The theatrics of Haifa-based cinematic pop phenomenon Gunned Down Horses are not only prominent in their eccentric live performances, impulsively bipolar new single “Summersong” (belonging to their upcoming album Le Petit Suicide), and film noir music videos – their discussion with the Jerusalem Post broke the theatrical mold as well.
“What ambiance are we trying to create? That of two lovers captured inside a war drum, and the depth of their kiss is more thunderous than any knock, on any door, of any officer delivering bad news,” answers lead vocalist, Davidavi Dolev, as if delivering a dramatic monologue.
So what else did Dolev and drummer Yuval Tamir have to say about GDH’s hectic new single, their upcoming show at Levontin 7, and Big Bad Brass Section?
How did you all meet?
Tamir: Vidi [Davidavi Dolev] and I met about 10 years ago, as we were both consumers and artists of Haifa’s music scene. Uri [Adam Uriel Burstein, guitar] is my dad’s friend’s son, so our families barbecue together every year. Nadav [Goldberg, bass] is that younger, better member every band needs. I will never forget our first talk when I invited him to join Gunned Down Horses and he actually knew more about me than I did.
Who makes up the ‘Big Bad Brass Section’?
Tamir: In search for the ultimate sound, it had become tradition for us to work with two outstanding musicians: Boris Bendikov [trumpet] and Gai Shouval [saxophone]. They are members of our family and we are grateful to have them. We’ve added one mean trombone player, Daniel Lubashevsky, to complete the picture. When I heard the three of them together, I immediately knew that we had found the sound we were looking for.
And is this the sound you’ll be bringing to Levontin 7 tonight?
Dolev: This concert is the last big show before we release our new album, Le Petit Suicide. So, needless to say, it’s going to be a party. We’re going to have The Big Bad Brass section with us, plus two incredible guests by our side: the dark queen of neofolk, Tamar Singer, and the current spirit of rock & roll, Rasha Nahas. We’re bringing our A game and a fantastic crew with us, a few other surprises, and a burning hunger to perform.
To what does the name Gunned Down Horses allude?
Dolev: The music in my head. That’s how it sounds to me – like the grand finale of a horse race. Close up, zoomed in, in slow motion, with a few last hurdles to conquer. Despite the bullets, you keep on going. Not because you want to, but because that’s the only thing you know how to do.
Who is the band’s greatest influence?
Dolev: Our musical influences are numerous, yet unlike our former endeavors, our core lies in integrating influences from the world of cinema. The most valuable ingredient of our inspiration is a secret though – some things should remain personal.
Speaking of cinematic influence, your shows are quite theatrical. Do you have any background in theater?
Tamir: Not even a tree in an elementary school play. But the connection between music and theater is something we can’t ignore, especially in live music.
What are your expectations for the upcoming album, ‘Le Petit Suicide’?
Dolev: Like its title, this album deals with the elusive and painful juxtapositions between being alive – or better, staying alive – at the face of pernicious thoughts erupting into your mind, undermining the core of your very existence. It’s a painting of long-term investments in slow self-destruction, crafted from the decision not to end it all.
You recently released the first single to the public. Can you explain why ‘Summersong’ is more ‘hectic and free than anything you’ve done before’?
Dolev: Unlike our first self-titled release, this is indeed our most hectic work yet, very different in its essence. We had decided this time around to try and bring the energy of our concerts to the forefront. We aren’t holding back anymore and it ain’t supposed to be pretty.
Sum up ‘Summersong’ in a few sentences.
Dolev: The guilt associated with the need to escape. If you really want to chain someone to you forever, you don’t need them to love you, you need them to feel guilty. And I felt guilty alright. But I had also chained others with guilt. ‘Summersong’ is a contemplation of that matter.
Can music heal or perhaps end wars?
Dolev: They say time heals. Life is long. For me, art passes the time. I think that when people try to pass the time together, they come closer to each other. Music also creates cultures, and hopefully movements. War paints the background of ‘Summersong,’ but it is not directly about the war. There are more personal elements at play. I do hope people will read it as a bridge and not a cliff.
Tamir: ‘Art’ and ‘reality’ are two parallel universes. They may affect each other, though no one can tell yet.
Bendikov’s trumpet solo intro sets a very gloomy scene, which is immediately stripped away with a huge climax after the first phrase. Creatively speaking, why did you guys choose this progression? What does this voice-free intro say?
Dolev: We were trying to melt two worlds together: old Israeli songs, melodies, and propaganda with the language of old films – where you could imagine the story’s setting by hearing the music alone.
What other insight can you share with first-time GDH listeners?
Dolev: Come with an open mind. We love experimenting. We come from the small, yet vibrant Haifa scene, a place where a local sound is important and growing. So prepare for constant movement. There is no genre here, but you are welcome to look for it.
What is the most optimistic song you’ve ever written?
Dolev: On our first record – a synergy with Finnish vocalist, Jenny Elisabeth – I wrote a song called ‘Dora.’ It was the most naive song I’ve ever written. It’s quite gloomy night music – I can’t help it – and sung by someone else – I couldn’t say something that positive back then, so it had to come from someone else’s throat. It sounds like a lamentation, but the love it contains is not one of a broken heart. I liked it.
What’s next for Gunned Down Horses?
Dolev: We have some plans in some faraway places. When the time is right, we’ll expose more of course.
Any final words?
Tamir: Do what you love, be nice to other people, don’t listen to musicians.
To keep up to date about Gunned Down Horses album release and future shows visit gunneddownhorses.com. For tickets to tonight’s performance visit www.levontin7.com.