Filling the Void on Israel's Local Punk Scene

Newbie band Inside Job has appeared in almost every advertisement for punk gigs this month.

Dafna Arad
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Dafna Arad

The Israeli punk scene had some nice successes abroad this summer. Almost every band with a year of experience, some self-confidence and an album in the works went on an overseas tour, which included performances at several big festivals and in many small clubs, in Europe or the United States. But with all due respect to the drummers, bassists and guitarists who went to seek their fortunes abroad, the Israeli punk audience didn't go anywhere, and didn't stay quiet either.

That created a golden opportunity for young bands, thirsting for an audience and spotlight, to establish themselves in the vacuum that was created. In the past month, for example, the name of the fresh punk band Inside Job appeared in almost every advertisement for punk gigs. Prior to that, nobody had heard of the band.

Punk band 'Inside Job.'Credit: Tali Meyer

But its members, all aged 19 and 20, are familiar faces who have played in various bands and left them: Amit Bazan (who played for Sloppy Youth); vocalist/guitarist Steven Ovadia (Gatz ); guitarist Yuval Glico (Shaked Maalima Misim); and bassist Dror Cohen (Panda Qet). Because being on the punk scene without belonging to a band is seen as an act of parasitism, and even though none of the band members was a drummer, they banded together and Bazan took responsibility for the drumsticks.

Glico recalls: "Amit's brother recommended him to me as a drummer, but he was simply lying." Bazan laughs: "The fact is that I wasn't really a drummer. In other words, I never had a set of drums. But I always used people's drums. I sat myself down and did what I like to do. In that way I improved and so did my technique. But now I'm a great drummer. The drums I have in my room I found in the garbage. I even found a stand for a hi-hat cymbal in the garbage."

Are you satisfied with the name you chose for the band?

Bazan: "We have doubts all the time. When you're 14-years-old, you already have the name of your future band in your head, long before you start playing."

Glico: "We weren't used to a situation where we had a band before we had a name. The band was established in a period when there were lots of leaks in the headlines, like the Anat Kamm affair and the WikiLeaks documents."

When asked what kind of inside job there is on the punk scene, Bazan cites the clubs that, in order to "make money on alcohol, restrict entry to those aged 18 and above." Glico states: "We'll never perform in such places. Punk is music that you begin to listen to at a young age, it's music without age limitations. That's why it really bothers me."

Bazan: "Part of the issue is to perform in front of a man of 30 on one side of the club and a boy of 14 dancing on the other side."

Glico warms to the subject: "We hate all this 'being cool.' There is this public relations-talk about cool places, and suddenly people are blinded by a performance on a big stage with good sound. I like almost everyone I know on the punk scene and think he's a good guy or girl, but I feel that the focus has moved to questions of where you perform, what you wear and what tattoos you have. It's annoying."

An important part of punk identity is reflected in eating culture, and the members of Inside Job, like many other bands on the scene, spread the vegan ideology with songs against the meat industry. And according to the rules of the genre, their songs also point an accusing finger at the government, the army and religion. Only one song that the band posted on its page on the SoundCloud website diverges from the core issues of punk, and talks about cycling to the sea.

Glico explains the origins of this interlude from the protest songs: "I left school in 11th grade, I wrote the song about the mornings when I remained alone while all my friends were in school or working, and I pedaled to the sea on my bike. I live in the area of Rishon Letzion, which is about half an hour to 40 minutes from the sea, the same length as the album of the NOFX band. I used to listen to the entire disc on the way to the sea. It was the cycling album."

You've performed a lot recently. Which performance did you most enjoy this summer?

Ovadia: "The performance in the tent encampment in Levinsky Park. Our audience included social activists, foreign workers and Sudanese refugees. I was playing very loud, picked up my head and saw 50 Sudanese behind me who didn't understand what was going on."

"We don't insist on performing only at 'punk shows,'" declares Bazan, and Glico adds: "We prefer to play in front of an audience that arrived by unusual routes. That's the whole idea of punk."

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