKAGE… Matan: Nah, it’s not like that, you know. I have my sacred time with her, you know – on the week-ends, and stuff like that. But, yeah, well… I hope she doesn’t hear this interview! (everybody laughs) I’VE SURFED THE INTERNET A BIT BEFORE THIS INTERVIEW, AND I REALIZED THAT THERE ARE A LOT OF METAL BANDS IN ISRAEL – MORE THAN YOU WOULD EVER THINK! WHAT ABOUT THE SCENE THERE: COMPETITION OR COMMUNITY? Matan: There is a strong sense of community, and everyone is trying to help you, you know. Everyone knows everyone, and there is a lot of friendship inside the community or scene, or whatever. It’s different than any other scene, you know, when you’re from Europe or something like that, cause in Israel the scene is really…. it’s not affected by any other scenes, you know. In German all of the scenes are kind of the same mood and the same atmosphere, every place got it’s own thing. But people travel a lot, and go from German to Holland. You can go by car to anywhere in Europe. And in Israel they are just surrounded by like three or four countries that hate your guts, and you got nowhere to move, you know. So, everyone is pretty much together, you know, in-… Avital: (interrupts) I wouldn’t say “hate your guts”, but you can’t cross any border with a car. So, it’s really isolated culturally and physically. So the scene really has it’s own, like unique feeling to it, and it’s really more of a community as he said. THE BOTH OF YOU ARE ALSO STILL ENGAGED WITH THE BAND NAIL WITHIN. I MEAN… ARE YOU OR HAS THAT BAND BROKEN UP? (Avital and Matan look at each other) Matan: It never broke up. You know, we just stopped rehearsing, I guess. Because at the time, we got to a point where the line-up was always changing with NAIL WITHIN. And in the end it was me, Avital and Rotem playing in a band. And, you know, we had two bands, and it was kind of conflict of interest. So, at some point we just stopped rehearsing. You know, it just happened. We never broke up, we never said: “This is our last rehearsal!” We just played one show, did a few more rehearsals, and that’s it, you know. We just kept on going full-speed with BETZEFER. Avital: We had to like keep all of our energies for BETZEFER. So, it worked out best that way. Matan: It was always clear to everyone in both bands that BETZEFER is always like top priority without any compromises or anything like that. But still, we tried to maintain the other band as well, cause it was really fun. You know, we did it strictly for the fun. It was like five guys coming back to the rehearsal room like once or twice a week, and really kicking it off. So we just kept playing – until we stopped. MAKES SENSE! BECAUSE IF YOU START GOING THROUGH THE ROOF WITH BETZEFER, THERE WILL BE ABSOLUTELY NO TIME FOR A SECOND BAND. SO, IT’S BETZEFER A HUNDRED PERCENT AND NO SIDE-PROJECTS IN THE FUTURE? Avital: No, currently no. We’re so busy with it right now. And I guess, we only started. I didn’t start Nail Within, but I joined at a point of time where all of us kind of had like free time on our hands, and there was more room for creating more stuff. It’s like, back at the day I could use like another place to express myself or whatever, but I think all four of us are like so satisfied with the band, with BETZEFER right now, and from everything that is going on with the band, and so there really is no room in our lives right now for side-projects. No. ISRAEL IS A REALLY SMALL COUNTRY WITH LIKE THREE OR FOUR MAJOR CITIES. HOW DO YOU PUT A TOUR TOGETHER? Matan: No one puts a tour in Israel. There is no metal band that can tour in Israel. You know, you got Tel Aviv, which basically, if you play only in Tel Aviv, people who want to hear from all over the country will drive there. Sometimes we play smaller shows in other major cities like Jerusalem or Haifa. But, you know, you got always less people coming in those places. But you never tour, you know. You can never tour Israel. And there is not one band in Israel that tours – cause you can’t! But that’s, I guess, what makes it different from Israel comparing to European bands, you know, stage experience. Cause in Europe you just need a van and some hands and you can go and start booking your own shows. But in Israel it’s much more difficult, and it’s also harder to book shows, you know. HOW ABOUT EUROPEAN OR AMERICAN BANDS COMING TO ISRAEL? I GUESS NOT EVERY BAND IS WILLING TO TAKE THE STRESS AND TOUR THE EAST. USUALLY