Evan’s mother rocks
Jewish Telegraph, October 1999
THEY may bear the brunt of many jokes, but you cannot knock Jewish mothers. Just ask rock group The Rosenbergs.
Singer-guitarist David Fagin revealed that the band would probably not exist were it not for bassist Evan Silverman’s mother.
‘‘She is wonderful,’’ David said. ‘‘Evan answered an advert I had placed looking for a bassist, but he wasn’t home when I called him back.
‘‘His mother begged me to let him be in the band. She was saying, ‘my son is such a nice boy and a wonderful musician’. It was the funniest thing I’ve heard.
‘‘Evan was really young, just 18, at the time, but I could see that he was going to develop and mature. His mother comes to all our shows in the New York area and we tour in her van. She helps us out a lot.
‘‘We would have really struggled without her.’’
David jokes that it wasn’t Evan’s musical prowess that won his place in the band — ‘‘I loved his name, it was so cool’’.
He didn’t even realise that Evan was Jewish: ‘‘The first time I met him, he looked like Frank Zappa,’’ David said. ‘‘But there is a Jewish connection between us. It’s a good thing to have because we can relate to each other.’’
Neither of them are religious, although David had the ‘‘Jewish thing’’ instilled in him from an early age.
‘‘My mother was a nightclub singer and performed in the Catskills every year,’’ he told me. ‘‘I got a real sense of being Jewish from mixing with comedians like Jackie Mason and Billy Crystal. I was also barmitzvah and went to Hebrew classes. I can speak and read Hebrew but I’ve got no idea what it all means.’’
The Rosenbergs, named after the infamous spies, have just released their first album in Britain — Ameripop.
It’s also the first release on Pomonasounds — a label set up by Hebden Bridge based publicity company Pomona.
Ameripop has been receiving airplay throughout the world and Evan is particularly pleased to hear from Israeli fans, who email him to say they have heard the group on radio.
‘‘I’d love to play in Israel,’’ he said. ‘‘I have some very good friends who are Israeli. I’ve never actually visited the country.
‘‘I wanted to go when I was younger, but my parents were afraid to send me.’’
Brooklyn-born David always wanted to be a musician, but he was ‘‘terribly shy and never had confidence. My girlfriend of eight years ago said she’d stopped telling people I was a musician because I never performed.
‘‘This lit the fire and got me out there. I took my guitar and performed original material at open mike clubs. I then started to advertise for band members in the Village Voice. It was the only place to find people, but it cost a fortune.
‘‘I started to lose heart because I’d keep getting guys who were shoe salesmen saying they’d dedicate themselves to the band, but didn’t — and there were too many prima donnas out there.’’
In their press release, The Rosenbergs describe themselves as ‘‘a few geeky Jews and some goyim’’.
David says: ‘‘Bobby Gilmartin (guitar) and Travis Huff (drums) are the non-Jewish members. They don’t give two thoughts to being described as ‘goyim’.’’
Ameripop is described by critics as ‘power-pop influenced by Big Star and the Raspberries’, but David says nothing could be further from the truth.
‘‘When I was growing up I listened to soft rock groups like Journey and Styx,’’ he said. ‘‘I never listened to the power-pop groups.’’
But he does admit to being influenced by Scottish group Teenage Fanclub.
‘‘There is an audience for everything,’’ he told me. ‘‘Good music often gets overlooked.’’
And he is full of praise for Pomonasounds.
‘‘They are doing a heck of a job,’’ David said. ‘‘I’d rather be on a label like Pomonasounds, where the staff are really into music and hungry and focussed — unlike a major label.’’
Ameripop is released on October 25, while you can catch The Rosenbergs on their tour this month, including Manchester’s Night and Day Cafe on Thursday, October 28.