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The Orions interview

Most surf bands sound the same.  But there’s something special about The Orions, something that prevents them from simply retreading ground and forces them in a sometimes experimental but always enjoyable creative space a million miles away from the competition.  Drawing inspiration from the surf revival lends a unique sound to the already original combination of instrumental surf and some serious noise-punk input!  Their debut EP cassette tape Fresh And Clean on Burger Records sold out almost instantly with little to no other state-side exposure prove The Orions a force to be reckoned with in their own right.  I recently had a chance to talk shop with them about new recordings, upcoming tours and just how The Orions got started and couldn’t pass it up…

Where is the band located?

The band is located in Tel Aviv, actually inside the same building on Zvulun Street.  David, Guy and Ezra are roommates and Itai lives downstairs from them.

What is the music scene like there?  Are you very involved with that local scene?  Has it played a large role in The Orions music?

We all come from the small and humble punk scene.  We all used to play, some of us still do, in punk rock/hardcore/grindcore-bands, and I think that's where we took our energy and attitude from.  The work hard and do it yourself approach of it all; the willingness to play a show ANYWHERE.  Besides that there's a growing surf/garage scene happening with new bands forming, each with their own unique take on its sound and songwriting, which makes everything more interesting.  The crowd is still small but hopefully people will get what we're about soon enough, come over to shows and shake it!  Also, David and Ezra own a venue which is dedicated to underground and independent music called Koro, where we all used to hang out together when it was under other names and managements.

What’s the band’s lineup?

David Miretski and Itai Alzaradel are playing as a guitar duo, Guy Offenbach is on drums and Idan Ezra is on Bass.

How did you all meet?  When and why did you start The Orions?

David and Itai have been best friends since they were kids growing up in a little town next to Haifa.  Naturally they found about out Punk Rock together and formed bands with their friends.  One of those bands was Gaz Mazgun.  A band very much influenced by what The Astroglides were doing for a while, combining hardcore punk/Crossover with surf music.  After about a year the band broke up and David had two songs which were shelved.  The Idea of forming a surf band had been in our minds for a long time but we both were busy with our hardcore band Brutal Assault, along with other projects.  It was only in late 2010 that we managed to gather our friend Guy Offenbach to play drums and Mondo Gecko's Alon Ziv to play bass.  We started with the two songs that David had already written and went from there.  In March 2012 Idan Ezra from grindcore sensation Dirk Diggler took over the bass position and here we are!

You released your debut EP, the Always Clean and Fresh cassette on Burger Records late in 2012.  How did you get involved with Burger Records?

Itai:  I have been following Burger Records since my friend came back from one of his trips to USA with a copy of Fever B's The Lonely Sailor Sessions 12'', which melted my heart.  Since then I found out they're responsible for releases from bands that I love along with tons of new exciting acts I’ve found through their website.  I actually sent Sean (Bohrman) an E-mail and he responded a few days late.  We were all psyched to have a release on this amazing label.  We still are.

Can you tell us a little about the recording of the EP?  What equipment was used and where it was recorded at?

Itai:  We recorded the album as a part of a friend's school project.  He studies sound engineering at one of the biggest studios in Israel and for his first project he wanted to record us.  It was a digital recording.  We used two combo guitar amps, a Tubeworks and Fender Deluxe and a Messa-Boogie bass amp.  The drums were recorded in a booth while the guitars were recorded in a large room that actually serves as the classroom as well.  The guitars used were a Dipinto Galaxy IX and a 1960's vintage Hagstrom II, the bass was a 1990's Japanese Fender Precision Lite.

Was recording a pleasurable experience for you guys?  It drives a lot of people up the wall when it comes time to get in the studio and lay some tracks down.

Studio time is one of our favorite times!  Being in a studio with your good friends and turning what you’ve written into recorded music is always exciting for us.  Although we're not too familiar with all the technical details we really enjoy the atmosphere and the satisfied feeling you get when you lock yourself in a studio to make an album.

Are there any plans for a follow up to the EP this year?  Why release the album on cassette tape and not CD or vinyl?  Cassettes seem to be making an inexplicable comeback in the music scene the last two years and I’m always curious to ask people why they choose to use various methods of musical distribution.

Well, that's what Burger Records offered and we just weren't in the mood to say no to Burger.  We do still intend to release the Always Fresh And Clean EP on 7'' through Itai's new label 'Kuskus Records' though.  We also have another upcoming 7” release, a split with another local band called Haxxan, and then we'll see what's next.
And cassettes are one of our personal favorite mediums.  They have their own unique sound and warmth, they even look better than a CD does on the shelf.

Where can our readers get a copy of the cassette tape from?

Apparently, the tape is SOLD OUT on Burger, so they will have to wait until the 7'' version comes out in the next few months.  In the meantime though, you can stream or purchase the entire EP on our Bandcamp page!

It seems like garage and surf music are making pretty big comebacks all across the globe.  Would you agree with that or do you think it’s just that they are receiving a little more exposure these days?

