Interview with Neolia
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
There were two active elements in my life around the age of 6. One was my oldest brother who introduced me to Metallica and Pantera, Tears for Fears, and probably other bands, and the second one was my best friend and downstairs neighbor at that time. With my brother it was very easy as I was just open to consuming whatever he suggested, of course not everything stuck, like Billy Idol, one of my brother's favorites that didn’t end up in my repertoire. My neighbor and I were like two peas in a pot, we used to hang out constantly and listen to Rock and Metal all the time, and the turning point was when he got his first electric guitar. I then knew I had to get a guitar myself, so I started nagging my parents that finally broke down at the age of 10 and got me an old Russian acoustic guitar and a Russian teacher that couldn’t even speak Hebrew.
I would definitely do something that has to do with art, I love taking pictures, so maybe that's it. I basically love creative things in general, but I also love helping people so probably a combination of these two elements.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
It’s usually reading books, going to the beach to think, taking pictures with my camera either outside or in concerts, and of course listening to music. I guess each of these puts me in a different state of mind and eventually becomes an outlet for inspiration of some sort.
How long has your band been around?
On and off for around 9 years. We had several pauses during the years due to some personal and band-related issues, but we always found our way back, and right now it is our best and most interesting period.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
We are all born and raised in Israel and since this whole country is suffering from PTSD it was easy for us to find ourselves playing metal and trying to find an outlet for our emotions. Our album which tells the story of our fictional hero and main character, Alex has one song (Dance of Violence) that speaks about the army from an inside perspective of the Alex, and another song that reveals the use of torture in the army as a method of restraining and crushing the spirit of thous who do not obey.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
We were on a mission at some point to finally find a name and so we put our thinking hats on along with searching the web, and finally, after a nerve-wracking competition the name ‘Neolia’ was chosen. The name Neolia originated from the psychological term Neolelia. The term Neolelia is equivalent to the term echolalia, which is a mental disorder in which an individual invents words that don’t exist, but that same person is certain that everyone around him understands him completely. We feel that we have created some sort of a unique language of our own and felt an instant connection to the word but at the same time tried to come up with a more easy-to-digest version for it.
Tell me about your most memorable shows.
It was definitely an electric gig we did at the Barby Club in Tel Aviv in front of more than 500 people along with our good friends from Walkways. It’s not that we never had other good shows or maybe even better, it’s just that massive energy and excitement that comes with it.
Another one was an acoustic show at the Tattoo convention in Tel Aviv where there were around 2K people hanging around, and we really like doing acoustic shows cause it allows us to show other sides of our musical personalities and get creative in our composition and expression.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
So far our favorite venue to play at was The Barby Club, we definitely love the sound in that venue and the energy is awesome. We would love to play the Gagarin club and even more at the Wonder Bar in Haifa. There are of course other amazing venues that we would love to attend.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
Definitely Faith No More, Mr. Bungle, Mastodon, Tool, Deftones, Circa Survive, Opeth, Periphery, System of a Down, Devin Thousand, Haken, Karnivool,
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
Act faster, educate myself, and don't look for cheap alternatives.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
Tomer: Your prophecy is originally a personal track for me and is based on my observance of my father's life, describing the process of detachment from his family and being isolated and less and less communicative as the years went by.To this day it reflects on my father's issues and inability to let go and I wish I could do more but so far no luck.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
‘Your Prophecy’ definitely covers both, I love playing it, and people keep asking about it and really connect with it, especially during or after concerts. ‘A Better Version of You’ is another track that I love playing because it has some African rhythmic elements rooted in it as well as a cool mid-section in the middle.
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
Tomer: At the beginning, I had come up with some solid guitar parts for two of the tracks in the album, some of it had changed but you could sense it had a sort of a structure to it. Later on, I recorded it into the computer and started to come up with drum parts to better understand the energy of the song followed by the bass guitar and other guitar parts. I started one thing and every once in a while I would skip to the next idea and try to develop it, and let the other track air a bit so I can come back to it more and reassess. Honestly each time I would write a track I would start with a different instrument so it was like an exercise in creativity. On one track I took a rhythmic groove a former guitarist had come up with and created a guitar riff on top of it, so you can get the picture by now. Throughout the process, I would listen for hours to different types of music and I would process it through my own filters and come back to the program and start creating my compositions until I felt I had found my own voice.
At a later point, I was joined by guitarist/pianist Ron Minis and we tried to get some ideas flowing by jamming together and at this point, Ron came up with the main riff for ‘Blow the Leaves’. I knew right away that it had fitted the type of thing I was trying to create, and so it became a core riff that comes back throughout the song in different parts.
After most of the tracks were 70% ready, we found our permanent vocalist, Ben Reiss, and I just started meeting with him every other week to talk about our vision and expectations from the music and to record the ideas he had come up with. Things immediately clicked and the writing process for ten of the album’s tracks was already close to finishing.
I can feel free also speaking for Ben and say that both of us had realized that we needed to be very open-minded for this creation to become what it needed to be. And I know we both share a huge love for music of all kinds and also wish to express it.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
The album is based on a fictional story I had written, and so it allowed me to go through different points in Alex, the main character’s life, and re-observe different corners of humanity from different age perspectives and also from different difficulties that came along with the story.
The songs touch on child neglection, loneliness, anger, torture and more. The idea is to show that we are all derived from our pain, anger and other emotions and that we need to pay more attention to our surroundings, always try our best, that we are human and so we will fail in different moments but we are also very strong especially if we stick together.
Do you ever have disagreements in your band, and how do you get past them?
For sure, who doesn't? We try to stay focused on the important things and remind each other that it is ok not to win every argument and that sometimes our idea or suggestion will take most of the votes and sometimes it won’t. We try to stay attentive and lift each other when we feel down and hurt, and to be sympathetic and to practice empathy whenever possible.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
As for now, the plan is to get as much content out there and so we have different videos lined up for a year's time, such as live versions, Playthroughs, and more. We’ve also started talking about writing the band's next album and we are very excited to start this process, probably 6 months after the album has been released.
For now, we will do a small cross-country tour, and in 6 months from now we will put up a big show playing the full album.In the future, we plan on getting to Europe and the US. We are very open to where the universe will take us but we have a dream of playing in India and South America and also Mexico.
Music video - Blow The Leaves -