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Nice To Meet You...Hotbox

Band Members:

Skinny – Drums

Flipa – Guitar

Danny - Vocal

(Photo: Mooz)

After leaving their apartment in Givatayim, where the band's three members reside, we found it difficult to relax. Not only were we shaken by the incredible stories we just heard, but also by the unique character of this band. These musicians had a fiery passion in their eyes, a powerful drive flowing through their veins, and an abundance of motivation aimed at one goal: realizing their dream. And this dream went beyond simply releasing the next album or gaining international recognition. Their dream was to become the next big thing in the music industry.

While it might sound somewhat presumptuous, we assure you that by the end of our review, you will perceive things differently. As the cliché saying goes, "If you aim for the sky, you will hit the stars!"

Arad, a city with a history of vibrant festivals in the 90s, had become a rather uneventful place with vast desert landscapes by the early 2000s (no offense, dear Arad's). Nevertheless, Skinny (drums) and Six (bass) were determined to form a band with their high school friends. Initially, they played cover songs from various bands of the 90s at local clubs, while also attempting to write their own original material. However, their progress was limited. Members came in and out, and in six years, they only managed to compose six songs.

In 2013, Skinny and Six reached the conclusion that their current approach was not sustainable. They decided to disband and form a new, professional, committed, and cohesive group—one that would create the music they loved and elevate their amateur endeavors to the next level.

Their first step was to search for a guitarist and a vocalist.

Flipa (yes, they are only called by their nicknames, so calling them by their real names could lead to trouble) was a friend of Skinny who hung out with the same circle of friends. He had the chance to witness one of their performances and became incredibly enthusiastic about the idea of being on stage and making music. Flipa expressed the desire to play the drums and asked his parents to support his dream. They "accepted" his request taking an old, unattractive, and slightly damaged classical and unused guitar from a friend, which was the best they could accept (all due to their neighbor, a drummer, who caused them headaches). Flipa took the guitar and began playing, teaching himself to play. He even managed to play the entire "Blood Sugar Sex Magik" album by the "Red Hot Chili Peppers" on that beaten-up Soviet guitar (don't underestimate it, as there were 17 songs, including some complex John Frusciante parts).

Although Skinny knew that Flipa played the guitar, their musical tastes differed, so he never considered inviting him to join the band, especially since Flipa didn't appreciate "Limp Bizkit." It didn't seem like a good fit for Flipa either.

(Photo: FaceOff)

After an unsuccessful search for suitable guitarists (Well...Arad), Skinny reached a breaking point. He turned to Flipa and extended an offer to join the group, playing him the song "Golden Cobra" by "Limp Bizkit," expecting to see a thrilled reaction. However, Flipa didn't display the expected excitement and politely declined the offer. Nevertheless, he still tried to assist the band by suggesting other guitarists he knew. Despite several months of searching, the perfect candidate hadn't been found (don't worry, we're just as perplexed as you, Arad). Feeling desperate, Skinny resorted to exerting emotional pressure on Flipa, attempting to convince him to join the team. He invited Flipa to attend one of their band rehearsals.

As Skinny and Six started playing, Flipa picked up the borrowed 7-string guitar. In an instant, it was as if he had been struck by lightning. The energy in the room surged, and the combination of the three friends created an uncontrollable and electrifying synergy. By the end of the rehearsal, Skinny and Six set two conditions for Flipa: no guitar solos and contentment with playing even a single note in a song. Flipa agreed to these terms, and the trio embarked on the search for a vocalist.

They recruited a guy named Dave, who had a troubled past but possessed exceptional microphone skills, and began working on original material. After a year of performing, experimenting, and searching for their musical identity, they entered the studio and recorded their first demo, "Bite Me." However, the story took an unexpected turn when the day after the recording, Dave was imprisoned for a year following an armed robbery. With the rest of the band members already enlisted in the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) and Dave in prison, the band went into a sort of hiatus. They occasionally got together to jam and keep their passion alive.

At the end of 2015, after Skinny was released from the army and Dave from jail (Six and Flipa were still in the army), the band had the opportunity to fulfill a dream—they went on a tour abroad!

How did this happen?

It may seem surprising, but a foreign production company, in collaboration with a local company, offered Israeli bands a chance to tour Europe. It was an "organized trip" consisting of 14 shows in 5 countries over 15 days. The band members, with the exception of Six, who was replaced by a local guitarist, eagerly seized this opportunity to perform in various clubs across Europe. Some shows were packed, others had few, and their accommodations ranged from two-star hotels to cramped apartments or backstage rooms. But they had someone looking out for them—the all-powerful "Bojo." He served as their tour manager, driver, stagehand, cashier, and security guard. The band members considered it an incredible experience and a valuable learning opportunity for the young group, but they realized that this was not how they envisioned their future international tours.

