Tuesday, September 30, 2008, 02:06 PM ( 5257 views ) - Interviews - Posted by AdministratorI talked with 2/3rds of Israel’s Monotonix before their sold out show in Seattle. Ami Shalev, singer and Yonatan Gat, guitarist and I sat down in front of the Comet Tavern on Saturday night. Passersby chatted them up. We gained a fellow-interviewer. A hotdog vendor did brisk business and a fire truck raced by.
The hard-rocking, hard-touring trio Monotonix, including new drummer Haggai Fershtman, are probably coming to a city very near you if you live in the States or the UK. Their music and shows are genuinely awesome and you have every reason to check them out. Plus these guys have a wry sense of humor - quite a few of their responses to my questions were tongue in cheek, although I would believe these foxy guys are fighting off chicks and maybe I believe that the drummer is a good businessman.
Q: Do you ever get injured during your shows?
Yonatan Gat: I got this three weeks ago in Portland. [He points out a cut above his right eyebrow].
Q: Did you get stitches?
YG: No, we had to fly to New York so we didn’t have time.
Q: So you just toughed it out.
YG: I guess.
Ami Shalev: Nothing really serious – except I broke a shoulder.
Q: That’s pretty serious.
AS: Nah, I was in the Army.
Q: I wanted to ask you about that – I read you were a tank commander? What did that involve?
AS: Hard training, discipline, girls, mud, dust –
YG: Gourmet food. Grease. Women.
Q: That sounds pretty good.
AS: It’s a glamour job.
Q: What’s the craziest thing a fan has done?
YG: A woman?
Q: It could be a woman. Are they just crazy all the time?
AS: Yes, the girls are crazy about us. They get crazy only when they see us.
YG: Even before we were in the band, like just walking down the street.
Q: That would be awesome.
YG: I have to push them away – I walk around with a bat.
Q: A bat?
YG: A baseball bat, to scare the women away.
Q: That would work, but some of them might like that.
YG: That’s the problem.
Q: Does the audience ever get angry about anything you do while playing live?
AS: Only when we play too short. That’s the reason most of the people get angry.
Q: I can understand that.
Q: I was impressed how you calmed the crowd at Bumbershoot when the show got shut down early.
AS: Like Dan Deacon says, safety is first.
Shalev drums on the crowd - photo by Dagmar
Q: Yonatan, I came across something about you having to give up your cat?
YG: I had to give away my cat because we tour so much.
Q: Did he find a home?
YG: He’s staying with a friend of my ex-girlfriend. She likes him a lot. Did you see the picture of the cat?
Q: I did, he’s beautiful.
YG: Pretty cute. He’s very beautiful, but he’s very mean too.
[In case you're wondering, in the notice for the cat the Hebrew means inoculated and fixed.]
Q: Is it hard to find places to stay in all the cities since you tour so much?
YG: On our first tour we used to ask people after the show, hey can we crash at your house? This is the first tour we can actually afford hotels.
Q: Now you can spend your money on other things.
AS: Wait, what do you mean by that?
YG: Like for hotdogs.
AS: We’re saving the money for bad times. For the children.
[At this point a guy to see the show sits next to us. He talks about Dan Deacon to Shalev and Gat.]
Q: Do you ever lose each other?
YG: Sometimes I have no idea what our drummer is talking about.
AS: I always have no idea what he’s talking about.
[Now the guy next to us asks me to find out if they’re going to get naked for the show.]
Q: He wants to know if you’re going to get naked tonight.
YG: If you pay us. Maybe I’ll get naked if somebody pays me. How much are you willing to pay?
Q: We’d have to negotiate – I’ve only got so much money . . . Were you very musical in school?
YG: One day they had to choose people to sing for graduation, they kicked me out. Out of 60 people they chose 50 and I was one of the 10 they kicked out.
Q: That’s sad.
YG: Now I am playing a sold-out show in Seattle and I am showing them that they were wrong.
AS: I was always out of tune. Right now I’m still out of tune but . . .
[Now a fire truck races by.]
AS: Fire Marshall.
Q: They got here early. [Monotonix has actually set fires as part of their shows – so you never know.]
Gat and Fershtman seize the center of the Comet - photo by Dagmar (on stage taking this picture)
Q: Have you been able to do any sightseeing in Seattle?
YG: We went to Lake Washington.
AS: We saw Jimi Hendrix’s gave and Kurt Cobain’s house.
Q: Yonatan, do you ever get worried about what Ami is going to do next live?
YG: Only that he’s going to put a trash can on my head.
Q: I saw him do that to the drummer.
AS: He’s the victim – he’s the ultimate victim.
Q: Have you started the next cd?
YG: We’ve written a couple of songs – we’re going to record it in the spring, in San Francisco.
Q: Ami, I read an interview with David Berman where he mentions your Dad escaped the Nazis?
AS: He was in the Holocaust. He had to run away from the Nazis when he was 9 years old. He ran away from Europe. His brother was five and his sister was seven. The funny thing is that they ran away with a group of Jewish people to Iran. From Iran they came to Israel.
Q: What is it about Monotonix that’s making you so popular in the US?
AS: Our English is perfect, especially mine. I don’t know why.
YG: Our drummer is a very good businessman. This is kind of like an oxymoron – the drummer is a good businessman. It can’t be.
Q: How do you stay in shape for all this touring?
AS: We eat a lot of Little Debbie Snacks.
For more photos of their show click here.
You can also see in some of the photos how Shalev was again able to command the audience and get them to sit down on the floor of the Comet.
Gat, Me!, Shalev - September 27, 2008