It's a rather unlikely story, which almost sounds too good to be true, but it all started with a single White Denim-centric piece I published back in October-November 2013; "I saw you recently featured White Denim [on The Witzard], and thought you might find UBK's (Israel) new music video interesting," read an email from a publicist named Emma. Uri Brauner Kinrot-fronted UBK would soon effortlessly morph from a mere solo project into a full-fledged band called Ouzo Bazooka. I've been in sporadic contact with UBK's people, fellow band mates, and most recently, Kinrot himself over the course of the past three years and have been honored to feature a number of their videos here on this very site. I would, if pressed, likely attempt to best describe Ouzo Bazooka's unique Israeli Rock sound as a stylistic love child between The Black Keys, Eric Clapton-helmed Cream, and a Mediterranean-influenced version of The Rolling Stones. Ouzo Bazooka's genre-blending and continental distinction-eschewing brand of Rock "N" Roll has, better yet, been quite fittingly self-described as "a dizzying concoction of East meets West that wills end Hell's Angels dancing on table-tops, breaking plates, grinning stupidly, and ending up on the floor in a group-hug-pile-up." Ahead of forming Ouzo Bazooka, the prolific singer-songwriter has previously played, recorded, and toured the world alongside Balkan Beat Box, Shantel, New York Punk heroes Firewater, and Mediterranean Surf Rock band Boom Pam, as well as having supported, along with Ouzo Bazooka, The Pixies and The Hives during recent Tel Aviv tour stops. And with that said, without further ado, I'm proud to present an all-inclusive, SIMOOM-centric interview with Ouzo Bazooka founder and frontman Uri Brauner Kinrot transmitted from his hometown of Tel Aviv, Israel. Ouzo Bazooka's second album, SIMOOM, is now currently available across Europe on Berlin-based Setalight Records and in other parts of the world, available for download via Bandcamp, although a world-wide physical release only seems imminent.
Your Editor In Chief,
Matt "The Witzard" Horowitz
I. Your initial 2013 UBK/Ouzo Bazooka press release your team sent me likened your music to "for fans of" The Black Keys, Hanni el Khatib, The Black Angels, Cream, and White Denim; however, who would you likely cite as your primary modern day and Classic Rock sources of influence?
Well, you started the interview with a very hard question. I really do not have just a few main influencing artists. I listen to all kinds of music, from early Greek Rembetiko and American Blues to Surf Rock, Garage, Rockabilly, Classic Rock, Psychedelia, and all the modern [genres] that succeeded those fundamentals of Rock "N" Roll. Dropping names always feels too narrow for me. I can definitely say that in the recent 10 years [I've been] searching for all kinds of Rock-influenced music from all around the globe. I just love the combination of Folk music with guitar riffs and such...
II. When your people and I initially got in touch a few years ago, I believe you were still going by UBK and soon changed to Ouzo Bazooka. But I’ve always been curious, what exactly does your rechristened band name, “Ouzo Bazooka” mean?
I recorded the first album without knowing that a band will be formed later, so I called the "project" Ouzo Bazooka then after a while, we just realised that we [were] a band, so we left the UBK [name] behind. Ouzo Bazooka is an old drink that was mixed in Israel in the sixties. You take a bottle of Greek ouzo and soak some pieces of pink Bazooka [Joe] bubble gum in it for a week or so. What you get is a pink aniseed-flavoured drink that can really change your conciseness.
III. Would you care to briefly go into who else you band Ouzo Bazooka consists of and describe each member’s subsequent role in the band?
Ouzo Bazooka are Ira Raviv on drums and letters, Dani Ever-Hadani on keyboard and dates, Adam Scheflan on bass, and vibes, and me singing and playing guitar. On SIMOOM, you can also hear Dani & Adam singing; on one song, Dani is actually singing the lead part with me. She has a magical voice.
IV. Now, this particular fragment of your press release has always struck me as very interesting and befitting of your sounds: "Ouzo Bazooka's sound is a dizzying concoction of east meets west that will send Hell's Angels dancing on table-tops, breaking plates, grinning stupidly, and ending up on the floor in a group-hug-pile-up..." Has that ever actually happened and if not, what exactly is that very statement intended to mean?
It actually happens almost every show. there is a small community of Hell's Angels that follows us. They dig our music and [are] addicted to Ouzo, Israeli Angels, riding American wheels, drinking Ouzo, dancing [to] our music, and ending up like hugging like hippies - that's kind of what Ouzo Bazooka is all about.
V. How did the writing and recording of your new album, SIMOON differ from that of your self-titled debut, Ouzo Bazooka?
The main difference is the fact that it was recorded by a band that had two years of constant playing and an endless hang. There's a significant input from three other [characters] in this album. Adam on the bass, Dani on keyboard, and Ira on drums.
VI. While the album's companion press material describes SIMOON as "defining the feeling of the music that [carries] the listener like a desert wine," can you describe the album's title a little more thoroughly? Is it an abbreviation for some sort of phrase?
This is the definition of SIMOOM on Wikipedia: "Simoom (Arabic: سموم samūm; from the root سم s-m-m, "to poison") is a strong, dry, dust-laden local wind that blows in the Sahara, Israel, Jordan, Syria, and the deserts of Arabian Peninsula." While searching for the right name for the album, I was trying to think of some [natural] forces or phenomenons that had to do with the Middle East. SIMOOM [seemed] to fit the music and vibe, as if the name was there before the music.
VII. SIMOOM's press release includes a story that describes your father's trip to Jaffa's flea market wherein he found a 1970's Electro Harmonix "Little Muff" guitar pedal from which the guitar sounds on this album "just came out like a [Genie] from an oil lamp." How did this Harmonix pedal and the two others he found that day help shape the tone and overall sound of SIMOOM?
I plugged the pedal and all the album's riffs just came out one by the other. It was magic!
VIII. What can you tell my readers and I about your latest video, "Dog Fight" recently debuted in Germany and Israel ahead of SIMOOM's April 1st release? Any idea when the video, as well as your new album, will likely become available here in the United States, Uri?
Since we do not have any partners in the US YET, the answer can't really be absolute, but the album is already available on our Bandcamp and the video is out there on some other video platforms [than] YouTube...
IX. Now, I know that you've toured Israel, Germany, and the greater part of Europe extensively over the past few years with Ouzo Bazooka; but do you have any immediate plans for a US/North American tour?
We were invited to play SXSW this year, but it didn't really make sense to fly over just for that. I'd rather buy some real estate for the money we'd have to pay for visas and flights. It doesn't make sense to play SXSW, if you don't have some serious representation in the US. I hope we'll find some serious North American partners sometime soon and be able to book a real tour and publish our music over there.
X. Let's just say, for argument’s sake, you could assemble a super-group consisting of any legendary or lesser known musicians dead or alive, who would you choose to play which instruments and why?
I think I already managed to do that; Ouzo Bazooka is definitely this super-group you are talking about.