With such a curious name, Jewish Monkeys could be a lot of things. But rest assured, it’s NOT a supergroup of ‘70s rock stars. NOR is it a choir project of the neighborhood community centre. Would you believe, it IS a cheeky caravan of middle-aged Israeli men who uproot punk rock, surf music, klezmer and Balkan traditions.
Since 2000, German-writing author Jossi Reich, 51, veterinarian Dr. Ron Boiko, 49, and psychotherapist Gael Zaidner, 48, have been members of the Jewish Monkeys. Until now, they have performed only sporadically. But, this year, the band will release its first album (working title Manic Regression), produced by Ran Bagno. “Now we’re a real band, with eight members,” boasts Boiko. “[Producer] Bagno plays the accordion; the guitarist is Haim Vitali Coen; the bassist’s Yoli Baum; Arnon de Botton is on the trombone; and Henri Vered’s on drums.”
Coming from the multicultural underground of Tel Aviv, the Jewish Monkeys handle irreverent satire and black humour with the delicious kookiness of the Marx Brothers and the mischievous distance of Woody Allen. The band is a breath of post-klezmer fresh air, which excels at trashy hits and parodic winks and iconoclastic points of view on thorny subjects.“There are no contradictions here; everything fits together very nicely,” explains Boiko. “We are creating a version of contemporary Jewish music, and combining elements of a Jewish sense of humor and Jewish music along with rock and a Balkan sound. Boiko adds: “(Our) songs sound light, rhythmic, happy and energetic, and at the same time their lyrics contain heaviness, bitterness, sadness and tragedy. It’s exactly that Jewish place where suffering and joy meet.”