Jewish Telegraph, March 2007
BLACKFIELD have released two great albums — yet media coverage of the group is always based around Aviv Geffen’s political views.
And the Israeli rock star, who formed the band with Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree, is always happy to talk about his politics.
He told me: “I have a great PR story behind me and people want to hear it. People want to hear my opinions on Israel and conflict.”
Aviv is the son of Israeli poet Yehonatan Geffen and the nephew of Israel military legend Moshe Dayan. But he became a worldwide name after being the last person to embrace Yitzhak Rabin before he was assassinated in 1995.
“Rabin was a great person. He was a military man who chose to go in the opposite direction for a new Middle East,” Aviv said.
After his murder by Yigal Amir at the peace rally in Tel Aviv, Geffen “ran away to London because it was so traumatic”.
He added: “Amir killed his way and his dreams.”
Aviv formed Blackfield with Wilson after the pair met in 2001. They released their debut self-titled album in 2004 and followed it last month with Blackfield II (Snapper).
“I had heard Porcupine Tree and though they were good,” Aviv said. “I invited him to play in Israel.
“I then met Steven in London and gave him a CD with a tune on and he wrote the lyrics. This became Open Minds, the first song on the debut album.”
He added: “Blackfield was a playground which Steven played in and I thought it was a good name for the band.
“Steven fell in love with Israel and moved here for six months. In effect, we swapped countries.”
Wilson lived in Tel Aviv which Geffen describes as “not Israel. It’s like another country. It’s a cool city”.
Wilson, meanwhile, told Classic Rock magazine: “I’ve never felt anything less than completely safe and secure (in Tel Aviv). Yes, there were suicide bombings in different parts of the city, but there were also terrorist attacks in London.
“When the IRA bombed the Brent Cross Shopping Centre, I lived so near that I felt the blast. Unfortunately that’s the world we live in.”
Aviv told me: “Steven is doing a great job in Israel for tourism.”
And Wilson isn’t the first musician that Aviv has taken to Israel. Among the other groups who have visited the country are Belle and Sebastian.
After their trip, they made a film against Israel and wrote an anti-Israel article in best-selling Q magazine.
“It’s a bit my fault,” Aviv said. “I showed them one thing at a checkpoint in Jerusalem and they made a movie against Israel.”
Aviv has very strong views about Israel. He refused to do his compulsory military service and his lyrics have been critical of the country’s military.
“I’ve kept Blackfield songs non-political so far,” he said. “But I’m against occupation and think settlements in the occupied territories are illegal.”
He claims that some songs on the third Blackfield album — which he and Steven will begin writing after the current tour — will be political.
Aviv described the recent conflict in Lebanon as Iraq v America, but adds that his collaboration with Steven proves that “Israel and England can do music, not just wars”.
Aviv has been amazed at Blackfield’s reception.
“I’ve been excited with our reviews,” he said. “We sold out the Mean Fiddler in London the other week. It was amazing.”
Blackfield’s first album sold around 80,000 copies worldwide, while the pair hope to double that total with the new album.
Geffen, who has sold more than two million solo albums in Israel, said: “I’m doing the same job with Steven as I do on my own.”