MWE3 Archive Feature Story
conducted by Robert Silverstein for 
20th Century Guitar magazine and mwe3.com 


What Goes Around...

 MWE3.COM PRESENTS AN INTERVIEW WITH
ROCKFOUR



WHAT GOES AROUND...

an interview with ROCKFOUR


by Robert Silverstein

As a Brooklyn native who also happened to be born Jewish, I’m embarrassed to say that I can’t even speak a simple sentence in Hebrew. The great multi-lingual international Israeli band Rockfour have made several albums in Hebrew as well as several acclaimed CDs in English. Although they’re not exactly banging down the doors to see them in Iran or Syria, Rockfour have made a lasting musical connection in the U.S. The group’s broadly acclaimed 2004 pop album Nationwide made significant inroads and with 2007’s Memories Of The Never Happened Rockfour solidify their sound. The band’s two key founding members Marc Lazare (bass) and Baruch Ben Izhak (guitars) speak with Robert Silverstein of MWE3.COM and 20th Century Guitar about the unique and progressive Rockfour sound.

{The following interview with Rockfour took place by phone late in November 2007. The interview first appeared in the March 2008 issue of 20th Century Guitar magazine. MWE3.com now presents the Rockfour interview in its entirety.}


MWE3: The 2007 Rockfour CD, Memories Of The Never Happened is one of the great rock albums of the year. Is this the first one you’ve made on your new label?

Marc Lazare: This is the first one on this label. It’s the first one with Anova Records and the first one with Cooking Vinyl Records. Our other records were done with other companies and one, Nationwide was produced with Jim Diamond in Detroit too.

MWE3: Can you compare making Nationwide with the new Memories album?

ML: I would say this record is more complex. It’s more...we have given a lot of thought to every aspect. From the writing, working of the album, recording it and working on the songs, lyrics. Everything was done with a magnifying glass, if you understand what I’m saying.

MWE3: Was Memories Of The Never Happened released worldwide?

ML: It was released first in Israel on Anova and it was released in October 2007 in the States on Cooking Vinyl.

MWE3: Is this the same band from the start? You play bass and Baruch plays guitar...

ML: I play bass. Baruch plays guitar and he sings now, on lead vocals after our lead singer left the band three years ago, just after Nationwide. I think that’s also something that’s very different from the other records. I worked on it, mainly by Baruch and myself. And it’s the first time Baruch sings lead on the whole record. I mostly do the bass work and I play a little rhythm just to help out in the back. When we play live, we usually record live, and if we decide there’s a song that needs two guitars, one doing the rhythm and one doing the riff, I’ll record the bass later or first do the guitars. But I mainly play bass and the guitars are most of the time Baruch.

MWE3: What kind of guitars are you using on the Memories Of The Never Happened album?

BBI: Most of the songs, I’m playing with the Rickenbacker 12 string, the 360 model. A ‘64 reissue. And I have a 1960 Fender Jazzmaster and a vintage SG. People are always commenting on our guitars and basses.

MWE3: What were your big guitar influences growing up in Israel?

BBI: There’s a lot. Probably started with Jimmy Page and David Gilmour and Roger McGuinn. Those three. I’m more into the new guitar players...it’s not new but I really love Neil Young, the way he plays. And the guitar player from Flaming Lips.

MWE3: “Dear Truth” sounds like you’re channeling George Harrison with some slide and then there’s this wild Roger McGuinn style solo too. George Harrison must have been a big influence.

BBI: Definitely. Also, the model of that Rickenbacker I have is the same model that George Harrison used to have. Not the McGuinn one.

MWE3: How was the song writing done on Memories Of The Never Happened?

BBI: All the music, me and Marc wrote it with just guitars or Marc on keyboards or me on keyboard and two guitars, sometimes bass and guitar. Actually you can hear it on songs like “Goes Around.” I play guitar and Marc plays bass. So the bass line took the song to a different level from what we thought in the beginning. So, this is the way we write. And sometimes we have an idea what we’re going to sing about and “Goes Around” we knew from the beginning it was going to be something circling all the time. So the song had to be about something that’s circling, like the wheel of fortune, all the time. So sometimes the words had influence on the songs and sometimes the music had a great influence on the lyric.

MWE3: I also hear some mellotrons on the Memories Of The Never Happened CD. Is that keyboard player new in the band?

BBI: Yaki Gani, Jacob. He’s a keyboard player but most of the keyboards on this album, because Yaki got to the band after we almost finished the recording, so most of the keyboards are me and Marc.

ML: And a friend of ours that lived in in L.A. at the time. His name is Noa.

MWE3: Baruch, how would you compare Memories Of The Never Happened to Nationwide because Marc says it’s a little more complex.

BBI: Yeah, it’s more complex because Nationwide, when we finished our fourth or fifth in the States, what we wanted to achieve is to capture the things that we had on stage during the touring in the States. So it has to be less and less complex. If you hear Nationwide you only have one or two guitars in every song. So it’s kind of very naked songs. That’s what we liked. But this album, we actually wanted to do it more complicated, more complex, more rich with sound. We’re not saying it’s better or worse but that’s what we felt this time. I think the next album will be...I don’t know. We’ll see. But right now we have a new recording studio. Me and Marc are always in the recording studio so we never know what’s going to happen.

MWE3: What’s the scene in Israel these days?

BBI: It’s complicated. Let’s say, what you hear on the commercial radio is what you hear everywhere. A lot of American and British music but the Hebrew music is a lot of electronic music. The electronic scene is very big here. Trance music is very big. The dance scene is very big in Israel. The rock scene is not as big. Maybe in Tel Aviv.

ML: The alternative scene is very indy but it’s growing. A lot of small new bands coming out. I like looking at Tel Aviv as a little New York. A city of 24 hours.

MWE3: This record sounds very progressive in some places. An older audience into mid period Yes or Tull would appreciate it.

ML: We listened to that. We grew up on Yes too. Genesis and Rush and all that kind of music.

MWE3: What’s your audience like in Israel?

BBI: In Israel we started as a musicians band, for musicians who love to rock. That’s the way we started in Israel. But we grew up and we have a lot of young people in the audience and you have a lot of 40, 50 year old in the audience. But most of the people that come to a rock concert in Israel are very young. It’s very good for us.

MWE3: How many albums has Rockfour done over the years?

ML: All together with the Hebrew albums we’ve made ten albums. We’re now working on our next Hebrew album as well as writing material for our next English album.

MWE3: Are the English albums similar to the albums sung in Hebrew?

ML: It’s the same band so it’s hard for me to be objective but it’s probably very similar. Same writers, same performers. It’s different because it always took us longer to write records in Hebrew because of the lyrics in Hebrew. That language is not as rich as full as English. It always took us longer to find the right words and express ourselves in the best way. In English it’s surprisingly easier for us.

MWE3: Are you coming back to tour in New York?

ML: We’re planning to come the beginning of next year sometime because we’re probably going to go to South by Southwest again, around March.

MWE3: Is there any interest in your music in the Arab countries surrounding Israel?

BBI: If we got an invitation, we’d probably go but I don’t think those countries will allow us to get in there.

ML: Although we do have one Jordanian fan that posted on our forum on our web site.


 

Thanks to marc@rockfour.com and baruch@rockfour.com
and Pam at JLMPR


 

 

 

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