We think one thing leads to another.  Better surf/garage bands are forming so more people are taking actions like operating labels and acting as distributors so the music gets more exposure which leads to more people around the world getting exposed to and influenced by this music, resulting in even more bands forming.  When we started we were the only surf band around.  Now we are now cooperating with another surf band, RPS Surfers.  In the past year more and more bands have started playing in the underground scene and hopefully more and more will follow.  Another explanation could be the fact that there are a lot more people in the mainstream music industry that are using surf and garage elements in their sound which creates a kind of exposure for that genre and its sound.  A really good example would be Death Grips using a sample of Link Wray's 'Rumble' on first mixtape.

You guys are pretty dead ahead surf but you incorporate some really nice psychedelic and noise/punk influences, can you tell me who some of those musical influences are?

Itai:  I'm influenced much by OC area old school hardcore punk bands like Agent Orange, Adolescents, and D.I., along with 60's psychedelic garage acts such as the 13th Floor Elevators, Electric Prunes, The Seeds, Chocolate Watchband etc.  Surf wise I'm more into the surf revival of the nineties rather than classic traditional surf, mostly bands like Man or Astroman?, The Apemen, The Ghastly Ones etc.  Oh and Sabbath!!!

David:  I'm more into Classic 60's surf/garage acts, but when I actually write a song I try to imagine the vibe and sounds of a techno rave.  And Sabbath!!!

Ezra:  I come from a Grindcore/Stoner/Psychedelic background.  I'm really into that vintage, lo-fi sound equipment and production.  And Sabbath!!!

Guy:  I'm into Powerviolence and a little bit of doo-wop, which makes me want to blast my drum kit every fucking hit.  And The Bananas!!!

What do you have planned as far as touring goes this year so far?  Any chance we will see you in the US?

We sure hope to get to the US soon but for now we're planning a Europe tour this coming September.  We'll see how that goes but yeah, the US is definitely on our minds.

I know you’ve played some great events and shows.  Who are some of your favorite people you’ve played with?

That's a tough one!  We’ve played with many excellent local acts.  Our personal favorites were Sigfried and Roid-Rage, Not On Tour, the RPS Surfers and Hot Summer. 

Do you have any funny stories about crazy stuff that’s happened at a live gig you’d like to share?

The funniest thing we can recall was playing at the central bus station in Tel Aviv, it was one of Ezra's first shows with us and his bass malfunctioned.  So instead of finding someone who would give him another one he tried to fix an electrical malfunction all by himself.  The three of us were just standing around with our instruments on, waiting anxiously as he opened up his bass’ electronics right there!  Other occasions probably mostly concern getting shitfaced and forgetting our guitars in a foreign city.  Actually, we played recently at a local garage/surf festival.  During our set some girl, who was probably tripping on something, asked Itai if she could get on the stage and dance beside Guy.  So Guy is playing while getting a personal go-go dance performance, she also kept touching his cymbals while he was playing so Guy did his best not to hit her by accident!

Digital music has allowed me access to music that I would never have otherwise had the opportunity to listen to, but it’s rapidly changing the face of music on a global scale.  How do you feel about digital music and distribution?

Itai: I think it changed our lives forever, especially as we live in a place culturally so far away from the center of attention, at least when it comes to alternative culture.  We have older friends who can proudly talk about getting catalogs and MRR copies via snail-mail and kind of finding out about punk rock from there, but yeah, with the rise of the internet, it's so much easier to get exposed to enormous amounts of new music from all over the world.  I remember David bringing me a Mp3 CD full of Surf albums on in 11th grade, where would I be without that???

I love having a digital copy to listen to, but there is something about having a physical product to hold in my hands and look at while I listen to the music that I love.  Do you have any sort of connection to physical releases?

We all are vinyl lovers.  Itai and Ezra are heavy vinyl consumers, mostly because of reasons you’ve already mentioned.  For us, music is a complete experience, getting the needle on the record, opening the sleeve, staring at the cover, we appreciate it all!

I ask everyone that I talk to this question so please be as long or short winded as you like.  Who should our readers be listening to from your area that they might not have heard of?

Itai:  Check out Not On Tour an excellent melodic hardcore band with female vocals.  Also Mondo Gecko which is in my opinion one of the best bands in the world, thrashcore/crossover at the speed of sound!  Also a big up for my band-mate David's band Uzbeks, they’re an incredible punk rock band, which sadly, are on hiatus right now.  But you should definitely check out their Goggles and Flipflops LP and the Snaps EP, they are electrifying!! !

David:  Check out The Energy Psychtronics, Rutzi Buba, and the RPS Surfers.

Ezra:  Check out Los Kykes one of the only bands that combine garage and rock'n'roll into a really sick and macabre mix of sludgy sound and heavily intoxicated atmosphere.  And also Sigfried and Roid-Rage which is a Punk Rock band that Guy drums for. 

Guy: Check out Ezra's Dirk Diggler an awesome grindcore band.  Also Itai's Sweatshop Boys which are a power-pop, lo-fi band.  

(2012)  The Orions - Always Clean and Fresh – Burger Records – Cassette Tape (Limited to 150 Copies OOP)

Interview made by Roman Rathert/2013
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1 comment:

Kevin Rathert said...

Wonderful interview. Well done!