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Another Brick in The Wailing Wall: Jesse Rifkin Ends His Six-Year Project

After six years and two successful albums, Jesse Rifkin recently retired the name The Wailing Wall. While live performances and the albums consisted of a slue of contributing musicians, Jesse was always the pulse behind the collective. As a songwriter, Jesse allowed TWW to be full of alternative rock laced with folk and just enough wheezing, whistles, and bells to perfectly fit in with the Indie scene. Despite having to start from scratch, Jesse’s confident in any new projects, and checked in to catch us up to speed.

Jesse Rifkin

What do you think comes from retiring The Wailing Wall name? What hurdles does it create?

Certainly there are a lot of good reasons not to drop the name you’ve been operating under professionally for the last five years; the obvious one being that fans who aren’t paying close attention might not be aware of whatever comes next. But that’s actually a large part of why this feels so right. When I formed The Wailing Wall I wanted to have a band that was capable of making whatever kind of music and adopt whatever kind of identity I wanted, at any given moment. I chose the name as a joke, without too much thought.

While I was working on the songs for our first album, Hospital Blossoms, I was in college and getting really into studying mysticism, philosophy of religion, and ethnomusicology; a lot of that stuff ended up creeping into the music. We ended up signing with JDub Records, a label that focuses on what can be broadly defined as “spiritual” and “world music,” and made a second album, The Low Hanging Fruit, which examined those interests even further. “The Wailing Wall” became less of a throwaway name and more of a set identity.

Now I’m at a place in my life and art where I want to examine other concepts and personas, and I no longer saw any way that The Wailing Wall identity could adapt to encompass them without a lot of frustration for everyone involved. Starting over seemed like the best option.

Jesse Rifkin

What were some of the biggest lessons you learned from your experiences with The Wailing Wall?

I learned that what I know is right for myself and my art is more important than what anybody else thinks, no matter what. That was a hard one to come to terms with.

When did the Wailing Wall actually start, and how?

In October 2005, when I was a sophomore in college. I had been writing songs and recording on an eight-track since I was in high school, but was shy about performing them. Certainly I’d never been in a “real band” before. I was setting up a show at my school for A Hawk and a Hacksaw (who are fantastic!) and decided to open for them. I got some friends together, thought up a name, rehearsed a few songs, and there it was.


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