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Lee Rosenfeld: The Tower That Became a Pit
An email interview by Aaron Anderson
A brief history of this amazing band is in order for those who have never heard of them.The origin of The Pit That Became A Tower is a bedroom lo-fi 4-track outlet for the songs of Adam Lee Rosenfeld, circa 2000. In 2001, under the name Gospel Zombie. The first appearance came in the form of a spot on the second Velvet Blue Music unsigned bands compilation. In 2003, Gospel Zombie released a split EP with New Jersey neo-folk artist Jai Agnish. In 2004, the name was changed to The Pit That Became A Tower. Recently, Rosenfeld chatted onlin about The Pit, living in Israel, skateboarding, his independent record label Men of Israel Records, achieving manhood, strengthening his marriage,
Tollbooth: How did you get into making music?
Rosenfeld: I really got into skating around age 13 while I was living in Cincinnati, Ohio so I was really into the music that went along with that scene. Then my family moved to the city of Galilee (we moved to the city of Tiberias, in the region of Galilee, in Israel) and there wasnít a huge skating scene there at the time. So I preserved (I preserved the skating too it was the whole culture that I was into) my musical interests kind of as a mission so I started playing guitar. I got started playing worship songs in my youth group. When I turned 17 I determined that I would start a band, some friends of mine ended up creating a few different bands: Mutant John, Man Alive (which has just signed a deal with a label called the Militia Group) and My Name Is Nobody.
Then when my military enlistment in the Israeli Army was over in 1999 (only Mutant John was pre-1999 the rest was about 2000/1) I really wanted to start a scene in this country, Men of Israel Records was born out of this vision. Also during this time I started to realize no matter how many bands I was in I wasnít doing the material I was writing; which isnít a bad thing because I really enjoyed those times but I just kept writing and writing and eventually Gospel Zombie, which this year became The Tower That Became A Pit, came out of that writing.
Tollbooth: Who are some of your musical influences?
Rosenfeld: Guided by Voices are probably my biggest influence. Polyphemus profoundly affects my music as well. Iím into the lo-fi indie rock of GBV, Pavement, and Dinosaur Jr., but I also take a lot of inspiration from the stadium-rock greats of yesteryear like Boston, The Steve Miller Band, and Steppenwolf.
Tollbooth: When you write music what are you trying to accomplish?
Rosenfeld: To give worship to our Lord. Iíve always believed that any gifts we have we got from God, and when we use our gifts we look up to God and say thanks to Him, this is the least I can do for You, but the least we can do He can make great.
Tollbooth: What inspires you to write?
Rosenfeld: Getting married and having two kids forces you to grow up. And lately Iíve truly been thinking about what it means to be a man. You know how are you going to live your life, what are you going to believe? Basically becoming the person you are meant to be. Thinking about this motivates me to write.
Tollbooth: Could you tell us your religious background?
Rosenfeld: I remember receiving
Christ at the age of 4 in a Messianic Jewish temple in Cincinnati and now
Iím a Messianic Jew living in Israel.
Rosenfeld: A lot of the things I was writing as Gospel Zombie I saw were distancing me from my wife. The creative freedom I was expressing was harming my marriage. After praying about it with friends I realized this had to stop. For me personally, I donít believe you can say whatever you want in the name of artistic freedom because that can hurt those close to you. God delivered me from that notion and because of it, I pulled my record from off of store shelves. I felt during this time music had really become a pit in my life and through this process it got redeemed and became a tower (this is figuratively speaking I donít want to sound like Iím calling my music a tower I believe in it, but I want others to see the value in it on their own I donít want my praise to come from my own lips). So thatís the inspiration behind the name change, God taking the badness in our lives and turning it around for good.
Tollbooth: Any future releases planned for the band?
Rosenfeld: Yeah, December of this year we have an album entitled, The Pineapple Fields which is literally a part two to our current release Behold! the Unseen. Right now itís going to be 100% acoustic but there will be other accompanying instruments...
Tollbooth: How about future Men of Israel releases?
Rosenfeld: We have a band called The Vietnam Vets and weíre currently working on a release for them not sure yet if itís going to be an EP or a full length. Also, weíre putting together a compilation with bands from the label.
Tollbooth: ďThe Idiot Syndrome," which is a song off the new album, talks pretty candidly about war. What's the story behind that song?
Rosenfeld: ďThe Idiot SyndromeĒ was never intended to be a pro-war / anti-war song. The catalyst for that song was a mindset that seems to prevail with Israeli soldiers. Whenever thereís some type of an attack, a bomb explodes, or whatever, there always seems to be soldiers who get down on themselves for being assigned to a different unit and not being able to prevent that attack. They fail to realize that by being present someplace else they prevent attacks from happening there.
Tollbooth: Who are some of the artists you are listening to now?
Rosenfeld: Sufjan Stevens is absolutely amazing.
Tollbooth: In your opinion, what do you think listeners want from music these days?
Rosenfeld: Yeah, you can even see that in the indie scene. If you look at indie magazines and websites a few years ago, you could feel the enormous amount of sarcasm filled with an elitist attitude but nowadays it seems like they are truly searching for value, for music that moves them.
Tollbooth: Briefly, what is the underground scene in Israel like?
Rosenfeld: The whole Pop Punk sound has taken this nation by storm. I know that sounds weird but yeah, punk is huge over here right now. A band called Useless ID is really thriving here. Also Hebrew music and Hip Hop are taking off as well.
Tollbooth: Do you think people get what you are trying to do with TPTBAT?
Rosenfeld: Thereís a law here that states you cannot proselytize (witness) to a person under the age of 18. So needless to say, when Christian music started making its way to Israel some feathers were ruffled. One music reviewer said, ďIt made him uncomfortableĒ to even listen to this type of music (because of the lyrical content). When the name of Jesus gets used here, people get offended quickly. Iíve been questioned for trying to lead a kid to the Lord. In spite of this, I think people in general do get what Iím trying to do with the band which is talk about God and bring honor to Him.
PT: ADAM THANK YOU AGAIN FOR YOUR TIME IT HAS BEEN A REAL PLEASURE
AR: The pleasureís been all mine
AR: God bless
In addition to writing for
Phantom Tollbooth, Aaron also independently writes poems, devotionals and
more about the human condition. To read more of his writings or order some
of his books go to: www.aaroncanderson.us.