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Matti Svatizky: Everything happens for the best, as they say, we had a great time at Sonisphere Romania.

Matti Svatizky: Everything happens for the best, as they say, we had a great time at Sonisphere Romania.
BANDS : Orphaned Land

This year, Orphaned Land came back with an extremely inspired, complex and ambitious album. Due also to the fact the band played this year in Sonisphere Romania, Metalfan wanted to continue the discussion from the point where it has been left four years ago. Matti Svatizky was our partner again and proved to be the same kind and friendly person we knew.

Metalfan: Hello and welcome to We had the chance to talk with Matti Svatizki some time ago, in 2006. What have you done since then?
Matti Svatizky: Well, you get the chance to talk to him again. Since 2006 we have managed to record a new album “The Neverending Way of ORwarriOR”, have shows all around the world including a recent full North American tour, open for Metallica, and play at big metal festivals.

Metalfan: Looking at your discography, one can notice the temporal distance between your albums, 8 years between El Norra Alila and Mabool, 6 years between Mabool and The Neverending of ORwarriOR. What takes you so long?
Matti Svatizky: These two differences between albums happened because of completely different reasons. The first distance between “El Norra Alila” and “Mabool” happened simply because the band had split shortly after “El Norra Alila”. There wasn’t any activity, except for occasional talks about getting back together, and only about 6 years after “El Norra Alila” we got back together and recorded “Mabool”. After “Mabool” we had to tour a lot, and didn’t quite get the hang of making an album while on the roads. Also, we have parted from our keyboards player who helped with managing the songs, so this job was longer for us.

Metalfan: Israel has always been a country tormented by religious and cultural conflicts. How is it for you to have to live there (almost) every single day of your lives?
Matti Svatizky: The war and conflicts in the region is a part of our lives. There were times, around 10 or 15 years ago, when the conflict had reached our lives here in the center of Israel directly. Buses and restaurants used to explode with suicide attacks, and friends and family members of ours sometimes got hurt or even killed. Nowadays the conflict is more distant, it revolves around the borders mostly, and the people who get it hard are the ones living closer to the borders. I know about this conflict from the Israeli side, but I can also relate to what happens in the other side. The issues around this conflict are very deep, and the solutions have to be very creative. We pray that strong leaders will come soon with those creative ideas and end the bloodshed forever.

Metalfan: I know that you have not so much in common with religion, but come from a very religious country. Is it difficult to be a metal band in Israel? Do you still have problems playing concerts or stuff like that?
Matti Svatizky: Well, Israel is not quite a religious country as it may seem. The vast majority here is secular (about 50%), around 30% are traditional – that means that they follow religion only partly, and their lifestyle is very secular in many ways, and only about 20% or a little less are religious. Israel is also a democracy, so the majority has the moral superiority, so there is a kind of all in all secular feeling in the country. We don’t have any problems playing our music. There are also lots of bands who are more extreme than us who play without problems. We are proud that Israel is a Modern country, and we are working hard to pull it even harder in this direction.

Metalfan: Were you ever tempted to leave Israel for a, let’s say, western European country? I am asking those questions because the example of your co-national fellows from Melechesh chose to move to Netherlands.
Matti Svatizky: Well, even though Israel is a modern country relatively, there are always countries that are more modern, or which fit the model of how a country should be more, so naturally the thought always come to mind. It is also easier for bands in Europe or America to succeed, because of the short distances between the gigs there, and also because of the fact that Israel is a small country (7 Million people), and the market here is relatively small. In the meantime we are here with all the challenges, but our mind is always opened for a change, if it something very good will come it will be embraced.

Metalfan: Now let us move forward to the actual days. This year Orphaned land edited what most of the fans and critics consider to be your most courageous and complex album. How was the feedback so far?
Matti Svatizky: The feedbacks are very good. Many people consider “The Neverending Way of ORwarriOR” to be our best work so far. It is, like you said, quite a complex album. You have to listen to it for a few times before you get the hang of it. There are lots of layers in the sound, it is compound from many instruments, and people say that each time you hear it you discover something new. Most people love it.

Metalfan: You have always had progressive metal influences in your music, but on The Neverending Way of ORwarriOR they are far more obvious. Was this natural evolution or have you deliberately chose this path?
Matti Svatizky: Well, our previous album “Mabool” was also progressive, but in a different way. It had more progressive chord changes, transitions between major and minor scales, and also progressive and rhythms and drum beats. The latest album also has these elements, but I would say that the riffs and melodies are smart, not always conventional, and that what makes this album more progressive. We have never considered ourselves as a progressive metal band, only as a metal band with progressive elements though.

