Peter Roth likes performing for the public. Considering he’s a rock musician, that isn’t such a bad thing. But despite making some of his bread as a solo singer-songwriter, he says he definitely tends towards the collective approach.
“I always prefer to work within a band,” states the 42-year-old rocker, adding that it’s a swings and roundabouts professional state of affairs.
“It’s true that you have to make compromises on an artistic level when you’re with other musicians – it’s unavoidable. There can be clashes and friction, but that’s good. That can produce fire which keeps the whole business alive and kicking rather than just trundling along on automatic pilot,” he says.
The cross-fertilization effect will be in evidence on October 19 when Roth takes the stage at Kibbutz Ein Gedi with Maor Cohen as part of this year’s Tamar Festival (October 17 to 20). As always, the annual music bash is chock full of star turns, such as Yehudit Ravitz, Hadag Nahash, Ester Rada, Beri Sakharof, Mosh Ben-Ari and Shalom Hanoch.
Iconic rock artist Hanoch is one of several older generation titans with whom Roth has worked over the years, when he and the other members of the Monica Sex rock band collaborated with him on the Or Yisraeli (Israeli Light) album, which came out in 2003. It is a mark of the guitarist-singer’s standing in the local music community.
In addition to Hanoch, Roth has shared a stage with Shlomo Artzi and, in 2006, he released an album with preeminent pop singer Arik Einstein.
“These are the people who made the music I grew up with,” says Roth.
“I had their records at home, records which my parents bought, and even records I bought myself. You could say that for me, working with these people was like a dream come true. It was amazing for me. Suddenly I found myself producing an album for them or performing on stage with them. Getting close to Arik Einstein was perhaps the biggest dream of my life – writing songs for him and hanging out with him. These were formative events in my career.”
Roth had the best possible starter for his musical exploits – the right genes.
“My grandfather is a conductor; of course, that’s classical music. My father was in the Northern Command IDF band around 1967 or 1968. He plays bass, and my mother sings in a choir. I really had no choice about becoming a musician,” he laughs. “As soon as I was able to get away from exercise books and writing in them, I started playing music. I knew from a very young age that I wanted to be a musician,” he says.
Roth Sr. helped provide a paternal shove in the right direction by introducing his son to the intricacies of guitar playing.
“He was, and still is, a music teacher. So it was perfectly natural for him to teach me, too. He really gave me the basis for everything I know today. He really knows music theory,” he says.
Roth’s father also made sure that his offspring imbibed some of the early gems of the pop and rock sector.
“Every lesson he gave me ended with him showing me how to play a Beatles song. As far as I am concerned, the Beatles’ songs are the music Bible,” he asserts.
Roth’s musical learning curve took on a steeper trajectory in high school.
“I became much more professional there,” Roth recalls, returning to his reciprocal reward theme. “I firmly believe that as a musician, nothing happens unless you come into contact with others and play with other people. Then you get the chance to play with musicians who are better than you, and they push you to achieve a higher level of musicianship.”
Fortunately, there were several likeminded youngsters at Roth’s school in Holon.
“There was no Internet back then.
When you play music on your own, you think you’re the only one doing what you’re doing,” he continues. “I was wonderful to meet other kids fired by the desire to play music and to get better at it. That’s really where I moved up to the next stage of musicianship.”
In fact, Roth had accumulated some stage time prior to that.
“At elementary school, whenever they looked for someone to sing at various events, I always volunteered,” he says.
He had no early stage fright-related qualms. He enjoyed it. That changed when Roth entered his teenage years, and he says he still struggles with singing.
“Most of what I do takes place behind the scenes and with an instrument. Playing an instrument and singing are very different things. It is a challenge for me to sing, to be at the front of the stage, but I am dealing with it,” he reveals. He is clearly making strides.
Watching him do his thing in front of an audience, you would never guess there was an internal wrestling match in progress. Roth won’t be alone on stage at the Tamar Festival. In fact, he will be in the best company possible.
“Maor [Cohen] and I have been friends since we were 17,” he says. “We started together, more or less. I was a musician before he thought of getting into music. He thought he’d do something in film.”
Cohen may have got going after Roth, but he certainly made up for lost time. “He founded [rock band] Ziknei Tzfat. I don’t think even he thought they would be such a hit,” says Roth.
That was a couple of years before Monica Sex started up, and it took a while longer for Roth and Cohen to join musical forces.
“From time to time, there was talk about me joining Ziknei Tzfat,” says Roth, “but that never happened.”
They did, however, work together in the late 1990s as members of the Hazevuvim (The Flies) rock band. When Cohen decided to put out his debut solo offering in 1999, he naturally turned to Roth to take on the producer’s role. “That was my first time as a producer, but it really went well,” Roth recalls. The two were musically and personally tuned in to each other.
“We are like more than brothers,” says Roth. “We clicked right from the word go. And we have a lot of fun together on stage. I don’t think there’s any point in performing if you’re not going to have a good time. I think the audience gets that, too.”Peter Roth and Maor Cohen will perform on October 19 at Kibbutz Ein Gedi. For more information: http://tamarfestival.com/