Di Nigunim is a 13-member band, making it difficult to perform on small stages and a challenge to coordinate rehearsals and gigs. The band’s instruments include the cimbalom, accordion, piano, violin, trumpet, euphonium, guitar, trombone, clarinet, drums, percussion, and bass.
“With so many members, sometimes it’s hard to get the sound right,” says Forest Borie, the band’s accordion player. “Also, we sometimes become intoxicated, which doesn’t help for staying in time.”
In addition to Forest, I talked to four other members of Di Nigunim: Mason Pairish, bass; Gabe Kreb, accordion, percussion, vocals; Michael Uribe, drums, glockenspiel, vocals; and Ben Ziff, clarinet, guitar, vocals.
Di Nigunim released their first CD last August titled Balagan, a Hebrew word meaning “chaotic.” Interpunk describes the EP as capturing “the raw bursting energy and unique sound of the Eastern-European Balkan klezmer gypsy punk.”
The band started a 15-stop West Coast tour last week.
HISTORY OF YOUR AXE?
Mason: “My bass was once thrown through our tour-van window and broken during a band argument in Denver that resulted in blood and stitches. But I glued it back together.”
Forest: “My accordion was invented in early mid-19th-century Germany, probably in the state of Bavaria.”
WHAT’S IN YOUR MUSIC PLAYER?
Ben: “The Klezmorim, East Side Wedding. Reminds me of a big drunken bar fight.”
Gabe: “Right now I’m loving Yard Dogs Road Show, the Orkestra, Blackbird Raum, and whatever is playing on the street corner.”
Forest: “Civilization Records, No Speed Limit Vol. II. I felt like some good Euro-crust this afternoon.”
Michael: “Man Man’s Rabbit Habits — nutty, fun, sexy.”
TOP THREE END-OF-THE-WORLD CDs?
1. Blackbird Raum, Swidden. “Acoustic anarcho-punkers who are probably doing a better job saving the world through their music than anyone else.”
2. ¡Tchkung!, Incite: Soundtrack for Post-World Insurrection. “These guys would play and full-on riots would break out with police and tear gas and bandannas and onions.”
3. Lajkó Félix, Lajkó Félix és Zenekara. “Instead of fleeing when NATO was bombing the hell out of his native country, Serbia, Lajkó toured, playing some pretty dangerous gigs. The song ‘Etno Camp’ is brighter than the sun.”
SEXIEST SAN DIEGO PERFORMER?
Ben: “Bill Wesley — his nail violin is a bona fide orgasm machine.”
Michael: “Anna from Trash Axis — just look at that smile, yeowza!”
Forest: “The drummer from Vaginals. She’s sexy.”
FAVORITE SAN DIEGO HANGOUT?
Ben: “The Brooklyn St. Ninja Lair [Emerald Hills/Encanto]. It’s where the band pretty much started, plus our favorite bands play there all the time.”
Forest: “It’s a toss-up between UTC and Fashion Valley. Kidding — I would have to say Friendship Park [Chula Vista] is a great place.”
Michael: “In Tijuana my brother and I went outside to drink a beer…the cops saw us sitting on some stairs and searched us. He had a bag of loose vitamins — the idiot — and the cops thought they were drugs, so they cuffed us and hauled us off to another cop that looked at them. Since they were just vitamins and we didn’t have any money, they took us back just in time to play the show.”
BRUSH WITH THE FAMOUS?
Ben: “I spent a weekend with Taraf de Haïdouks. We’d finagled our way backstage when they last played UCSD and got an invite to the hotel room where three of them were staying. They didn’t really speak any English but knew how to say ‘Marlboro’ and ‘Jack Daniel’s’ and ‘girls.’ We drank and waltzed in the room and then headed down to the beach, where I got naked and lost my glasses. The next day they invited us up to L.A. to Johnny Depp’s house and their show at UCLA. We skipped out on Mr. Depp, but the show was great.”
Ben: “Subliminal democracy.”
Michael: “Jesus is real.”