AMASEFFER "Free At Last"

Interview by Dark Starr

 Amaseffer is a band from the land of Israel . It’s not exactly the first place that comes to mind when you think of strongholds of rock music. That’s just one of the paradoxes of this band. Another is the fact that their debut disc is one of the most mature and complete works I’ve heard in a while. The sound is hard to describe and runs the gamut from modern progressive rock to metal and even soundtrack type music. Well, however you describe the music I had the chance to pose some questions to Amaseffer’s main man Erez Yohanan about the musical history of the group and a lot more.

WORMWOOD CHRONICLES: Can you catch the readers up a bit on your musical history?

EREZ YOHANAN: We have no musical history! For all three of us it is the first album we ever released. On the other hand, we have a lot of experience playing live and playing with bands in the past. Basically, in the past four years we are totally dedicated to Amaseffer and not playing in other projects.

WC: I know artists are not crazy about having their music pigeon-holed, but how would you describe your sound?

EY: Our sound is a melting pot of cultures, a fusion between East meeting West, rock meeting Philharmonic and movie soundtrack meeting theater. The concept is a biblical one and in order for us to capture the spirit of the time ,we thought to combine them all together.

WC: Who do you see as musical influences?

EY: To be honest, NONE! When we sIt down on writing sessions the first rule is: "block out and forget all you know of!", this is our motto in the band. Yes, we do listen to Jazz, classical, rock, pop, metal, Arabic and so on but no chance we will bring this to the table when we work. We start with clean sheets and just switch to "Amaseffer Mode" and we found that this way we write the purest music from the deepest corner of our soul and at the end of the day when we listen to what we have created, it is for us a true moment of achievement.

WC: Where did the name for the band come from?

EY: Amaseffer is the phonetic translation for the Hebrew word: "Am-Haseffer", which means, People of the Book. It is an ancient name given for the Israelites in the Bible, refering to them as people that follow the holy book. We chose this name because of the concept we're dealing with, the ancient atmosphere that we have in our music and we wanted a name the will symbolize who we really are and what we are all about. This name is a direct link to to what we stand for in Amaseffer-the band.

WC: What’s ahead for you?

EY: Soon we set the dates for the pre-production of chapter two of the trilogy, hoping to release it next year.

WC: Are there musicians you’d like to play with in the future?

EY: So many of them, it would be unfair to name only a few but if I really need to , I would say Geddy Lee of RUSH, STING, Klaus Badelt.

WC: You guys are from Israel. With all the strife in that part of the world, it seems like it would have to have had an effect on your music. How do you think it’s shaped your artistic vision?

EY: I would say that it had no effect at all. We are not into politics and we write music coming from the deepest corner of our soul. We don't want to "contaminate" it with political views for we are not a political kind of band.

WC: How do you see the prospect of Israeli/Palestinian peace?

EY: If our leaders would give up their ego then we would see some progress in our region. It is the core problem. Please forgive me for not going into details on this for as I said, we are not into politics.

WC: Why did you decide to base the whole album on parts of the Bible – or since I’m guessing you are Jewish, (and the books are Old Testament ones) I should say the Torah?

EY: I'm a strong believer and it was obvious that when I'm ready to start working on a concept album, it would be a Bible based story. I wanted to take the biggest story in the Bible. I wanted to make an epic and one need an epic story in order to do it, so this was the ultimate story...the main event, as I used to call it.

WC: Do you think that downloading of music is a help or hindrance to the careers of musicians? It’s been said by the major labels that it’s essentially the heart of all the problems they are having in terms of lower sales – would you agree?

EY: I think that once you download an album and you like the band, then you should go and buy the album! So many bands today it would be impossible to obtain even a small fraction of it if you are not super rich.

WC: In a related question, how do you feel about fans recording shows and trading them?

EY: It's illegal, period!!!

WC: If you were a superhero, what musical artist would be your arch nemesis?

EY: The one who bows before Satan.

WC: These next three we tend to ask of everyone. The first two sort of showcase musician as music fan. First, what was the last CD you bought, or what have you been listening to lately?

EY: I bought the new album from Riverside – "Rapid Eye Movement".I also listen to two Spanish artists named Vicente Amigo and Diego el Cigala... those two are at my top list at the moment.

WC: What about the last concert you attended for your enjoyment?

EY: A show of an Israeli band named Distorted. They just released their new album and it is a great one.

WC: Now, this one some love, some hate. Feel free to not answer if you don’t care to. What has been your biggest Spinal Tap moment?

EY: I will answer it no problem, it's a refreshing question from all serious interviews !

I went to my friends house,needing to go so bad to the bathroom, I got into his house pulling my pants down even before I got in, I barged inside the bathroom only to find that his girlfriend is standing there plucking her eye brows. That was funny and embarrassing at the same time, me standing there with my pants down watching her watching me. I was lucky for it was a very good friend of mine and I knew his girlfriend for a long time so we all just laugh about it.

WC: Finally, are there any closing thoughts you’d like to get out there?

EY: Thank you for your kind words and support, God bless you all!