12 QUESTIONS WITH AMIT PELED

Can you give us a brief history of your playing career?

I grew up in Israel and started playing when I was a little kid. I was in the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) orchestra and later studied at the Rimon School of Jazz and Contemporary Music. After studying in Rimon I moved to New York to study at the New School of Jazz and to meet new musicians and make music. I’ve been here ever since, playing with my hands or with other musicians, going on tour or staying home and practicing chicken picking. I’m one lucky guy.

My two main bands are Ramzailech – my Hardcore Klezmer band from Israel, and Les Rhinoceros — a New-York/DC based band. I’m also playing with Moshav Band, who luckily enough, happens to have the nicest people We worked with, so that’s a lot of fun as well.

What inspired you to start playing?

When I was 11, a friend who started playing drums suggested I should start learning the guitar and play with him. Little did I know that I would be hooked for life.

What was your first electric guitar?

That would be a beginner Squier Strat. That guitar went through a lot; the paint was sand-papered off. I hammered screws and nails in it, painted it again and detuned it to Drop B. I think I need to set it on fire and then retire it. I played at my Bar-Mitzvah with that guitar!

What are your top 5 favorite records?I

mpossible question, but here are 5 that made an impact on me growing up:

John Zorn – Masada Guitars. Solo pieces played by Frissell, Sparks and Ribot. Can’t mess with that stuff. It’s just them and the guitar, usually an acoustic. You can hear their breath and every little squeak from the guitar. It’s extremely personal and intimate. Each of them has a different musical identity.

Wes Montgomery – Full House. Anything Wes played is golden; he’s as good as they get. That’s where you learn to play octaves.

Mr. Bungle – California. I picked this one up in high-school, and I couldn’t put it down for years. That album has a universe inside it with the sounds, arrangements and textures. Naturally, I ripped off everything I could from it.

Nine Inch Nails – The Downward Spiral. Horror movie samples, Iggy Pop samples, hardcore noise, picardy thirds, Adrian Belew, odd meters, the F-word, depression, superb songwriting and Trent Reznor – the mighty dark lord himself! That’s all you need for a masterpiece.

Queens Of The Stone Age – Songs For The Deaf. This album made me buy my first fuzz pedal, so yes, it’s a life changer. This was the album I’d play whenever I was driving on tour. QOTSA are hard hitting, playing in drop C with walls of guitars, and yet, the music is very fragile and sincere. That’s how an album becomes part of your life.

What was the proudest moment and/or performance of your playing career?

There’s something magical about arriving to a new country that you’ve never been to before, playing for a huge crowd of people that you’ve never met, who don’t know the language that the band’s singing in, and by the end of the show, they’re your best friends. That’s pretty much what it’s all about.

I also remember a ‘Les Rhinoceros’ moment where one guy was so drunk at the end of the show, that he hugged us all and said “You! Carlos Santana” over and over again. I guess that’s something, too – Santana, man.

How did you hear about Reverend?

There used to be a guitar store called “Rash-Gash” in Tel-Aviv that brought Reverend to Israel around 2006. It was love ever since.

What Reverend guitar(s)/basses are you using?

Double Agent. It’s my main guitar ever since I got it. I figured that after years of jazzy-hollow—bodied guitars I’ve earned my right to have a tremolo bar. That guitar does everything.

We used the double agent and a Drop tuned Sensei with Ramzailech on the “Tsuzamen” album. That’s that heavy sound on the track “Fir Zin”.

What do you like about your Reverend guitar?

The balance between being versatile and ringing beautifully in the studio along with the fact that it stays in one piece when I jump off the PA or jump into the crowd when we’re playing live.

What amps and pedals do you currently use?

I’m always changing my amps. Lately I’ve been using either a Twin, Deluxe or AC 30 when on the road. I have a nice Rivera combo in Israel that I use too. Anything goes.

I love anything that comes from Piggy FX and Holowon lndustnes, both of them make handmade stuff that make up a big part of my sound. The rest is Fulltone for beefiness, TC electronics’ Ditto 2 for looping, Line 6 and Holowon industries for delays. All the rest of the strange beeps and boops are done with Zvex and Hotone pedals. It’s nice to have all of them because I stomp and break them systematically, I’m like an ape when we’re onstage.

Do you have any unusual hobbies, skills, or pastimes you’d like to share with us?

I’m trying to be a nicer person, I guess that counts as a hobby.

Do you have any advice for up and coming players?

Yes. Practice, play music with people, and have fun. Everything else isn’t important. People like the fact that I can play different styles, that’s because I grew up listening to Aris San, Dillinger Escape Plan, Buckethead and Umm Kulthum. You can argue that the styles are different but they’re all good. Just keep your ears open to anything interesting.

Please tell us about any of your current projects, tours, cds, etc. we should know about?

Ramzailech are about to do a tour for peace in Europe in November 2015. You can learn more about the tour and help the kickstarter here; you can even get a burnt piece from my guitar:

http://bit.ly/secret-handshake-tour

You can follow Ramzailech on Facebook or Instagram-facebook.com/Ramzailechinstagram.com/Ramzailech

We’ve just released Les Rhinoceros’ new album:‘Les Rhinoceros III‘ on Tzadik records.You can hear us here: https://youtu.be/-Ffi6FMq9UE

I hope to release a solo album soon as well, it’s going to be music no one can play and nobody wants tohear.