Ishay BergerFat Wreck Chords
By Sara Mai Chitty on November 4th, 2016 at Email
After over twenty years together, Useless ID are no stranger to the road. Hailing all the way from Haifa, Israel, the band has grown to become one of the most successful Middle Eastern punk bands ever. They never let that success get to their head though and instead stay focused on delivering solid music that actually means something to them. They carried on their tradition with State of Burning – the band’s eighth studio album that came out this past July.
Wanting to waste no time promoting it, the band instantly jumped back on the road and soon saw themselves playing through Canada with labelmates Pears and NOFX. We emailed them just before to learn more about the album, the tour, and their musical ideologies.
This is your first new album in four years, partially because Yotam was touring solo, partially because you guys wanted to write “the best punk record we could possibly write.” Do you feel you achieved this? If so, what’s next for Useless ID?
Sure. The album came out just like we had planned it, for sure there will always be those “Shit, I should have done this or that” moments by the time that the album is out and you’re looking for that spot that could have been a little cooler, but overall, we are happy with the way the album turned out. What’s next? I really don’t know. For now we’re touring, then we’ll be resting…later – who knows!
State is Burning is yet another epic release off of Fat Wreck Chords, can you speak to how Useless ID supports the strength of the label in 2016?
Interesting question. We have been following the label since their early days, My first album from the label was Latche Con Carne, and I had it since the day it came out pretty much. Over the years FAT had been a staple for this kind of Punk Rock and I loved 95% of the music that came out on the label. With the absence of N.U.F.A.N and the slowing in pace (recording and music wise) of some of the classic FAT bands, we wanted to give something back to the music that we had always loved so much, so yes, there was a true intention of paying the label respect by recording a faster-more Punk LP.
You recorded State is Burning with producer Bill Stevenson at the Blasting Room – how did that impact the album?
Bill always had a big impact on the way our albums come out. He has a lot of producing tips and helps out with lyrics and rhythm and then there’s this overall thing where if he says that something is great, we use it and when he says something sucks, we (in most cases!) are dropping that “thing”…Bill and Jason know our band very well and I don’t think that our albums could have been made possible without their input and help.
Useless ID are yet another punk band who have been around for years, who are producing quality albums, stating they went back to “the roots.” Why was this an important element in writing State is Burning?
Well, when we started the band, all of our songs were FAST. In the process of incorporating actual songwriting into our band, some of the tempos went slower, and by the time of our Last album (Symptoms, that came out before the new one) – we had no fast songs on the album…We wanted to bring some of the old style back because we still love it and our goal had actually become writing good songs that are also fast and short.
“We Don’t Want the Airwaves” has been noted as your tribute to the Ramones. Out of all the bands you mention in the press release as influences on this album, why do the Ramones get this particular tribute?
Good question. Growing up on 80s and 90s punk there was SO much cool music to check out, indie, underground, rude and upset. The Ramones Were NEVER a band that I paid attention to! I remember thinking that The Queers, M.T.X and Screeching Weasel WERE, in fact, much cooler than The Ramones. Only after many years in Punk World did we did give the right amount of time and care for their amazing catalog and the reason the song happened was almost this “OK, We NOW get it, we love this band and We’re sorry for never paying enough attention and respect for them” Is that weird?! In a way I guess we were also trying to help other people get into those albums…Too many people are listening to a full catalog of a shit band and never heard Pleasant Dreams by The Ramones…and that’s wrong!!!!
Ishay Berger is quoted saying “State Is Burning is a love letter to punk rock. It’s our ‘fuck off’ to the closed minded, racist, orthodox state of mind. It’s also our statement against greedy, hateful, harmful and criminal politicians that still walk proud and in power.” After twenty years in punk rock, critiquing these power systems and institutional oppression, do you feel like anything has changed, and if so, how? If not, why?
Nope…The system is completely corrupt and injustice is pretty much everywhere We look. The world is NOT at a good point now, and the situation for us back home is just as bad as it ever has been.
So, over twenty years as a band, how does it feel? Within the context of the current state of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, how does it feel to be an accomplished punk band out of Israel? (With some considering you to be the most internationally successful band out of the Middle East)?
We are not a proud band, we don’t wave the successful flag and don’t have egos or anything like that…We started the band when we were young and we carry on doing what we love as we get older, this has nothing to do with accomplished things or the political situation at home…also, no other bands from the middle east are touring all over the place and putting out music internationally so even if there were egos and shit, there is 0% competition over this…sadly, off course.
How has the political nature of your songs impacted the reception of your music/you yourselves back home, if at all?
Oh man, back home people just wanna dance, We do not really concern many people out here.
What are you most looking forward to regarding the NOFX/PEARS/Useless ID tour?
EVERYTHING! Before a tour there is a big rush of energy and thoughts, but in reality, even on the best tour in the world – and this is pretty much that one – I still know that after 3 weeks on the road the thing I look forward to the MOST is getting back to sit on the couch at home with Lital.–