A month ago, RYL! got the opportunity to meet Kobi, Orphaned Land’s frontman, in order to discuss about their brand new record “All Is One“!
Hello Kobi! How are you?
Kobi Farhi (vocals) : I’m fine, all good. Happy to be after the recording of the album and it’s now great to do interviews.
So what’s the message behind this enigmatic title? At the first look, it’s kind of very thematic. And what about the album cover?
K : There’s a big contradiction between the album cover and the texts. It’s like the album cover is some kind of a dream, utopia, something we wish to get while the songs of the album are reflecting the tragic reality that we live in. So it’s like a dream and reality in a way. It represents some great ideas that the things that we would expect religions to do or the things that really happen when we play a concert: you see all cultures, all people from all kind, unite themselves and just, that moment all is one. On the other hand, in daily life, religions, politicians everything, they fail to do it and don’t succeed so we wanted to make a very strong dream but a very strong reality.
So your new record “All Is One” will be released next month, how went all the writing process around this new record, comparing to “The Never Ending Way Of ORWarrioR”?
K : It was really fascinating to write this album because we really felt that we have something strong to say this time and we really felt that we were doing our best album. After twenty two years, to feel that is still great, you still have a lot to give, it was great to compose then to write it and we had a lot of, I don’t know if fun is the good word to describe it but we had a lot of good moments when we did it and we felt we have done the right thing.
We felt that the lyrics and the whole record were way more centered on religion, is it the case?
K : We always deal about religious motives in our creation but this time we have a lot of criticism towards religion and politicians. I think that the lyrics are more focused, constant focused and more upfront in a way. So it’s more accessible, look at the song titles like “Fail”, “Children” and “Brother” we decided to all make it to the point now. The lyrics are more upfront instead of allegories. “Mabool” (2004) was also about religions but we told it through a float story, we did a story; so now it’s just sharper.
How Orphaned Land build an album? Which steps do you go into?
K : First we decide what’s going to be the concept and then, we have a very strange way to combine music: we gather guitar riffs that we compile through the years and then we start to build on a way that we want the music to tell the story before having the lyrics. Only then, I will listen to the music and have the lyrics falling on me. It’s a very exhausting process but that how we do it. It can also attack me in the middle of the street, walking, BOOM! (laugh) It falls on me, it could be also in the train and when I need to record something I’m like starting speaking to the phone in the middle of the train or just singing “na na na”, and it happened to me many times. Also in the middle of the night, you’re very tired, you want to sleep, you lie in bed and then… it starts to play. That’s the way it happens to artists, that is how it is and our art is probably not coming from happiness but from pain, those places where you torture yourself.
We followed the recording process via Facebook, you worked with different musicians in different countries (Turkey, Scandinavia etc.), and does it also represent the band’s philosophy?
K : Ironically it turned out that we recorded the album in Sweden, in Turkey and in Israel. If you take the flags, you have the star, the cross and the moon, we didn’t mean it; but yes, it definitely represents the ideas of the band. We recorded some of the stuff in Israel, I really wanted these violin players from Turkey so I flew all the way and of course, recording in Sweden in Jens Bogren’s (Kreator, Amon Amarth, Opeth) studio that’s something which is always great. It was the first time we recorded outside of Israel. Century Media really believe in us now and gave us a nice budget and we felt like kids got money for toys (laughs), so we went and bought everything we wanted: an excellent studio, violin players and we just made all the things we really wanted to do.
Is there a specific message behind the song “Children”?
K : This is the most tragic song that we ever wrote. It’s the ending song of the album, so it’s message when the choir sings “we fail to see that all is one”. The album title is “All Is One” but we always stick about how we fail to see… We don’t see it. The result is that children are dying. Do you know, Syria is 70 km above my head, do you know how many children just died in Syria? Thousands of children! I cannot bury it in my mind, it drives me crazy and the world is doing nothing because Russia is supporting them. It is Syrian people killing Syrian people; it’s not even a war with Israel or anyone else. The thing is that the problem of the world is that we educate ourselves in a very bad way. What is the first present parent buy to children? Toy guns. Or every kid is playing a computer game with a gun and he’s only 6 years old but he’s already killing people in the screen, but they just say “it’s just a game”. But no! What it does to the mind: killing people… And this false education, the way you see Israeli kids painting on a missile or the way that you see Arab kids dressed up like suicide bombs, what the fuck is this? The result is that children are dying because of adult people. The adult people are acting like little kids and they are irresponsible, kids are just playing and bombs are exploding in Gaza, Tel Aviv, in Syria or anywhere else. That’s very irresponsible and very bad so the song “Children” is from a point of view of a child. I turned myself into a child, trapped with these bombs all around and trying to ask my parents “why did you bring me in such a world?” and “why must I be like you in the end?” It’s a very tragic song.
If you had to pick up 3 songs from the record, which one will they be and why?
