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Kobi Farhi - Orphaned Land

Interview with Kobi Farhi from Orphaned Land
by Marcos "Big Daddy" Garcia at 14 January 2018, 12:37 PM

Hatred and ignorance are the deepest feelings that are eroding all that is good in the world. Although the human race is able to learn and love, we are still attached by the feelings of fear and hatred, the price for our lack of understanding each other. In this moment, few stand as light for the people, the voice for a better world. But the band ORPHANED LAND is a spearhead for peace and a better world for all.

They are about to release their new album, “Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs”, on January 26th. Metal Temple writer Marcos “Big Daddy” Garcia had the opportunity to talk with Kobi Farhi, the band vocalist, to talk about the album and other matters.

Well, to begin with the interview, I’d like to thank you for this opportunity. So as our first question, we’d like to know why ORPHANED LAND took four years to release “Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs”? Something linked to Yossi’s departure and “Kna’an” project?

We always take our time between albums, I guess that touring after All Is One, the departure of Yossi and Kna'an did caused some delays too, but the mail reason is always the fact that we search for a very strong concept and we always want to top everything we did in the past, it also took us 8 years to release Mabool and 6 years to release ORwarriOR. It took me around 2-3 years to figure the concept for this new album, but I'm so happy with it I think it is very strong!

Speaking about Yossi leaving the band, both of you, along with bassist Uri, founded ORPHANED LAND back on 1991-1992. How do you felt back then when he left? What changed in ORPHANED LAND’s musical work after his departure? How are things working with Idan Amsalem on guitars?

Yossi was and forever be an important part of the OL history, we've been together for 22 years. When he left I was a bit sad and shocked, but I also knew that when it comes to OL, the band has its own spirit that it's bigger than Yossi, Kobi or Uri. I knew that OL never had one mastermind in the band, so the band can always remain alive, and still connected to it's spirit no matter what, and look at this new album, t's OL, without Yossi, and we are at our best! Idan & Cen are today in the shows of Yossi & Matti and they are doing an amazing job! They understand the band's spirit, and we are very happy with the current lineup, both the people they are and the way they play.

On “Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs”, we can hear some elements that were absent on “All Is One”, as the harsh vocals. But as well, it still is refined and elegant. Is there a reason for bringing back these aggressive vocals or is it just a thing that came back spontaneously?

When AIO was at work I thought and announced I will not do anymore growls, eventually we wrote the song "Fail" which was very angry and growls were needed there, so I never actually quit, and even with UPADM, it is needed, I think this was always the beauty with OL, the wideness of clean, emotional music to harsh and growling songs of anger. I think that the real reason was that I wanted to give more attention to my clean vocals, but I feel that in the last 2 albums, my clean vocals is at its best!

One thing that calls our attention when we are dealing with the new album is that, once more, you used many invited instruments for opera arrangements and choirs. How is the experience to join together these elements with Metal music and regional rhythms from Middle East? It seems to be extremely hard…

When we started the band back in 1991, we played this regular Death metal and got bored really quick, we invented a new genre at the metal scene – the Oriental Metal. It is very hard to do all these arraignments and the use of all this instruments and choirs and orchestra, but our music always have been layered and complex, it's a lot of work while writing, pre-production and while recording and mixing too, but hard work was never an obstacle for us.

On the other hand, you had both Jens Bogren on mixing once again, and Tony Lindgren on the mastering. Ho was the experience to work with them? Was it a good time or there were some nasty moments? The sound quality is really amazing!

Jens Bogren is the best metal producer of our times, though t's a tricky thing, when a lot of bands starting to sound like they come from the same fatory, but he is just a genius, this is the 3rd time we work together (He also mixed our DVD and AIO) only this time he was more involved, he recorded the drums, and my vocals and co-produced with us the album. It's never easy to work with me as I know what I want and I have an opinion about everything, I was even when the drums were recorded and I always write shitloads of mixing comments. I had two fights with Jens at the studio but we are brothers, I prefer someone who cares and feel the album rather then just someone who knows how to do micing, so it's all good, and some of Jens's ideas were pure gold.

