Who are your inspirations?
“Oh, too many to list. James Hetfield, Bruce Dickinson, Ozzy [Osbourne], [Ronnie James] Dio… and in the modern era there’s Jonathan Davis, Chino Moreno, Maynard James Keenan.”
How would you describe your childhood?
“Tumultuous. It was kind of a mess.”
Did you recognise it as such at the time?
“Oh yeah, although it was no more unusual than anyone else’s, to be perfectly honest, because everybody has their own shit. In many ways, it was typical. There were aspects of teenage rebellion. My family were religious, orthodox Jews, and as much as I respect the heritage tremendously, human beings are equipped with a gag reflex for a reason, and sometimes when stuff gets stuffed down your throat it doesn’t go down so easily.”
What was it that you wanted?
“I simply had the desire to live a more ‘normal’ life as a child and as an adolescent, rather than having to deal with the regimented structure of, and strict adherence to, religion.”
You were kicked out of the Wisconsin Institute For Torah Study for throwing a student out of a second-floor window and blowing up the rabbi’s van. Sounds like you were one troublesome dude…
“Those stories have been well publicised, so I won’t go back into them, but those would definitely be good examples of my aforementioned teenage rebellion. The irony with all this, of course, is that I was angry but it’s not that I wanted to do anything so crazy. I wanted to fraternise with members of the opposite sex, I wanted to go to movies, watch television, and do things that normal teenagers do. But in a parochial boarding school, those things weren’t allowed, and my frustration sometimes came out in disruptive ways.”
Do any traces of that rebellious nature remain in you today?
“There are still aspects of rebellion in my persona, for sure. They’re not directed in the same places, but there are many different aspects of modern society that I can’t swallow.”
“People’s addiction to, and dependency on, social media would be a good example.”
Is that why you quit Twitter a few years ago?
“There’s just no decency. It’s a bunch of high school kids insulting each other, having a contest about who can come up with the most grandiose insult. It’s childish. People are dying to be triggered about something. All you have to do is express your opinion on anything and someone’s going to fight you about it. As a band, it’s not like we’re using our social media to be influencers, so why bother?”
Especially as you have your actual voice to do so – one which you reportedly inherited from your great-grandfather, a cantor in Jerusalem. But what traits did you get from your parents?
“They both had a tremendous work ethic, determination and perseverance to strive in the face of adversity, which are definitely things that relate to me too. My parents are good parents – they did a pretty decent job with me (laughs).”