Metalfan: The new album was produced and mixed by Steven Wilson, a person famous for his astonishing work with Porcupine Tree and Opeth. Why did you choose him?
Matti Svatizky: First of all because we are great fans of his work. We love Porcupine Tree and think he did wonders with Opeth. Steven works on a few projects in Israel, and that’s how we got to know him. We asked him if he would be interested to work with us and he agreed. He was supposed to produce the whole album, but in the end only mixed it, and did a hell of a job with it. We hope to work with him even further.

Metalfan: I have heard persons saying that everything Steven Wilson touches turns into Porcupine Tree (definitely not true in your case). During the production and the mixing of the album, were you at any moment pushed by him to sound in a certain way?
Matti Svatizky: Like I said, he didn’t produce the album in the end, so he had very little to do with the actual building of the songs. By mixing it, you can hear some elements that you can find in porcupine tree albums, but that’s far from saying that we turned into Porcupine Tree in any way. Personally I think that everything he touches turns to gold, that’s just my opinion. Maybe by producing the album he would pull more into his direction, but I guess that our unique Middle Eastern sound would keep the sound in the Orphaned Land ground.

Metalfan: Since the album has a very complicated concept, maybe you would be so kind and provide our readers with a brief presentation of each song on it.
Matti Svatizky: The album is a concept-story album. I will just generally say that it is about the warrior of light. The album tells the story of this hero, who is an abstract figure, through all his deeds and phases in becoming what he is. The album has lots of moral values. It also deals indirectly with the Middle Eastern conflict and conflicts between religions and cultures.

Metalfan: You were supposed to play in Sonisphere Turkey this year but, for security reasons, you chose to exchange locations (lucky for us!). What did really happen?
Matti Svatizky: Everything happens for the best, as they say, we had a great time at Sonisphere Romania. The deal with Turkey was, that we were supposed to play a gig there right after the famous flotilla incident a few months ago. Turkey is a country in which we are very successful and have lots of fans in. We wanted to have the show anyhow, but the festival’s organizers decided to cancel our appearance, saying that they couldn’t guarantee our safety there. There’s a lot of tension between Israel and Turkey, but this tension is none of our concern. We deliver a positive message of reconciliation, and besides, we just want to play some music for our fans. We will make 2 shows in Turkey this December and we will be happy to play for our fans there.

Metalfan: You are a very active band when it comes to concerts and festivals. That is why I should probably not ask you the next question, but I’ll take my chances: What do you remember from your concert in Sonisphere Bucharest?
Matti Svatizky: It was very cool playing there, even though we had to fly off the same day that we have arrived, to play in another festival in Italy. The producers treated the bands real nice, we got very good accommodations, and the crowd was also great.

Metalfan: Have you got the chance to visit Bucharest or to notice something during your trip here?
Matti Svatizky: We played in Romania 3 times up until now. The first two times were in small towns, and the third time in Sonisphere Bucharest. We didn’t get the chance to see the city at all, unfortunately. Maybe in our upcoming visits we’ll get the chance to see more.

Metalfan: I imagine you were a metal fan before being a musician. What did it mean to you to participate in a festival together with some of the idols of many of us (Megadeth, Anthrax, Slayer and Metallica)? Did you ever like the music of any of these bands?
Matti Svatizky: Of course I did. I don’t see how a metal fan can enter the metal world without getting to know these bands. We played with Metallica in Israel just the day before Sonisphere Romania, and got to see some of their show. Metallica is one of my all times favorite bands and it was a great honor and a Huge experience opening for them. We played with Slayer in Wacken Open Air as well, and it was a great honor, a childhood dream come true. Of course that the same goes for Megadeth and Anthrax, but unfortunately we didn’t get the chance to see their act and get the real feeling of playing with them, because we had to fly off to the other show.

Metalfan: If I am not mistaken, ORwarrior means “the warrior of light”. You have always had a lyrical inclination towards subjects like light vs. darkness, good vs. evil. What is your opinion about religion? Do you believe in concepts like “god”, “devil”, “good” or “evil”?
Matti Svatizky: Personally I don’t believe in gods or devils, I believe that the human mind had conceived these concepts in order to supply answers to questions that we are not capable of answering. Good and evil are also concepts that man has poured into patterns of his behavior. I believe that we are animals and that we do not have any moral advantages over other species of animals, and that our purpose in life is the same. Therefore, like animals act by instincts that tell them what’s good or bad for them, so should people. Shakespeare said that “there’s nothing good or bad but thinking makes it so”, and he was very smart even four hundred years ago.

