Interview With Orphaned Land

Last year Orphaned Land delivered an instant classic in the form of The Never Ending Way Of ORwarriOR. It’s also a band with a strong message to look past racial, ethnic and religious differences and accept people they way they are. I had the pleasure of doing an interview with guitarist Matti Svatizky. He had a lot to tell about the Orphaned Land’s recent tours with Katatonia and Amorphis, a very memorable trip to India, working together with Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree), Kirk Hammett’s (Metallica) appreciation for the band and showing a different side of his native country Israel..

Hi Matti, thank you for doing this interview. 2010 was a very busy year for you and Orphaned Land. Your last record was very well received and you did a lot of touring to support The Never Ending Way Of OrwarriOR. How do you look on the past year?

2010 was very busy indeed. We did both full European and North American tours, supporting Katatonia and Amorphis respectively, and besides those played many festivals and sole shows all around the world. We also recorded a live DVD which will see light somewhere along this year. It has been a long year and full of events but we had lots of fun working and being on the road so it makes the efforts worth while.

The creation and recording process of The Never EndingWay Of OrwarrioR was a mammoth undertaking in terms time spend on recording,the amount and variation of instruments used, the different people involved and all the different languages used on the album. Is this something you want to do again on future recordings?

This way of working has already become a tradition for us. I also believe that we’re not the only band that spends so much time in the studio in order to reach the best results. Even if we do spend a longer amount than usual, I don’t think it should stop us from developing our own unique style and doing things the way we see right.

Steve Wilson mixed and produced the album. What did he bring to the table and how is it like to work with him?

Steven is a close friend of ours, and we’re also great fans of his work. He has a very unique touch and sound and you can definitely hear it on the album. Any Porcupine Tree fan can catch parts in the album that he would instantly feel Steven’s presence.

His involvement with Opeth on Blackwater Park pushed their career considerably. Is this the case for Orphaned Land is well? Do you notice an increase in terms of success and exposure for your band?

We are always working to enlarge our fan base more and more. It is important for us to reach any person who might like what we do. Choosing to work with Steven has come from this place too, especially knowing the amazing stuff he did with Opeth. At first, he was supposed to produce the whole album and if that would have been the case, I guess that his presence would have been more noticed. But we are pleased with what he did all the same and hope to work with him further more in the future.

What did you learn as a musician and a person from working with so many people from different cultural and musical backgrounds?

Each person you play with or work with brings something into your personal arsenal of musical tools. We learn much from musicians we work with, also a lot about their culture and customs. For example: We borrowed  some Sufi costumes in order to shoot some promo pics. Sufi is an esoteric  religion and it belongs to Islam. We borrowed the costumes from some guy who is a Muslim, but married to a Jewish girl and they have a child together and live in Jaffa. It was very special to come into their home and see their unique way of life. You don’t get  to see things like that usually. It’s special, and makes you expand your thoughts about life and about the world you live in.

Orphaned Land is a band with a very strong message about uniting people from all walks of life and to transcend ethnic and religious strife. Why is it so important for you to spread that message?

Mainly because we come from a very complicated place: Israel. Israel is quite a new and controversial country, which still struggles for recognition in world public opinion. Many people try to draw a picture of an Israel which is violent and unmerciful, and one of our goals is to show a different side of Israel, which is a very dominant side. We offer a solution to the Middle East problems by calling our neighbors to accept us as neighbors, and showing them that we are not so different from them.

Before entering your website there are two glowing recommendations by Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree) and even from Kirk Hammett from Metallica. How did you manage to get Kirk aboard? Are there any possible musical joint ventures coming up?

We had the honor of opening for Metallica when they played in Israel. It was a very unique experience which we learned a lot from. Anyways, we also met the band members for a couple of minutes before they went up on stage. Kirk was very nice and said that he came across our music in some radio show, and asked us for our cd. Of course we made sure he gets the cd, and after a few months we came across a column in Metal Hammer UK, in which Kirk has recommended our CD as the “Latest CD he bought” (he mentioned that he didn’t actually buy it, don’t worry). It came as a complete surprise to us, but we were very happy to see that he liked it.

Last December the band played three shows in India. How did that go and what are your fondest memories of that trip?

We were invited to play 3 shows in India, and of course we jumped on the opportunity. India happens to be one of my most favorite places. I traveled there before for straight seven months, and was all over the place. It’s not like any country I have known, and playing there was very different from playing anywhere else. The mentality is different from the one in Europe or the United States, but that what makes the place so adorable and unique. There are talks of maybe coming there again soon and I hold my fingers crossed for that.

What are the differences between playing shows on a festival in India and playing festivals in Europe?

Well, like I said, it is very different. India seems to me in a kind of metal revision. They didn’t use to have many metal bands playing there, but I understand that in the last year there have been quite a few bands coming. So the Indians are kind of learning the fields, both the promoters, the crews, and the crowds, while in Europe they already have seen it all. Also, there is the time-table issue. In Israel, we always talk about the precision in Europe and the US when it comes to time tables. In Israel, if we set something for a certain hour, it is always done a quarter or half an hour later. I hate it about the Israeli nature, and in India it’s the way forth. There, if you set something it is usually done around two hours later. But It’s not so bad, it’s “India times”, and it’s a part of the special mentality of the place and what makes it so special.

What are your thoughts on the touring phenomenon itself? Is it something you like or dislike?

No way, I love touring. Touring has always been one of our greatest dreams. Israel is a small country and not many bands have succeeded abroad and tasted the touring life. On tour, you’re free from almost everything. You spend most of the day waiting for the show, so you have lots of time to chill. It could get hard, especially if you don’t have a crew and have to do everything yourself. It is also hard to get detached from your family and go off for a month or more. But all in all I would summarize the experience as extremely fun.

Time for the final question. What is the biggest Spinal Tap moment with Orphaned Land?

Spinal Tap is a classic, and you can find moments from it a lot when you play in a band. The most common moment is when you’re in a venue, have to go on stage, and the way to the stage is long and complicated, that you can barely find it. It is not as funny as in the movie, but it always reminds of it, and on every tour there are a few venues like that.

Thank you again for your time. If you have any final thoughts and/or remarks, please put them here:

Thanks a lot for the interview, it has been lots of fun. I would also like to thank our fans for supporting us and being there for us time after time, so thanks! Cheers to everyone.

Written by Raymond Westland


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