As last weekend’s Levitation festival in Austin proved, sweeping, epic psych rock has become more than just a sub-genre in the garage rock scene, and has spread to subsume many fuzzed-out styles. It has also spread geographically, from the beaches of northern California and the dives of east Brooklyn to the campgrounds of Austin and all the way to Israel. Vaadat Charigim is a Tel Aviv-based trio that formed in 2012, and after building a hefty regional following has hooked up with Burger Records for their second album, Sinking As A Stone, coming out May 19.
What makes Vaadat Charigim stand out from the amorphous cumulus cloud of fuzz-pedal dream droners is not only their fairly minimal, angelic but still forceful bent, but the fact they staunchly stick their native language for the lyrics. We caught up with singer/guitarist Juval Haring while in the midst of their current U.S. tour that saw them floating through Levitation last week.
Do you think that part of your appreciation for the more flowing shoegaze genre is because you feel Hebrew cadences work well in it, or did you just gravitate towards the music and fit your language into it?
It’s a very romantic genre of music. Romance is sort of the opposite of nihilism. It’s giving extra meaning to life, and life as it is doesn’t really have any meaning. So shoegaze is also kind of naive. We play a more rock version of shoegaze. Someone wrote “bootgaze” somewhere. We also have very pessimistic lyrics. It was a natural kind of music to use to make very conflicting songs that are pleasant and pretty hopeless at the same time.
Can I assume some in the band speak English? And if so, do you ever envision the band perhaps recording a song in English for any reason?
Sure we all speak English. You made sure of that with Hollywood, computer games, TV. I grew up on english language consumer products. Did I enjoy the language in that context and still do? Of course. English is complex and wonderful. Did I feel at home with English the way you do when you get home and take off your shirt and grab a beer from the fridge? The answer is no. I don’t think I can write songs anymore without feeling like I’m free to be my digusting self.
How often do you play live in Tel-Aviv or Israel in general? What kind of venues do you usually perform in?
We play very rarley in Israel. Because I’m a sort of agoraphobe. Normaly either real DIY venues or more posh ones that just stink of undergroundity for show. We play medium-sized places. I get very uncomfy if the room is too big. Also I like the sound to be as close to me as possible.
What is the hardest thing about trying to have a rock band in Israel and what are some advantages?
It’s hard to make music in a scene with zero real upper mobility for anyone playing rock. The bright side is that everyone is in it together, so we all feel very content doing this pointless, non-feasable thing called being in a band because we are not alone.
The new album’s title in Hebrew means “the boredom sinks in.” Not to sound flippant, but from over here, things don’t exactly seem “boring” in Tel-Aviv. Can you explain what the title means? And I assume the individual songs have themes of boredom too?
Like I said, it’s a pessimistic band. A pessimistic record. It is based on disblief in life having meaning. On purpose being the answer. About the maze having logic just because I want it to. This is Israeli pessimism. Pessimism can also be very boring. It’s hard to see everything in such a flat, meaningless way without being bored. That boredom sinks in. And then you can’t take it and again you try to apply meaning to eveything. It’s an endless cycle for me.
I have to say that, for having only one guitar, you guys stir up a lot of sound. Do you use a lot of guitar pedals? What are your favorites?
The opposite. I use a simple DS1 for distortion. A cheap digitech delay. No reverb. Occasionaly an mxr phaser. That’s it. I just tune down to a sort of sitar tuning and I play it a certain way.
Can you tell me about the making of the video for Ein Li Makom? And who is that long, grey-haired man in it? What’s his story?
My brother Tal Haring directed it. The actor is Aviv Mark of a band called Subway Suckers. Local punk legends. Their drummer was Ami Shalev, frontman for Monotonix. He is also in the video, eating falafel.
I’ll assume you guys know—especially now that you’ll have a record on Burger—that there is a pretty huge scene of bands in America that have a similar sweeping, echo-drenched, dreamy kind of sound and influences.
I find that in America this reverby sound is mostly consumed for fun. Or to sound and feel sexy. Or to feel powerful, but still remain shy. Or for creating beautiful harmonies and structures that are reassuring of logic, much like classical western music. That by itself is fine. But we make very strange shoegaze, if you can call what were doing shoegaze at all.
I think a review of our show in the Austin Chronicle from the last Levitation hit it right on the nose: we are none of the above. Neither here nor there. Not an easy consumer product. Our music is not empowering, and it isn’t very sexy. Jesus And Mary Chain are sexy. We are tragic. We make tragic music, like a cresendo-less everyday life. And that runs down to its sound and structural core. The tragedy is that we are people, and that shows up on our records more than anything else. We are flawed and thus more lo fi than shoegaze, at least to me.
How was the Austin Psych Festival for you? And who were some of the better bands you saw?
Jesus And Mary Chain, Earth. But we didn’t get to watch that many shows. It was incredible, I’ll never forget it. Our first big tent show. It was frightening and exciting. The festival and instititions like KEXP are the reason people even know who we are stateside.
In general, what are some things about America that have surprised you, and what are some of the stereotypes about America and Americans that seem to be true?
Americans are diverse, but most are protective of their space and generally insecure. Also non-direct. They apologize a lot even way before something actualy happened. On the other hand, perhaps as compensation, they love to help, are super respective of life and property and can get to a state of artistic freedom that is rare because of their sense of being the way they are but together. I both fear and admire the U.S.
What are some stereotypes you think Americans might have about living in Tel-Aviv that you would like to address?
In big cities they know a lot about the world outside the USA, but I’ve played small towns in which people asked me if we ride camels over there.
This second album is part of a trilogy, right? So, any idea what the theme of the third album will be?
It will be about leaving Berlin to go back home, and accepting death.
Tour Dates for Vaadat Charigim:
05-13 – Los Angeles, CA – Echo
05-14 – Santa Ana, CA – Constellation Room
05-15 – San Francisco, CA – Bottom of the Hill
05-18 – Portland, OR – Bunk Bar
05-20 – Seattle, WA – Barboza
05-22 – Brooklyn, NY – Baby’s All Right