SHADOW REBELS (for Rock Hard Magazine #31)

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Hromovlad zahrkal metalovými kockami v kostenom pohári a šmaril ich na stôl s mapou sveta. Biele kocky strašidelne zachrastili a pristáli v Izraeli, odkiaľ pochádza skvelá skupina SHADOW REBELS. Predstavte si, že sme si s tieňovými rebelmi sadli k jednej partičke hry a popri tom si nezáväzne pohovorili o progresívnom rocku, novom albume, domovine... prípadne len tak, poprevracali niektoré zaujímavé stránky života.
Na otázky mi odpovedal hlavný rebel, charizmatický spevák a basgitarista Michael Rosenfeld, postupne sa pridali bubeník Stalik Istaharov a gitarista Rustam Safaraliev.

Interview was prepared by Erik Nádudvari (Rock Hard Magazine #31)rock hard magazine 31

1) SHADOW REBELS, a rock band from Israel. I never heard about you, guys. Can you please introduce yourself?
Michael: This is in fact the 2nd reincarnation of the band. The project has started in 2004 as a guitarless trio (on purpose). We’ve released a demo and then a full album, played a few gigs and festivals, but after 4.5 years this line-up has disbanded. 4 years later I decided to recreate the trio but this time with a guitar and I’ve assembled a new line-up. So essentially we are a new band.

2) The new album was named “Oversleep Hurricane”. What is hidden behind this name? Is there a link among the songs making the album conceptual or every song lives its own story?
Michael: It wasn’t planned as a concept album, but the mood and the atmosphere is definitely shared across the entire album. It’s feeling of an approaching disaster, despair and simply fear… and a strong desire to sleep through this storm. We live in a crazy time: wars, so much bloodshed, and natural cataclysms… Everyone would think that the end of the world is upon us. Many songs are written from a first person perspective. The hero of these songs is rarely a superman. This is a normal man with his fears and shortcomings, such as lack of will and selfishness, drug addiction… But there is a light in the dark as well. It comes through towards the second half of the album. There’s desire to become one with nature and songs of eternal power of love. Thus even amongst total despair there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel.

3) According to the web site, Shura Petrenko (guitar player and composer) wrote a lot of material for the new album. Shura dwells in Kiev (Ukraine) and you guys in Israel. How did you cooperate together for such a long distance? (I know, the Internet, but anyway.)
Michael: I’d like to emphasize that S. Petrenko nevertheless is not an official band member, but I have played together with Shura Petrenko about 20 years ago in a Ukrainian band Nepenthes.
Many of the songs that our band plays today have been written by us together back then. Unfortunately in that time there was no internet and no other means of making it big. Nowadays it’s significantly easier. At the same time I visit my friends in Kiev frequently. I visit almost every year and of course Shura and I get together, work on the ideas and songs, I record these on my laptop and bring it back to Israel. All the rest  are just technical details.

4) How was the work going on in studio and where the new stuff has been recorded?  In general, do you enjoy working in studio?
Michael: Studio is an interesting story. We took the rhythm guitar parts that Petrenko has recorded (to keep the author’s signature playing as authentic as possible) and started recording the other instruments, as it is usually done into a computer. And here when 70% of the album is ready, we realized it began to sound the same as many other alternative bands nowadays: compressed, cold, dead… And we said –Enough! Grunge has to be recorded like 20 years ago – on an analog tape! And we started everything from scratch. The only resource that we converted to analog tape was the guitar parts by Shura Petrenko. Everything else… for me it was pure sweet nostalgia. I do remember what’s an analog recording is. Juicy dynamic sound… It’s beyond compare…
Stalik: For me it was amazing to dive into the studio atmosphere for a few weeks. Especially for analog recording. It was a very interesting and useful experience. It’s the first time when I tried what it truly was. The most wonderful is that we almost didn’t have to do anything with the drums sound. Imagine, we didn’t even have to compress it. The tape did everything.
Rustam: Frankly, until now, I have never recorded om a serious studio and of course I worried quite a bit. Also before the second recording session I've injured my hand and my thoughts were focused only on that. Eventually, if it wasn't for the rhythm parts by Shura Petrenko, it would be really tough for me. But now I've overcome that and played out pretty well and the next album we'll write ourselves. Of course I have to say that analog recording is an amazing experience. I strongly advise it to every musician: no cuts, no copy-paste. Just play what you can and you will hear exactly that in the end and no computer will play this for you the same way.

