Not a ton of music emerges from Israel and affixes itself to the international library of indie rock. Perhaps this is because of the whole language thing, but it’s nonetheless frustrating that accessing the Israeli rock scene seems to be pretty difficult. That’s why it’s completely endearing to hear from a good band in Israel who is trying to widen its audience.
Meet The Wake Up Suzzys. They’re a four-part surf-rock band based in Tel Aviv, and they sing their songs in English with light Israeli accents. They released their first record, a self-titled six-track EP, at the beginning of May. Three of the players were in a previous band together called Buffalos. They toured Europe a couple times but eventually broke up due to personal reasons. Guitarist/vocalist Yotam Schlezinger has leftover would-be Buffalos material he hadn’t recorded yet and brought the songs to the studio with his now-Suzzys bandmate, Ran Jacobovitz. The result was a new, strong sound that inspired the guys to explore further, so they asked former bandmate Dan Carpman to join them on bass and played some live gigs to test the response to their music. Schlezinger says:
That’s how the Suzzys came about. When it was clear we gonna be a band I then asked Zohar [Ginzburg] (the guitar player who we were friends with for long time and worked on some of my songs before with) to come and play guitar with us. She was a perfect fit musically and her vibe is vibrant and important to the energy of the band.
The band’s music exudes a surf-rock, punkish, carefree sound. They cite bands like Link Wray, The Ventures, and Stray Cats as similar sounds that influence their work. However, The Wake Up Suzzys is not so easy to catalog. It’s as if their hailing from Tel Aviv makes their surf-rock have more character–the accents are real, the process of writing was a bit different for them because they weren’t writing in their native language, etc. The decision to write lyrics in English was kind of a no brainer of Schlezinger’s. As a child, he always listened to rock ‘n’ roll in English–90% of his music library was songs in English, he attests. He said writing music in Hebrew never even crossed him mind. He explains, “There’s just something in English that feels right when you sing. I lived in Chicago for six (my family still leaves there) years and that helped me with my writing skills. I try to only read books in English, partly because I love American writers and prefer to read in language they wrote in and part of it is my will to expand and maintain my English.”
Furthering the band’s American-style mystique, they describe themselves as being “[i]nfluenced by old American movies, big money, and Fender guitars.” According to Schlezinger, when the band had its first gig, the venue wanted them to give a few descriptive words of their sound for a program. The Wake Up Suzzys had a meeting and had a hard time articulating their sound without sounding boring, and it spawned the less serious and endearing aforementioned description. “We all play on Fender guitars and it made us giggle to mention it. We love old American movies and culture and big money is just an expression we use when things are going good,” says Schlezinger. It made perfect sense then for the band to hire JJ Golden at Golden Mastering in Venture, California to master the group’s EP.
But aside from the singer’s stint in Chicago, the band has never ventured to the U.S. They’re all from Tel Aviv and they all stil live in the Israeli metropolitan capitol. About their hometown’s music scene, they say:
The scene in Tel Aviv is a tricky subject. There are so many talented musicians, really wonderful artists, but the scene in not supportive. There aren’t enough people who come to gigs, there aren’t enough clubs and there are so many musicians who play in more than one band and that it very often makes it very hard to give each band the attention it deserves. The band recommends fellow Tel Aviv acts Cannons, Amit Erez and The Angelcy.
Musically, the songs the band writes now are different than the songs on The Wake Up Suzzys EP. According to the band, the next release will be out around November. The band’s writing process has become more collective, which has developed the songs’ arrangements more thoroughly, and their sound now has a more-defined direction. Schlezinger says the band is trying out some more “serious” material between every few songs, but that it’s hard to keep a straight face because he’s just so used to the band’s light and positive temperament.
“We just a love being goofy around each other and that really reflects in our music.” Goofiness aside, The Wake Up Suzzys are a bright and fun surf-rock band that deserves a listen–accents, Fender guitars, tidal-wave riffs, and all.