Men With Babies

Men With Babies


Taking their cue from L.A.'s hip Heeb magazine, Men With Babies is alt-rock with an ironic and messianic twist. Think Gimme-Shelter Stones and Early Bob Marley--spiced with 60's psychedelia.


Long-bearded frontmen, Menachem Feuer (pronounced Foy-er) and Shaul Ellenbogen, formed the band in 2004 and together have penned its music and lyrics. They take their cue from L.A.’s hip Heeb magazine and Sarah Silverman’s comedy. “Find It There,” for example, has a tuneful chorus that rings “Shmueli’s got an appetite for love.” “Manny’s Manic Mandates” opens with “Sometime in 1970 in Las Vegas, Elvis discovered he was a Jew.” “Everybody Go To War,” the title song of their demo CD, puts their spin on a peace-and-love number.

In Men With Babies, it’s New York meets Jo’burg in T.O. (well, in Thornhill, to be exact). Feuer hails from the small town of Gloversville in New York State’s Adirondack mountains. He began playing guitar and singing in bands in high school, driven by the usual teenage anger and angst – which, in Feuer’s case, was heightened by his difficult relationship with a brilliant, and psychotic, father. “My dad made a habit of walking naked through the streets and crashing cars,” he says, matter-of-factly.
While Feuer was dealing with personal devils, Ellenbogen was witnessing the more external political evils of South Africa’s apartheid. He recalls, “When the Afrikaner Resistance Front, a white supremacist group, began to parade through the streets, waving a flag decorated with a stylized swastika, my parents thought that they better get out.” His family moved to Toronto when he was eight.
The two Chassidic rockers met when Feuer moved to Toronto in order to marry. His wife, Kinneret – also a Lubavitche Jew and inspiring yoga teacher – happened to be a good friend of Ellenbogen. Yes, both men are married, and, yes, both have babies: Feuer has two, and Ellenbogen, six. They also have day jobs to support their broods. Ellenbogen is a social worker who deals with troubled teens and Feuer has a doctorate in comparative literature and is teaching community college.
Neither Feuer nor Ellenbogen grew up in Orthodox Jewish homes. As young adults, questing for life’s grander meaning, they each came to G-d on their own – influenced by the teachings of Jerusalem-based Meir Abeserah, a macrobiotic, new-age, guru-like rabbi. And it was Abeserah who advised them to get down and spread the word through rock. Explains Shaul Ellenbogen, with just the sliest hint of irony, “Menachem and I are poets and we only speak the truth – that is G-d's word with a little bit of madness and joy.”

But, you don’t have to be Jewish to get off on Men With Babies. On stage, these boys are hot. The two front vocalists – Feuer sings lead and Ellenbogen, backup – are supported by a fiesty, talented bunch of tribesmen, showcasing Jeremy Otto on lead guitar, Ari Shapero on acoustic guitar, Aaron Lightstone on bass and Byron Gaum on drums. Their numbers range from punk, alt-country, reggae, honky-tonk and the blues.

As performers, Ellenbogen plays straight man to the charismatic Feuer. Feuer loves to dance as much as he loves to sing – and, when he shakes his booty, the fringes of his prayer shawl shiver like a wacky go-go girl’s.

Men With Babies has earthly, as well as heavenly, aspirations. As well as cutting a demo CD – which features on its cover a photo of one of Ellenbogen’s sons in skullcap and earlocks – the band has a put up a website. They’ve also nabbed an executive producer and attracted Chad Derrik, a producer from Vision TV, who has been filming and interviewing them for over a year.

“Once you know G-d, or the text, or at least think you do,” says Menachem Feuer, “you look for a means of beautifying the text, through a demonstration, a performance, an intoxication of sorts.” Or, in the words of one of the band’s songs, “We’re calling all the Men With Babies. Let it loose, tonight. Let it loose, tonight.”


Everybody Go To War

Set List

Impresarios in the Night
Uncle Bob
Manny’s Manic Mandate
This Train
Everyday People
Find It There
Elvis Jew
Here to Choose
HaShem Can Work It Out