This interview with Yossi Sassi of Orphaned Land was done by e-mail by Panayiotis Papandreopoulos in January 2005.

The following interview was done with the guitarist of Orphaned Land Yossi Sassi through e-mail in two parts. The first was done just a few days before the scheduled Athens Concert (16-01-2005) and the second one after the cancellation of the Athens Concert. They managed to play only in Thessaloniki. According to the organisers the reason for the cancellation was the poor pre-sails. Personally I donít know if this has to do with the promotion, bad weather, audience indifference or anything else. My sense is that Orphaned Land is a well-known and beloved band to the Greek audience. On the other hand the band at their official site says that they are so sorry about the Athens show cancellation, it was not in their hands and until the very last minute they wanted to play there, despite they had a very bad communication with the promoter, same thing with Ankara. They promise to play in these cities in the future!! They are waiting for it.

1st PART

Congratulations for the new album Mabool. Why has there been such a long delay in releasing it? Has the political situation in Israel affected the whole situation or are there also musical reasons?
Orphaned Land had to take the time off for various reasons, some off them where external to the core team but many where due to personal aspirations of the individuals. Some developed other careers, some searched there inner soul for a true belief, some travelled the world for long months, but eventually, this "entity" called Orphaned Land is stronger than its members, and we were united, mostly due to the fans and friends that didn't let us disappear too long. Most of Mabool was written in 97-98,I wrote it on the acoustic, Saz and Bouzouki and hoped it'd be published some day, as it did.

Mabool is not as "aggressive" as the previous two albums. Will you continue at the same style?
Orphaned Land evolves all the time, but as a group and as individuals. Many of us are still into keeping the "aggressive" parts in our style, but what really makes us unique, in a way, is the variety of styles in the music. I don't think we'll go "softer" than that in the next release. In fact, I hope to make it more powerful and "aggressive" in some parts, but highly melodic at the same time. That's the challenge for me in the next piece in Orphaned Land's musical puzzle.

You seem to have many influences either from local music or from more oriental music patterns. Do you have acceptance by Arabs? Have you ever played in an Arabic country? If yes, how was the atmosphere there?
We've played in Turkey several times and loved it there. Amazing people and great hospitality. We've met with friends and fans from Jordan, Egypt, Syria and more, and the atmosphere was very good. I truly hope we can meet and play for more Arab countries in the future.

You are doing a minor Balkan tour. Do you plan to make a bigger one covering more countries? What are your music plans for the future?
The tour in the Balkans will cover 3 countries and 6 shows. We have a South American tour in the planning phase that will span at least a month and several countries, and also some suggestions from Europe and the US. We always update the latest approved dates in our Official website.

What sort of difficulties do Orphaned Land confront and how difficult is for a Heavy Metal band from Israel, given the political situation, to make an international carrier?
The difficulties are enormous, from mandatory army service for the young players through high costs of travelling abroad and down to local issue with terror and some rough economics, although improving lately. I believe that you can make it still, and we're a live example for that, I guess. Will power and determination works eventually through all difficulties.

Is Heavy Metal wide spread among the Israeli youth?
I presume you refer to "metal" in general, rather than the specific "heavy metal" genre. Metal is not too popular in Israel, and comes far after Pop, hip hop, ethnic folk music etc. The radio coverage is ok, but they mainly introduce nu-metal and the like. There are few thousands that come to the shows and possibly some tens of thousands that buy the CDs but don't come to the shows, and that's too bad.

Have you been in Athens before?
Yes, Me and Kobi visited Athens in the 90's and slept over at Ephtimis' home (vocalist of Nightfall) - we had a great time there.

What is your impression of the Athenian audience?
Athenians drive too fast, but they're very good people. I love Greek people in general very much. They are warm, heartful and very direct, like we are. I have many good friends in Greece and some of our website is actually written by Greek friends (Stavroula and Chris! you rule!!!)

2nd PART

Unfortunately the Athens Concert was cancelled. Was it due to the bad weather or of something else as well?
Unfortunately the Athens Concert was cancelled by the local promoter, we are not sure what was the exact reason, but I can tell you he was not as professional as the Thessaloniki production - they were excellent - great people (ENCORE Greek booking).

Will you try play in Athens in the near future?
Yes! Be sure to see us back in Greece in the close year for few shows.

How was the Thessaloniki concert and the audience response?
Amazing. Simply people to adore. The sound, atmosphere, friends - all were great. Oh, and the food was super. We ate many Souvlaki, Tsiziki (local dishes) and more.

Do you prepare any songs for the next album and when approximately would you plan to release it?
We are in the middle of touring with "Mabool", our last album. This is our priority now. I have written material for a new album, yet I don't expect it to be ready before early 2006.

Links of interest:

Orphaned Land
Century Media
Holy Records