June 12, 2024
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Hailed by Rockers, Musically Gifted TABC Senior Considers His Future

If you scrolled Izzy Meth’s Twitter feed trying to get an idea of what the 17-year-old high school senior was all about, chances are that you would assume that his passion was baseball. But while the Clifton resident is most certainly an avid fan of the sport, it is music, not baseball, that has truly captured his heart, and in recent months, his artistry has been winning him accolades that go far beyond the Jewish music world.

Izzy seems to have the Midas touch when it comes to music, segueing seamlessly from one instrument to another. At 8 years old, he found himself driven by the rhythmic elements of music and asked his parents to buy him a set of drums. With Izzy’s father, Yehuda, having played guitar professionally, and his mother Chantzie being a Juilliard-trained pianist, the Meths offered to teach their fourth and youngest son either of those two instruments, an effort that fell flat.

“I told him I would buy him two sticks, a drum pad and a single lesson,” recalled Yehuda. “By the third week, the teacher told me that he was pretty good. And after six weeks, he told me that Izzy had already learned everything he could possibly teach him and recommended that we find another teacher.”

Izzy got his coveted drum set for Chanukah that year and the Meths have pictures of him wearing gloves as he played because he practiced so much that he got blisters on his hands. By the time he was 12 Izzy played well enough to be invited onto the bandstand along with his father at the wedding of one of his parents’ musician friends.

“Once I got into drums I took it very seriously,” explained Izzy. “I practiced a lot and dedicated a lot of time to it. Eventually, I branched out into a broader, more general aspiration to music—I had the rhythmic side and I needed the other side—the melody. It was either the piano or guitar and I chose guitar.”

It didn’t take long for Izzy, who was still six months shy of his bar mitzvah, to outgrow yet another music teacher. He used his guitar skills to teach himself to play bass and ukulele and also wrote original music in his spare time, jotting down ideas as they came to him in school and finishing up his compositions at a later time. Not surprising for a kid who clearly had significant musical talent, Izzy mastered his bar mitzvah parsha in less than three months.

While Izzy can read any type of music and has an incredible understanding of music theory, his passion for knowledge and accomplishment is an underlying theme in all that he does. In addition to pitching for the Torah Academy of Bergen County’s softball team last year, he is also a member of the TABC wrestling team and remains undefeated so far this season. Yehuda describes his son as “a kid who wants to learn everything.”

“He likes to grow and is constantly challenging himself in that way,” explained Yehuda. “He is not someone who wastes time and you will not see him playing video games. If he is sitting in front of the TV with family and friends, he has drumsticks in his hand and is hitting the pad or is doing scales on his guitar. He is in a constant state of improvement.”

Those sentiments were echoed by Izzy’s TABC rebbeim, who described him as a model student, and a real ben Torah with tremendous middot.

Izzy has been taking full advantage of TABC’s Studio 1600, a state-of-the-art recording studio that was opened two years ago to provide students with an opportunity to create and release original music. Putting in multiple hours each day at the studio is an effort that Izzy believes gives him more consistency and a higher work ethic, and he is looking forward to releasing a three song Jewish EP shortly. But Izzy’s talents, which have expanded in the last two years to include piano and vocals, have also taken him in another direction, with his father’s connections opening doors for him in the music business. Izzy signed a contract with Wildwood Productions, a record label that promotes new music and original content, and his first commercial release, a cover of Rush’s “The Spirit of Radio,” made waves in the music world, impressing industry veterans.

“It warms this rockin’ senior citizen’s heart to hear Izzy Meth singing sweetly and playing all the instruments on his first recording with the passion and spirit of a young Todd Rundgren or Paul McCartney,” said Andy Shernoff, writer, bassist, vocalist and keyboardist for The Dictators, an original New York punk band. “Old school meets new school; the future looks bright for Izzy Meth.”

Izzy’s rendition of “The Spirit of Radio” also elicited accolades from long-time Kiss guitarist Bruce Kulik as well as Twisted Sister member Joe Franco, who described him as “fresh and inventive” and a talented multi-instrumentalist. For Izzy, being signed to a record label is a lot like being drafted by a major league team, a reality that bumps him up a notch to professional levels. He will be following up “The Spirit of Radio’’ with additional singles released by Wildwood and has been in touch with members of the Jewish music scene, including Avi Piamenta, who are eager to work with him.

But even as Izzy’s musical star shines bright as a high school senior, his post-graduation plan is to continue his education at Lander College for Men. While law school may also be in Izzy’s academic future, he has every intention of forging ahead with his music even as he continues his studies. He intends to re-evaluate his plans in a few years, understanding fully that Orthodox Jews rarely climb to the top in the Jewish music business, let alone in the secular world.

“I think it is possible although it is very unlikely,” admitted Izzy. “Leonard Cohen was Orthodox and very successful, but it is a very short list of those who have made it, although I am sure that many have tried.”

Like so many others who have been blessed with considerable amounts of talent, Izzy understands the need to strike a balance as he moves ahead in life. He dreams of being able to make a living using his musical abilities, but also understands that his obligations as an Orthodox Jew, a husband and a father may necessitate other career choices. For now, Izzy is content to set his sights on conquering the harmonica and possibly the violin, even as he has begun giving music lessons locally and also spends time enjoying sports, a good dvar Torah, learning Gemara and pushing himself to his limits and beyond.

“I think violin is next and he will do it,” said Yehuda. “In time, he will figure out what he wants to do, but for now he just wants to write and play music.”

By Sandy Eller

 

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