THEY BOOK TOURS IN EUROPE AND THE WESTERN COUNTRIES, AND IF YOU’RE LUCKY YOU GO TO JAPAN, WHERE THE REST OF THE WORLD IS LIKE DESERT – TOURING-WISE. DO YOU GET ANY BANDS? Avital: Well, we get not that many obviously. But when we do have bands from abroad who come to play in Israel we always get great reactions, because the crowd is really, really great over there. Like crazy, crazy metal heads. And, well, there is a great festival happening every year in the summer, and this year we have MEGADETH coming to play, and DISSECTION are coming over. So, it keeps growing every year, the festival – well, this is the first year where we have like a really, really big band from America coming to play. So, that’s cool. And hopefully… well, things are looking up , cause the situation always keeps like looking brighter and brighter in terms of what bands are gonna come and play. So, it’s cool. Matan: There is a great hunger for bands for that reason, you know. Cause in a good year we get like three metal acts from outside of Israel. So, it doesn’t matter which band it is, that is gonna come, they are always gonna get tons of people and everyone is gonna be fucking crazy. Cause everyone is waiting for this moment for a few months or a year. I think there was a period of like two or three years, where we didn’t have any big metal act from outside of Israel at all. But right now it’s really flourishing, you know, that all the metal scene in Israel and the state with bands outside of Israel. Avital: I guess, like if any medium-sized European band can pull like, I don’t know, 50 people to a show in here, then probably they pull like eight or nine hundred people in Israel anyways. Matan: Yeah, like when a band announced that it will come to Israel, everyone in the scene goes to the net and downloads their music anyways. Just to get another band. And if it’s cool, you know, everyone will come to the show, just to get a glimpse of how the music scene is outside of Israel. Avital: So, they will come and sing all the lyrics, and they’ll be a crazy-ass show. SOUNDS LIKE THE PERFECT DREAM FOR ANY TOURING BAND… WHY DON’T BANDS COME MORE OFTEN TO ISRAEL? IS IT HARD THAT HARD TO GET INTO THE COUNTRY BECAUSE OF THE IMMIGRATION PROCEDURES? (both of them go: “No, no, no, no, no,no…….!”) Avital: It’s really, really easy actually. Well, prices of flight-tickets, and stuff are so cheap because almost nobody comes. But I guess, most bands are afraid. Matan: We just need to get some more interest from bands, you know. The bands itself should be more interested in coming. But a lot of people have no idea what’s going on in Israel. They think you have military on the streets and bombs going off every day. And, you know, except for some days which are really fucking crazy in Israel, most of the time it’s really… it’s normal, like every other place in Europe or America, you know. It’s not that different. HOW DO WE HAVE TO IMAGINE LIFE AS A LONG-HAIRED – OR IN YOUR CASE DREAD-LOCKED – METAL HEAD IN ISRAEL? DO PEOPLE LOOK AT YOU IN A NEGATIVE WAY OR IS IT THE SAME AS HERE, THAT THEY JUST STARE WHEN YOU LOOK DIFFERENT? HOW ABOUT THE SOCIAL ACCEPTANCE THERE? DOES ANYBODY GIVE YOU DIRTY LOOKS? Avital: Well, yeah. But when living in Tel Aviv, I mean, Tel Aviv is so modern and open-minded that it really isn’t that different from Cologne we’re in right now, or any other like major city for that matter. So, living in Tel Aviv? No! And Tel Aviv is always like the capital for any sub-culture or whatever. For metal heads, for gay community, for whatever. Cause Tel Aviv is really open-minded. So, it’s cool. IN THE SONG “RUNNING AGAINST” YOU’RE BASHING TREND-HOPPERS AND POSERS. ARE YOU ADDRESSING ANYONE IN PARTICULAR? Matan: Uhm, no. It’s just, you know, some bands we ran into while playing some gigs in Israel. Well, it’s about a specific band in Israel. A band that we played with, and, I guess, they were really fucking patronizing assholes. They were all rock stars and stuff like that, but not really, you know. They were just acting that way, and it was really fucking weird. So this is my way to not smash their head open, but to express myself in the other way, you know. Avital: Positive the negative! Matan: Yeah. Positive the negative. Exactly. YOU SEEM TO BE SUCH NICE GUYS WITH NICE AND OPEN SMILES! MOST OF THE LYRICS DEAL WITH ANGER. WHERE DO YOU FIND THE ANGER? Avital: I don’t think living in today’s world you really have