Video Premiere & Interview w/ Eternal Struggle

Tel Aviv is probably not the first place that comes to mind when you think of hardcore, but if there is one band who could permanently link the two, it’s most likely Eternal Struggle. After conquering their local scene, this NYC-styled hardcore beast is set to take it’s first mighty step into the wake of the Mediterranean and emerge on the Eastern-Sea board like Godzilla ready to reap radioactive terror riffs and rage aplenty.

Of course, Eternal Struggle is embarking on their world-conquering expedition armed with a new record, Year of the Gun. Set to drop sometime this winter, with US distribution handled by the incomparable Upstate Record. Their debut record was made under the wisened eye of Madball’s Brian ‘Mitts’ Daniels, and it will be sure to inspire neighborhood-wide circle pits across the seven continents when it finally hits store shelves like a windmill kick to the face.

The band’s commitment to their craft and dedication to bestowing the fruits of their labor on eager ears has caught the attention of filmmaker Drew Stone. Stone has dedicated his life to chronically hardcore and heavy metal through the medium of film, directing music videos by Agnostic Front, Sick of It All, and Madball, as well as numerous documentaries. Stone was impressed enough with the band that he created a short “behind the scene” style short film of the making of Eternal Struggle’s debut album Year of the Gun, which New Noise is proud to premiere for you today!

Check out Stone’s film on the making of Year of the Gun below:

As an added bonus, Eternal Struggle agreed to speak with New Noise about the history of the band, their local scene, and the trials and contradictions faced in growing up in a society engaged in near consent preparation for war.

The following interview was conducted with Eternal Struggle via email. It has been edited slightly for clarity.

How long have you been a band?

Technically, ”Eternal Struggle’ has been around for about a decade and has gone through all sorts of changes in the line-up. Founded by Rojo, our bassist, Eternal Struggle at the time was basically a raw live band of chaos and beatdowns for kicks and good times. Until we reached it’s current line up (Franko, Rojo, Shiny, Omer) and decided to start recording and releasing music, I’d say that happened about 5 – 6 years ago after performing locally with Biohazard. That’s when we started writing/recording our first EP as Eternal Struggle, which debuted Summer 2016.

How did you all come to be fans of hardcore, specifically 80’s & 90’s NYHC? .Tell me about which records started you down this path 

There’s probably more in common with Tel-Aviv and NYC than many may think. Where we live, in South Tel-Aviv is dirty, grimey, and unforgiving. home to over 40,000 refugees, packed with poverty, homelessness, drug addiction, neglect, abuse, crime and corruption… Naturally, we identified strongly with the sound, message and aesthetic of NYHC that fights for the underdog. They aren’t from New York but we should probably mention discovering Hatebreed in High School during the early 2000’s and them opening us up to the world of ‘crossover’ between Metal & Hardcore Punk. Hatebreed led us into digging deeper and discovering the likes of Sick Of It All, Madball and the rest of the ever strong NYHC community. 

What does the punk/metal scene look like in Israel? Who are some of the big players we should know about?

 The local scene in Israel is constantly thriving and suffering at the same time. It’s a very small, close bordered country, and every other person in the country is a musician or an artist of some sort, so everyone moves to the highly liberal city of Tel-Aviv where all the bars, clubs and venues are. It’s a bit oversaturated and there is a shortage of (affordable) venues (that welcome hard music) and it’s a lot of the same musicians playing in many bands. It’s a warm, diverse and passionate community of talented and supportive people. I’m sure most people have never heard Punk or Metal in Hebrew, so we outta shout out: Aason, Tabarnak, Helem, Bo La’Bar, and Nidfakta. All great local bands!

What do you want potential fans outside your current scene to know about it?  

It’s honestly an awesome scene here. There are multiple punk or metal shows every weekend and people are often surprised to hear that. They don’t assume that there are many bands here or even any heavy music culture. That’s why most bands don’t think to add Israel to their EU tour. but it’s a quick flight over here from most EU/UK airports and there have been a handful of great shows to come through here, including Turnstile, Biohazard, Comeback Kid, Bane, Nasty, Deez Nuts, Atari Teenage Riot, The Business, and many more. 

