It shouldn’t have been too difficult to arrange a talk with Perry Farrell, the
colorful frontman for 1990s alternative rock gods Jane’s Addiction. After all,
the band is riding high on the comeback trail since reforming in 2008 with their
original lineup of Farrell, guitarist Dave Navarro, drummer Stephen Perkins and
bassist Eric Avery (Avery has since departed). Their longawaited fourth album,
The Great Escape Artist, is due in October, and the onetime symbols of the
“alternative nation” have been headlining festivals throughout the summer,
journeying from the Leeds and Reading Festivals in England this week directly to
Israel for their appearance on September 1 at the Pic.Nic festival at the Tel
Aviv Fairgrounds along with quirky indie rockers Blonde
Furthermore, Farrell, born Peretz Bernstein in Queens 51 years
ago, has long been a vocal supporter of Israel, appearing at a StandWithUs rally
in New York in 2008, performing on Chabad telethons, collaborating with Israeli
techno heroes Infected Mushroom and visiting the country on occasion. The
founder of the venerable Lollapalooza music festival even unsuccessfully
attempted to organize a similar event in the Negev in 2000.
articulate and verbose Farrell has evidently put interviews on hold during
Jane’s Addiction’s summer world tour, preferring to let the band’s swirling hard
rock do the talking.
The PR firm handling the Pic.Nic festival offered,
instead, an interview with a member of Blonde Redhead, the enigmatic, minimalist
New York trio composed of Japanese vocalist/keyboardist Kazu Makino and Italian
twins Amedeo and Simone Pace on guitar and drums, respectively.
is also on a long world tour in support of their ethereal eighth album Penny
, and repeated attempts were made to nail one of them down for a
convenient time to talk.
In answer to the question with whom the
interview would actually be with, the exasperated PR rep responded with a
cryptic comment that makes writers’ hearts skip a beat: “I’m hoping it’s with
Amedeo, the communicative one.”
At the next scheduled interview time, a
man identified as the road manager answered the phone and cheerfully said,
“Sorry, they’re all sleeping – do you mind calling back in an hour? Maybe I can
get one of them up. It will probably be with [vocalist and apparently
And an hour later, after scrambling to change
some of the questions originally planned for a talkative Milanese twin, there we
were, a recently awoken indie rocker from Japan not known for verbal skills,
sitting in a Munich hotel room talking on a less than perfect cellphone line to
a Jerusalem journalist THE MATCHUP seemed about as awkward as the odd pairing of
the metallic West Coast classic alt rock of Jane’s Addiction and the angular
experimentalism of Blonde Redhead.
But music and journalism makes strange
bedfellows, and Makino, in a little girl’s chirp speaking somewhat stilted
English, gamely gave her feelings on sharing the bill with a dominant act such
“I don’t really know what to make of it, they’re such a band
from a different world. I have no expectation, but I’m looking forward to seeing
them live to see what they’re about,” said Makino, who admitted that she had
never been a fan of the group in their early ’90s heyday.
Makino met up with the Pace brothers, who had moved from Milan in their
childhood to Montreal and then on to Boston to study jazz, in the New York
underground music scene where all three converged in the early 1990s. She later
married her bandmate, Amedeo Pace, the communicative one, proving that opposites
Named after a song called “Blonde Redhead” by New York ‘no wave’
band DNA, the band formed in 1993 and released their first album two years
later. Originally patterned after the Sonic Youth noise squall concept (their
debut was produced by Sonic Youth’s Steve Shelly), they’ve gradually transformed
into a more ambient dreaminess, typified by Penny Sparkle.
combination of their quirky music and their unorthodox appearance has made them
New York indie mainstays with a growing worldwide indie following. As one
reviewer described them, “twin brothers with grey hair, cool Japanese chick in
Jane Mayle dress. Sexy, anachronistic look and tunes.”
The band certainly
isn’t unknown in Israel, having made an impression on their first visit here in
July 2007 for a show at Hangar 11.
“We loved being in Israel, and we had
a full experience,” said Makino. “We were there for three days and were able to
When asked about the band’s transition from noisy no
wavers to more introspective – if edgy – balladeers, Makino tried to express her
thoughts, with mixed results.
“We write about the changes happening in
our lives,” said Makino.
“Of course, we don’t sit down and analyze our
every thought. But I like to think that through our songs, we exorcise our
demons in public without the responsibility of turning back or even being aware
of what we have done. We’re shedding skin in the process, but I’m not sure how
Being the odd “man” out in a trio with twins, Makino said that she
doesn’t find the Pace brothers locking in to any special musical
“I don’t know, I see them sometimes drifting apart onstage and
messing up, so I don’t think being twins helps that much,” she
“Actually, I don’t even think of them as twins, because they’re
quite different. I find it amazing to watch other people mixing them up, because
I never do.”
Which is reassuring, considering she’s married to one of
After a few more questions, we brought the proceedings to a halt –
Makino had to get ready for a sound check, and there was only a slight chance
she was going to say something else quotable.
It doesn’t really matter,
though, because Makino’s charm is in her music. And fans of the group will have
two chances to see them in Israel – together with Jane’s Addiction on Thursday
night in the festival setting, or on their own the night before in the cozier
confines of The Barby Club in Tel Aviv.
Either way, they’ll be
communicating in the way they know best.