Almost like children playing with blocks, Jerusalem-based rock band Remedy likes to build, destroy, then rebuild.
The band, comprised of brothers Ben (guitar and vocals) and Menachem (drums) Katz, Eli Ben Ze'ev (guitar), Avi Hershberg (bass) and Yosef Adest (keyboard) take the sounds of classic rock and synthesize them to create a musical product that often arrives unexpectedly.
"There is a term that we started to use when we play - 'blissful deconstruction of a song,'" says Ben Katz, who writes most of the music and all the lyrics. "Rather than having a song be absolutely complete from start to finish, the goal is to not have a song with an 'insert guitar solo here' section. You have some structured moments during which the band can feed off each other, and then improvise in that moment."
The band, whose members were all born in the US but grew up in the Jerusalem area - with the exception of Adest, who made aliya just a few years ago and joined the group recently - plays a mix of original songs with covers ranging from the Rolling Stones, Pearl Jam and The Black Crowes. Five years ago, after Ben and Ben Ze'ev (who had been playing together since they were kids and had written songs over the years) decided they wanted to form a rock band to have a more public outlet for making music. After Menachem agreed to join, all they needed was a bass player, and through a mutual friend they were introduced to Hershberg.
A year after the band came together, playing shows here and there, the four hooked up with David "Harpo" Abramson, formerly of Jewish rockers Reva L'Sheva, to form Harpo and the Neshamot. But after recording an album together (Am Olam), and playing some shows in the US, Remedy wanted to get back to their roots.
"We played Jewish music with Harpo for two years, but felt like we really needed to get back to playing rock n' roll," Ben recalls. "I think we all learned a lot from being with Harpo. He really loves the music of Rav Shlomo Carlebach, but doesn't want to regurgitate the same sounds. He wants to create new music."
Asked to describe the influence of Jewish music on his songwriting, Ben says that though he has written a few songs in Hebrew, including the popular "Lev Tahor", "they're not traditional Jewish folk songs. They are more experimental, with more influences from our rock n' roll heroes.
"Lyrically, people sometimes ask me if we are a Jewish band, if we play Jewish music. I think there is a lot of tension in my lyrics about whether Jewish spirituality and rock n' roll can work together. We will play a Jewish song like "Lev Tahor," and then right afterwards play 'Highway To Hell' by AC/DC. The juxtaposition is an ironic look at what rock and roll is when wearing a kippa."
Though Ben writes most of the music and all the lyrics, the band is constantly arranging the music together.
"Today we were rehearsing a Hebrew reggae song I wrote in Australia a year and a half ago. We had been working on it for a long time when Menachem added this almost drum-and-bass kind of trip-hop beat," Ben says. "I wrote it alone on acoustic guitar, but it only came together when we were together in the room playing as a band."
The band hopes to record an album soon. Ben says they have about 20 songs ready, and about 30 more as works in progress. Until then, the band will keep on building, taking apart, and building some more.
Remedy is to play Saturday, with Pey Dalid, at Assaf's Cave on Jerusalem's Mount Zion at 8:30 p.m. Entrance is NIS 20. They are also playing, along with Hamakor, at Barnasus Club, Rehov Horkanos 3 in the capital's Russian Compound on Purim night, Tuesday (NIS 30).