Betzefer - Diggin' it deep
On the 12th of April, Betzefer came to Holland for just one show. But fortunately, Metalrage got the opportunity to speak with singer Avital Tamir and drummer Roey Berman to talk about the album, the touring and some other things that were going on during the last eight years.
How does it feel to be back in the place where you kicked Fear Factory’s ass?
Avital: Is that what we did? Because I was really looking forward to see them, I thought they were amazing.
And this is your first show again in Europe?
Avital: We did a UK tour first, I think we played about nine shows before we came to this place.
But now there’s only one show in Holland. Why is that?
Avital: Ahm, that’s what God booked.
Roey: It’s the tour manager’s decision.
Avital: Don’t get us wrong, we love the Netherlands. We’d like to spend more time in here.
Roey: Yeah, we love the Netherlands.
Wo, that’s expressive.
Roey: Yeah, we just came into this club and it’s so different from the clubs in the UK. It’s so clean and well organized. Everything is so clean, especially in this club it’s really nice for a band to be here.
Well this is a pretty new venue in Holland, I guess you haven’t seen the crappy old places yet.
Avital: Yeah, probably not, but this is the first real European club we’ve ever played and coming back to this club after two years really feels good.
Now, ‘Down Low’ is getting so many positive reactions and in my opinion, you’ve really created a style of your own. Do you realize you might have made a classical album?
Avital: I don’t know if it could turn out to be a classic album. But it’s a pretty good album and we’re a kick ass band. Maybe after we’ve made five or six records and we’ve become like an icon or something then maybe you could consider this as a classic. But I think we still have a long way to go.
Roey: Yeah I think that with the material we’re working right now, we’re working on a new album, we really improve ourselves. It will me much better and we’ve really grown since the last album.
Avital: I think we really confined with this one. We showed the world our style of something we thought are the glorious days of metal and we concentrated on this style by making a tribute to it. I think we’re more expressive now, trying a lot more new stuff.
That tribute, is that what ‘Fucking Rock & Roll’ is about?
Avital: Ah, yeah. Most of the lyrics were written in a time in which I stopped listening to a lot of electronic music and rediscovered my metal, punk and rock & roll collection. And now it’s almost the other way around. So that is what the album is about.
And don’t these mainly positive reactions bring some kind of pressure to you?
Avital: Of course a lot of good reviews are getting good credits. But then again, it was still a debut and we still have a long way to go. None of us in the band feels like we’ve accomplished something really big with this album. It was a land mark for us because it was our first release outside of Israel and our first EP release.
Roey: This is only the beginning.
So have there been a lot of changes between the Roadrunner release and now?
Avital: It was a really big year for us.
Roey: Yeah, coming to Europe for the first time and playing almost a hundred shows.
Avital: I think that’s more than all of the shows we did in Israel. Well, we’re coming close to that.
You played the same amount of shows as you did during the seven years before?
Roey: Well in Israel you can’t play as much as you can play but in here we’re scheduled almost every night.
And is there a big difference between the crowd in Israel and in Europe?
Avital: The crowd is different everywhere. In Israel it is like it’s our game in our time and we’re kind of like the big stars who have made it outside our own country. Of course there are other bands but our audience is really excited about it. But over here it is just the beginning for us. Every place we go to we have to get to the crowd even in cities we’ve played three or four times and the second time here in Weert.
And do the people in Europe recognize the lyrics as they do in Israel?
Avital: Well, a lot of people sing along with the lyrics in Israel.
Yeah, because I saw the pictures on the website and you played like a huge festival over there.
Avital: I guess the last huge festival we’ve played in Israel was in 2002.
Roey: No, no way. In 2004.
Avital: Well, in 2004.
So before the ‘Down Low’ period.
Avital: Yeah, before that.
And how many people were there?
Roey: about 2500. It’s the biggest metal festival we have in Israel. Last year they had Megadeth coming over and it pulls like 5000 people. So metal wise it is the biggest.
Then what is big in Israel?
Avital: Mostly like the local stuff.
