Orphaned Land – Bringing Hope to the Hopeless

Tuesday, 9th January 2018

Dead Rhetoric: You bring up an interesting point with metal having an almost religious tone to it. With regard to that, do you think that it’s strange that something like heavy metal music can bring hope to people that don’t listen to metal?

Farhi: Yeah – let me put it this way. We are coming from Israel. The majority of people here don’t listen to metal music. But the fact that we have succeeded, with metal music, to be the most famous band coming out of the Middle East – we are the most admired Israelis among Arabs in the Middle East. When you compare us to movie directors, authors, anything coming out of Israel right now…people acknowledge that fact. When they stop me on the street, they tell me that they are proud of what we do, because they say that we give them hope. We give them hope that Arabs can change their opinions about Israelis. We didn’t change the whole Middle East – that’s hundreds of billions of people. But we definitely succeeded to do that with dozens of people, and that’s dozens of more than zero. So they stop me on the street and tell me that we are like the true ambassadors of our country. We give them hope that getting along is possible. Changing an opinion of someone is possible, and that’s amazing!

There’s another story – a fan I met last year. Europe is full of the Syrian refugees because of the civil war in Syria – I was in Berlin and I met a Syrian man. In their civil war, already over a half a million people have died. That was just in the recent years – I’m not talking about World War II or anything like that. I’m talking to this guy, and I’m telling him that I didn’t save the life of one single guy in Syria – it didn’t matter what I did or what I wrote. It was a moment of desperation for me. He told me, “That’s not true. What if you gave hope to hopeless human beings? What are the deeds that hopeless human beings can do? What if you gave them hope? What are the deeds that you might have prevented them from doing?”

Hope is a very strong thing – I think we give hope to our fans, especially because we deal with subjects that are here, in the now. This is not about mythology or anything like that. We are singing about problems, and we do give hope to people. If it’s as Israelis giving hope to Arabs, if it’s as metalheads giving hope to random people that don’t listen to metal – it’s happening. Metal fans should know that, and they should acknowledge that, and they should feel proud that metal is so universal is that the metal scene is even wider than they thought. There’s metal in the Middle East, and we are standing at the frontline of this thing.

Dead Rhetoric: With the band being around for this long, do you feel a certain responsibility…knowing that you can make an impact and to ensure that you are actually doing that?

Farhi: Yeah, but this is what we have always done since day one. We wrote about those topics – we never took a political side on a topic, because we think that politicians are just manipulating us, dividing us, keeping us weak, and they want us to be easy to manipulate. We never take sides – we think this is a responsibility that every musician should have. I think that music is universal. Of course, we have criticism, and we have our protests. We can protest against Trump, but that doesn’t mean that we think that Hillary [Clinton] was any better. We think that politicians are not so good in general. If they were good, they would have changed the education system from the source, like the points we discussed earlier. It is a responsibility. People give weight to what you want to say, and to your songs. It’s a responsibility, but it’s also just music. It depends on how you want to take it.

Dead Rhetoric: Right – there will be some that take that, and some that just need something to listen to. Something that’s an escape, and something to fill their time.

Farhi: Sure, that’s fair enough. I always tell people – if you want [Orphaned Land] for the good music, the good music is there. That’s why we also make good music. Just take what you want from it, and that’s fair enough.

Dead Rhetoric: Throughout the years, you’ve done promotional pictures that end up getting someone upset, even if it’s not the intention. When you are deciding what route to take with band photos, what are some of the things you are thinking of in terms of what you want it to say?

Farhi: Being original, uniqueness, and having people think is something that has always been our guide. We always want to let people think. We don’t want to do the expected. It’s very easy to take a photo when I’m wearing a Morbid Angel t-shirt. I’m not against it, but if there’s a visual aspect that you can reflect your message, you better use it.

So we always try to give as many dimensions as possible to the video clips, such as “Like Orpheus,” or to the band photos, or to the cover art of the album. I think they are important tools, and they are there for a reason. If you use them wisely, you have another dimension of a visual aspect that you can bring. We never try to provoke just to piss people off. We don’t do that. But we certainly want to make people think, and let them talk and discuss it. And of course, we want to be different and stand out. I think that what we say is important, so we use all those tools as weapons in a clever way.

Dead Rhetoric: Along with that, could you give a quick sum-up of the artwork for the new album, because I feel there was a lot of thought put into that.

Farhi: It’s definitely a reflection of today’s chaos in the world. You can see the wheels of the system, you can see the globe, you can see guns pointed at your face, and bombs falling on a book. There’s a lot of tributes in the cover to the way that governments design money. You can clearly find some images that appear on the US dollar, for example. You can see the way that it was painted with a lot of details – this is the way that governments design their money. It’s a reflection of the world’s chaos, but it’s also a tribute to money. Money is the god of our times. Money makes everything move, and everyone worships and chases money more than anything else. It’s a very strong work and I’m very happy with it.

Dead Rhetoric: To wrap everything up, what do you have planned for 2018 at this point?

Farhi: We plan to tour – we have a European tour and we have some shows planned for Japan and Russia. There’s something cooking as we speak for another US tour, hopefully in May. It’s not 100% confirmed yet, and I don’t want to upset anyone if it doesn’t happen. But we might be coming back to the States in May, so just stay tuned and come to our shows if that happens.

Photo by Zohar Ron

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