By Giles Turnbull, photo by Josh Sanseri
Monotonix is a three-piece rock band, originally from Tel Aviv, Israel, who tour year-long on an adrenalin rush of chaos and creativity. Monotonix typically set up in front of the stage, believing totally in audience interaction; don’t be surprised if they steal your beer.
Given the mayhem, more of which later, and the implausibly large number of shows, perhaps the most amazing thing is that the band members have survived, unscathed… until the very beginning of 2010 that is; singer Ami Shalev injured his leg at a gig in Florida, January 2010.
Ami, how’s the leg?
Ami Shalev: My leg is 100 percent in shape. Even better than before the injury happened because sometimes you need to go back one step to move forward two steps.
You were playing in Florida when the injury happened, and it caused you to cancel your show in Georgia. Is playing Tallahassee the night before coming to Atlanta a good idea? Are you scared lightening might strike twice?
Yonatan Gat: Never. I’m not sure why. Maybe you should be. You know what? Maybe we should cancel Atlanta!
The venue 529 is the size of a matchbox. Spontaneous combustion is not unknown at Monotonix gigs; is this a dangerous combination?
YG: We don’t set anything on fire if it’s unsafe. Usually.
Your songs are chock full of classic metal riffs. Does the chaos detract from the music?
YG: I think a lot of people who see us for the first time don’t really get to listen to the music among the different distractions going on. But sometimes they would buy the album after the show and then when they come to the next show they can hopefully enjoy the music and the performance as well.
It’s very hard to compete with flying trash cans and pyrotechnics on a musical level, but I think we’ve grown in that aspect, and today, despite all the people falling on us and the mess happening around us, we are able to play the songs live the way we always wanted to play them. Until some drunk girl falls on the drummer.
The band left Tel Aviv because of the dire music scene, and reputedly being banned from half the venues in Israel; with such a non-stop tour schedule, when were you last home?
YG: I’m in NY right now. Ami and Haggai are with their families in Israel. We get some time off, and that’s when Ami and Haggai go home and become family-men, and I just wander about.
Is the music scene in Tel Aviv getting any better?
YG: I don’t know, I haven’t been to a show there in years. I think people are doing stuff, but I don’t know about that many exciting bands. TV Buddhas and Carusella are two bands that tour a lot and are getting better, but most bands are just stuck in Tel Aviv a little isolated from the world.
Your forthcoming sophomore album, produced by the legendary Steve Albini, is titled “Not Yet.” What are you waiting for, and what should we expect?
YG: People always think our record titles are some sort of declaration. Like “Body Language” or “Where Were You When It Happened?” I can see why people get confused, but to my ears, the record titles are much more about personal things and about the songs than some statement by a rock band about itself.
Monotonix play 529 on December 8