Roey: Most of the popular bands in Israel make rock music, I can give you some names but I don’t think you will recognize them.
Ok, my next question is about the artwork of the cd. To me it looks like the pictures of your faces are covered with some scattered earth pattern.
Avital: Yeah, I thought it was a scattered earth as well.
What’s the meaning of that, your logo has the same pattern?
Avital: Actually we left it to de imagination of the artwork studio. They did a really good job and it looks amazing. The digging man is the only thing that comes from us. It’s something we came up with a few years ago and I think it gave the studio the idea of doing something with that. There’s not really a whole idea behind it. The same goes for the album which doesn’t have a whole background except for the fact that it is our first release; this is what we’re about. It’s not the best we can do but this is what we do. And in that way the artwork reflects that. Like hard rocking.
Roey: It’s like the earth. Very solid, with the man coming out of the ground, screaming.
Then why a grave digger?
Avital: It’s not really a grave digger, it’s coming from the ‘Under Construction’ sign that they have on roads. It was just Windows Paintbrush work.
Roey: It reflects digging. When the music is really heavy you put all the energy into the songs and get deeply into it.
About this heavy thing. When I listen to your songs I always get overwhelmed by the amount of noise you make and I have to move like drumming in the air or something. What do you feel when listening to your own songs?
Avital: It depends. Nowadays I can’t listen to it at all. This album now is too old for me. I’ve been listening to these songs for four or fives years now inside of my head.
But I thought you recorded the record in one year in 2004.
Avital: Well, it was recorded within two weeks but we’ve been working on them for a year.
But you’ve had these songs in your head for four years?
Roey: No, it was less. It is pretty old stuff to us, but when I play these songs live I really like to lay it down. You have the feeling like you need to do something, airdrum, or move.
Avital: In front of an audience I always get that feeling as well. When we get it back from the crowd. But like listening to it, I only do that to the new songs.
And the songs from before the album, do you play them live?
Roey: In Israel we do, because the people over there know our songs from that period. We mostly play songs from ‘Down Low’ and the new songs in Europe.
And will the old songs be re-released in Europe?
Roey: There are no real plans for that right now but probably in the future.
Ok, because I saw an interesting title with the words ‘bush’ and ‘tits’.
Avital: It was called ‘Some Tits but no Bush’.
Roey: It was our first album we’ve released and the title comes from a movie from Jay and Silent Bob. A movie about some tits but no bush, you know, down there. It wasn’t really hardcore but it presented us in a way.
And it was recorded independently?
Avital: Yeah, totally independent, ‘Down Low’ as well, by the way, but then we got signed.
Ok, you just mentioned that you already have some new songs. Do you have plans for recording sessions?
Avital: We’ll probably enter the studio by the end of this year and the release will be next year. We’ll be playing some of them live.
You said that the new songs really give you this extra vibe. What can we expect than? Is it the same sound?
Roey: It will be more aggressive and brutal but it still keeps the grove we’ve had before.
Avital: I think it is a lot more sophisticated. In a lot of parts that we really didn’t touch when we recorded ‘Down Low’. We feel more freely to be sophisticated but you can’t confuse it with our previous work.
Ok, well that was actually my last question. Do you have anything to add to this conversation or do you like to say something to the readers of Metalrage?
Avital: I hope to see you some time when we play in the Netherlands and look forward to our next album because we are very excited about it.
At this time, Buzzin Hornet comes in and says: ‘I have a question. You have made a music video but it was self-paid. Does it leave a budget for another video?’
Avtial: We’ve tried to record a video the last six months but we were all so busy with a lot of stuff and we’re already doing some recordings for the next album. We’ve also talked to a director about what we will do for the video and talk about the budget but it’s not worked out.
Ok, I was just curious because the video looks pretty professional.
Avital: You think so? It was only recorded with one DV-camera and it was edited by a friend of ours.
Well, thank you for your time then.
A few hours later, Betzefer gave an amazing show in De Bosuil of which a few people will be able to say that they were there, at the first headlining gig in Holland. If it was up to me, I’d say a lot of people are going to regret they weren’t there. But I was.