However, their expectations for the tour were high. They anticipated significant exposure and opportunities for growth abroad, but they returned to Israel with only nice stories. The feeling of disappointment and emptiness deeply affected the band members. Determined not to give up, they decided to shift their focus back to the local scene and embarked on a small tour in clubs around Tel Aviv. They soon discovered that the demands were high compared to the disappointing results. The clubs required hefty upfront payments and didn't attract new audiences. Additionally, the band had to finance buses for their fans from the south, which meant they not only failed to gain the desired exposure but also incurred substantial expenses.

(Photo: FaceOff)

Realizing that this approach wasn't effective in reaching a new audience, they sought an alternative solution. How can they get a free audience?

Street Shows!!

They pooled all their money and invested it in equipment, including a GMC van, amplifiers, speakers, and microphones, all needed to set up impromptu shows on the streets. It was reminiscent of Dave Grohl's legendary red van. They scouted for locations like alleys, abandoned buildings, skate parks, and remote hills. They promoted their performances on social media and made as much noise as possible. They would load up their equipment in the van and set it up at each new location from scratch. While some performances were illegal and faced interruptions, police calls, and reports, but nothing could deter "Hotbox".

(Photo: Hotbox)

Skinny recounted one instance that he will never forget where they performed at a new skate park, hosting their own launch party in front of a large crowd of punks. When the police arrived to shut them down, the crowd erupted in chaos, turning the event into a wild scene with clashes between the crowd and the authorities.

This experience taught the band a crucial lesson—they couldn't rely on anyone else.

From then on, whenever they received a "No" as an answer, they took matters into their own hands. Every time a door closed, they broke it down with sheer determination. The term "do it yourself" became their expertise, earning "Hotbox" a doctorate in the subject.

To recap, we're still in 2016. In the same year, the band attempted to participate in the "Indienegev" festival but faced rejection. And what does "Hotbox" do when told "no"?

They created their own festival! They discovered a farm near a "Nafcha" prison, built stages from wooden floors, purchased amplifier equipment, organized food, and drinks, enlisted the help of friends to set things up, and invited several other bands to perform. They successfully held a festival in the middle of the desert called "Road Kill."

Although only 100 people attended the festival, it generated buzz, and rumors about a band organizing a festival in the south reached Barcelona. An Israeli individual from Kibbutz Tlalim contacted the band and proposed organizing a festival in Tlalim. Embracing the opportunity, "Hotbox" organized a two-day festival with 20 bands, two stages, a tattoo happening, merchandise, skate ramps, and plenty of alcohol and music. "Road Kill 2" attracted 400 attendees and became a significant milestone in the southern music scene.

(Photo: Hotbox)

They proceeded to establish four additional festivals in Tlalim until 2017. Each festival had a unique theme and featured bands that are now familiar to you, such as "Sinnery," "Shredhead," "Dazy's Fasulia", and more. These festivals exposed the band to a new audience and provided opportunities within the music industry, allowing them to perform in larger venues and central areas. They began performing at "Barby" as the opening act for bands like "Bezefer," "Festihell", "Dazy's Fasulia", and surprisingly, they were even invited to perform at the "Indienegave" festival, which had previously rejected them.

During one of these festivals, they met their sound engineer, with whom they recorded their first EP titled "White Trash." They spent three days in a desert studio, eating, drinking, and sleeping there, as they recorded and released their debut EP on January 2017, containing six songs.

Notably, the mastering for the EP was done by Yoram Vezan, a renowned professional who had previously worked with artists like Zack De La Rocha and Wu-Tang. Having him appear on the EP cover was not only a display of his exceptional skills but also carried significance.

After the festival period, they found themselves with a surplus of equipment and decided to set up their own rehearsal space in a rented apartment in Beer Sheva. This room provided them with the freedom to create and practice without relying on anyone else or incurring additional costs.

During those two years, the band members worked tirelessly and wholeheartedly to make their mark on the audience, create their music, and share it. This determination became the band's DNA, as every member recognized that success was the ultimate goal and they were willing to sacrifice everything to achieve it.

However, in 2018, after two years of fulfilling dreams such as performing at Barbie, living together in a villa in Be'er Sheva, and establishing their rehearsal space while spreading their music, a pivotal moment arrived.

