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Interview von: arne mit Ze'ev, am: 11.03.2005 ]

Die israelische Death Metal-Band SALEM ist bereits seit 1985 (!!!) aktiv, damit fraglos ein Urgestein der Szene, und veröffentlichte u.a. über Morbid Records und System Shock. Dennoch scheint das handwerklich vollends überzeugende Quintett immer ein wenig unter seinen Möglichkeiten geblieben zu sein, auch wenn man in der eigenen Heimat schnell den Status einer Legende inne hatte...


Musicscan: What is Salem all about in general. What can the listeners expect from you, What makes Salem stand out?

Salem: We started in 1985 when the scene was virtually non existent, the void of in the extreme scene was so great and quickly we established ourselves as one of the most extreme acts in the globe together with Mayhem, Sarcofago etc, our music progressed over the years to different paths which led to our distinguish. It is evident in each album that our sound and skills progressed but the Salem's signature is always there and you can not be mistaken about it, that's what makes us unique, even if we progressed within the years, you can easily hear our signature in the songs.

Musicscan: What does Salem stands for today? What's your self-understanding of Salem?

Salem: We try to express our inner thoughts and the reality that surrounds us and influenced us, in "Kaddish" we were dealing with the trauma and the memories of the second generation of the world war 2 survivors, as a band from Israel we grew up with all those memories and stories as our grandparents are holocaust survivors, in "Collective Demise" we mainly wrote about the terror and the rise of all religious fundamentalism around the world, for me as an Israeli it's one of the most focal point of view as we live in this grim reality as it effects me and all my surroundings , but even within those album we wrote some songs which deals with different subjects as realiam in conformistic society ("Above The Ground") or the internet addiction problem in the cyber space ("Decadence In Solitude").

Musicscan: Preparing my questions i read some reviews telling Salem is an underrated band within the death metal scene. Do you feel like being underrated? Where do you see the reason for it if this is true?

Salem: It's the fans and media to judge but fact is that we started almost 20 years ago when black metal was not even been labeled as one, we were broadcasted on MTV'S "Headbangers Ball" few times, we were fortunate enough to play with big acts such as Megadeth and collaborated with the legendary with Colin Richardson (Fear Factory, Machine Head) on our third album, "A Moment of Silence" but still i feel that as an Israeli band we need to work harder than European bands, if we deserve a bigger attention? I sure hope so.

Musicscan: Salem is around since 1985: You did a couple of records, played surely hundreds of shows - What is worth to speak about bands development and what have been your personal highlights within all these years? What are you especially proud of?

Salem: I think the best thing about being a part of Salem is the interaction with our crowed we get so much from them, they are the fuel behind the band, without such a devoted and encouraging fans we were not be able to carry as long as we are. In such a long span there were many highlights such as playing with Megadeth in 1995 in front of 5000 fans for two nights in a row and exchange tips with Dave Mustaine and Marty Friedman, another one would be the first time we were on MTV and the privilege to work with such an acclaimed producer as Colin Richardson "A Moment Of Silence".

Musicscan: Lets speak about your musical progression: What have been the main aspects you focused onto most between your records record?

Salem: As i said before: to come with a different ideas every album but still keep our tradition and roots, we inhale everything that surrounds us, we are grown men we are not singing hail songs to Satan, we observe everything that happens in our world both globally and locally and this mixes with our views and personalities is the basis to our work .

Musicscan: Do you have something like an overall vision in mind concerning bands sounding? What are you heading for? Tell me something about your ideals, please.

Salem: You learn more about the production side of the coin with every album so you progress and try to bring new ideas regarding the production, every album makes you better musician i think, as much as the longer you play an instrument the better player you are..

Musicscan: Some time ago there was this pretty nice DVD-release and you are surely working on a new studio-record, right? What is to expect?

Salem: The DVD "Live Demise" recieved high feedback from the press and media, we worked really hard on it, the next Salem record will be something pretty conceptual and unique, it will be released in May 2005 and will suprise you for sure...:)

Musicscan: What are you guys doing when you enter your rehearsal room? What's your main focus creating new songs onto?

Salem: We rehearse a lot and most of the process is done in the rehearsale room when we all compose together and practicing the new songs as well as perfecting our older tunes.

Musicscan: What does it take to write a particular song? Have there been any songs so far that were specifically difficult to make?

Salem: Really depends on the song, some are harder to write, some are easy, but we take our time, we will not release a song that we are not 100% satisfied with.

Musicscan: What is the Salem-song and the Salem-record as well you guys feel especially proud of (whether compositionally, lyrically,...)

Salem: I Think "Eyes To Match A Soul" and "Flames" are 2 good examples of really solid tracks, regarding an album, it's a tough questions I love them all, they are like my children, well I actually like my children more than the albums, but at the moment the new album we are working on seems like is going to be my favorite.

Musicscan: Are the lyrics equally important to the music you are playing? They often are less important for metal bands...

