Duo incorporates Japanese, Israeli and American culture into their rock ‘n’ roll.
Brooklyn-based duo Toranavox harness the energetic showmanship and memorable hooks that defined heavy rock before metal split off into stringent sub-genres. The band was formed in 2014 by Japanese guitarist and vocalist Ken Minami—established in some circles from fronting earlier power duo Ken South Rock—and Israeli drummer and vocalist Eli Halfi. The duo sings in Japanese, Hebrew and English, but its full-volume blasts are in the international language of rock ‘n’ roll. With a slowly growing audience after a pair of lengthy US tours, and a debut full-length receiving a few finishing touches, Toranavox is only beginning its spread of dense rock that owes more to AC/DC than the usual indie or punk reference points.
Halfi recently chatted with Myspace about the nascent band’s sound and the relative ease of touring with just one other person.
Homebase: Brooklyn, NY
How do you think the band differs from your bandmate’s previous power duo, Ken South Rock, aside from you being in the band? I usually see that band mentioned alongside Toranavox in write-ups.
They are both duos and obviously are very similar. Even though this project, I think, is heavier. It’s my opinion and not necessarily [Miniami’s] opinion. There’s more screaming, and it’s definitely going in more of a metal direction. I used to play in a lot of metal bands.
What type of metal were you playing before: death metal or black metal?
Death metal, mostly.
Do you bring those influences on board, as far as the drumming goes at least?
Yes, definitely. Not necessarily death metal, but heavy metal and classic rock.
Do you guys have any official releases out yet?
We put out an EP last year, and actually right now we’re mixing a new album that’ll hopefully be released at the end of August. Both were produced by my brother (Adam Halfi).
Lyrically, you do Japanese, Hebrew, and English lyrics…
I’m from Israel, and Ken is from Japan.
Did you want to celebrate language and culture through this, or do some of your songs just sound better in Hebrew or Japanese?
We wanted to make something different. It’s not the standard Top 40 music, if you want to call it that. I think it takes it in a totally different direction.
When you guys first got together a couple of years ago, did you have the sound you have now planned out or did it evolve from playing together and rehearsing?
No, actually we haven’t planned anything. It was developing in a very interesting way. Ken in his old band used to play the acoustic guitar. When we started playing he was using the acoustic guitar, and then he changed to the electric guitar to write different songs with a different feel. We tried having a bass player for three weeks or a month. Then we decided it wasn’t going to work, so we kept going as the two of us from there.
Do you feel like your energetic, loud brand of rock ‘n’ roll comes across best live?
Definitely. I think live we have a much bigger sound. As for the energy, we give all we’ve got on stage. It doesn’t matter if it’s for two people in the audience or 40 people in the audience.
As far as your typical audience goes, is it metalheads or is it punks, garage rockers or a mixture of all three?
It’s all over the place. We already did two tours across the US. We met a lot of people both times. I can’t really categorize it, you know?
What do you have planned next?
Next, we plan to release an album, then we’ll tour in the fall. I want to say it’ll happen in October and November.
Do you like touring with just two people? It’s probably relatively easy, transportation-wise.
We have a station wagon, since it’s just the two of us.
I guess whatever little payoffs you get go further than they would with four or five band members.
It’s a lot easier. Money-wise and everything, it’s a lot easier. Finding a place to crash with only two people instead of four or five people is a lot easier.