Live from Tel Aviv
Israeli band Rockfour channels ‘60s rock.
Thursday, October 4, 2007
Earlier this year, Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour started a contest on MySpace to honor the passing of Sid Barrett, the founding member of the psychedelic rock group. All contestants were asked to send in their takes of Pink Floyd’s first single “Arnold Layne.” The winner – which was picked by a judging panel featuring Gilmour, David Bowie and Pink Floyd keyboardist Rick Wright – would win a day’s worth of recording at London’s Abbey Road Studios, where bands like Pink Floyd and The Beatles recorded some of the most popular rock albums of all time.
The winner of the contest came from an unexpected place: Tel Aviv, Israel. Israeli band Rockfour was selected by the judging panel of rock luminaries and flown to London. The band’s drummer Issar Tennenbaum, who talked to the Weekly from the Israeli town of Ze’elim, says that the band’s first hour in Abbey Road was spent gawking and snapping photos. They stared at the pianos that were played on Beatles classics like “The Fool on the Hill” and “Lady Madonna.” “It took us an hour to get over the excitement, and we got down to work,” he says.
The group decided to cut a Live at Abbey Road CD featuring tracks from their latest album Memories of the Never Happened and older numbers off past English language releases.
Since releasing the first album in 1991, the Hebrew language Reseth Parparim, Rockfour has frequently covered Pink Floyd songs including “Interstellar Overdrive” and “Astronomy Domine” during their live shows. “For us, it was closure,” Tennenbaum says of winning the MySpace contest. “We started out with Pink Floyd.”
This past May, Rockfour put out their fourth English language CD Memories of the Never Happened. The album includes seven well-crafted rock songs that frequently veer off in unexpected directions. “Dear Truth” sounds like an indie rock update of psychedelic pop music with a melting guitar solo, while “Goes Around” recalls everyone from The Beatles to U2. “Half and Half” is a jolt of ‘60s-sounding rock that erupts with fuzzy blasts of wah-wah guitar.
Tennenbaum says that being based in Tel Aviv gives the band a wide range of influences, from Arabic music to new American acts like the Flaming Lips. “It’s all one big mess that we grew up on here,” he says. “We don’t like everything we hear, but I’m certain it affects us.”
Also, the band indulges in their love of classic ‘60s rock by playing vintage instruments like 12-string Rickenbackers and singing in three-part harmony.
In the near future, Rockfour hopes to placate their Israeli fans and newfound world audience. “Our main plan is to try to finish two albums in the next year – one in Hebrew and one in English,” Tennenbaum says.
First, Rockfour must complete an American tour that kicks off this Saturday night at Monterey Live and takes them to famed venues like Los Angeles’ The Roxy. The band also plans on performing at the famed CMJ Music Festival in New York City later this month.
Rockfour play 9:30pm Saturday, Oct. 6, at Monterey Live, 414 Alvarado St., Monterey. $10. 646-1415.