Meeting Blackfield – Part I

More interviews for you today. Here’s the first part of the Blackfield interview, and some more of the fotos I took. When we came backstage, Steven Wilson was still busy with the soundcheck, so we started the interview with Aviv Geffen. Here we go:

MOTM: Aviv, you’re already a big name back in Israel; how is it for you to tour Europe?

I’m a bit of a symbol for the younger generation in Israel. Nonetheless the audiences are bigger here in Europe. We have been on the road now for one week and every evening, there are about 800 to 1000 people attending our gigs. Just take a look at our MySpace-site… we have entries from all over the world. It all doesn’t look too bad, does it?

Were there already plans for a second album when Blackfield I was released in 2004?

When Steven and I met for the first time, it was something like love at first sight. He liked my songs, I admire his production skills and he’s a great guitarist. We started with four songs and intended to release an EP, but the reactions were so overwhelming that we decided to make a complete album. After our 2004-tour, we signed with Warner and got some more money for the second album. With that bigger budget on our hands, we hired an orchestra and also had more money to invest into the production… and you can clearly hear that on the new album.

Blackfield-songs are rather short and simple in structure, but Steven has a very different background. He’s more into writing long and epic tracks. Was it clear from the beginning that you wanted Blackfield’s compositions to be this straight-forward?

Yes, it was Steven’s intention to create an album with epic and powerful ballads. There is a lot of excellent Progressive-Rock around these days, mind you, but it’s much more difficult to write simple and powerful songs. This is more what I do, and so I ended up with writing about 80% of the songs.

Can you tell us where Steven hides his time-machine? We were wondering where he takes the time to work on all his projects?

We both are very busy. I’m working hard on my solo-carreer back in Israel where I’ve sold about 2 million albums so far and have a big fanbase. But Steven and I think that the future belongs to Blackfield. When we write together, we can create a song in about 20 minutes. There were lots of amazing reviews so far and I can guarantee that Steven and I take Blackfield very serious. This is a real band and not some one-time side-project!

So we can assume that there will be more albums?

Absolutely! We will start to write new material for the third album during the next months.

Will there ever be a happy Blackfield song?

(he laughs) No way! Never! The whole point about Blackfield is that we deal with the weakness and sadness in today’s world. Steven and I admire bands like Pink Floyd who did the same thing. There are not too many bands that center their music around the coldness in the world; Radiohead, maybe. Blackfield is about sadness and loneliness. Or from a more personal perspective: about being myself, a romantic person in a cold world, and critizising God why this is like it is. And it’s the same for Steven. Even if he came from London and I’m from Tel Aviv, we had the same past in a way. It’s not about happiness. We want people to put on their headphones and dive into our world.

I don’t know anything about the music-scene in Israel. Are there any similarities or differences to the European one?

To be honest, I’m the only artist who’s really activist; I belong to the extreme left wing. I’m completely against the occupation, and I think the occupied territories are like a cancer in Israel’s body; I do critizise our government for that, and I’m fighting against the occupation, and I’m the only one who’s doing it.
But there is a lot of good music in Israel; Rock, Indie-Rock, Progrock, Electronica or Industrial, but I’m the only one went abroad in a big way to tour the world.

It would be quite delicate in Germany to critizise Israel’s politics in public…

I know. I think that we have become paranoid because of the Holocaust. We are afraid to be destroyed once again. Sometimes we are very tough – often tougher than we have to be – to protect our lifes. Take the military for example, the thing with the occupied territories. This is just ugly, and is clearly a result of this paranoia. The Jewish people have suffered so much and don’t trust anyone anymore. That’s the one thing. On the other hand, we have to end the occupation, back off and leave the Palestinians their own country; same in East Jerusalem. We have to respect them.

As well as on the first album, you have written the majority of the songs for Blackfield II. How come?

We have been discussing this together and figured that my songs would fit better into the whole concept for the album. The material is somewhere in the middle of what makes us songwriters. It is no Prog-Rock and therefore there are no long solos. On the other hand they aren’t the songs I usually write; they are more the classic piano-driven ballads. This is Blackfield. The work with Steven is just a perfect mixture. Some journalists have said that it sounds like Gilmour has found his Waters.

You two met after you invited Steven and his band to Israel, right?

Yes. I knew his work with Porcupine Tree and thought that the band should play in Israel. I’ve sent him a mail and they agreed on a few gigs. When Steven and I met, I gave him some of my songs to listen to, and he liked them. Oh, there’s Steven now. Steve! Those guys here have a few questions for you!

Aviv then left, and Steven took over for him. Read what he had to say on this blog soon…

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