Orphaned Land interview (04/2004)

With: Matti Swatizki [Guitars]
Conducted by: Jeff
Published: 12.04.2004

Band profile:

Orphaned Land

- First, can you introduce Orphaned Land in a few words.

Hi all, this is Matti, OL's guitarist, how are things? I hope everything rocks.
Orphaned land is a progressive metal band which has middle-eastern ethnical influences in its music. We have 3 formal albums so far: "Sahara" (1994), "El Norra Alila" (1996) and our latest album which was released on February 2004: "MABOOL - The story of the 3 sons of 7". Our current line up is: Kobi Farhi - vocalist, Eden Rabin - Keyboards, Yossi Saharon - Guitars and oriental instruments, Uri Zilcha - Bass, and myself, Matti Svatizky - Guitar. Nice to meet you. J

- About your last release "Mabool", can you explain the concept behind the album?

The album has a concept story behind it, which is the story of a big flood coming upon the earth in order to destroy it. 3 brothers foresee this, and try to save people from being wiped away, unsuccessfully. They build an ark and save themselves. The album tales their tale, from its beginning to its end. Each song reflects on another aspect of the concept story. I guess that the album is in many ways "spiritual". It is influenced by the bible's flood story, and it carries a lot of spiritual messages about life and human nature in general.

Mabool, the new Masterpiece of the band...

- Do you have any tour scheduled yet? Tour dates, tour and so forth?

Nothing is concrete at the moment, but there are some talks about having a few shows abroad. We will finally update everyone regarding our future plans, both on our website and on our internet forums.

- The band took a long break before the writing of "Mabool". What were the reasons?

The break we took was 7 years long. After we released "El Norra Alila" we kind of had some personal problems, we were very young and never expected to reach where we have got to. We never split; we just vanished from the ground, hoping to someday return to the scene. We took other career opportunities, went traveling, and explored other musical territories than metal. I guess we all needed a long break, and I'm glad we took it.

- How come did you signed with a major label [Century Media]? What are the advantages and drawbacks you already perceived?

It is a natural thing to grow if the circumstances allow you to. Our old label, Holy records, has always been good to us and treated us fine, but we knew that if we will be given the opportunity and some better deal will appear than we will take it. Century Media's deal wasn't the only deal we got at the time, we also got deals from Nuclear Blast and Metal Blade, but have decided to sign with Century Media, mainly because that their bands have always sounded more close to our genre, we believed that CM would give us the most. We weren't wrong by, by the way. Century Media is a super professional label and we do not have complains about them, they are doing an excellent job.

- Tell us more about the release party of "Mabool". It was a big night, wasn't it?

The release party of "MABOOL" was a show that we had in "theater club" in Tel Aviv, shortly after the album was released here. The place was full (about 1000 people inside) and many have stayed outside because it was "sold out" (we will have other shows here soon, and everyone will get the chance to see us). It was a hell of a show; we played songs from all our albums, including "MABOOL". We had a computer on stage, which played all the oriental instruments that were not able to be played live, and also some of the choir parts, etc. We also had a live percussionist, Shlomit, our lovely female vocalist had also sung her parts live, and we also had some special guests from local bands that sang with us few of our songs. (Miri from Distorted and Avital from Betzefer). It was good, the crowd was on fire, we enjoyed it much!

Matti Swatizki

- How about that "Transformers" cover? Do you plan to record that one on a CD?

How do you know about that already? J This cover was made because the show was on an Israeli holiday called "Purim". It is a holiday in which everybody dresses in funny costumes (kind of like Halloween, but not so creepy), and get very drunk! We thought that it would be a nice gesture for our audience, and we also thought it will be cool to break a little bit the "Doom" image we have. The crowd took it very well; they understood the joke right away, even though many of them are not old enough to remember the transformers. (Autobots, transform!J)

- Bands from Israel are getting more and more famous but also recognized due to their innovative approach of music, such as this oriental sound, which makes Orphaned Land so special. What are your views on nowadays Metal scene in Israel and in the Middle-East in general?

I think that the metal scene in Israel is in a very good shape these last few years. It is in much better shape than it was, let's say, 5 years ago. We don't really know what happens in the scenes in other Middle Eastern countries, though I understand that there are scenes there also, and that there are many OL fans there.
It is very difficult for an Israeli band to penetrate the European and American market. The scene here is very small and not so profitable, and it makes it for an average band almost impossible to survive. We try to innovate all the time, to be original and to bring fresh air into the scene because we know that this way people may take more interest in what we do. Mixing oriental lines and instruments inside metal has always been our special weapon, but we also wouldn't be doing it if we were not 100% in touch with this genre and love it.

