MosheSkier.com

 

 

1985-1991

It is strange to know that you can look back and tell the exact moment when your life started to change.  For me, it occurred on a day in early 1985 when Izzy Botnick and Moish Taubenblat walked into my dorm room at Yeshiva University.

I recall that I was listening to the Tohu Vavohu demo with a group of friends when they walked in.  They had heard the demo, somehow, and were looking for a bass player to join a band that they were forming.  Izzy and Moish knew each other from their year in Israel, and Moish had written something like 40 songs, most of them without words, and wanted to put together a rock band to play them.  I was already in a pretty good rock band, and we had the aforementioned demo tape under our belts, so I was a little skeptical.  But when Moish started playing on his little keyboard, and Izzy played along on the acoustic guitar, I knew my direction was about to change.

The songs were catchy, they had multiple sections with different rhythmic parts, and Izzy was coming up with all kinds of riffs on the acoustic guitar.  I quickly started taping.  If I had to describe the music, I'd probably say it sounded something like a cross between Styx and Elton John.  What really impressed me was that the two of them were actually making music, just sitting across the room from me with their little instruments, and that it seemed so natural.

Very shortly, we were practicing in the basement of drummer Simcha Kagan in Flatbush.  We were joined by his brother Gamliel on guitar and saxophonist Adam Greebler.  By then I had had a chance to learn the tunes from the tape I made.  Again, everything just worked.  We had never played together before, but there we were making music in the basement.  I guess I can't really explain the difference between a bunch of people playing instruments at the same time, and a band making music, but when you hear it, you know. 

I have to admit that aside from the elevated level of musicianship, one of the key attractions to the band was the fact that I wouldn't have to sing, and could focus on my bass playing.   Moish and Izzy were purposely vague on the subject when they approached me, and I had assumed that since they were his songs, he would sing them.  This turned out not to be the case.  So again we went on a hunt for a lead singer, and again, after several painful sessions, it became clear that Moish and I would do all the singing.

I brought over a few songs from Tohu Vavohu, like Adon Olam, Ashrei (now completely revamped from the Tohu Version), Baavur Dovid, and some of the cover tunes we were doing, just to add a different flavor to the song list.  And I began writing songs.  Lots and lots of them.

I've always been a songwriter who writes for a band.  If I'm not in a band, I don't write.  What was cool about this situation was how easily the band members would pick up new material.  I would fiddle around on the guitar or bass and come up with something, and then I would play it for Izzy, and when he played it back, it always sounded better.  So the music would start to take on a life of its own.  The other unique thing about Kabbalah was how everyone in the band thought in terms of arrangements.  We quickly came up with parts which we played consistently.  So the drummer played his part the same way each time.  This made it easy for me to come up with different grooves and rhythms, and to work out parts with the guitarist or keyboardist.

We'd start to think of musical themes we wanted to put into songs.  We'd refer to sections of the songs as "the U2 section," or the "Rolling Stones part," or the "Squeeze solo."  This to me was the most fun.  Once you start thinking of arrangements, you get the urge to record.  Having just had experience in the recording studio with Tohu Vavohu, it was much easier to get started on recording a demo.  We went back to the same recording studio in Brooklyn and did a 5 song demo tape.  We were using a different drummer at the time, but afterwards, we went back to Simcha.

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