Home / Headline News / Interview: Useless ID’s Yotam Ben Horin talks new live album, upcoming memoir

Interview: Useless ID’s Yotam Ben Horin talks new live album, upcoming memoir

Punk rock veterans Useless ID recorded their 25th anniversary show in Tel Aviv, Israel, in August 2019, knowing fans would one day enjoy hearing it. Now, they finally can with Live in Tel Aviv (released April 21 via Double Helix Records), which boasts a dynamic 28-song track list that transports listeners right into the concert pit.

“We’ve always wanted to capture the band’s live energy,” Yotam Ben Horin, Useless ID’s vocalist/bassist and primary songwriter, told Music Existence. “We have these heavily produced albums and most of the time, the way the band plays live is more raw.”

With a career spanning nearly three decades, Useless ID have just about perfected their live show, expertly navigating a few technical blips along the way.

“The only thing that went wrong at the show [in Tel Aviv] was our sound guy forgot to press record for the first few seconds,” Ben Horin admitted with a laugh. Fans may notice the album starts off sounding more subdued and lo-fi before it launches into the full-volumed, fast-paced set the band powers through on the rest of the 28-track record.

Ben Horin attributes their fiery playing to having toured with American punk legends Descendents earlier that month. “Playing with a band of that calibre, you try to measure up to that greatness every night,” he said, adding that Descendents’ Bill Stevenson served as a mentor as they worked together on several Useless ID albums.

Useless ID have paved their own lane to success. Formed in 1994 in Haifa, Israel, their polished, melodic punk anthems have reverberated throughout the Middle East and beyond, positioning them as one of the most successful international rock acts out of the region. Their lyrical content has ranged from daily afflictions and relationships to war and political unrest in Israel. Live in Tel Aviv includes a number of cuts from 2016’s State is Burning, their most politically-charged record to date.

“We all felt collectively that we needed to make that album and talk about what it’s like living in Israel,” said Ben Horin, who moved to the United States eight years ago. “There were missiles going off. There were sirens and alarms and explosions. It was one big crazy mess. I couldn’t just stick my head in the ground.”

Ben Horin joined the band as its bassist in 1996 and took over as lead singer four years later. He said his focus as a songwriter for the band shifted from recounting personal experiences to sociopolitical commentary due to the pervasiveness and his proximity to conflict.

“If I were living there now, I’d probably be more inspired to write songs about that because it’s so in your face over there, and Israel is shifting towards a more right-wing, more religious state. And nobody really wants that – I mean, we don’t,” he said.

Ben Horin is currently based in California, while Useless ID’s Guy Carmel (rhythm guitar) lives in Costa Rica and Ishay Berger (lead guitar) and Corey Ben Yehuda (drums) are still in Israel. Ben Horin said new music has been in the works since the COVID-19 pandemic, but whether the band will record it depends on when they’ll get together next.

Meanwhile, Ben Horin has been working on other projects. He released a solo album and EP in 2022, and his folk band Tommy and June are slated to drop an EP in summer 2023 through Bottles to the Ground, a new label owned by NOFX’s Fat Mike. He’s also writing a memoir that chronicles his life in Israel.

“To be honest, I have a very weird life. I always throw myself into these odd situations where I choose to live in places I don’t know much about, or I just go off and tour for four years straight,” he laughed. “I quit everything eight years ago and started fresh. Useless ID kept happening, but I decided to leave Israel and go on my own journey, so the book is about my experiences up until that point.”

As for what he wants readers to take away from his story, Ben Horin said he wants to inspire others to follow their passions, even if it means living an unconventional life.

“You don’t need a ‘nine to five’ job,” he said. “My message is that you shouldn’t be afraid to follow your heart. Let the universe open its hands to you.”

Live in Tel Aviv is out now. You can purchase it here.

Useless ID Online: Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Spotify | Apple Music

About Parisa Vafaie

Parisa Vafaie is a Master of Public Policy student in Canada with a background in journalism. Her simple pleasures include chai lattes, well-curated playlists, and CDs packaged in jewel cases.

Check Also

Best New Releases | June 2

We have officially entered June, which means summer is ready to kick off. Today brings …

%d bloggers like this: