Oy Bay!

"My heart is in the east, and I in the uttermost west." — Yehudah Ha-Levi

Teapacks Rocked SF and is Taking the World by Storm

Posted by challahbackgirl on December 21, 2007

Teapacks at Ruby Skye, SF October 2007In late October, on a Sunday night some of your favorite Oy-Baysters, Oyster, Jlifer, Kneidlach and I, along with a few hundred other MOT, descended on Ruby Skye in SF for an awesome night of music. After awesome performances by Y-love with Jake Break and dj handler, Sagol 59 and headliner Teapacks, we went back to our daily lives and neglected to let you know how it was. So, with some help from our friends at Leviathan, who we ran into in line, we’re going to catch you up on the action and musicians. (Thanks Shari) Since they had so much to say from their great interviews with the musicians, I’m going to post their piece on Y-love separately from this piece on Teapacks. Words can’t do the music full justice; so, I made sure to capture the evening in videos and pictures for you.

Read Leviathan’s interview with Teapacks lead singer Kobi Oz after the jump.

Teapacks: Going International

An interview with lead singer Kobi Oz on the opening night of their US tour

By Shari Geller

Israeli music rarely escapes Israel to become popular in other countries. Over the last year I have been seeking out Israeli music in order to learn more Hebrew and because there are so many hot Israeli guys who also happen to be fantastic singers. During my search for good music I ran into Teapacks. They have been around since the late 1980s and their music varies so much that I don’t think it’s possible to classify it as a certain genre.

Alas, Teapacks is Israeli and I feared that despite the fact that they have a core Israeli/Jewish audience in the U.S. they would never have the chance to reach beyond Israel. Last spring they represented Israel in Eurovision which is a competition in which each country sends a singer or band to represent them, the representatives perform songs and everybody votes on the best performance. Thanks to the San Francisco Israel Center Teapacks made San Francisco a stop on their U.S. tour. Nearly 20 people from UC Santa Cruz got together and made the long trek to see this amazing band at Ruby Skye in San Francisco on Sunday, October 14th.

My boyfriend, Eric, suggested that I try to interview them because he was going to interview Y-Love, Jewish rapper extraordinaire who opened for Teapacks. I didn’t think would have the chance to interview such an amazing band, but I prepared a few questions just in case. At the end of the concert we waited around and did some begging and pleading and thanks to the kindness of Yuval and Lital from the Israel Center a few of us were able to get backstage to meet the band. I asked Kobi Oz, the lead singer/songwriter of Teapacks if I could interview him. He allowed me to do a brief interview and it was very interesting.

Teapacks is composed lead singer Kobi Oz, bassist Gal Peremen, guitarist Rami Yosifov (who is, by the way, the first performer ever to chew gum while on stage at Eurovision), sound man Meir Amar, guitarist Dani Aberjel, drummer Motti Yoseff and keyboardist Noam Yankelevich. They formed the band in southern Israel (lead singer Kobi Oz is from the city of Sderot). They have released many albums and are known for bringing Mizrahi (Middle Eastern) music into the mainstream in Israel. Over the years they have won several awards in Israel and have had many big hits.

Interview

I was so excited about the interview that I could hardly think straight. The interview was conducted in English because I did not wish to mis-translate Kobi Oz’s statements. His English is very good and only a few things had to be changed. If you would like to see the actual video, please contact me.

Shari Geller (SG): At Eurovision there were some issues surrounding your song “Push the Button” which is a song about the possibility of nuclear war. The Eurovision officials wanted to have less cameras on you and also to ban the song. Do you think it was because of the song content or because you guys are from Israel?

Kobi Oz (KO): The song content was very distressing for them. They live in a big European bubble and they think that nobody should burst their bubble and we did it. We came there like… wearing army pants and spoke about nuclear [war] and terror and for them it was too much. And when it comes from Israel and they know that we have made a lot of trouble in Eurovision, made history like Diva [Dana International] and others. So, for them it was tough but we had the great support of the street… all the youngsters and the punk youth were all for us. Did you know that our guitar player, Rami was the only guitar player ever…

Rami Yosifov: The first one and the only one to chew gum in Eurovision!

