Arts & Culture

Yidcore Says Goodbye: An Interview with Bram Presser

Yidcore played their final show on December 17 in their hometown of Melbourne, Australia. The genre-defining Jewish punk band went from just covering classic Jewish songs a decade ago to recording gems like "Punk Rock Chanukah Song" and "They Tried … Read More

By / January 6, 2010

Yidcore played their final show on December 17 in their hometown of Melbourne, Australia. The genre-defining Jewish punk band went from just covering classic Jewish songs a decade ago to recording gems like "Punk Rock Chanukah Song" and "They Tried to Kill Us. They Failed. Let’s Eat!" Their 2005 cover of the entire Fiddler on the Roof score is a masterpiece of cultural expression. Untold amounts of hummus, falafel, latkes, bagels, and Manischewitz have been lost along the way.

I give credit to Yidcore for introducing me to the very notion of Jewish punk in the first place. They made me want to dig deeper and find out everything I could in terms of other bands, books, and films. They helped me better understand my own Jewish identity and realize that I could be Jewish on my own terms. I will always cherish the memories from when I covered their 2006 U.S. tour for the Forward and got to spend quality time with the band’s members. Whether it was the discussions we had when I put my clipboard down or the time that Bram, Myki, Rory, and I squeezed into the back seat of a car, I’ll never forget my Almost Famous experience. One last time, here is Yidcore singer (and vegetarian) Bram Presser in his own words. Why is Yidcore calling it quits? It’s been ten years of something that was supposed to be a stupid one-night joke. We’ve had an awesome time, met tons of amazing people, toured with most of our heroes and sampled all the best falafel the world has to offer. Plus, when I was young and thin, getting naked and smearing hummus over myself on stage was funny. Now it scares even me. And I can’t afford the amount of hummus it now [takes] these days. The death of our [rubber chicken] mascot, Scrambles, didn’t really help things either. Things are coming together for Jewish punk in the U.S. A few movies connecting Judaism and punk are in production. As far as bands go, Moshiach Oi! released an album of "Torah hardcore" in August, CAN!!CAN and The Shondes are working on new albums, and Di Nigunim is a delightful punk band with a klezmer slant rather than the other way around. What’s your take on these developments? Yeah, it’s really cool. I’ve always said that punk and Judaism is a natural fit on so many levels, so let’s hope it continues to grow. As for us, I hope we played a part in paving the way, perhaps providing a path between the early bands like Gefilte F*ck and the new breed. It was never commercially successful, but maybe that’s the next step in the evolution of Jewish punk from which those bands can benefit. If not actual commercial success, then at least sustainable in the long term.
What legacy does Yidcore leave behind? Filthy hummus-soaked stages around the world. A slew of dead Israeli songwriters whose fate can be directly attributed to their outspoken dislike of us (see Naomi Shemer). Lots of laughs. Showing people that it’s OK to have fun with the culture/religion and that God won’t strike you down with lightning for slaughtering sacred cows.

Do you have any parting words for Natalie Portman? On our last album, we had a song "Natalie Portman, This Is Your Last Chance." What can I say, she missed out. She’s too short for me anyway. And she was way hotter when she was 14 in Leon [released as The Professional in the U.S.]. Is that wrong?

 

Michael Croland can also be found blogging at Heeb’n'vegan.