The Geva Alon Interview

Photography : Adi Ofer

With a string of shows in the UK to coincide with the release of his excellent new album In The Morning Light, Israeli singer songwriter Geva Alon has lit up the summer for a great many. The artist brings freshness and passion to folk rock and with his thoroughly engaging and striking album has drawn further great acclaim his way. To find out more about the artist and his new release we had the pleasure of having Geva Alon indulge are inquisitive questions and this is what he told us.

Hello and many thanks for taking time to talk with us.

Tell us first of all about the man Geva Alon.

I’m a pretty simple guy. I enjoy the simple things and try to avoid unnecessary drama in life.

Being a musician, that’s pretty hard to achieve and that’s a conflict I always have with myself.

I believe music became an important part of your life from an early age?

Yes, music was always around in our house. I started playing piano at the age of 6 and guitar at the age of 12.

Was music an ever present and your family a musical one?

My mom used to be a classical dancer and my dad just loved music, so the radio was often playing and my parents had a nice record collection.

What were the major influences musically and personally which inspired you?

My older brothers introduced me to The Stones, CCR, Zeppelin, Queen and Neil Young, so those were my first major influences, and I took it from there.

You are generally labelled as an indie/folk singer though we see you, going by the new album, as a more rock flavoured artist. How would you describe your music?

It’s hard for me to categorize myself in a specific music style. My influences range from indie, folk, country, blues, punk, rock & roll, new wave, grunge and more. My first band, THE FLYING BABY, was all about hard rock and grunge and then my first solo album was totally acoustic and folky.

Even now rock and indie music in Israel is a mystery and unknown to most outside of the country but when you started was it very hard to be heard outside of your home borders?

I guess the life before Facebook made it hard to connect with a wider crowd outside of my country and it used to be harder to book shows abroad and reach out to different countries. Now you see young bands go and do it on their own all the time. I think Israel has a lot to offer the world as far as indie music goes.

So what has been the key in regard to yourself that has brought you to a wider audience?

I think it’s all about perseverance. I just took off to California one day at the age of 19 and have never stopped playing gigs in Israel and other countries since. I think you have to bring yourself to the audience and not wait for them to come to you.

2000, saw you found the rock band you mentioned earlier, The Flying Baby, tell us more about them.

The band was formed by me and 3 other friends. At first we were all about jamming in and out of old rock classics and played mainly for ourselves for hours in an old bomb shelter in the Kibbutz. After a while I started bringing songs that I wrote and we started experimenting with them. We were young, naive and full of dreams. Wonderful times.

The band found some success in the USA as well as Israel?

Taken by:Yiftach Belsky

 

In the states we struggled and moved from one place to the next, booking gigs wherever they let us play and counting dollar for dollar to pay rent. We shared everything. It was hard but brought our musicianship to a much higher level. We felt that we were getting better and better all the time and wrote endless amount of songs.

You next joined up with rock singer Shy Nobleman. Was this as part of his band only or also allowed you to contribute in the songwriting aspect?

I met Shy in Tel Aviv after his first album was released. He was looking to put a new band together so I offered myself as a guitarist and ended up helping him a lot with the songwriting on the second album.

I get the impression reading about you that a solo career was always going to be the destination of your music, was that your intent all along?

Not really. I always thought that The Flying Baby would be my band forever but I also wanted to try different things. I felt that my folky side needed to come out somehow, so I started playing solo acoustic shows in a small bar in Tel Aviv every Wednesday night and tried new songs in different acoustic arrangements. That’s how my first solo album was born.

How do you approach your songs when composing them, is there a firm process you go through?

There are no rules really. Sometimes I write the music first and then add lyrics to it and sometimes the opposite. Sometimes I have an unsolved chorus and it takes months or even years until I find a solution for it.

Obviously your music from those early days has evolved but from your debut solo album of 2006 Days of Hunger to your excellent new release In the Morning Light, how has it and you as a musician changed?

It’s hard to say how, but I do feel that all the records that I’ve done are very different from each other.  I try to write about more direct and personal issues in my life with every year that passes. I want to reflect something more honest and simple in my music.

What have you explored on In the Morning Light which is different to previous releases like last album Get Closer?

I think that the songs on In The Morning Light are more uplifting somehow. Get Closer was very intense for me as far as the songs and the process so I tried to take a different approach in the new album and just let things be. We didn’t do any rehearsals before the recording and everything happened in the studio.

The album has a seemingly strong personal breath to it from within; does it come from your own experiences as much as outside inspiration?

Everything I write about is from my own personal experiences. The songs on the album were written after a very intense 2 years, and I felt that I had to pause everything and see where I was at. I did try to dig in deeper and write about what really matters to me.

As with its predecessor In the Morning Light was produced with Thom Monahan (The Jayhawks, Silver Jews, Dinosaur Jr.). He is a man you have found a deep understanding to what you are looking for in?

He is. We have a lot of things in common and I feel that he gets the way I see sound and how it should connect with the songs.

Are you a writer/musician who is open to suggestive changes from others or have a clear vision to what you want without allowing strong deviation?

Working with a producer you might as well be open to suggestions. I try to be very open to every input from everyone involved in the project, but on the other hand it’s important to know how to say “no this will not work here, let’s do it this way” sometimes.

Tell us about some of the amazing talent you brought in to help bring the album to life.

Actually, Thom brought them together and I kind of trusted him with it. It was great. The chemistry was amazing in the studio and I felt a strong musical connection with everybody in the band.

Some of the guys had a lot more experience than me and recorded way more albums than me. I felt that I was learning a lot and also doing something in a totally different way.

The album was led into view by the wonderful single The Great Enlightenment, probably our favourite song on the album too. Tell us about its seeds.

This is a very old song of mine actually. I wrote it before my first solo album was released but somehow it never made it onto an album. When I sat down to finish writing before the recordings I recalled that song and felt that this was the time for it. I made a few changes in the melody and harmony, rewrote the lyrics and there it was.

You have just treated the UK to some live shows, how did those go?

I love playing in the UK. The shows were great and I got to visit some cities I’ve never played before like Oxford, Brighton and Glasgow.

They were smaller more intimate shows I believe? You are no stranger to large audiences though having toured the US and supported Paul Weller, as well as playing festivals in front of crowds of 20,000. Do you have a preference though or get a different buzz from large or small settings?

I can’t compare between the two formats because they are so different. Each one has it’s pulses on the other. I’m glad I get to see all aspects of live performances.

What is next on the horizon of Geva Alon?

Thinking about the next album and I already have some songs lined up for it. In the near future there are a lot of gigs in Israel and in Europe coming up, so I’m looking forward to that.

Once more many thanks for talking with us and good luck with the album.

Read the review of  In The Morning Light http://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2012/07/08/geva-alon-in-the-morning-light/

The RingMaster Review 27/07/2012

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