K : That’s a much fucked up question. (laugh) I don’t know if I can choose them. You know, maybe “Fail”, it’s a twist in the album, the only song where I’m using growls, one of the most angry lyrics that did in the album; I’d choose “Children” because it’s probably the most tragically Orphaned Land song ever; and the third one will probably be “Brother”, because it’s a very special song full of hints but it’s basically a song that Isaac wrote to Ismael. They were the sons of Abraham but from different mothers and the conflict between the two brothers, the conflict between Israel and the Arabs begins there. If you think historically, both populations are brothers, both sons of Abraham. Arabs used to name a lot of guys Ismael, while we used to name lot of guys Isaac. And we forgot it because of the brainwashing is so strong of course and the hate too. Those guys are my brothers. I wrote this song because I have decided to be the grown-up brother. I don’t know whose fault is it, I don’t know whose the one to blame, I’m Isaac, I’m the Jew guy, writing a song and I’m saying to my brother Ismael “I’m sorry, forgive me. I want to build a life with you, you’re my brother and I know that you suffered”. The grown-up means that sometimes you say that you’re sorry even if it’s not your fault. Everybody is so busy being a victim, it’s way too comfortable: “I’m the victim and everything is bad because of your fault”, it is a way to make it eternal, it’ll never change; that’s why I wrote this song, I’ve decided to say “forgive me, my brother” because it’s time to say it, it’s time to move on. So this is a very special ballad and that’s why I wrote it. It was very hard but I succeeded.
At the end of “The Simple Man”, lyrics say “I swear I’m not Jesus Christ”, is there a link with the previous tour? Do people still think you are Jesus? (laughs)
K : Yeah it started from this joke, even before I wore the Jesus outfit. People told me “you look like Jesus Christ”, I said “ok, I’ll dress up, I’ll play it”, because when you’re on the stage, looking like Jesus Christ, it’s a good element for speaking about spiritual messages, but then I always wanted to say “ok guys, I just look like, don’t take me to seriously, I’m not Jesus Christ”. He was a good man in my eyes but thinking that I’m the second coming… (laugh) So I wrote “The Simple Man” because of that. Not only because of me, but also people are following other people like messiahs. Everyone with a sip of charisma can turn himself into my shepherd. It’s the fucked up prime minister, the fucked up priest, those people who really are bad shepherds and just take us, we’re like sheep, just going everywhere. I’m the vocalist of a band, I was born with a bit of charisma, I can speak to people and they can follow me, I can convince people to stand on one feet if I wanted to, or jumping; I can do that. But what I want to say it’s that, I know I have this ability but at the end of the day, the most important thing is that I’m a simple man and that’s the most important thing for me, to stay a simple man and to be a simple man. I also think that there’s a big difference between Jesus and Christianity, because Jesus was a simple man, with criticism on Judaism, that’s the truth. I don’t know if he meant the Pope and the Vatican, all that things, big cathedrals and Inquisition. The most important thing it’s even to people with charisma, who can be leaders, I want them to be simple, to stay simple the way they are. People should start listen to themselves instead of those messiahs.
Can you introduce us Chen Balbus that the band welcomed in replacement of Matti Svatitzki.
K : Chen is the classic story of a fan who became the guitarist of the band. Imagine that Orphaned Land is 22 years old, Chen is 21. (laugh) He’s younger than the band. He was recording himself playing our songs on Youtube for ages, and he always played them so nicely. He was at one point the student of Yossi and even became the replacement of Yossi and Matti. When Matti left the band, it was just natural for Chen to step in. He knows the song, he’s familiar with the band’s spirit, he adores the band, and he’s an orphaned soul in a way. It was just Chen getting in. Ever since he got in, it’s great. He brought his new motivation, the band is in the center of his life and he’s from this generation of new born kids who knows how to deal with computers. For example, the sketches for the new album, we did it in his house and he was reacting so fast.
Is there any instrument that you want to use during a record process? That you didn’t use yet.
K : No, I think that we have the ability to use any instrument. So far, if you want to, we use it.
What can we expect from the setlist on this huge tours coming up?
K : I don’t know yet because we have to see how the album will be accepted but we want to play as much as possible of new material, but of course some fans will ask old stuff too. It’s too early to say. Maybe we’ll do a poll before the tour, just to see what people prefer.
So are there any bands with whom you’d like to tour or work someday?
K : I’d like to tour with Porcupine Tree. I think that we can easily tour with bands like Opeth; now we can even tour with bands like Turisas too (laughs). Maybe the US with System Of A Down that we’ll be also great, but most of the bands we wanted to play with, we already did. We opened for Metallica in Israel.
About System Of A Down, did you ever think about a collaboration with Serj?
K : The US office of Century Media, they wanted to arrange in a way to take our album to Serj. Because they really think that he should know about it, so maybe it’s going to happen. I really think that we can make good things together.
What’s your opinion on the bad picture given to heavy metal music in Asia? Where teens and youngs are being arrested because it’s “not normal to listen to that”?