Metalfan: I know that you have just come back from a tour in the United States. Was it your first time there? What impressions did you have from “the land of the free”?
Matti Svatizky: It was not our first time there. We had a couple of shows in Progpower Atlanta, and also a Semi North American tour in March 2010. This, however, was our first full North American tour. We toured with two great bands, Katatonia and Swallow the Sun, and we have enjoyed touring with them both on the personal and professional levels. The Land of the free is always great, we like it a lot and can’t wait to get over there again.

Metalfan: Next year you will celebrate Orphaned Land’s 20th birthday anniversary? As parents, are you happy with the way your child grew up and turned out to be?
Matti Svatizky: Orphaned Land is a great child, and I’m proud of it as one of its parents. Until the end of this year we will play more than 200 shows all in all, and we have sold tens of thousands of copies of our albums, and that’s more than you can say for many bands, especially bands that come from where we come from. There is always room from improvements and we have great expectations from ourselves, and I hope we will be able to meet them all in the upcoming years.

Metalfan: On a more serious note, I know that you are going to record the 9th and the 10th of December shows in Tel Aviv, in order to use them for the 20th anniversary DVD you are going to record. Can you give us more details about it?
Matti Svatizky: We are finally going to shoot our first DVD ever, and we are very excited about it. We will shoot it in our home town – Tel Aviv, in a great club in which we play often, in front of our house crowd. It will be a great opportunity for us to give fans abroad the feeling of what it’s like to be in a real Orphaned Land show. We are also going to have special guests in those shows, one of the guests is Greg Macintosh of Paradise Lost, and the other is Yehuda Poliker, a very famous Israeli singer. We will also have many live ethnical instruments with us on stage, as well as a thrilling video art on screens. We can’t wait for these shows and for the DVD, it’s a new thing for us.

Metalfan: I have seen the official poster of the above mentioned event and have noticed Greg Mackintosh’s name on it. Is he a special guest to one of the shows? Any more surprises?
Matti Svatizki: As I said, he is a special guest on one of the shows. We will play with him a couple of songs, which are a surprise. There are also a few more surprises that we are planning, but I can’t tell you them all or they will not be surprises!

Metalfan: Still about 20 years anniversaries: Where do you picture yourselves in another 20 years?
Matti Svatizky: 20 years is a long time. 20 years ago I was a 14 years old boy. I joined the band when I was 15, around half a year after it was formed. In 20 years I will be 54. It’s quite hard to see that far in the future. I know many bands that play even in those ages, and I think that we will be considered lucky if we will get the chance to do so as well. Being creative, making music, performing for fans, these are the things we like to do more than anything else, so I hope we will able to do them many years from now as well.

Metalfan: What are your future plans? When will we see you again in Romania?
Matti Svatizky: In a week from now we are going on a European tour with Amorphis and Ghost Brigade. We don’t have any dates in Romania during this tour, but hopefully we’ll get the chance to play for you guys in some other occasion real soon. 

Metalfan: Do we have to wait another 6 years for your future album?
Matti Svatizky: We hope not. We don’t want our next album to be released in such a long period of time. We plan it to be released in a lot less than this. Maybe in 2013 we’ll have a new album ready, that are the plans, we’ll have to work hard in order to stick with those plans.

Metalfan: In the end, before the thanks and goodbye parts, I would like to ask you to define the following things in one word:

•    Israel - Home
•    Palestine - Theirs
•    Sabbat – A day
•    Kosher – Don’t have to
•    Hapoel Petakh Tikva – My home team
•    Kobi Farhi – Great Vocalist
•    Orphaned Land – My band

Metalfan: Thank you very much for your time and kindness in making this interview happen. All the best in everything to choose to do. The final words are yours.
Matti Svatizky: Thank you man for the interest in Orphaned Land and this interview, it’s very much appreciated. Thanks to all the Romanian fans for sticking up with us, we love you guys very much and can’t wait to play for you again. Hopefully next time we speak there will be peace on this planet. Forever Orphaned.

Autor: Sake
Vezi galeriile trupelor: Orphaned Land

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