The Great Chicken Soup Caper
2002 Swell Records
"Our intention wasn’t to be anything, just to have fun with the tradition. To play the songs that we kind of liked back in school but play them in a way we actually liked them."
So says Bram Presser, singer for the Australian band Yidcore. Their second album, The Great Chicken Soup Caper continues Yidcore’s fast, electric guitar driven style. And it’s amazing how well some Jewish standards translate into punk rock tunes. Bashana Haba'ah blazes and you’ve never sung Vehi She'Amda at the Passover table like this before.
"A lot of punk kids both Jewish and non-Jewish have really taken to it. But we’ve had some abusive emails saying that we’re destroying the culture. We had a teacher in school back in home who told her class that there was no place in heaven for people who listen to Yidcore. We thought that was pretty funny."
Yes, there some punk rock yelling and screaming, but this is not a mockery of Jewishness. Yidcore is a group of seriously talented musicians who combine their roots with different musical avenues. The emotional vocals and precision guitar playing proved these guys are just banging our novelty songs. Concerts have attracted a wide mix of fans sporting pierced noses, long peyos and everything in between.
"I was actually explaining it to this big rabbi back in Melbourne and trying to explain. He’s like 80 and I was trying to explain it to him. And was saying, 'you don’t have to make it any more modern. You know, Shlomo Carlebach, he made it modern. It’s modern enough!'"
The boys have a large sense of humor, however one of their funniest songs probably won’t ever be heard. Yidcore’s version of Adam Sandler’s Channukah Song, complete with references to famous Jewish punkers like Joey Ramone, got the group in legal trouble. Their response was Why Won’t Adam Sandler Let Us Do His Song, which starts out the new album.
Copyright issues aside, Yidcore still plays a solid mix of familiar Jewish tunes. To Life from Fiddler on the Roof is an impossibly fast ska-core ditty performed live. Mordechai Ben Dovid and Naomi Shemer also are tributed, although they might not have envisioned their tunes quite like this.
Also not featured on the album is Ir K’off Agri, or The City is a Phoenix about New York after September 11th.
"We thought that if we wrote it in English it would be just like any other song that was written about it. I wrote it in Hebrew and it was strange. I’ve gotten emails from Israel telling me how grammatically incorrect it is. It was very gut reactiony, a song for the moment."
"For us it’s really weird," says Presser of their live concerts, "watching moshing people moshing to music we used to roll our eyes at back at school."
If you're ready to mosh too, then keep your eyes peeled. Yidcore is back in America for a Chanukah tour hitting New York, Chicago and other communities. And if you’re Star Wars actress, Natalie Portman, then you have several marriage proposals from the band.
Yidcore was interviewed on Jewish Community Radio, August 9, 2002. See our playlists for further listings.
Copyright 2003 Jewish Community Radio