- Mon, 2007-10-15 17:03
In December 2005 Orson had just signed a deal with Mercury Records and since then it’s been a non-stop whirlwind which has included their first single hitting the top of the charts, their debut album entering the charts at #1 and winning a Brit Award in February 2007.
Bright Idea’s follow up certainly comes packed with neighbour-terrorising potential. First single, Ain’t No Party is loaded up on drive time riffs and a rumbling rhythm section.
I Like Music caught up with Chris from Orson to talk about the new single and album, touring with Robbie and meeting Prince William and Harry.
I Like Music because.... well, is there anything else? Music is the perfect thing, it makes you feel good, it makes you feel sad, it makes you feel happy, what else is there?” Chris, Orson
ILM: Your new single, Ain’t No Party is out October 15th. It has some great riffs and a rumbling rhythm section. Can you describe it’s whole vibe and how the track came about?
Chris: That’s just how we sound when we get into the rehearsal room and start hashing out ideas, that’s Orson; it wasn’t really contrived. Someone comes in with a groove; I make it groovier, and Jay sort of mumbles something over the top, it just comes to us. We’re really lucky that way because we’re a live band, so doing stuff like that comes really easy.
ILM: Your new album Culture Vultures, is out October 22, which track did you enjoy laying down the most?
Chris: I know this sounds totally cliché, but they were all great to do. We did this album like we did Bright Idea with the same producer and I did the drums in four days and everybody started layering stuff on top. One of the b-sides I really enjoyed doing a lot, Get With The Programme, that’s a b-side that I really enjoyed doing. Ain’t No Party was also a blast, Debbie was also another highlight and Cool Cops, because they’re groovy tunes and that’s what I like to do.
ILM: You recorded Culture Vultures through the early months of 2007 in west London’s Townhouse Studios with Bright Idea producer, Noah Shain – what did you learn from Noah or each other about music making/production?
Chris: Definitely that less is more. It’s all a learning experience especially in the studio as this is the second time in the studio as a unit; this is our second record and we did it with the same people. So, you learn a little bit more and you see what people are capable of doing and you see what people’s weaknesses are and you see their strengths and you just work on that and go forward from that. And Noah, when we first got with him it was his first album and since then he’s been working and he came back with all these new little trick . But thank God he didn’t have to use many of them, because we actually sound good. It was his job to capture what we do and I think he did a really good job of doing that.
ILM: Since December 2005 when you signed with Mercury Records it’s been a non-stop whirlwind which included your debut single and album (Bright Idea) topping the charts and winning a Brit Award. Have you found time to smell the roses and enjoy the journey?
Chris: Well, there are five guys in the band who’ll probably give you five different answers. It’s great five guys trying to agree on something…For me personally I enjoy every little bit of it, as we’re doing press and promoting the new single and getting called up, ‘Chris, you have to go do some interviews today’, I enjoy that stuff man; this is the cake, this is why we get to do it, we get to go out and have a forum for people to listen to what we think about the stuff we do, we get to do it and as we’re doing that I stand back and I’m like ‘wow, this is happening again’. It’s happened pretty fast with our new single Ain’t No Party again. We turned in the record and then two weeks later it’s like, ‘ok, you have promo’ … ‘what?’ We did this TV show and now it’s happening again, just with the same fierceness as last time where we have no free time. And the less free time we have, the more excited I am.
This is what I wanted to do, this is what I do. I know there’s a lot of musicians who hate doing press, but those guys are a bunch of fags. You get feedback from the people who matter.
ILM: Any interesting stories about the Brit Awards – memorable Brits moments?
Chris: That whole day pretty much was a blur of weirdness for me. We show up and we’re nominated for a Brit so we show up; we have great seats, it was almost kind of weird. We were next to the Chili Peppers, Muse, The Killers and Oasis, and here’s five guys from America. ‘Hey guys, how you doin’ nice to meet ya.’ It was pretty amazing. And then we won and it was just like, what?!’ I know that sounds like a cliché, but we had no idea really. It was unbelievable. Just the whole night itself but actually getting an award for doing something that we like to do is pretty unbelievable. It was great too our label people were splashing champagne on us and they get Oasis wet so that was a highlight; they weren’t too happy about that.
