Interview with Orphaned Land

Orphaned Land, a band who needs no introduction, has been one of the most successful bands who play a unique blend of progressive death/doom metal with Arabic influences. We caught up with the band before their second visit to India scheduled in February at IIT Guwahati’s Alcheringa 2012 fest.

Greetings from MetalIndia Magazine. How are you guys doing? Hope you have a great time at ‘70,000 Tons of Metal’.
Hey there. 70,000 tons of Metal was a great experience and we are now heading towards Mexico for a show at a festival there.

You guys have already toured India last year and played at Vellore, Mumbai & Pune. How was the experience? Did you enjoy the tour?
We loved India. Some of us were in India before and toured the country, so we know India quite well and have fallen in love with it. It is different than what we are used to in Israel, and it’s always great to go to places which have different atmosphere. We had a great hospitality when we played there, and we can’t wait to get back for more shows.

Tell us something about the experience working with Steven Wilson. He has mixed your last album “The Never Ending Way of ORWarriOR” and also toured with you in 2010. How did you guys get in touch with him?
Steven spends a lot of time in Israel, since he has been working with the local artist Aviv Geffen on their Blackfield project. We got to know Steven here, and got him interested in what we do. He is really a great guy and a good friend and of course that a great artist, and it has been a pleasure working with him and we are looking forward to maybe even more cooperation in the future.

How would you compare your last two studio albums ‘Mabool’ and ‘The Never Ending Way of ORWarriOR’. How have you evolved as a musician in the process?
I think that the last two albums are different from each other in many ways. There is a 6 years period between those albums, so naturally there is a big different in their sound as well. Mabool has more prog rock elements than Orwarrior for example, and Orwarrior has more complex riffs, kind of more similar to what we did in El Norra Alila in a way. We are all involved in the creation process, and we all contribute something to the mix.

If I’m not wrong, the last two full length studio album releases took 8 and 6 years respectively, although there were few EP releases in between. When can we expect the next full length studio album? Will it be a concept album as well?
You’re right, in most cases it took us long years to release albums, but this time we hope it will be different. It is a healthy thing for a band to release albums every two or three years and we will so our best to keep up. We hope to start working on a new album real soon and have the next one release, hopefully, in a year.

You guys opened for Metallica in Israel in May, 2010. Must be a proud moment. Please share the experience.
Opening for Metallica was a real special experience. They are in a completely different league than what we are used to. We get to play at huge festivals for 50,000 people, but Metallica is by far the biggest metal band around, and they are huge even out of the metal scene standards. They arrive in private jets, have 100 people in their crew running around and building the stage, to make a long story short, they are huge. We even got the chance to meet them before the show and have a picture together, they were really nice.

How would you explain Oriental Metal/ Jewish Muslim Metal/ Middle-East Progressive Metal?
Metal is a genre that comes mostly from Europe and America, but people from other places in the world like it and do it as well. The same way there’s folk metal from Finland or Norway, It seemed like a good idea to make Middle Eastern Metal, or Arab Metal, if you want. People all around the world like it and we get really good reactions. It is something we’re doing for over 20 years, and we are proud to carry this flag.

What was the reaction of the fans/ critics/ worldwide metalheads to the press photos of the band, in which you guys were dressed as various religious icons. What was the message you were trying to convey through them?
We got all kinds of reactions to this photo. Most reactions were really good. The idea behind this photo was to reflect what we are doing in our music, into a visual experience. We have many contradictions in our essence. We ask questions about belief, about  faith, about different cultures and religions, and mix everything together in the same pot. Therefore, this photo reflects who we are in many ways. People see that our intentions are good, that we don’t wish to hurt anybody’s feelings, and they like the artistic point of view of this photo.

Talking of religions, what are your opinions on the same?
That depends who in the band you’re asking. If you’re asking me, I am agnostic about the existence of God. No one knows where life comes from or why, and all people can do is make assumptions. I think that we are not meant to deal with those questions, but live and enjoy life. I think that religion is OK, people have the right to believe what they want, but I also think that religious people tend to get too extreme sometimes and to force their beliefs on others, a thing I strongly don’t believe in and think it’s bad and wrong.

Tell us something about the documentary “The Road To OR-Shalem” released last year.
We had a DVD released lately, and with this DVD we included a documentary about us that was done by a fan of ours. It includes interviews with all members of the band, showing our perspective about what the band is to us and what it has been through the years. We are all talking about experiences we had with the band, about the split that we had a few good years ago, and more interesting stuff.

People in India don’t know much about the metal scene in your country. Keeping in mind the political & military struggles, tell our readers something about it. Also suggest us few good metal bands from Israel.
There is a great metal scene in Israel. There are lots of good bands that are waiting to be discovered. There are lots of reasons why it is really difficult for bands from Israel to make it abroad. I won’t get into all of them, but let’s say that the political problems in Israel don’t contribute to the scene. It won’t be fair to name some bands, so just Google for Israeli Metal and I promise you’ll be surprised with what you find.

You guys have mentioned in your previous interviews that it is very tough for metal bands to survive in Israel. What, according to you, is the secret behind the success of Orphaned Land which earned you a huge following worldwide, including Muslims & Arabian people.
First of all, we went with our truth. We’ve find something that wasn’t done before, and found some way to stand out of the crowd. If we would have done something that has been done a thousand times before, there’s no guarantee where we would be now. It is important to be unique and special and to find that thing that makes you different from the others, and go with it.

Do you listen/support any Indian band(s)?
I don’t know any Indian band’s, no. But there are lots of songs from Indian movies that get into the radio here and become great hits, so we are familiar with Indian music in general.

Thanks for your time, man. Anything you’d like to say to our readers and your fans?
Just that we love India, and that we can’t wait to play there again and again and again. Cheers!

Connect with Orphaned Land: Official Website | Facebook

Interview by Dinesh Verma