5) I´d like to know a bit about the cover artwork. Who brought it into live, when, how...?
Michael: The idea for the cover art came to my mind after a bit of thinking. I wondered: who can sleep through a hurricane? Only the most sinless and pure being - a baby or an angel. And then the picture by Giovanni Battista Caracciolo "Sleeping Cupid" of the 17th century caught my eye and I "framed" it, slightly tilting it  on the wall, like it went through an hurricane. A colleague of mine (Dima Grossman) from the music instruments store  where I work helped me bring the idea to life and he made the cover art for the front page of the booklet. I hope we won't get blamed for child pornography (laughing). Our label Metalscrap-records took The lion's share of the following work of designing the booklet, for this I'm eternally grateful.

6) Rustam comes from Azerbaidjan and Stalik comes from Uzbekistan. Guys, this is a unique occasion to spend a few words of local rock scenes in both countries.  How are things going in rock or metal in Azerbaidjan and Uzbekistan?
Rustam: I'm sure that in both countries there's plenty of metal bands, however I know nothing about them. When I was 4, my family moved to Russia, and a few years later to Isreal, so...
Stalik: It's completely the same for me. I remember almost nothing about the life THERE. All the music that I listened to, was already in Israel. I only remember seeing a cd with my father's recording which was published in USSR by his band "Gruppa IKS" (Band X).

shadow rebels band 27) It´s not easy to classify your music as it is rich for other elements. However, how much are you influenced by ethnic music and culture from your homelands?
Michael: Music has no limits. You are influenced much farther than only by the ethnic music of the country you are living in. While living in Ukraine I very much enjoyed listening to Azerbaijani pianist and singer Aziza Mustapha Zadeh, the great Indian sitar player Ravi Shankar and many others. However also Ukrainian folk songs / lyrics make my heart beat in a special rhythm. Most important that we understand: any music, that has national, ethnic roots, will always find a response in people. This way Earth's energy returns to people.

8) Michael is a multi-instrumentalist, playing violin, sitar, etc.  That is really amazing. Is there any musical instrument he would like to learn? (… and still doesn´t? :)
Michael: (laughing) I, you can say, collect musical instruments. The only type of instruments that are playing hard to get for me are the winds, with the exception of the harmonica. But frankly, I wish I'd learned to play really well on the instruments I've already mastered and won't forget the skills that I've lost through the years of irregular practice... I don't like to practice a lot. I always take it with a swoop.

9) The “Little girl big heart” song (and others) has a very intimate atmosphere. What role play feelings, emotions and atmosphere in your music?
Michael: Undoubtedly, emotions, personal experiences is most important. No one will believe you if you'll sing about something that you hadn't lived through, if you will not put up your personal emotions into your music. And this is true not only for lyric songs...
Rustam: If you speak of personal experience, then songs like "You don't feel good" and "Deepest gloom" they very much resonate to what I've experienced myself. I've spent several years on the very bottom of a drug addiction. Today I'm not ashamed to talk about it. If it wasn't for the music, we wouldn't be speaking now... This is the only thing that brought me back to life...

10) When playing gigs, do you prefer small audience in small room to big one? Do you play exclusively acoustic?
Michael: Small venues are the only stages where we could shine up to now. However we would definitely won't say no to playing a set on a stadium. Although, in my opinion in a small pub every note you play will be more vivid and more noticeable, every error as well though. Nevertheless an intimate atmosphere allows you to communicate with people on a more personal level. On a big scale concert, the most important is not to shit your pants from fear (every band member is laughing)… Acoustic concert - that's a dream for us and we have accumulated a lot of material especially for such an occasion.

11) Can you please unveil a bit of your plans for the future?
Michael: This question is a natural continuation of the previous one. In our nearest plans - we'd like  to assemble all the songs from our repertoire which can played as an acoustic, add a few more of such songs if need be, bring a violin quartet, a keyboard player and a back vocalist and have a grand "unplugged" concert, record it live and on video as well. I think it would be awesome!.. Of course we'd like to record a video clip for our new song and get onto a festival in Europe, one that would suit our style of music.

12) Whatever you would like to say to our readers, please, you are welcome.
Michael: I'd like to address all fans of rock music and young bands our there playing pubs and local festivals - you are the real Rock! The future of music is only for that which is free from cliché and stereotypes. Discover new horizons and never stop dreaming! Remember - only yesterday what was considered "alternative" today is the "mainstream".
Stalik: Keep On Rocking!
Rustam: Good Luck!


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