Aviv Geffen on inspirations, why he restricts Wilson’s solos and his hatred for hip hop

By on April 12, 2011

Blackfield are currently touring their incredible third album ‘Welcome to My DNA’. I managed to catch up with one half of Blackfield before their gig in Leamington Spa, Aviv Geffen. The interview took place in a rather retro VW Camper Van, the photos that follow have a similar vintage air.

Although a collaboration with Steven Wilson, this time around Aviv Geffen wrote all songs with the exception of ‘Waving’. Aviv playfully remarks, “Each of us brought his own songs to the table, but we ended up with my songs.”

Speaking about the differences this time around Aviv comments, “It took two albums for us to find out I’m writing better, shorter songs for Blackfield. It’s not prog, it’s not metal, it’s not electro, it’s a mixture that we both think works really well.”

As was apparent at the gig, Aviv has really infused his soul into Blackfield, “I took all my life and my childhood and my DNA really.  It became Blackfield’s ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’. It’s really an x-ray for the soul, and it worked so naturally.”

Aviv draws similarities between Blackfield and his solo material, “I think it’s really an Aviv Geffen sound musically.”

The use of orchestra certainly adds an extra dimension to the Blackfield sound, Aviv believes it points to the seriousness of Blackfield, “I always love to work with orchestras. When we started Blackfield it was a side project, but on this album, it’s a real serious thing. That’s why we called a full orchestra to come down to the studio, because we really believe in this band and this album. That’s why we’re touring.”

Matter of fact, Aviv adds, “We both feel this is the best album for us thus far.”

Fans of Blackfield will notice that ‘Welcome to My DNA’ includes more angsty passages than previous albums, take for example the stark lyrics in ‘Go To Hell.’ Aviv says, “It’s all natural. We were in the studio and I said ‘look Steven, we don’t need any more lyrics, simply Go To Hell.’ It’s for my parents.”

During the gig Aviv opens up more about his childhood depicting a picture of abandonment, broken promises and isolated waiting. He admits they were very much into drug culture and often spent a lot of time away from home. This lends us further insight into the melancholic ‘On the Plane’ with the lyrics ‘Daddy’s coming home,’ a narrative about expectant waiting and consequential disappointment.

Aviv is quick to dismiss any Orphaned Land influence, “Orphaned Land stole those ideas. To mix the Mediterranean sound with Steven’s metal guitars, it was my idea first.”

However, there is no bad blood between Aviv and Orphaned Land, his feelings are open and warm, “I love them.”

Aviv creates passionate poetry and lyrics, “I’m a musician and lyricist, and for us the message behind the songs is highly important. I don’t have anything else to connect to the crowd with – I’ve got my songs and my messages and my life story, which is a bizarre one, and that’s it really.”

 

 

Aviv is quick to dismiss pigeonholing the Blackfield sound into the prog bracket reaffirming, “I don’t think it’s prog really, it’s a mellow very melodic album, but it’s not prog. I don’t allow Steven to play more than two minute solos. He respects that. Blackfield is everything, it’s metal, it’s prog, it’s pop. Blackfield sounds so special because it’s a really odd collaboration. I’m not coming from the prog scene, I’m coming from the indie rock, pop scene,” turning his thoughts toward his inspiration, he continues nodding towards, “Jim Morrison, Radiohead, King Crimson and Genesis. It’s a very floatish album, it’s a very Pink Floyd album. I’m hearing everything from Bach to Japan, which is fine but it makes it so unique. I’m playing all of the instruments; keys, guitars, drums, and I was writing all the orchestra parts too, like the French horns. I’m really into it, I’m a really serious musician y’know?”

Although an eclectic band with a lot musically going on, Aviv says the one thing he can rule out ever doing is adding a rap element to Blackfield, “I hate hip hop. You can kill them all! We won’t do a shitty pop song.”

 

 

Laying back and taking a cool drag from his cigarette Aviv adds, “I have something that Steven and Porcupine Tree are missing and it’s the sex side of music. That’s why I was chosen to open for U2 and Placebo. I really believe in this glam rock scene, and I think since Steven met me his image has improved. You can tell from his DVD’s with Porcupine Tree, he started shoegazing with his head like this [he bows his head] but in the last two years he’s really raised his head. We’ve both given each other something.”

Aviv points to a deeper bond than that of bandmates, “Me and Steven are not only on tour, but we’re always together. We hang out together and we really believe that we are like two soul mates. He came from Hemel Hempstead, I came from Tel Aviv, but in a way, at the end of the day we’re still spinning the same records on our turntable, like Pink Floyd, E.L.O and even The Bee Gees. It’s really fun.”

Speaking about the Blackfield live experience, “In Blackfield we’ve got the full freedom to do what we want. Steven tells me ‘always be Aviv Geffen.’ It’s great. We had a great show in Tel Aviv, it was very deep. We play serious songs. When I’m playing live, I’m putting in everything I know and I really feel, that when I’m on stage I’m more alive than I am now with you. We’re a moving band and I hope tonight you’re going to enjoy us.”

And enjoy I did, for Blackfield are both consummate professionals and a sheer pleasure to experience. Although there are no current plans to play UK Festivals, so we may be in with a wait until we next see Blackfield, “We were offered to play the High Voltage Festival and we refused. But we’ll see what happens.”

Smiling at the live success of Blackfield, Aviv reminisces, “Two years ago, I was the second opening act for Mercury Rev as Aviv Geffen in Manchester Academy and in Shepherd’s Bush. Now we’ve sold out alone as headliners.”

Thank you for Aviv Geffen for taking the time out to sit down with me and talk about all things Blackfield.

For more information on Blackfield please check out their official website: Blackfield Official Website

Words: Michael Wilson
Images: JY. Marquis

Miranda Yardley

About Miranda Yardley

I'm Miranda. Bite me.

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