Vaadat Charigim: Dan Bloch (denim jacket), Juval Haring (hoodie), Juval Guttmann (black tee); images by Manuela Insixiengmay
In case of the summer bummer, we’ve been known to turn to shoegaze rock–the subgenre made from loops and layers of guitar noise–and travel to a place where pain is beauty.
It usually works.
When we caught up with Juval Haring, who fronts Israeli shoegaze band Vaadat Charigim, he described himself as “pessimistic” and “cynical.” He also deadpanned about his first name, which he shares with his drummer:
“Juval is a common Israeli name. I’m kind of like the Israeli Craig.”
Haring is funny. His band’s new album, Sinking As a Stone, generally, is not.
With little to no musical support system back home and yet over 1,000 concerts played so far, Haring explained what Berlin, Germany, and Portland, OR, have to do with each other, some of his more existential lyrics–and why he keeps on rocking in the free world.
Nordstrom blogs: What’s your favorite music out of Israel in 2015?
Juval Haring: Well, there isn’t a lot of new albums. There are singles. People don’t reach the point where they have a full album, rock bands in Israel, because there isn’t much of a scene for rock at all. If it doesn’t have a teenager appeal, most of the underground/indie stuff doesn’t reach record size. The band just falls apart. But I have a few friends who are in good bands, like Reo–R-E-O–or
Rhys Kinder Ryskinder. Or a new album by Cain & Abel 90210. That’s kind of a metal band. Very good live.
What about best song of the year so far internationally?
I have very specific tastes. I like the new Metz album and the new Lightning Bolt album. I’m not sure about songs though. I like Milk Music, but that’s not new.
How is Sinking As a Stone [new album] different from The World Is Well Lost [debut album]?
It’s more landscape-ish. A bit more abstract. It has a lot to do with the psychological, emotional state of mind. The first album was very song-oriented. Then we got deeper into the aesthetic of what we were doing. The lyrics–you can’t make them out if you’re an American and don’t speak Hebrew–are not narrative storytelling but more feelings. This whole album is like, if you look at it as a trilogy, this would be The Two Towers. Really long and slow and building up to a point.
So, third album and then you break up?
No, then we do more albums and don’t say it’s a trilogy.
You sing on “Ein Li Makom,” “I have no place in this world” (translated). You’re talking about yourself?
It’s like a blues song. “I have no place in this world anymore.” It’s a spiritual song, but also like the Ramones’ “I Don’t Wanna Walk Around with You.” I don’t want to be a realist. I don’t want to make the best of myself or do what’s expected of me. It’s about not wanting to be normalized. Our band name is “exceptions committee,” so we’re all about representing otherness in Israel.
When you first got into shoegaze rock music real heavy, did you want to move to England or the UK, where the music was born?
No. I’ve been to England; I don’t want to live there. It’s nice, but I don’t want to live there. I used to live in Berlin. It was fun, easygoing, a lot of musicians. Like they say in Portlandia, “where young people go to retire.” So that’s Berlin basically. A haven for people to escape their country to live in a youth utopia. After a few years, I realized I’m not positive enough to want to live in a youth utopia. I’m too pessimistic to embrace that lifestyle. So I went back, like a masochist, to Israel. I know it sounds like I’m cynical about it, but above everything I love my family and want to be in my country.
When you’re not in Tel Aviv, what do you miss the most?
My wife. My dog. I like Tel Aviv. I just like the city. It’s hard to explain. People are cool. I know everyone and I get free coffee. I sit in a coffee place and I get extra butter. I miss that. Where-everybody-knows-your-name kinda thing.
You’ve played over 1,000 shows…
Myself individually. But this band, we only tour sporadically.
But over the course of your life. And you’ve organized maybe more shows.
Over 1,000 shows, yes. And I’m a publicist now. I used to be a promoter.
That’s a lot of work.
Yeah. I’ve played shows where nobody cared, been on tours where nobody noticed if you arrived on time or not, or at all. Because then they wouldn’t have the noise of someone they don’t know. We used to book shows with MySpace. Things always seem to have no point eventually. So what I do now is I look at my feet and I take a step at a time. And I focus on the shows, and that’s good enough.