Songs from the heart

THE Potbelleez stormed onto the Australian music scene with their infectious single Don’t Hold Back in 2007.

Proclaimed at the time by Rolling Stone to be the fastest-rising stars on the dance scene, they’ve since toured the country numerous times, been splashed across our television screens, and recently played support to American megastar Usher during his Australian tour.

Considering the band’s success, expectations for the new album Destination Now are high. But humble singer, guitarist and pianist Ilan Kidron tells The AJN that it’s all about writing from the heart.

“You definitely have in mind what people are expecting, and you do treat it as though you have a brief, and the brief is everyone’s got to have a great time,” he says.

“We are targeting people when we write, but we are writing from our hearts, and when you look at the content of the writing, it’s not only about sex, drugs and rock’n’roll in the nightclub scene.

“There is a lot of spirituality involved in there, and there’s a lot of seeking a return to oneself and repairing the world and I guess things that are consistent with our faith.”

Much of the material for Destination Now, which is being released on May 27, was written while the band was on tour, something Kidron says allowed the songs to “flow from there”.

“The way we write songs, I guess, is quite unorthodox in the sense that we don’t really have a method,” he says.

“I might write the music and lyrics to a song and then hand it over to the guys to reproduce, or one of the boys might hand me some lyrics, which I then write some music to, or we might sit in a room and write a song all together.

“So each song is quite different with the process and as far as the pressure goes that we were under, I’ve got to say that a glass of wine takes all the pressure off.”

Kidron puts The Potbelleez’s infectious sound down to the diversity of the band’s members.

“There’s four of us in The Potbelleez, and two of The Potbelleez are Irish boys, and they started off as DJs and are now accomplished producers, and they come from a dance music background,” he says.

“On the other hand, I come from a rock, folk, jazz, klezmer and a crooner background. So I come from a much more twisted musical background in a more traditional sense and, they come from more of an electronic sense. And that’s why the recipe ends up so contagious.”

When not playing with The Potbelleez, Kidron likes to play a wide array of music.

“I love writing slow waltzes is the style of Leonard Cohen or Edith Piaf, for example, or I love playing a lot of the Chabad tunes,” he says.

“Every Friday night, we have big sing-alongs at home, and I get together with friends as well and we share all that sort of music, the traditional Jewish music.”

For Kidron, who sang in shul choirs when he was younger, Judaism is an integral part of who he is.

“I bring my tefillin on tour,” he laughs. “I’m a traditionalist. I do sing at shul every Friday night that I’m in town. I love doing a lot of the charity work and, as far as my own Jewishness goes, I think I’ve chosen my own path in that I do practise every day and I keep Shabbos whenever I can when I’m not on tour.

“There’s so much of Hashem in my life and I’m so lucky for the things that I’ve got and I don’t take it for granted.”

The Potbelleez are performing at gigs around Australia in June and July before heading to the Spanish party island of Ibiza in August.

The Potbelleez new CD, Destination Now, will be released on May 27.

REPORT: Gareth Narunsky