It actually doesn’t matter where you come from as long as you are good at what you do. Israeli PREY FOR NOTHING proves that with their new album. Interview with: Yotam ‘Defiler’ Avni (vocals). Anders Ekdahl ©2012
With a new album and decent sized label have Prey For Nothing hit the big times now?
-Not yet, no. Maybe its right around the corner, maybe it will take a few more blocks, or cities or countries. We don’t feel like big-timers – just our old self. The album is surely being distributed way more and get way more reviews, but we still waiting for the opportunity to share the stages of Europe with the big guns of the metal genre. Then, maybe, we’ll realize we’re standing on something big. But we’re still the same old metal-heads with a huge love for the old bands like Death and Testament and Sepultura, you know… nothing fancy, we still listen to new albums of new artists in the metal genre, cause we see ourselves as new artists too.
When you go from a small label like Rusty Cage to a bigger label like Massacre what’s the biggest difference?
-Well – the amount of publicity a band gets, that’s a real big difference. Now we get articles and interviews in magazine we didn’t even knew existed out there, in languages we definitely don’t speak, and that is awesome. Also – booking agents takes us more seriously – so maybe our plans to tour Europe as soon as possible we come true, sooner than later.
It took me a while to figure it out but I can’t shake how much you remind me of latter day Death. What band in your opinion have the most in common with the style you play today?
-Latter day Death. Oh, you already said that? Well… It is no secret we all cherish the work of Chuck Schuldiner. The man gave us 7 amazing albums, 4 of them were very influential on us. It’s been 10 years since Schuldiner passed away – And young metal heads that get into metal, the serious kind, just don’t get to listen to his music no more – because this band is no longer exist, not in the media or on stages and have very few live takes out there to represent their sheer power. But other than Death we are all a big fans of the classics. You know, Metallica, Megadeth, Iron Maiden. Some good old thrash metal like Testament and Annihilator and some of the Swedish Melodic Death Metal scene, especially At The Gates. Lately we’ve been adding to our music more progressive materials, since we all follow the intense career of both of the leading progressive metal bands, Symphony X and Dream Theater.
Whenever we hear something about Israel in the media it is usually connected with something band. What is everyday life like living in such a multi-cultural society that the Israeli is with people coming from almost all corners of the world united by one religion?
-It’s not as bad as it seems in the media, not for us anyway. Sure – our country is ravaged by both religious wars (militaristic and social alike) – from Jews-Muslims eternal pointless conflict to the secular-orthodox definitions and paradigms. What is it like living the Israel? Imagine living in any other western civilization’s on the shores of the Mediterranean sea (Greece, Italy, Turkey and others) – with all of our hot temper and short fuse, now mix it with some Yidish and German / Polish influence and ethics, and you got the point of view of the average Israeli. So sure, my family came from Germany 80 years ago, Iftah’s family came from Morroco or something, and I’m sure we got Polish, Russian, Bulgarian, Iraqi and Dutch in the mix. But we are all third generation here in Israel, so we can barely tell the difference now. Ethnicity is a thing of the past here, and the real hot stuff is how the Orthodox Jews of Jerusalem (not all of them, but many) insist of dragging our country back to some kind of Jewish fundamentalism. Not my political cup of tea, I must say. The main problem with Israel and the Jewish people today, in my opinion, that there is no difference between been Jewish by birth (as a nationality) and been Jewish by religion. There is no thin line. To most Jews it’s the same thing. Are you American Jew? Then you are one of us. Are you French? You still one of us. It’s not that nationality is such a big thing in a world where the European union exist, but the fact that people can choose to stop been Jewish, only live a secular live, that’s is plain wrong – and is the root of all of Israel problems. And with good reason.
What kind of metal scene do we speak of in Israel? Can we speak of an unified scene?
