Punk Rock from Haifa

Updated: 02/01/03

Within an atmosphere of violence and intolerance, amongst all the chaos that permeates daily life in Haifa, Israel, punk and metal music scenes thrive. A band to make headlines in Haifa and here in the States due to their Warped Tour exposure last year is Useless ID. Having just released their second record on the Kung Fu label, the band is gearing up to come to the States once again to show us that you can be a punk rocker in just about any corner of the world.

Introduce yourself, tell us what you do in Useless ID, and how long the band has been together.

My name is Ishay Tsoofi, I'm 24 I'm afraid, and I play guitar and uhhh, do interviews in Useless ID. The band started in 94 and didnít get interviews until late 97', so until then, I just played guitar.

What is the music scene like in Haifa and are there many places to play?

The music/punk scene in Haifa is not very active at the moment but Tel Aviv seems to be the place right now. Some good bands for people to check out are Punkache, Soon in Here, Betsefer, Man Alive, Hapussy Shel Lucy, and more.

What was the inspiration for the title of your new CD No Vacation From The World

The title comes from a song called Unhappy Hour that is on the new record. We actually had a hard time deciding if we should call the record Unhappy Hour or No Vacation From The World, but it just sounded like it fits the record more to call it No Vacation...

Does the violence in Israel have any influence on your songs at all? If not, where do you get some of the ideas for the lyrics?

The political situation that our country and the Middle East go through is something we try to avoid dealing when it comes to our songs. First of all, itís a very big issue and there's so much to say and so much complication going on, that we never feel like putting it on a song. And also, when you live here, and everyone is talking about it all day, and living through it, all we wanna do when we play is forget about it and escape from it. Our songs are much more personal and usually deal with everyday stuff and relationships rather then our government and the bombings that are going around here.

So how do you think this new CD compares to your previous Kung Fu release?

I think we grew up a lot. And I think our sound has gotten more diverse and its pretty safe to say that this time itís harder to think of bands that we sound like. As its a really different and new sound and song writing then a lot of things that we, and a lot of other punk rock bands do. Besides that, we've gotten a cooler tan while on the Warped Tour and this time when we recorded, we actually didnít talk Hebrew between songs.

How did your Warped Tour shows go last year and were there any unusual things that happened while on the road?

Warped has been very, very good for us. Just lately, I started realizing how great it was to get to see all the bands everyday and get to hang out with them and teach them our stupid language. A lot of unusual shit was going on our bus. We shared a bus with a band called The Used and their singer Bert is just insane, so everyday was a "too much crazy shit going on" day... I could write a book about unusual stuff that happens on The Warped Tour.

What is the best and worst part about touring?

Best parts-free beer, meeting funky people all the time, getting to play with yourself in other people's showers all over the world, playing shows with rad bands and not having to pay, and so on. Worst parts are probably bad food in Japan, weird people in Slovenia, leaving home, missing home and going back home.

Do you plan on coming to the States and playing some shows in 2003?

Yea, we sure do hope to get busy soon and play many shows all over the place, everyone should go check www.kungfurecords.com every once in a while and see if the stupid Israeli's are going on tour soon.

A metal band from Haifa called Eternal Gray is also being interviewed for this issue and mentioned you as one of the more successful bands in the area. Have you heard of Eternal Gray and what do you think of heavy metal in general?

Funny thing you ask as I was at my good friend The Goatís this evening, and he played me some Eternal Gray stuff. These guys are pretty fucking amazing, actually. I usually donít like metal unless I'm drunk and itís like Manowar, but I always tend to like whatever is local, and there's some really good metal going on in Israel (a much stronger scene then the punk one, actually). And I'd like to recommend checking out Eternal Grey, Lehavoth, Nailed Within, Vultures, and uhhh, well, not very local, but again, Manowar.

How did you initially get hooked up with Kung Fu Records?

We knew the guys from the Ataris for a while, and been good friends with them and they helped us a lot with shows and stuff over the years. And at some point they gave Joe at Kung Fu our demo and he liked it and offered us to be on the label. Pretty cool, we owe The Ataris like, a lot of cases of beer, cuz Kung Fu hooked us up with a lot of touring.

If Britney Spears asked you to leave Useless ID and tour as a musician in her band for a year, what would you do?

Fucking leave the fucking band.

How many members in your band actually own a Britney Spears record?

We're really not that kind of a band. We have our embarrassing items in our record collection, but lets not go that low. Well, okay, I do have that Steely Dan record, okay?

What was your favorite CD release of 2002 and why?

There much have been a few...the last Limp record was great, the last Dillinger 4, I really liked [Jimmy Eat Worldís] Bleed American too.

Are there any Taco Bell or Pizza Huts in Haifa?

There is Pizza Hut. Actually, my good friend Glida works at one of these Pizza Hut places and he hooks us up with a lot of free pizza. No Taco Bell though.

Are there any Useless ID groupies wandering about Haifa or any other part of the world?

Could be, but I never think of people who like the band as fans, so itís gonna be hard for me to point them out like that...we are lucky enough to have friends coming to our shows in many places around the world, I'll put it like that. And then they show us their tits. Just kidding.

Do you have any messages for Useless ID fans or for those who might be interested in checking out your music?

Get our new record No Vacation From The World...we worked real hard on making this record rocking, so if you see it for a good price, and you can see a good Manowar record anywhere near you, get it. Everyone can write me at ishay_666@yahoo.com if they wanna say hi or ask anything or I dunno what. Thanx a lot for the interview, -- Ishay and Useless ID!


KUNG FU RECORDS: The Record Label for Useless ID!
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