What are the best websites or information sources for international hardcore fans to keep up with what’s going on in Israel and the rest of the Middle East? 

Honestly, your best bet would be Bandcamp. It’s the best website for discovering new bands. Locally it’s mostly DIY blogging in Hebrew about bands and news, but there is a new label out of Israel doing awesome things called Taklitim Holim. As for the rest of the Middle East, if there is any metal or punk, it’s probably illegal. We Israeli passport holders will never be welcomed into 15 of our surrounding countries.

How had COVID affected the music community in Israel? 

It’s devastating. The entire music community and industry (and many more) have been out protesting the government’s response to COVID and it’s not so peaceful. Similar to what’s going on in the United States. Lots of military police force. There has been no relief. Venue owners are hunger striking for the community, for the sake of culture and the livelihood of all the independent and freelance artists alike. Our last gig was in June after the lockdown was over and we were given the ‘okay’ for a small scale show, which was a blast but we are currently back under lockdown only hoping we get to have a proper album release show/tour as planned.

Did you have the chance to play the US before things got locked down? 

We wish, man. We hope once things clear up, our time will come to tour America. The full process of getting a single artist visa in America is crazy expensive so unless you have major label funding, you don’t get to tour the US, unless you sneak in as a tourist, which is easier for solo acts. We can’t show up with all our shit and tell border control we’re just going to see the sites! Someone book us and sort that out! 

What’s your impression of the US scene? I’m curious to know what someone outside thinks when looking in. 

It looks like a madhouse! Probably the most extreme crowd in the world. Some of the wildest most violent shows we’ve seen on Youtube are US shows. Fearlessness, passion and an everything-to-prove attitude. It’s cool that everyone has an opportunity to be a band and give it their best shot, get in a van and do the damn thing DIY spending time building fanbase. To press their music locally.. that’s a serious privilege and advantage point. That’s why America has so much musical and cultural diversity. With a band’s hard work, It’s entirely possible to make anything you dream happen. I guess that’s the ‘American Dream’! 

Let’s switch gears to the new album, Year of the Gun. Where does that title come from? 

It’s always war out here. and unfortunately, that’s a normal thing. Every boy and girl we grew up with was drafted at 18, where you are taught to protect yourself from the ‘enemy’. They planted seeds of hate in us, created monsters, and now we need to take accountability and unlearn that. growing up around terroristic act like suicide bombings, stabbings, destruction and overall death, was awful. We still get called in for reserves when tension is high and are under law to do so until age 55. PTSD is completely normalized in Israel and so many good kids are now lost and broken. The country is so busy defending its public image, it’s completely forgotten its people. It makes you wonder, if it’s some crazy astrological destiny to be born into a cycle of violence, pain, aggression and sorrow.

Debut LPs are a big deal. Did you feel intimidated heading into the writing and recording process of this album? 

Of course. At first, we thought we were only going to record another EP until Mitts suggested it be a full album. To tell you the truth, we did not have enough material for a full album so we were challenged to write more songs that we felt happy with and connected to. We were confident with our songs and that we’re able to time-budget ourselves to our original schedule and everything went surprisingly smoothly. It was actually a stress-free process with really good vibes between everyone involved. 

Where was Year of the Gun recorded? 

We recorded Y.O.T.G in only two weeks at Keoss Studios in North Tel-Aviv. The place is really awesome and has some truly incredible high-end gear so we were really happy with the engineering done by Daniel Strosberg & Arie Aronovich. The original individual sources sounded so powerful and were then mixed in Denmark by Tue Madsen of Antfarm Studios which really polished it off. We are lucky to get to work with such talented people.

Will any of the tracks from your single and EP appear on the new record? 

Hah! Actually yes. Just when we thought we were done and had all the new songs ready, our album producer, Mitts, asked us what was our fastest most chaotic track from our 2016 EP, and we said “Pride Kills”, which we rerecorded for the album as well. There are some differences in the new version of Pride Kills and a funny story about Mitts correcting Franko’s pronunciations of some of the lyrics!

