The making of a music-maker
Clifton’s Izzy Meth, 17, balances rock, studies and observance
If Izzy Meth of Clifton practiced on a beginner’s pad long enough, his father promised, he would buy the 8-year-old a real drum kit just in time for Chanukah.
His parents didn’t skip a beat when Izzy outgrew the pad in just a few weeks. They hired a well-known drum teacher for their son, who began practicing on a Ludwig set, the same type of drum kit that Ringo Starr used.
After he turned 11, Izzy stopped taking lessons and continued to teach himself the drums. He practiced so intensely that his hands blistered and he wore gloves. He started guitar lessons with a master teacher when he turned 12; his studies ranged from Bach to jazz. He also taught himself piano, synthesizer, bass, vocals, music theory, and arrangement.
Now, Izzy, who comes from an Orthodox family and is a 17-year-old senior at the Torah Academy of Bergen County in Teaneck, is poised to launch a professional music career. He already has received accolades from world-famous rock stars he admires.
Already a studio musician and gig player, he plans to continue his Torah study at Touro University’s Lander College for Men in Queens. While there, he hopes to train at the Juilliard School, as did his mother, Chantzie Meth, a pianist who also studied at Yeshiva University’s Stern College for women. His father, Yehudah Meth, plays guitar and performed professionally when he was in college. Izzy is one of four children; his 14-year-old sister, Devorah, plays classical piano.
Izzy’s rendition of the band Rush’s “Spirit of Radio” brought a flurry of attention from music industry tastemakers when it was released on October 14.
“Fresh and inventive, young Izzy has captured magic with his unique version of this Rush classic,” said Bruce Kulick, a long-time Kiss guitarist, in a statement released by Wildwood Productions, Izzy’s recording label and music producer.
“Izzy Meth is awesome,” veteran drummer Joe Franco, a founding member of the Good Rats and long-time Twisted Sister member, wrote in a press release. “I first heard of Izzy as a drummer, but at 17 years old, he is now a singer and multi-instrumentalist excelling at every instrument he touches.”
Andy Shernoff of the Dictators wrote that Izzy has the passion and spirit of a young Todd Rundgren or Paul McCartney. “Old school meets new school.”
And then there’s his actual school. TABC.
His studies never take a backseat to music, and his academic performance also brings accolades. “He asks a ton of incredible questions, offers incredible insights and has amazing recall,” said Rabbi Michael Hoenig, mashgiach ruchani — spiritual advisor — at TABC.
“He is very humble, so his accomplishments are very concealed,” Rabbi Hoenig added.
Wildwood’s founder and CEO, Darren Stakey, wrote, “His musicianship attracted us to him, but his faith was plainly evident. Right from our first conversation, it was somewhat unique to see that in the younger generation. I do think the spiritualism that accompanies the Jewish religion is present in his approach to music. It is an essential part of his character as an artist.”
Izzy spends as much time as he can in Studio 16, a new recording studio at TABC. “The school released its first album last year, and the upcoming album that is coming out will have three songs written by me, which will be my first traditional Jewish release,” he said.
At home, he records music in a studio built into half of the garage. His electronics system and software enable him to record every instrument.
Meanwhile, he davens at Congregation Ahavath Chesed, an Orthodox Jewish shul in the Clifton/Passaic community.
“At this point, I don’t plan on the music interfering with my observance,” Izzy said. “So far, it has not. I want to be a professional musician, a professional songwriter. Leonard Cohen was also Orthodox and he was able to make it as big as anyone.”
Izzy said most of his friends are into more modern music. “The music I make does not fit those genres of music they listen to, but nonetheless they still support me and listen to my music.”
Izzy said he is influenced by progressive and hard rock from the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s. He describes his music as ’90s new wave, pop and punk rock. His father calls it classic rock and roll. “I draw inspiration from the Beatles in the ’60s, Rush in the ’70s, and Fountains of Wayne from the ’90s and 2000s,” he said.
“There’s always music in this house, from the time he comes home until he goes to bed,” Mr. Meth said.
His father, a professional ghostwriter, also is Izzy’s manager. His mother is a paralegal.
Izzy is in creative discussion with Avi Piamenta, a celebrated Orthodox Jewish musician who leads a well-known Israeli rock band. “Though he does not find Jewish music particularly complex, he is being sought out by Jewish musicians,” Mr. Meth said.
The songs he performs, like “Spirit of Radio,” can be “regarded as parve,” Mr. Meth said. “This is certainly in that vein that nobody would have any objection to the words in the song.”
Mr. Stakey of Wildwood said that Izzy has a deep connection to roots rock. “He has this unique taste for the eclectic and this vibe that captures the essence that has faded from rock and roll at this point. The sky’s the limit for this exciting new talent. Izzy Meth brings a truly unique and vibrant energy to his productions.”
Check out Izzy’s “The Spirit of Radio,” which was recently released on Apple iTunes, Spotify, and all major music platforms. There’s more information about Izzy at his website, www.theizzymeth.com.