(Photo: FaceOff)

Their vocalist, Dave, decided to leave the country and the band, leading to the dissolution of the remaining members. Six relocated to Arad, Skinny remained in Be'er Sheva, and Flipa moved into a friend's apartment. This new situation brought immense frustration to the band members. After all their hard work, financial investment, and emotional dedication, Dave's departure occurred at the peak of the band's success. For a year, the band members experienced a profound crisis that affected them not only professionally but also personally. They attempted to continue without Dave and explored the possibility of collaborating remotely, but their efforts proved unsuccessful. Consequently, they embarked on a search for a new vocalist who could embody the band's DNA. This search entailed finding someone who not only matched their musical style but also possessed the right character and commitment. They held two auditions that demonstrated musical talent, but neither candidate formed a genuine connection with the band, prompting them to continue their search.

Flipa, acquainted with Ethel Feigman, a singer and musician involved in the Israeli hip-hop and metal scenes, sought her assistance in finding a suitable vocalist. Ethel responded to the request and mentioned a guy who rapped in Hebrew and Russian and also possessed growling abilities that might be fitting. Flipa and Skinny decided to give it a try, engaging in a conversation with him and requesting a test recording of vocals on their song "Big Bag Johnny." The response came swiftly, catching Felipa, Skinny, and Six off guard. As they were heading to a meeting, they received an email from the singer in question. They promptly returned to the car to listen to the recording on the sound system. Astonished by what they heard, they realized his vocal range was incredible, his voice rough, and his rap skills were exceptional—everything they had been searching for. He successfully passed the initial test, and a first rehearsal was arranged in the studio. From the outset, a cosmic connection was formed among the four members, completing the missing piece of the puzzle.

It was akin to the combination of Chris Cornell and the "Rage Thresome"!

Danny immigrated to Israel in 2007 at the age of 10. Before that, he predominantly listened to Russian music and Russian rap. Upon moving to Israel, a friend introduced him to international bands like "Limp Bizkit", "Linkin Park", and "Disturbed", marking his first exposure to English music. This exposure not only introduced him to English music but also captivated his attention, prompting him to delve deeper into it.

He began creating music at the age of 14, writing and rapping in Russian. Due to his small stature, he earned the nickname "Maloy" (meaning "young" in Russian). Danny connected with a studio owner and started recording rap sketches in Russian. Through these collaborations and work with friends, he honed his skills in creation, singing, and rapping. Over several years, he collaborated with various bands, producing and recording diverse material for both the Russian and Israeli music scenes. This led to him establishing a reputation as a rapper and producer. However, he still felt something was missing deep inside. He yearned to create something different—something raw and powerful, reminiscent of the energy and intensity he had heard in the songs of "Limp Bizkit" and "Linkin Park".

In 2017, he attempted to form a rock band to express his passion. Unfortunately, the band's commitment and goals did not align with his standards. Danny's drive and fervor exceeded that of the other band members, leading to a swift dissolution of the band shortly after its formation.

For a whole year, Danny embarked on a personal journey of self-discovery, gradually shifting his focus toward music production. He secured a space for himself at the "Jean Jacques" studio, studied the craft at BPM College, and actively sought out artists to collaborate with. One such artist was Ethel, whom he had known from the group "Orgonite." Given her desire to embark on an independent path following the disbandment of her previous group, Ethel accepted Danny's offer, and the two began working together. During their collaboration, Ethel introduced Danny to the local music scene, showcasing various metal bands and occasionally bringing people to the studio. It was during one of these instances that she played "Big Bag Johnny" by the band "HotBox," leaving Danny astounded as it perfectly aligned with his artistic vision. Fate intervened when Ethel informed him, two weeks later, that "HotBox" was actually in search of a vocalist. She asked Danny if he would be interested.

(Photo: FaceOff)

Following an electrifying rehearsal with the new vocalist, where he successfully passed a second test, Danny was assigned a third test—to write lyrics for an instrumental piece composed by the band. Until then, Danny had only sung in Russian and Hebrew, never in English. However, he possessed a natural sense of flow and knew precisely how he wanted the words and melody to sound, fitting seamlessly with the music. Initially, he would come up with gibberish sentences, refining the style, and later replacing them with coherent lyrics.

Successfully passing this test, the band embarked on a new journey.

They began intensive work, meeting three times a week, dedicating their time to writing, creating, and practicing to perfect their music. In 2019, they held their first standalone show, having previously performed as an opening act or as part of a festival lineup. The show took place at a local club known as "Haezor" and it features other musicians like: Nomi, Teddy Neguse Ethel, Dav, Sunshinewalker, and more. Hotbox, having Danny only learn six of the band's songs due to time constraints, filled the remaining setlist with metal renditions of songs by the artists they hosted.