Salem: They Are of course equally important as the music, we write about the things we feel and close to our lives and hearts without taking into consideration the people's reaction, we wrote about the holocaust tragedy while we were on a german label, and we wrote about the worldwide terror conflicts BEFORE the europian countries understood that it's a world wide problem, Salem isn't just a band to bang your head into, we are a band that makes you think, we would like to make a difference, I know that Salem will not change the world, but if we were able to change one person with our lyrics than we made that difference, and according to all the fan mail I'm getting we were lucky enough to touch many people..

Musicscan: Are there any messages that you guys are trying to get out into the scenes?

Salem: I think our lyrics touch people and make them see things in a different light and that's the biggest satisfaction an artist can have.

Musicscan: Do all of the members listen to the same types of music or do certain people have their niche? What are acts you are interested in at the moment?

Salem: There are some bands that we all like (Kreator, Death, Slayer etc) but each members have a favorites of his own, nowdays i enjoy a lot of Samael, Behemoth, and Cradle Of Filth's new album, some in the band listen to Classical and oriental music..

Musicscan: What is your opinion to the fact that underground metal seems to run more and more into the commercial? It offers better chances for some bands of course...

Salem: It is, but you have to stick to your guns and remember where you came from, otherwise you'll lose your fan base which is actually the one that makes theses bad tick, and sadly that's happened to a lot of bands.

Musicscan: Is there something you want the people to leave your shows with? Do you want to cause special feelings within your listeners?

Salem: Our shows are highly intense, between 800 to 1000 people comes to every show we do, lately we played a special 150 (!!!!!) minute show in front of our fans, two and half hours of pure mayhem..., i would like them to leave the show with the feeling that we gave them 100% from ourselves, the fans are the sixth member in Salem.

Musicscan: What kind of feeling is it to play your songs in front of a crowd?

Salem: Great, especially when they are so dedicated and motivated like the domestic fans, it's a great feeling to see all these people standing there and shouting each word we wrote along with us .

Musicscan: Something you would like to mention at the end?

Salem: Check out our new dvd "Live Demise" and watch out for the new upcoming album !!

Musicscan: Zu guter Letzt hier noch der Abriss der langen Karriere von Salem...

Salem: Salem was formed in 1985 along with the newly born extreme metal scene and released 2 demo tapes called: "Salem"(1986) and "Destruction till Death"(1987). the band released "Millions Slaughtered Live"(1990). This demo tape sold 1,500 copies and got the band a record deal with the German label Morbid Records.

Salem: "Creating our sins"(1992) and "Kaddish"(1994) were released by Morbid records and sold over 40,000 copies worldwide. Prior to the release of "Kaddish", Morbid Records released a 7 inch picture EP with the single "Dying Embers"(1994) to promote the album, and when "Kaddish" came out, a limited edition of the album was released on vinyl (picture disc). The opening song "The Fading" was played on M.T.V's headbangers ball rotation and also got the band to be elected as one of the best 10 up and coming bands in the world by M.T.V and Kerrang. "Kaddish" also featured a cover song called "Ha'ayara Bo'eret" (the town is on fire), a song that is being associated with the holocaust. This national controversy found its way to the Israeli parliament for a discussion of whether or not it is appropriate for a metal band to play such songs.

Salem: In 1998, following the best offer the band got from Israeli label B.N.E., producer Colin Richardson, the man who produced such known act as Machine Head, Fear Factory etc, flew over to Israel to record "A Moment of Silence". The album was recorded in D.B. studios in Israel and The Chapel in England and was released late 1998. A big distribution deal was on the horizon with Modern Music (Germany) but due to miscommunication between B.N.E. and the band the deal fell through.

Salem: Right after the "A Moment of Silence" recording session, Amir Neubach quits the band to pursue a music career in New-York City. Nir Nakav, who just returned from L.A. after 4 years, joins Salem. In early 2001, Salem was released from their contract with B.N.E. In December 2001, Salem signed a 3 album deal with KMG/ System Shock from Germany. The 4th album "Collective Demise" released in September 2002. The fourth Salem album is the most aggressive Salem album to date. Produced by the band and recorded in D.B. Studios (Drums, Bass, and Guitars) and Noise Studios (Vocals and mix) in Israel to maintain the bombastic production standard set forth with previous release "A Moment of Silence". "Collective Demise" contains 12 new songs which textually are snapshots of our reality since September 2001.

Salem: May 2002 Nir Gutraiman (Guitar) joins Salem.

Salem: February 2004 - Salem is back with a vengeance, offering their ever expanding fan base the opportunity to bring one of the band's infamous live shows home. Shot last July in front of 900 raging fans, this full-length live cencert is presented in stereo, 5.1 and DTS mixes. Of course these songs have gone through many revisions throughout the years as the band members have evolved as artists and as people. The DVD also includes many bonuses such as; 7 promo videos, behind the scene featurette, a making of featurette, a gag reel, 2 easter eggs, English, German, Russian and Japanese subtitles and a 12 pages full color booklet.

Salem: In their long years in the business, Salem played shows as headliners but was also much obliged to play on the same stage with other known bands like; Megadeth, Entonbed, Behemoth, Ancient Rites, Rotting Christ, Disharmonic Orchestra, Cancer and more.