- Shlomit, the beautiful female voice on "Mabool", is credited as a guest singer. Is there any plan to make her part of Orphaned Land as a regular member?

Shlomit is a great vocalist and also a great person, but besides that, she is also a 2nd degree university student for psychology. She lives now in the far "Be'er Sheva" in the south, and her school is very demanding. It is just not possible for her to become a member, since working with us also has some costs, naturally. For the moment she sings with us as a hired professional, maybe her status will change in the future, but for now the mutual decision is for things to remain this way.

The beautiful female voices of Orphaned Land

- Talking about guests, "Mabool" was recorded with a guest drummer. Do you have a new full-time drummer now? If so, could you introduce him in a few words?

Right now we still work with Avi Diamond, the drummer which appears on "MABOOL". He is not our full time drummer, mainly because he has other project on the line that he wouldn't be able to hold because of the work with us. However, he is just the best drummer we could find. He is intelligent and he sounds very good, plying the drums is everything he does in life. So for now the work is with him, we have a few gigs planned for the future and he is also a part of them. But if we will have news regarding this subject, we will announce it immediately.

- You've made a splendid cover of Paradise Lost's 'Mercy' on the mini live album included with some releases of "Mabool". Are they in your influences or was it a one time pick?

The cover for Paradise Lost's "Mercy" was first featured on a Paradise Lost tribute album that our former label, Holy Records, have produced. This album is called: "As we die for Paradise Lost" and it features all the bands that were signed for Holy records at the time, playing Paradise Lost covers. Of course that Paradise Lost is an influence for us. I think that this band is one of the most noticeable bands in our scene. Their music has always been very inspiring. This band is one of the former fathers of death metal and doom metal. I am really short in words in order to describe my appreciation towards this band, and what it meant to me in certain times, and still means to me today.
We were asked to do a cover for a song from the "One Second" album, and we picked "Mercy". We changed the song a lot, we transformed it, you could say, but you can still hear that it is a cover, we never changed it completely, you can hear the original song inside.

- What are the bands that you respect a lot today? And what are the ones you find boring? And by the way, what are your main influences?

There are many influences to Orphaned Land. Each one of us listens to other genres, and besides metal there are many other genres that we like. We could listen to anything as long as it is good and interesting. It could be metal, rock, prog rock, Jazz, Electronic music, Ethnical music, etc. There are many artists in all these genres and it will be pointless to start and naming them all. You asked what we find boring… I think that music can't really be boring. I think that it all depends on your mood. The only time that I get bored from something is only after I have heard it 10,000 times and get bored of hearing it again and again.

Kobi Farhi

- Are the problems in your home country, Israel, part of your inspiration?

I guess that when a region suffers such political shocks, and when there are such violent reactions from all sides, it is hard not to be effected from it. I don't think that it inspires us, though. Our lyrical messages are not to be taken specifically to what happens in the Middle East, they are much more global, and reflect on anyone, anytime, anywhere. We also try not to take Israel's gloomy reality into our music. We try not to think of it at all while we are working, as a matter of fact.

- What do you think about this division line that the prime minister wants to impose throughout the country?

Politics is one of my slowest subjects, I must warn you. I don't really know much about this shit, and I guess that the more I would get into it, the less I will understand. I believe that the persons who want to build the fence are not evil - I know some of them personally. I think that they just want some peace of mind for themselves, and that they think that this way they will be able to get it. Personally, I believe that the problem has other solutions, but it doesn't matter what I think since this is a democratic country and the majority will decide what the right moves will be.
Soon the crisis will be over, I prey that we will not have the need for any fences, and that we will all start acting like the brothers that we are.

- I think Orphaned Land's website is reflecting the band multicultural approach of music, appealing to fans worldwide, since you are proposing several languages to view your information. Which languages do you speak apart from English and are there languages you want to include in your singing in the future?

I speak only English and Hebrew, and so do the other band members. We know a few words in other languages as well, but we don't speak other languages fluently. I don't really think that we have plans of which exact languages will we use on our future albums, and even if I knew, I wouldn't ruin the surprise. I guess that we will all just have to wait and see in which direction the wind will take us next.

Orphaned Land on stage

- Well, feel free to say something to your fans!

Thank you everyone, for supporting us and for taking interest in our music, we are glad that you enjoy. Have fun, you can check out our site, http://www.orphaned-land.com , in order to get all the crucial updates. The storm still rages…

- Thanks so much for you time and good luck with your excellent new album. Your last word is?

Thank you man! PEACE


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