Latest update: March 20th, 2012
Modern-Orthodox Jewish comic Heshy Fried aka FrumSatire (last time I saw him was at the Stanton Street shul on the Lower East Side, and he emailed me a while back that he moved to LA) has been a fan of the Groggers for at least two years now, so I’m assigning him the honor of “discovering” them (as in, “Look at all the Groggers over there!”).
Fried wrote in Heeb Magazine that the Groggers were “possibly the first Orthodox Jewish band that doesn’t sound Jewish. (Expletive), even Matisyahu can’t go a few lines without throwing in some biblical verse. And don’t even get me started on the so-called Chabad hip hop movement. I was listening to the new album from The Groggers the other day and for the first time in my life I forgot I was listening to Jewish music. I thought for a second that I was listening to MXPX or New Found Glory. The Groggers are a Modern Orthodox Jewish punk rock band from Queens that sings about young Jewish angst.”
I agree with Heshy completely, and I’m only sorry that he got to them before I did, but that’s the way it is when you’re young and free and living on the West Coast. Yes, I share Heshy Fried’s enthusiasm for precisely the same reasons. So now you have to either go listen to all the Groggers YouTube tunes and then come back and read my conversation with Doug Staiman, the band leader, or read first and go later. Tell you what, I’ll throw in the clips and some lyrics as we proceed, because my mission here is to get you involved with this new phenomenon.
Is it still cool to say “phenomenon”?
Is it still cool to ask if things are “cool”?
The Groggers are a Jewish pop-punk band with a comic twist, based out of NYC, formed in early 2010 by singer/songwriter L.E. Staiman, and musicians Ari Friedman and Chemy Soibelman.
I called Doug Staiman, band leader of The Groggers, in early March, on a day when Israel’s southern towns were under heavy rocket fire. He sounded concerned and asked how I was doing.
Yanover: I’m okay, considering there are rockets flying in the air and alarms sounding… Otherwise things are cool, how are you?
Staiman: Good… What better time for a Groggers interview than during a missile attack…
Yanover: How are you feeling over there about the minor war we’ve been having?
Staiman: I support Israel and everything it does, especially its right to defend itself.
Yanover: Are you anxious?
Staiman: I have a lot of family in Israel. I have a cousin in the army and I have friends in the army. I’m always nervous…
Yanover: I heard about you from the publicist of the plastic surgeon you did that video commercial for. I have to say, I’ve watched three or four of your videos, I just finished watching the “Get” video, you’re definitely with it. I’m saying this even though I’m 57, so as far as I’m concerned, music ended in 1972 when the Beatles broke up…
Staiman: I’ve heard that before…
Yanover: Boomers are not easy to take, I realize that.
Staiman: So I’ve heard…
Yanover: We’re very self centered, so I apologize in advance. But you have social involvement in your art, you have political awareness, you’re frum in a very straight forward, unabashed and at the same time not compulsory way, you’re just you, I really liked it.
Staiman: Thank you, I really appreciate that.
Yanover: How did the whole thing begin?
Staiman: The band started when I moved to New York about four years ago—I’m 24—and I knew another friend’s band that was into the modern Jewish music theme, and I started exploring Jewish music a little bit and I had to do it my own way. So I wrote a couple of these slightly controversial, very honest Jewish satirical songs, and I would send out demos to friends. People appreciated them, but I also caught a lot of flack for it and people said it would never go anywhere because it’s too much of a niche and people who don’t understand might be offended by it. So, as a joke I made a video of the song “Get.”
You gotta get get get get Give her a get You gotta get get get get Give her a get You gotta get get get get Give her a get Cause she don’t love you no mo’
I think Its time to cut your losses And maybe cut the cord Its time to let her go Cause she seems miserable and bored And your friends think you’re a hero But your kids think you’re a joke And your lawyer won’t return your calls Because he knows you’re broke
You gotta get get get get Give her a get…
About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.
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