On the album, Tomas made some vocals on “Only the Dead Have Seen the End of War”, and Hansi Kürsch appears on “Like Orpheus”. How did you have the idea to have both of them singing with ORPHANED LAND? I know that Tony was working on the mastering, but how about Hansi?

It was great working with this two genius and so different singers. We're friends with both of them. In Greek Myth it says that Orpheus singing was so beautiful that even the stones and the earth loved his voice, in this song the hero lives the cave of Plato for the first time and he describes his revelation with singing, and he sings like Orpheus, and a modern Orpheus for me would be Hansi, so he was us perfect for it.

With Tomas, I needed someone with a voice of lunacy, a crazy character as this is the song where they kill the hero. I always loved Tomas growls and thought they are ver special, we are fans of ATG for many years and I think he played a perfect role in this song.

How about Steve Hackett? I know that you record vocals on his latest solo album, “The Night Siren”, specifically on the song “West to East”. And on “Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs”, he plays guitars on “Chains Fall to Gravity”. Tell us about your experience recording vocals for “The Night Siren”, and how is the sensation to have him playing with ORPHANED LAND? Well, hope he can play with you on a live show…

Steve was writing me an email asking me if I wish t sing on his album, well, Steve Hackett is a rocknroll legend! Of couse I agreed to do it and West To East is an amazing song, I am a big fan of his works since Genesis till his solo albums of our times. When I was done and delivered my recording Steve asked me if I want to get paid or if I may prefer having him recording a solo for the next OL album. Of course I jumped on that solo thing, as a solo will be eternal, and you cannot measure that with money. And I think he played one of the most beautiful solos on this album, I am very proud on the result.

As the first video for divulgation of “Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs”, the song “Like Orpheus” was chosen. Was there a reason for this choice? Although the concept for the video is clear, can you tell us from where the idea for it came? Why images of a KREATOR show, not images from an ORPHANED LAND show? I truly hope the message of the video can reach everybody’s hearts and souls deep.

Like Orpheus is perfect for a first single, it's less than 5 minutes, it's melodic and uplifting and it feat Hansi rom BG + it’s in a way the breaking point and in a way at the middle of the album. When we came up with the idea of the clip, there was a show of KREATOR planned in Tel-Aviv, and we thought this could be perfect if the heroes will attend a show of Kreator, we felt OL needs to be laid back here and we need to tell our music and message to speak louder than our faces + we are fans of Kreator, so having them working with us on that was just AMAZING from their side!

Let’s make just a little break, and talk about “Kna’an”, the collaborative album that ORPHANED LAND recorded with AMASEFFER. I read that it is a project that was created by Memmingen's Landestheater director, Walter Wayers, and the core concept was the history of the patriarchy Abraham in a modern concept, explaining through his history with Sarah, Hagar, Ishma’el and Itzhak the conflicts between Muslins and Jews. Am I right? And how the musical and lyrical ideas were being set? And how “Kna’an” was received by public and media?

Kna'an is a side project, something different than an OL album, the whole concept and attitude here was different as it was written to a theater play. It was fascinating to work with Walter, he is such a passionate director and a true artist, I have learned a lot from him. The writing process and my singing was made to fit the actors of the play. Collaborating with Amaseffer was also great. From the fans and Media I felt that this release is a bit ignored, maybe because it was different from the usual OL albums, maybe people were terrified that we are taking a new direction, I don't know. But it was one hell of a nice experience and I'm very happy we did it, I was at the premiere show and it was so exciting to see actors singing this songs and being played on stage.

When I was listening to “Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs” and reading the lyrics and concept, I truly became shocked: we all live in our comfort zones, and to leave it aside and struggle for what we want is too difficult due our ignorance. It’s the cave allegory that you spoke about, the same one that Plato wrote centuries ago. But how did you have this idea, to work such concept in an album? A personal confession of mine: it opened my eyes, so do you believe that “Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs” can have the same effect on other people?