The single “Indoctrination” is pretty killer. You seem to have a lot of passion for the subject matter of the song as well. Could you unpack the lyrics for us? 

Thank you! We’re happy you like the song! Indoctrination captures a scenario of someone, let’s say a soldier serving blindly and loyally to a system just to later open their eyes to understand how wrong they were. Let me explain. As a child growing up in a country with a military that has always had a strong role in society, it influences your morals and belief system. By the time you hit high school, you already believe that the most meaningful thing you will do with your life is to serve your country. Every memorial day and independence day, it feels like the most honorable thing you could do as an Israeli, is to die for the cause, at battle, in uniform, as an act of heroic patriotism. I remember myself as a young soldier in the frontline infantry brigade, where we had to take an oath after a month of training. I’ll never forget it. It’s an oath sworn on both a bible and your M16 rifle to put the state of Israel before yourself no matter what it takes. After finishing my 3 years of service, I traveled the world and began to look at it from a different perspective. I’ll never forget how excited It was to finish your military service but only to be left confused and in the dark, full of questions and self-doubt.

Are there any other album highlights you’d like to plug? Favorite songs, maybe? 

We all have different favorites from the album but honestly love all of the songs on this album. There are no ‘fillers’. Every track on this album is very special and unique to us. There are a few interesting highlights but we don’t want to give away too much. We will let everyone know that there is also going to be an insane remix featured on the album. Can’t say any more!

Which of the songs off the new album are the most fun to play live? 

Again, we don’t want to give away too much, but honestly, we enjoy playing all the new songs. It’s been great seeing our crowd react to them live, moshing and partying out of control, without recognizing the new songs or knowing the words yet. Maybe the slower songs are the most fun to play as it lets the crowd really get into their groove!

Do you have a US distributor for the album lined up? 

Yes, Upstate Recordings in New York are handing our US distribution but I’m sure they are open to new partners to join the family! Feel free to hit them up! They are a very dedicated label doing great things for the community. 

What has it been like working with Brian ‘Mitts’ Daniels and Drew Stone? What have they brought to the writing and recording process? 

It has been an incredible experience working with Mitts and Stone. They have mentored us, provided us with priceless insight and direction to take the music and professional process. As well as connecting on a friendly level. They are a couple of the most experienced, accomplished people we have ever crossed paths with, completely in tune with their art form, not to mention how much MADBALL had been influential on the band. 

Mitts produced the album and was 100% involved in the entire recording process. From writing additional *good* songs under a schedule, to fine-tuning guitar sounds and distinctive drum fills. He had endless tips and techniques. He worked with Franko (vox) on lyrical pronunciation and natural vocal pitch choices, timely bass drops, powerful crew vox, track order, transitions.. every detail! 

Drew documented everything and was also in the studio with us the majority of the time giving his feedback and input on the band’s songs, performance, and put together a live screening of Stone’s recent documentary, ‘The New York Hardcore Chronicles Film’ with a live Q&A featuring Drew, Mitts, and Franko, which was a great turnout. Looking forward to reconnecting with Drew and doing an official music video together! It’s really been awesome working with these guys and we know this relationship will only grow from here.

Mitts and Stone have played such a big role in cheerleading Eternal Struggle and helping to bring their debut album to life that it only seemed fair to ask them a few questions as well about how they became involved with the band and the making of their record. Below are their responses to our questions submitted via email (edited only slightly for clarity).

How did the two of you get connected with Eternal Struggle? 

Mitts: The guys reached out to me online back in 2017 about producing their band. They sent me some good samples of their older music, and I was really impressed. The songs were very complex, and you could tell they were the type of band that was out to create their own sound, and not just copy the patterns and styles of their influences. They initially were talking about doing an EP, but I felt strongly that they go for a full LP. I think there was a little time between those initial talks, and us finalizing a plan for me to come to Tel Aviv. Shortly after that, I got a call from Drew with him telling me that they had asked him to come over and document/video the sessions and the making of the record. I was thrilled because I know how much experience Drew has in music and film. We both agreed that it was an “everybody wins” situation. 