to look hard to get a bit pissed off. You just need to open your eyes. I mean, cause corruption is everywhere, and hypocrisy is everywhere. And, well, that’s most of the stuff I write about. I mean, basically all of the lyrics they just have a really strong, positive message of like: “Stay true to yourself, and don’t fall into social standards, and believe in yourself!” Just like positive stuff like that. But they all come from a point of awakening. Of, like, suddenly realizing the sorts of crap that’s going on in today’s society. So… Matan: You know, we’re not negative persons. Well, as you could see we’re really positive persons, but everyone has some negative experience and some fucked up shit. And, you know, when that stuff happens, we just take all of our aggressive and all of our negative energy into our live show, and our music, you know. This is the music we love, and this is a great way to get all of this stuff out, you know. Avital: So, it’s like: “Don’t piss me off, or I’ll write a song about you!” (Matan chuckles) You know? Because we’re not gonna bash anyone’s head open. But, yeah, we can write some pretty nasty songs. Matan: And a lot of people are gonna hear it – so be careful! Avital: Cause we’re signed to Roadrunner now… AND IT IS KIND OF A STUPID QUESTION. I REMEMBER I ASKED SOMETHING LIKE THAT DAVE MUSTAINE A FEW YEARS AGO, WHERE HE GETS THE AGGRESSION FOR HIS LYRICS FROM. AND HE SAID: “MEGADETH MUSIC IS NOT ABOUT FLOWERS AND PUPPY-LOVE. SO WHAT DO YOU EXPECT?!” AND I HAD TO ADMIT THAT HE HAD A POINT! Avital: I saw George Fisher saying it once on a CANNIBAL CORPSE DVD. He was like: “This is angry music! So the lyrics are gonna be angry, and we’re not gonna sing about rolling around in the grass with our girl-friends!”, or wives, or whatever. Cool guy! HE’S GOT A POINT AS WELL! Avital: Yeah, he’s one of the kings of rock ‘n roll. George “Corpsegrinder” Fischer! REALLY?! YOU’RE INTO CANNIBAL CORPSE? (both of them nod) BECAUSE I DIDN’T HEAR THAT MANY CANNIBAL CORPSE INFLUENCES ON THE RECORD… Avital: Well, we hear it quite often! (chuckles) Matan: Every time a new album comes out we just straight go to the record stores, get it, and rock to it for, like, a few weeks at least. Avital: It doesn’t leave the CD-player – CANNIBAL CORPSE! Matan: I’ve seen them live like two years ago, and, you know… blown away! Completely blown away! Awesome! WELL, NO BLAST-BEATS ON THE BETZEFER-CD… COMPARED TO CANNIBAL CORPSE YOUR MUSIC IS QUITE DANCEABLE. UHM… CAN I SAY DANCEABLE, OR WOULD THAT BE AN INSULT TO YOU? YOU HAVE THIS BLUESY, ROCK’N ROLL FEEL WHICH I MENTIONED BEFORE… DO YOU FEEL THE SAME ABOUT YOUR MUSIC? Matan: Well, you know, we like the fact that you can dance to our music. Everyone can groove to it. And in our shows, you know, the big shows in Israel, you can get like a thousand people grooving with their head, and it’s really fucking cool. You know, this is the point where the music feels the best. Abital: Yeah, I mean, I had lots of points in the show, there is a big circle-pit, and it’s really cool. But as he said, like the really cool parts of the show is, when you get like thousands of people, like, banging with their heads simultaneously to the same groove. And that feels, like, phenomenal! Matan: When the chorus comes in, everyone, you know, never can help themselves. Anyone just keeps grooving, you know, every time. THIS MUSIC IS DESTINED FOR FESTIVALS. I COULD SEE THAT AS WELL – A PIT OF A FEW THOUSAND PEOPLE MOVING AND GROOVING. ARE THERE ANY FESTIVALS PLANNED FOR THIS YEAR? Matan: So far we only have one festival which is the “Metal Camp” in Slovenia. So, we are gonna share the stage with some of our favourite bands, you know, like SOULFLY, and SLAYER (Avital: “Slaaaayerrrrr.::!”) . and stuff like that, you know. A lot of great bands are coming this year, and this is the first time we play an open air, I think, festival. So, it’s gotta be great. YOU HAVEN’T PLAYED ONE OPEN AIR, YET?! Matan: No. Avital: We’ve played festivals in Israel of like 2500 people tops, but never open air, no. I THINK YOU’LL FREAK WHEN YOU EXPERIENCE THE SENSATION OF PLAYING IN FRONT OF 20.000 PEOPLE THAT ARE MOVING. IS THAT SOMETHING THAT SCARES YOU SOMETIMES, WHEN YOU IMAGINE THE OPPORTUNITIES AND POSSIBILITIES YOU HAVE, NOW THAT YOU’RE SIGNED TO ROADRUNNER? Avital: Nah, I don’t think we’ll freak. I mean, every time we got to play on such a big stage, like, we’ve never been to