Izabo's emphasis is on musical satisfaction

In the wake of Izabo's just-released album, the group will tour its home turf before heading back to Europe.

Izabo 88 224 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Izabo 88 224
(photo credit: Courtesy)
In the wake of Izabo's just-released album, the group will tour its home turf before heading back to Europe Don't let their first album - titled The Fun Makers - deceive you. Ran Shem Tov, lead singer of Izabo, takes his music very seriously. And he has to. Fun alone does not drive an Israeli band to perform in English and tour the world over. "We had some rough times," Shem Tov discloses. "During our two years in the US, we worked crappy jobs by day and performed at night. This even led to a temporary break-up, but we managed to pull through it all," he says. The shows abroad, of course, were also a source of pleasure. "We played at a trance music festival in France. It's a big festival that drew enough people to fill an 8,000-person-capacity stadium. We played a smaller, 2,000-person venue. When we started, we had only a few hundred people at the show, but people heard us and came in. Eventually, we filled the place up, even though a bigger band was playing at the same time." Izabo is a quintessential example of how a well-known, critically acclaimed band does not earn any gold records. Signed by Sony BMG, the group released "Morning Hero," a single from its first album, in the UK. In 2006, the album was translated into French and was successful there. The band was even invited to perform on the illustrious Taratata, a French show that has hosted such guests as Devendra Banhart (who played in Israel too long ago) and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Yet, Izabo's album sold only 5,000 copies locally. Nonetheless, Shem Tov doesn't see any other way for the band to move forward. "Success is great, but it's not our most important goal," he explains. "It is much more important for us to be satisfied with our music. I can only sing in English. When I sing in Hebrew, I feel like a tourist. Furthermore, our domestic, slightly dirty sound is not easily accepted here. So, we tour the world. Even if it means a slower success rate." Such devotion to the music has given Izabo cause to end its five-year hiatus since its debut album. Their second release, Super Light, is out this week. "We always have songs," says Shem Tov of the half-decade delay, adding that, "I was not happy with the sound of a few of them. When he was working on Pet Sounds, it took Brian Wilson half a year to find the right sound for just one song. It takes time to be truly happy with the end result." The end result is a fusion of Brit rock, disco, psychedelic and Middle Eastern sounds all united on one unique, fun-filled album. Following Super Light's release, Izabo returns from a Berlin music festival to play a series of shows in Israel after a half-year of not performing here. "This is what we love to do most," Shem Tov reveals. "To play our music around the world, return home to play a little more and then rest a bit." Izabo plays at Tel Aviv's Levontin 7 on July 9 at 9 p.m. with opening act Reef Cohen; on July 10 at 9:30 p.m. with opening acts Shaul Eshet and Onilly; and on July 11 at 9:30 p.m. with opening act Yael Dekelbaum. Tickets are NIS 70/80. For more information visit www.myspace.com/izaboband or www.levontin.com.