K : That’s really a question that makes me angry. Let me tell you something about this world. They call the metal people “freaks” because we wear black, have long hairs, tattoos or because we have a skull on our t-shirt. The basic truth, in a very simple way, metal people can teach everyone in the world including all religions and they can teach them about coexistence and about how to accept each other. You see festivals of 100.000+ people coming to Hellfest or Wacken. I didn’t hear about one murder or one rape or stab, even if there are; it’s one in a million. When I heard metal music when I was a kid, I thought that everything in the world was fake. I heard Iron Maiden; it was the only thing that I felt sincere. It’s real, it’s not coming to manipulate me or bullshit me. To see all those religious priests trying to say they are going to do something in world, but the only thing that they do is to take your money and do nothing. I’m sorry, they are the freaks. Did you ever look at the Pope? Or archbishops? They are the freaks. They just manipulate us to think that they are the messengers of God, but no. I believe in God, I have respect for religions but I’m sorry, metal is a better religion I think, if it’s a religion. I’m really against these things, why do you arrest these people? What did they do? Did they invent some gun that kill people? Or did they just listen to music? The world is fucked up. And the truth is that the freaks are arresting the normal guys and call them freaks. That’s what happening in the world and I fucking hate it! Hate it! Everything is twisted like if Satan was representing God and calling you Satan. It’s fucked up! How can it be that Israel is admired by the Arab world? Maybe I’m not objective to say but, that’s a fact, Orphaned Land members are the most famous Israelis in the Arab world, me and my band members. Not politicians, not authors, not poets, not jazz musicians, not new age musicians, not left wing parties, not peace activists. Orphaned Land, why? The dudes from the metal bands? They are the most famous in the Arab countries? YES. That’s the fact, so grow up and understand. Metal is a good thing, I have a skull and tattoos so what? How can you judge a human being? Do you really know if the guy that looks religious is holy? I met some religious guys that are the scums of the Earth. Everyone have pieces of shits and angels, (laugh) every nation and religion. We are making a good name and a good reputation for metal music and I really want people to listen to our music and to know that they can be proud being metal people. We bring people together in the Middle-East. It could be the right wing, extremists from the settlements, radical Muslim from Iran, they share one thing: listening to Orphaned Land. That’s metal and what I want people to get about this music.
Did you ever imagine being still out there, more than twenty years after the band’s birth?
K : Yes. When I discovered metal, I knew that something in my life was changed forever. I have found who I am and what I want to do. My parents were always kidding me like “it’ll pass”, “you’ll go to the army, you will cut your hair and become a man”. But I told them, maybe for some people it is youth craziness, many friends are like “are you still there? Yeah”; but now I’m an old guy with a fat belly and grey hairs, (laugh) why does it have to be like that? (laugh) But I told my parents I cannot tell it; I found what I wanted to do and I’ll do it forever, I knew since the first moment.
If we ask you: I want to do music for my living; which advices could you give me?
K : I would first tell you that you have to do music without putting conditions, that’s the first thing I’ll tell you. You want to do music, you have to do music, even if you have mouths to feed and foods to provide; if you’re a father and have a family, do it as a hobby. If this is something your soul wants, you have to feed yourself like you have to feed your body. Second thing I would tell you, it’s will never give you an economical benefit in comparison to the efforts that you gave. I’m 22 years old with Orphaned Land and still didn’t buy a house for example. But I didn’t do it to make money. But you spoke about making a living, so for making a living, if you want to do it, try to be unique. When we started the band, we called the band Resurrection. And we tried to be American and European death metal band and we said “ok, what do we give to the world? What’s the contribution?” Then, we thought “wait, we live in the Middle East, there isn’t metal bands coming from here, we can give a huge contribution to the metal scene” like Serj did with his Armenian and Lebanese elements going into metal and that was like “woow”. It’s different, it’s unique, so you can listen in Orphaned Land it’s different. Unique things, they stand out; because we’re in a world in which everything is recycled. If you can succeed to stand out, you’ll be able to make music for your living. All the musicians that succeeded are artists that have something unique, like Picasso, Jim Morrison; it doesn’t matter, if you stand out, it’ll succeed.
What’s the last gig you attended?
K : Let me remember for a second. (laugh) Amorphis in Israel.
Which album kept your attention this year?
K : The new album of Nick Cave; the only one. (laugh)
It’s been 3 years since Ronnie James Dio passed away…
K : For me, metal is like a religion and music too because of all the things I told before. Thinking about Ronnie James Dio, it’s like thinking to the father of this religion, the founder of this religion. He was a dear man just by being the founder of this. I didn’t know him personally even tough, we opened for him once in Tel Aviv, and he’s one of those guys that we’ll remember forever as the father. You have Jesus and his disciples, metal have Ronnie James Dio. He is the man on the silver mountain. He’s an idol. We’ll always remember him and always cherish what he gave and always thank him for the music.
Any message to your huge French fan base?
K : We can’t wait to meet them all! First at Motocultor and then eight shows this fall. We’re waiting to see them and we hope that they’ll like the new album and we can’t wait to party together!
Finally, as a tradition, we are “RockYourLife!”, what rocks your life?
K : What rocks my life? (laugh) Wow. You know what rocks my life? (On a serious and dramatic tone) Hummus! (laughs) It rocks my life man. They are some place in some Arab villages, in Acre a mix city, the hummus there; I tasted it and started to cry. It rocks my life man! Hummus rocks my life ! (laugh)
Website : orphaned-land.com