We like to go to places that other bands don't go, like Sardinia or, in this case, Israel. The guys at Vice in the journalist part of the magazine wanted to coordinate their trip to Israel with our trip, so we all left on the same airplane from London.
When you get to Tel Aviv, the first thing you notice is that the entire city is overrun with stray cats. You can walk down the street and see like six stray cats just fighting and running around. It's crazy. We played in Haifa, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, and Haifa is a beautiful city. The show they set up for us was in the main square of the town. We got to meet the mayor and the chief of police of Haifa, and they served us up a dinner after we played. There were all these little kids going crazy, little seven-year-old kids jumping around and screaming. There was even one of them crowd-surfing, which was awesome. It was the first time we ever came across any paparazzi. We were sitting around talking and, all of the sudden in the distance, we see these people with telescopic lens in the bushes taking pictures of us.
One of our main hosts was from Jerusalem, so we went to go play there. One thing about Jerusalem, it's three-fourths surrounded by the West Bank. Of course you have the Dome of the Rock, which is a very religious place for any Islamic person, and for Muslims and Christians and Hebrews the city of Jerusalem is a holy place, but there's a really strong tension in the air. You can feel it. There's all these different types of people walking around and you never know quite what to expect. Right next to Jerusalem is the sister city of Bethlehem, and they'd basically be the same city except for these twenty foot guard walls that separate the West Bank from the rest of Israel. It's really ominous to see these walls. When we were driving by the Dead Sea we went right by them. You'd look over and see these massive guard towers and plenty of people with guns, civilians and the army alike.
The Vice guys and us cooked up this idea that we were going to play on the street in Jerusalem as well as on the street in Bethlehem, so we'd have played on both Israel and the West Bank. Unfortunately we never got around to Bethlehem, but we got a minivan and drove across the checkpoint, just flashed our passports and they waved us right into the West Bank. We drove into the West Bank and found some random square with a mosque in it. In the middle of the afternoon we just set up on the street with a bunch of guitars and started playing some of our songs. All of these old cops were looking at us, giving us dirty looks. Eventually all of these little kids came out of the woodwork and they were all standing around watching. Every so often a little girl would show up, but her father would quickly snatch her away from the performance—because rock and roll is not for girls, particularly not on the West Bank.
We played about five songs, and the kids were having a good time, and they just wanted to play our guitars and drums and stuff. To top it off we ended with playing "Johnny B. Goode." That was the one song that the kids actually recognized, so they tried to sing along and we gave them the guitars, and they started singing a Hamas chant to the tune of "Johnny B. Goode." It was really funny.