KO: He chewed gum in Eurovision.

SG: So do you think that if you had chosen a different song that was less controversial you would have won?

KO: We had something to prove. We wanted to bring reality to Eurovision and the reality in Israel is not so different from the reality in Europe. In Europe there is terror and everybody is

plotting against their countries and they are not aware of this. They would like to continue being polite and nice and everything. Israeli chutzpah will wake them up. I hope.

SG: You’re from Sderot, right? Do you think that now looking back on it the withdrawal from Gaza [in the summer of 2005] might have caused the frequent Qassam attacks on Sderot? Do you think the pullout was still the right thing to do, or no, or you never did [think it was the right thing]?

KO: Look, I’m sorry for the Earth, for the flowers. There were greenhouses, there was Israeli agriculture, settlers that did wonderful things with tomatoes, cucumbers and everything [in Gaza]. They gave the keys to the Palestinians. If they [the Palestinians] would have cultivated the soil, for me that would have been okay. It’s like respect for the land. They had no respect for the land. They destroyed the greenhouses and now they are shooting at small children in Sderot. So, I feel a big betrayal because they are always saying “We would like more land.” So we say “Okay, take the land. Make something good for yourself!” The best thing that can happen for Israel is that there will be a Palestinian state [that is] prosperous and happy and not the stupid fundamentalist anarchy that they have now in Gaza. So I regret it, I regret it very much.

SG: With this [two-week American] tour are you hoping to expand your popularity in the U.S., is that the goal of it or is it just to reach out to your fans here?

KO: We have a five-year program to be well-known in the world. So we’re trying to write in English and to get our schizophrenic Mediterranean style out of Israel because we did it in Israel and for us it’s time for the world to know this kind of music.

SG: I noticed that you translated all of Od Shabbat into English which was really a shock for us… we didn’t know where you were going with it.

KO: It became almost like a country song… [singing, country-style] Do you want to chew some tobacco?

SG: Are you planning on doing that with more songs?

KO: We’re not sure. We’re concentrating on writing new songs with new content and not every song can be translated. It’s not good because Hebrew is like a very wise language for word games, it’s very delicate and English… is difficult not only for me, it’s a kitschy language. You can say “I love you” in English and it sounds better than in Hebrew. In Hebrew it’s like “What do you mean? Really? Really? Do you love me?” But in English it’s like, “Yeah, you love me.

It’s great!”

SG: You guys cover a lot of social and political issues in your songs. How do you think that’s going to translate over to the American fans who don’t necessarily know much about those issues?

KO: Well, the new songs are about the pursuit of money. The album that we are planning is going to be called “Stop Making Money” and it speaks about all the cultures that set aside G-d and put the green bill or put money in place of G-d. This is something that, in our opinion, is not very moral to do. People are getting crazy. Our songs are speaking about this. We are laughing at it, we are toying with this and with greed… we have a lot of songs about greed and songs about the mafia. It’s international but it’s still social. The message is social like in our Israeli songs.

SG: Well, the concert was really excellent. We’re really glad that you guys came!

KO: Thank you.

SG: We had 20 people from our school I think, that drove up an hour and a half to get here.

KO: Wow!

[the whole room starts clapping and cheering]

Tobias Finkelstein (a fellow UCSC student and huge Teapacks fan): So, next year you guys will come to Santa Cruz?

KO: We will come anywhere where they want us to perform.

You can also check out the full Fall 2007 issue of Leviathan were this article originally appeared.

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2 Responses to “Teapacks Rocked SF and is Taking the World by Storm”

  1. […] Teapacks Rocked SF and is Taking the World by Storm […]

  2. Oyster said

    Wow, thanks for posting this!

    BTW, notice that the Teapacks front-man is wearing the Jew-fiyya. :-p

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