before, it always felt better than any other show we ever did. Cause we love playing in front of lots and lots of people and on big, big stages. It’s what we love best, and we always give a good show, like, on a big stage. Matan: The bigger the show, the better the show, you know. The bigger the stage, the better the show. Avital: I mean, we do like small club shows sometimes in Israel for 50, 100, 150 people, and it’s always cool, as long as there is a show, then everyone has a good time. And we’ll always give like a 110%, but, yeah. Nothing’s like big venues. THERE IS THIS SAYING, THAT SIZE DOESN’T MATTER – BUT THAT’S A LIE, LET EM TELL YOU..:! APPLIES TO FESTIVALS AS WELL… (JOURNALIST LAUGHS WHILE AVITAL AND MATAN OBVIOUSLY DO NOT THINK THAT JOKE IS FUNNY…) DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE SONG ON “DOWN LOW”? Matan: I really like “Down Low”, you know. It’s the song which I like to play best. It’s also very easy to play, and it’s real simple, and I like those songs, the simple ones. They always come better than all the more complicated stufff. Avital: I think, for me the first track, the opening track “Early grave”, especially live, every time it comes, like, totally a new blast of energy through the band and in the crowd, and you can really feel it. Usually we would play it like in the late… one of the few last songs, if not the last song of the set. And suddenly all over again, like, tons of energy, like, as if it’s the beginning of the show, all over again. So, really cool! Matan: I think, it’s also the favourite song for the Fear Factory guys. THE LYRICS DEAL WITH EVERYDAY LIFE AND ANGER. YOU CHOSE TO LEAVE OUT CERTAIN SUBJECTS, INCLUDING RELIGION. BUT THE NAME OF GOD APPEARS TWICE IN THE LYRICS, WRITTEN IN CAPITALS. I WONDERED WHY YOU CHOSE TO PUT HIS NAME IN THERE, WHEN THE LYRICS ITSELF, DON’T DEAL WITH RELIGION? Avital: Well, I am not, I guess… No religious person or anyone who considers himself religious would call me religious. Because I go by my own. And I know I am a spiritual person, and I usually try not to refer to whatever a God or, I don’t know, anyone would just call it differently. Some people would just call it luck, and someone would just call it myth or, I don’t know, but it’s…, I guess, it’s something universal. I mean, it does exist, and if you just open your eyes a little bit you can feel it. And I guess everyone can relate to it, so I don’t really want to get into any specific religious symbols, or whatever. Because that would be like, making myself not accessible for lots of people. And I want to keep it universal, because… well, I am universal. I mean, I never fall into, like, specific religions or whatever. I am interested in all of them as a unit, so… ARE THERE ANY SUBJECTS YOU WOULDN’T WRITE ABOUT? ANY TABOOS? EXCEPT FOR FLOWERS AND PUPPY-LOVE MAYBE… Matan: Politics! Avital: It’s not taboo. Well, not because it’s taboo, but because we’re not political people. I mean, we live together as we told you already. And, well, we don’t have a TV in our house, and none of us read the daily news, cause…. Well, we’re trying to stay detached from this so-called reality that the media forces the people to believe in. And I guess, well, we’re not living in our own, like, small bubbles. We kind of stay, we stay connected to what’s going on in our land, I guess, maybe even better than most people, cause we’re not being brain-washed all the time. And, well, it bother us, the political situation and stuff, but we can’t live by it, cause that would totally be a mistake. I STUMBLED OVER THE LINE “SHUT UP, AND STAY CLOSE!” IN THE SONG “RUNNING AGAINST”. IS THERE A SITUATION THAT LINE REFERS TO? Matan: I was referring to… You’re asking about that particular line what it means? Well, uhm… ONLY IF IT HAS A MEANING. IF IT DOESN’T HAVE ONE, PLEASE DON’T MAKE ONE UP! Matan: It does. Because like I was saying, it refers to a specific band we played with, and I guess, this line means just, you know, just: “Shut up! But still stay close to see how we are gonna rise above you!” You know, and all this stuff. Cause right now you are acting like you are something special and shit, but you’re not, you know. None is. This is just: “Stay close!”, and… Avital: We’ll show you how it’s done! Matan: Yeah! And I guess, we achieved that pretty well right now…

Recorded in Cologne, Hotel Chelsea, april 29th 2005

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