Stone: Their manager Avi reached out to me and we stuck up a dialogue which is now a friendship. I had never heard any hard and heavy music out of Israel so I was very curious and once he explained to me that my friend Brian “Mitts” Daniels was producing the new album I was very interested. We went back and forth a bit and eventually we came to the conclusion that I should come over to Israel and direct, shoot and edit a little documentary about them in the recording studio recording the new album “Year Of The Gun”. I came over to Israel for the first time and it was an incredible experience. 

What is it like working with them on a record? 

Mitts: It was a lot of fun, and super challenging. When they sent me the demos for this record, I was immediately impressed with how developed the songs were, and it definitely challenged me to elevate my game. I knew it was going to take everything I had to add to what they had written.

Do you work with a lot of international artists in the capacity that you’ve worked with Eternal Struggle here?

Mitts: In the past, I’ve produced LP’s for Strength Approach (Italy), All For Nothing (Netherlands). I also produced the vocals on an LP for a project band called Skull Pit (Germany/US/Japan). Eternal Struggle was special because it took me to Tel Aviv/Israel, which is somewhere I’d never been during my years of touring.

Stone: I’ve worked with many bands throughout the years in the recording studio including Biohazard on the “State of the World Address” album & Fury Of Five on the “At War With The World” album. I do my best to be unobtrusive and document the moment as honestly as possible. If I am asked my option of something then I will gladly give it. 

Can you give us an idea of what you feel your contributions to Year of the Gun are? 

Mitts: I would hope they would agree when I say that I tried to bring out the strengths of the band, both performance-wise, and with the songwriting. As I mentioned, the songs were already slamming, but I think we polished them a bit, and got them “game ready”. I made a point of it to schedule at least one jam session in their rehearsal room, before the studio, to hear the band go through the songs as a 4 piece. When you’re in the studio, it’s easy to lose focus of what the feel of the song will be when it’s finished. They rehearse in this space that felt like a small venue, so it was easy to create the mind frame of a live show, and examine the songs in that setting. There were a lot of songs that were ready to go, but there were a few where I suggested some “less is more” type of changes. Simplifying things, trimming the fat, stuff like that.

Stone: Just my overall attitude, experience and perspective having worked with many bands in similar situations through the years. 

Why do you think these guys have what it takes to break out internationally? 

Mitts: I think the material is going to do the talking. There’s a lot of “hype” bands that come from countries and scenes that are considered to be hotbeds of heavy music. But ES is coming from a region that isn’t known for having a big output of music of this style. I don’t mean to disrespect other Israeli bands, because I’ve become familiar with some great ones during this experience, but when these guys break out, it’s going to be because the music is special.

Stone: Absolutely. This is a great band with great songs and they crush it live. This record is going to take them to the next level.    

Did you encounter any hurdles in helping to bring this record to life?

Mitts: As far as the studio went, it was a smooth process. They were super prepared. There’s no bigger waste of time and money than to go into a recording studio without knowing what you’re going to play. Writing and experimenting is something to be done in the rehearsal room. If you’re U2 or Coldplay, you can afford to spend months in the recording studio, tinkering, re-working, experimenting with sounds and tones, etc. But in underground music like metal and hardcore, the budget isn’t there for that. You have to have the songs to the level where you can play them in your sleep. It’s all about execution. So with that said, the guys had really done their homework, and everything went really well. 

What do you like most about Eternal Struggle? 

Mitts: I think the guys are super hungry. This isn’t a hobby for them. They are genuinely dedicated to doing whatever they need to do to break this band to the world. They’ve got great music, they put on an awesome live show, and they’re ready take both of those to wherever people are ready for it. 

Stone: Friendship and camaraderie. At this point, I consider them all my good friends. I have been back to Israel since the recording of the album to shoot some of my new film which they appear in. I look forward to returning again soon and spending time with everyone. 

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