Interview by Sarah Williams. A shorter version is published in the Manchester Punk Festival programme, for which this was written. You can download the programme here. If you haven’t already, be sure to grab your MPF2019 tickets before they sell out!
Not On Tour are, without a doubt, the band we’re most excited to see at Manchester Punk Festival. Fans of 80’s punk ala Descendents, Bad Religion or Minor Threat will be instantly enthralled by their fresh take on a classic sound.
This Israeli four-piece have a cult appeal that’s spread across the global punk scene through ‘have you heard’ whispers in the past few years. Their catchy, political skate-punk ditties see them taking a headline slot at MPF, and touring to celebrate the release of their new album Growing Pains.
We’re excited to welcome you back to the UK! Manchester Punk Festival will be your first English show since 2013. How has the band grown since your last tour here?
- Nir (bass): A major change to the band is our new guitar player, Mati. Growing Pains is the first time we’ve written music with another guitarist and we are really pleased with the result!
Sima (vocals): We’ve played in a lot of other countries since then, all over Europe and also Japan and Russia. Last 3 years have been a big change in the amount of crowd and the places we play. Also having a booking agent has been a real relieving step for us.
What can British audiences, who might not have seen you before, expect from Not On Tour?
- Nir: An energetic show with a kick-ass female singer, fast and catchy melodic punk rock tunes that won’t let you stand without shaking your booty.
You’re based in Tel Aviv. How do you think the your Israeli background has influenced your sound?
- Nir: It’s pretty difficult to start a band in Israel because instruments are expensive and there is little cultural support. We like to think that these conditions make us (and other Israeli bands) push harder and make better music in an attempt to stand out from the crowd. Also, Israel is a pretty stressful place to live in, and our music is where we let it all out. I think it’s pretty audible.
- Gutzy (drums): I think the biggest advantage of being in a small scene in the Middle East is that it is very eclectic by nature; there aren’t any ‘fashion cliques’ and there are fewer subdivisions in the alternative scenes, so generally people don’t wall themselves within established genre-oriented scenes like you see in bigger places. I also think there are very few prospects of local success for alternative bands, and while many bands take a while to figure it out – it’s a very liberating realisation if you are in it for the music.
For a band with your name, you’ve certainly toured a lot of incredible countries with incredible bands. What’s been your proudest moment with Not On Tour?
- Nir: There have been many, but playing shows with Lagwagon is an all time favourite for all of us. It must be one of our top proudest moments, especially when Sima joined Joey Cape to sing on stage.
People fall in love with Not On Tour for your fresh approach to an classic 80’s punk rock sound. Are you aiming for a timeless sound, or trying to create your own niche?
- Nir: We aren’t really trying anything specific, but we are trying to write music that is fun for us to play. The most important thing for us is not to get bored with what we play, and our music is the outcome.
- Gutzy: We do have shorter-than-usual songs, but it’s not a principle, an ideal or a goal – we just don’t feel like we have to play parts we are not 100% comfortable with, and we are all very opinionated about how punk rock should be played. So, at least stylistically, I always kinda felt that we have been hanging around the same area? But we sometimes write a song thinking, “Heh, this doesn’t sound like typical Not On Tour,” but then it just becomes part of our sound.
You’re releasing a brand new album Growing Pains on April 12th – how does this release compare to Bad Habits (2015) and All This Time (2012)?
- Nir: It’s better! Ha. But really, we love this album dearly, and we feel like it has the best music we’ve written so far in our time together as a band. Musically it has some more complex bits, as we try to stay interested in what we play. Some of the songs are definitely a challenge for us.
Your lead single from the album, Therapy, talks about mental health – can listeners expect similar themes on the record?
- Sima: I’ve always written about mental issues and anxiety, depression, with metaphors.
- Nir: This record is very versatile lyrically. Some songs are joke songs, others talk about social issues, childhood experiences and more.
What would you say is the winning formula for a perfect punk rock band?
- Nir: Do whatever you want! And get a good drummer. Good drummers make bands great.
- Gutzy: Ha! I mean, I think a band with a shit drummer will have a lot of trouble, but even the best drummer won’t save a boring band. I think a perfect punk rock band has infectious positive vibes, or the ability to make you relate and put a smile on your face without listening to a single note.
What part of Manchester Punk Festival are you most excited for?
- Nir: This will be our first time playing a UK festival, so pretty much everything! The vibes, the people and, of course, the bands
- Gutzy: I’m waiting to see Doom. I couldn’t even believe they’re on the bill.
What are your ambitions for Not On Tour in future?
- Nir: To continue making music, playing shows around the world, meet new people and get to new ears and have the best time ever!
Make sure that you pick up Not On Tour’s brand new album Growing Pains, which is out on SBAM Records and La Agonía De Vivir from April 12th. Catch them on tour round Europe between April 19th and May 2nd, including four unmissable UK dates.
Manchester Punk Festival takes place on April 19-22nd across 9 music venues in the Rainy City. Tickets are still available but running short; be sure to grab yours from the MPF website.
Read more from Sarah Williams here.