The concert experience took Danny by surprise, as he was accustomed to performing for hip-hop/rap audiences, not metal fans. Rapping to metal sounds in front of such an audience proved to be an exhilarating and somewhat surreal experience.

During that period, Danny was staying over at Flipa's apartment after band rehearsals. One evening, while watching a movie in a somewhat hazy atmosphere, Danny turned to Flipa and boldly proclaimed, "I'm going to be the next Freddie Mercury, and anyone who joins me will reach the top." Initially taken aback by the audacity of the statement, Flipa gradually found himself smiling, recognizing that this was precisely the kind of bandmate he had been searching for—one with lofty ambitions and grand dreams.

Following the show, the band members set their sights on their next chapter—the United States. From the moment Danny joined the band, the goal had always been to make it overseas and reach new heights. With everything seemingly aligning in an electrifying cosmic manner, the time had come to board the plane.

However, as they say, plans and reality often diverge, and that's when the coronavirus pandemic struck.

Forced to confine themselves to their homes, the band adjusted their course. They decided to utilize all their available time to create content and engage in activities that would help promote the band. They recorded covers, produced music videos, collaborated with other artists, and heavily focused on writing and creating their debut album. In the midst of all this, they also set out to build their own studio, feeling an undeniable cosmic connection to Dave Grohl.

Over a span of five months, they independently worked on the album. Both the instrumental compositions and the lyrics were crafted collectively by the band members. Reflecting on the experience, they described it as a wild journey that fostered personal and musical growth for each individual and as a cohesive unit. This collaborative process with Danny marked a significant departure from the past, posing new and exciting challenges. Skinny noted that while Dave would typically freestyle his lyrics, making them up on the spot during live performances, working with Danny required a more structured approach to lyric writing. Striving for professionalism and polished results, the band invested considerable time and effort, with Flipa even studying sound and editing to elevate the album to another level.

On September 7, 2021, "Hotbox" released their debut album, titled "Legacy." The album, consisting of 21 tracks, drew inspiration from rap albums of the 2000s known for their long duration and inclusion of link sections and samples. In the same month, the band celebrated with a grand launch performance at the "Gagarin" club, marking the beginning of their participation in prominent shows and festivals. They collaborated with the French group "Smash Hit Combo," performed alongside "Walkways" and "Sinnery," and played a pivotal role in the production of the "Psycho Ward Fest, Vol.1" and "Psycho Ward Fest, Vol.2". "Hotbox" quickly gained a reputation for delivering one of the wildest and most exhilarating live shows in Israel, characterized by costumes, masks, pyrotechnics, acrobatics, and the record-breaking feat of 25 stage dives during a single song.

In 2022, Six made the decision to leave the band due to health reasons and the pursuit of personal fulfillment. However, the band resolved to carry on, though they have yet to find a suitable replacement who aligns both musically and mentally with the vision of "Hotbox."

Regarding their signature masks...

The story began at the first "Road Kill" festival, where they playfully wore masks during one of their shows. The audience embraced this quirky element, which became an integral part of their image. They eventually decided to keep them on until the end and even beyond. The masks symbolize unity, erasing individuality on stage and presenting the band as a collective, faceless entity. Their dream is to witness an entire crowd of masked individuals passionately raging at their concerts.

(Photo: FaceOff)

On a personal note,

"Hotbox" follows two guiding mantras. The first is "All In," signifying their unwavering commitment to go the distance, setting goals together and making collective sacrifices to achieve them. They refuse to take shortcuts or compromises, dedicating themselves fully to the band.

The second mantra is "DIY" (Do-It-Yourself), which extends beyond the technical and material aspects of their work. They strive to be self-reliant mentally as well, avoiding dependence on others and taking control of their own destiny.

Skinny shared that every time they accomplish a particular dream, they create a new one, continuously pushing their ambitions further. Having fulfilled their initial set of aspirations, they are now on their way to realizing even greater goals. The band members' ultimate aim is to transform "Hotbox" into their full-time career, immersing themselves in music completely and making it their primary source of sustenance. They aspire to travel worldwide and perform on every stage imaginable, aiming for a level of success and recognition comparable to that of "Metallica."

This upcoming Saturday, there is a special opportunity to witness one of the most significant live acts in Israel's metal scene. The show, titled "Final Round," promises to surpass all previous endeavors of the band. Hosted by Alon Karneali and Idan Kringel from "Sinnery," the event features performances by Six Pack, Lou & Vit, and a surprise guest artist, making it a highly anticipated spectacle.

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