-Yes, more or less. Modern metal bands and death-core bands share the stage with Thrash and traditional metal bands – and this is where the big difference stands today in the politics behind the global metal scene – isn’t it? I mean, sure – we all have haters of new / old stuff – what is metal music without a little hate – but in the end of things, it’s still quite unified, and even though some metal bands try to differ themselves from the rest of this little swamp – we still love them and cherish them as brothers. We got bands from all genres. We got The Fading and Eternal Gray as fast and highly trained musicians of extreme metal, Winterhorde and Dim Aura from both sides of the black metal scene, Arafel as the leading folk metal force, Matricide and Demented Sanity as the metalcore acts, Dark Serpent and Shredhead as the thrash metal elite, and even Desert and Edgend for the more melodic metal fans.
How do the authorities view metal concerts? Is the any support for the sub-cultures in the Israeli society?
-As same as any western country I guess. We don’t get bullied by cops in concerts as we all saw in the Monsters Of Rock in Russia, 1991, with the famous Metallica and Pantera videos, but it’s not like we’re getting any governmental support for choosing a musical path. The economical crisis of 2008 didn’t hit us very hard because we got ourselves some back plans, but no rock musician in Israel in the past 10 years ever achieved commercial success enough for him to stop working in his day job and focus on music alone. None. And I’m not talking about metal musicians, I’m speaking about any kind of alternative genre, from indie to folk rock to anything. Our 2-3 main radio stations are focused on whatever come from corporate pop or middle-eastern music for the large middle-eastern music fan base we got here – but rock is almost absent completely. So the metal subculture is basically self sufficient. We promote ourselves to ourselves, we perform ourselves and to ourselves and we record our music ourselves (or by our own budget) in order that we will hear it later on. This is what makes peripheral music scenes so unique all around the world, and that thing cannot be copied outside to the wide world. DIY scene is maybe outdated when it comes to metal, but it seems to me that Israel never really left the 90’s.
Do you experience any prejudices from metal fans coming from such a small metal country as Israel? That you can’t be any good.
-We never got to tour outside of Israel, where we have a big and loving fan base, so we didn’t encounter any hate ourselves. Anything that was said on the internet was not picked by Google – so I guess we’re still all on the political correct jumping board. But I don’t think people will hate us just because we’re from Israel – mainly because we’re so not Israeli (or Jewish for that matter) in our approach and style. If they want to hate us because of who we are and not because of what we do (not mentioning what we say) – that’s their problem, not mine. Not until they’ll try to set our tour-bus on fire or something, hehehe.
With a couple of albums under your belt what is that you expect to achieve now?
-Touring Europe and festival appearances. That’s our main two goals – to reach as many possible ears who could like our music live and not just by listening to our albums, and to win the minds of those who were on the fence about us because they think our music couldn’t fit stage performance from whatever reason. After that, third album is always a charm, no ?
How much fun is it to release an album after all the work you’ve put into it? Does it ever get frustrating waiting for the album to be released?
-Yes it does! Extremely frustrating. It’s a funny story – we sent our demos to many labels, more than 60 if I recall correctly – and many of them said “Not interested” if the answered at all! I guess not many labels even care to open the envelopes that come from Israel, maybe thinking “Na, probably another Orphaned Land clone band or something”. So those efforts are always paying up when the album is released. We can’t wait to get our copies ourselves too, to see the work of Paul Gerrard (Who’ve done the last Machine Head album, right after he finished with ours) on our work for real… can’t wait till it will happen.
Does it feel like you’ve hit the jackpot and that you can die happy now or do you have any bigger and better plans for the band now?
-Can’t say that it’s the end, this is only the beginning! I know it’s the most cliché thing to say – that you should listen to the album cause we really believe it’s a piece of work. I know that everybody in any band says that. All the time, but this album was made by metal loving people to metal loving people. We all love thrash and death metal, power and progressive and this is what we imagined to be the best blend of them all together without sounding inconsistent or bland, so if people really love metal, not just one specific genre but many and most of them – this album is for you all. And as I said, it’s only the beginning.