Israeli expatriates import punk rock.
It almost sounds like the plot of a half-baked sitcom: Two twentysomething musicians from Israel sell their possessions, travel to New York City, buy a brown 1973 Chevy van and set out across America playing their version of Led Zeppelin-meets-Nirvana punk rock.
But, of course, it's not a sitcom. For David Stitch and Jimi Nostalgia, it's real life. And it's a busy real life.
In 2 1/2 months, their band, the Mothers Anger, has played 50 or so gigs. On Saturday night, their real-life brown van will bring them to Eugene, where they'll open a punk show at Diablo's/Downtown Lounge. On Tuesday, the boys in brown return to headline a show at John Henry's.
`It's our dream and it's what we've always wanted, to be able to be in a place where we can play our music for as many people as possible," said drummer Nostalgia, calling from Los Angeles. `It's hard to do in Israel."
Israel has a rock scene - `there are heavy metal bands, punk bands, pop bands, any kind of music you can imagine' - but it's underground, Nostalgia said.
`There are a lot of really great bands, a lot of really great musicians, but there really isn't much of a crowd for it," he said. `Israel's a very, very, very small market. It's smaller than New Jersey. It's 5 million people.
`One million are orthodox Jews, you know they don't really care for rock 'n' roll. Another million are Arabs, and they don't really care for rock 'n' roll. So you end up with a really small percentage of people who want to come out to shows or who want to buy CDs. And you can't really make a living off of it. That's why a lot of Israeli musicians migrate."
Nostalgia and Stitch, the guitarist-bassist, are high school friends from Tel Aviv who recorded an album in Hebrew for Israel's second-largest record label, NMC. After a tour in the United States last year, they signed a deal with Dionysus Records and returned to Israel for a few months before making the big move across the pond.
To record their first American record, Dionysus teamed the boys with producer Michael Davis, bassist for the groundbreaking Detroit punk band MC5.
`That was amazing,' Nostalgia said of the Davis collaboration, "That was sent from heaven. ... It was so much fun to work with him in the studio. A word here, a word there and he just made us feel so comfort- able.'
That self-titled debut features the band's `special' sound, which Nostalgia describes as "electro-psychedelic hard rock 'n' roll with Middle Eastern influences.
"We have a special way of playing, because we are a two-piece band. We don't just play normal guitar and drums like a lot of two-piece bands do. We sort of invented in Israel a way of tuning the guitar differently and a special amp chain, we run it through a guitar and a bass amp, and it really sounds full. ...
`We manage to put out a lot of sound.'
Now that they're here, they're touring endlessly and living out of that 1973 van.
`It's got a high top. It's got a stink in it. It's got a couple of beds,' Nostalgia said, adding that they've been known to cook in it when need be. "When we're on the move and we're traveling and we're playing every night in different places, there is nothing but the music.
`That and taking good care of the van."
Ginger Hustlers, Like Breathing, Station Wag, the Mothers Anger
When: 10 p.m. Saturday
Where: Diablo's/Downtown Lounge, 959 Pearl St.
Tickets: $5 cover
The Mothers Anger, Everything That Kills, Ahimsa Theory
When: 10 p.m. Tuesday
Where: John Henry's, 77 W. Broadway
Tickets: $3 cover
The Mothers Anger: Jimi Nostalgia (left) and David Stitch.