In a festival that is known for its eclectic range of artists, Boom Pam manages to out-unusual most of the lineup. The Tel Avivian band will play Jazzfest late Thursday night, bringing their intriguing mix of Mediterranean music, hard rock, surf rock, Balkan music, and instrumental styles to Ottawa for the second time in five years. For a trio, the band certainly has breadth. The band consists of Uri Brauner Kinrot (vocals, guitar, arrangements), Yuval “Tuby” Zolotov (Tuba), and Itamar “The Kid” Levi (Drums). Yep: their bass section is a tuba.
Balancing out the striking oddity of a tuba in a surf rock band is Kinrot’s impressive moustache, something the band has become somewhat known for. Over the phone from Israel, Kinrot told Apartment 613 that while at one point the entire band sported a healthy amount of lip hair, his is the last moustache standing. But the pressure of maintaining the manliness of the band doesn’t seem to be getting to him: “It’s just there,” he casually says of his magnificent ‘stache, “I don’t know.”
Like the moustache on his face, Kinrot’s band is something that just happened. It started as a couple of friends with two electric guitars. “We started by playing covers of Greek and Mediteranian songs,” says Kinrot. And, looking around for a bass section, the new band’s eyes fell on a man with a tuba. “’Tuby’ was a friend. He was the nearest bass frequency,” Kinrot laughs. (We asked Kinrot, whether “Tuby’s” nickname comes from the instrument he plays. “Uh… no,” responds Kinrot enigmatically.) Soon, drums were added. The quartet became a trio. Hardly pre-meditated, and yet their sound speaks for itself.
Boom Pam’s influences seem as decentralized and unplanned as their beginnings. Asked to describe them, Kinrot answers, “Everything, really. From 70s hard rock to Egyptian music to Turkish music to old Greek music to contemporary rock.” As you’d expect, Kinrot’s broad focus endows Boom Pam’s music with a certain element of surprise. And while the music can swerve unexpectedly from, say, a gypsy tone to a surf rock jam, the band’s core sound remains constant; underneath the variety is a strong, often dancy rhythm section and, of course, Kinrot’s blaring electric.
And in many ways it is the variation that defines Boom Pam. “What I like most is a mixture of things that you wouldn’t think would work together,” says Kinrot, who writes the music. “It’s like looking for the right ingredients in order to cook something tasty.” Kinrot, who is currently hard at work on the soundtrack for a documentary about an Israeli poet, just refuses to limit himself to one type of music: “I like the idea of playing borderless music and not trying to focus on one genre,” he says.
The goal of the music is as relaxed as its creator. “I try to write music that will make people feel good and give them inspiration,” Kinrot says. “We’re not trying to do the most original, or the most artistic thing.” Instead, Boom Pam is about the ride: it’s about making music that they and their audience can enjoy. Kinrot doesn’t have any requirements for the ways in which his audience participates in his music, either. “At some point I realized that most of our shows were like parties: people were dancing and there was almost always a DJ before and after the show. And then, later, I realized that it’s really not a must, that people can enjoy a concert just standing and head-banging or even just standing and listening. I just want people to enjoy the show. I don’t care how they react as long as they don’t hurt each other.”
You may be wondering what the leader of an Israeli surf rock band does in his spare time. The answer: surfing. “I’ve been doing it since I was very young. I’ve been doing it since I was very young, so I’m quite good. Not a pro, but good.” Kinrot’s enthusiasm is apparent even over the badly-connected long distance call. According to Kinrot, while surf music developed in California in the 60s, it is heavily influenced by music from Kinrot’s part of the world. “Big Dave, one of the first guitar players to play surf music, played lots of Mediterranean and Arabic scales.” So, perhaps Israeli surf rock isn’t so strange after all.
Surfing is quite popular in Israel, Kinrot informs us. So much so that he has a secret spot that he frequents to get away from the hordes of surfers, a spot so secret that he wouldn’t even tell us where it is. I guess we’ll have to stick to the crowded spots. Thanks for nothing, Kinrot.