Our main mission is to open people's eyes, to raise awareness to many subjects and to give hope to people. This is what we always did with our protest music. It took me years to realize this concept, I knew about the allegory of the cave, I knew Plato wrote it after the Greeks killed Socrates, what I didn't realize that it is a prophecy! Same as the Greeks killed Socrates, every great leader and a revolutionary that came into our world was assassinated too. Can be from Jesus Christ (I do not connect Jesus to the Christianity that came to our world 300 years later) to Mahatma Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Che Gevara and many more, you can find a whole lot of dead messiahs in every country/culture during time. It is something about our human behavior that Plato was seeing, he wrote it 2,500 years ago but it's a prophecy.

They teach us that Prophets and Messiahs are biblical expressions and figures, not something we will have in our times, which is not true! I found this idea when I was looking at our world and thinking about our problems. People know the ass of Kim Kardeshian moe than tey know about someone named Plato, people want to be famous more than they want to actually create and say something. We think that religion or politicians or the meda are our problems (well, they are) but the real problem is us. We do not resist, we do not want to live the cave, we just don't care, we are drugged with reality TV, gossip news, brainwash and the wrong education system. Look how much progress humanity gain with technology, science, medicine and more, but between human beings, we are always at the same mistakes, again and again. I hope this album will let people think and will o\[pen some eyes.

ORPHANED LAND is always claiming for peace, bringing us into a broader conscience about ourselves and other people. But don’t you think that “Unsung Prophets & Dead Messiahs” lyrics are going to open the eyes of many to the real cause behind all hatred: our ignorance about our brothers’ pains and needs? Maybe we all are being like Ishma’el and Itzhak: we need to talk, to see on the other our missing brother?

We surely need to talk, we need to learn also to listen to each other, and above all, we need to change our education system in complete. Every 5 ears old boy is getting toy guns for his birthday and he start t kill people on his TV screen when he is just a kid, violence is planted in his mind, and his heres are just instant TV stars who did latterly nothing except from being TV stars for a moment. No one teach us about human behavior, how to breath, to to listen, how to respect, or how to be human beings. There is more focus on Mathematics, so we all buy Coca Cola after we see a commercial of it, we all watch the bug brother and we know where Kim Kardeshian was yesterday, but we don't know that 70,000 kids are being kidnaped in India every year, just a random example I use. Our only way out will be to change our education system.

In 2017, ORPHANED LAND completed 25 years of existence. I believe that it was a hard way since the beginning until now, but how do you feel about being on a band for such long time? Can you tell us the hardest and the best things on all these years?

Being in OL is the only thing I know now, it is more than half of my life. It's like family, it's a big love but also some complicated relationships, we are living on the roads and sharing the best and worst moments in life together, it's far from being easy and fun the whole time, but it's our life mission and what we chose to do I this journey, so my devotion to it is complete, and I have learned from bring in OL more than any teacher, priest, Rabbi or Imam.

Kobi, you earned three honorary awards for peace. The world, especially the Metal community, must know that peace demands efforts to be reached. Today, how do you see things going in the world, with all the violence that is devouring many lives? What do you think about the violence against Syria and its refugees?

All violence is wrong, from any kind and anywhere. Only changing our education system will save us. The world is dark today, the world is going through a crazy revolution of technology and everything is happening fast. But the future is dark and more dark if we will not change our ways and education. One can only hope.

How are the live the shows are going? I believe that a long agenda is coming, isn’t it? For me, personally, I hope Brazil is in your plans! Your show on Rio de Janeiro back in 2013 was one of the greatest shows I saw in my life!

Lots of touring is in plans, please check our Facebook page and webste for thos dates. We might visit Brazil too next year, still not final but we're working on it!

Well, that’s it. Once more, I thank you for your time and kindness, for being a figure that changed many hearts (mine included) with your music and ideas, and please, let your message for your fans. And by the way, שלום!

Muinte Obrigado! We love you all, just check our album and fly away. See you all soon!


 



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