ILM: You relocated to London from LA in 2006, so I guess you like it here?
Chris: I live in both places, I go back and forth, but the work is here so I will be here as long as I need to be.
ILM: Did you get to meet the Princes at the Concert for Diana?
Chris: As a matter of fact we did, it was really nice; they were really cool guys. It’s kind of weird you know, they were excited for us to be there. They each picked a song for us to play. Jason, I Johnny and Kevin got to meet them after the show as they had a little band only reception. We were there and Joss Stone was there, and a bunch of other people, and it was pretty far out how nice they were and how tall they are. Because, we’re tall, we’re all 6ft, but those guys are big man and they were really nice and regal; they shot the shit with us, they were pretty mellow so it was nice.
ILM: They are dudes it has to be said. Now, the album is a ballsy, foot to the floor, party record that comes dappled with pop hooks – can you describe the Orson process of making such great high energy music?
Chris: It’s always random. It always starts with a groove so the drums are happening and the guitar riff is happening and then everything else sort of falls on top of that. What’s great is that we all have such different tastes in music. I’ll go off and listen to Van Halen and Motown stuff and another guy will go and listen to emo or punk rock and all those things come into what we’re doing, and that’s what really makes our music vibrant I think. We’re not whatever the pick of the week is. I’m pretty much everything before 79. There’s more after that but I like 70s soul funk music. I like the Stones, I like LA rock, Van Halen. It’s just good time music. We don’t have any political agenda, we just want people to come out and have a good time; that’s what music’s for. That’s why I go, I go to have a good time, not to leave a gig depressed.
ILM: Yeah, you want to be uplifted and it’s that fusion of mixing the ingredients together to come out with something good.
ILM: You’re living the dream… what’s your advice to young people on following their dream career, not necessarily in the music industry but just doing what they want to do career wise?
Chris: Patience, that’s it dude. Because if you really want something bad enough... It’s another real cliché, but it happens, you’ve got to stick to your guns and just keep doing what you’re doing. There was a long time when Orson, we were playing clubs in Hollywood for five years and nobody gave a shit. We were playing on the street where everyone wants to go to. I’ve been in tons of bands, Johnny’s been in tons of bands, J was on Broadway; we’ve all been in the business for a long time. But we all decided to get together and form a band and stay that way for a long time and not leave to do other things that were maybe more lucrative and just stuck with it to get to this point. We’re five guys who really like being around each other and that helps also. But they call it the music business not music friends. Plus, there is no bad press only press.
ILM: Also, you released your album on Mercury, self-financed your debut album. (Just like ilikemusic.com has with our website; we have no financial backers, are still independent)… what’s your advice to artists on doing as much as you can on your own independently before getting the right record deal?
Chris: Well, if you keep doing something you’re doing and you’re doing really good at it, someone will come and pick it up, there’s no doubt about it. It’s just getting out there and keep playing and doing what you’re doing. The internet is unbelievable, so anyone can go anywhere on it. It’s such a forum for whatever you want to do or say. So just keep sending that stuff out. We put our tunes up on the web in the summer of 2005 and that’s how it started. Then Record of the Day picked it up and then we’re playing In The City in Manchester, and then we signed a publishing deal and we signed our record deal in December and that December we were on tour with Duran Duran; it was crazy.
ILM: Talking of Duran Duran, Orson performed as a supporting-band for Duran Duran at Earls Court during Duran Duran's Astronaut Tour, and Robbie Williams during his European leg of his Close Encounters Tour..
Chris: It was huge, it was like playing a festival every day, upwards of 80,000 people a day, for four months!
ILM: Any amusing anecdotes/memorable moments you can share about either or both?
Chris: Our Duran Duran tour was pretty funny. We were playing clubs two months before and then we’re playing Earls Court. We’d played but it was pretty much trial by fire with that one. Then we did our subsequent tours after that. Then along came Robbie. Then we’re playing in football stadiums in front of 80,000 people per day. It’s amazing how fast it goes by, and how unintimate it can be. All the fans across Germany, Europe and the UK were just amazing. Every day was ‘wow.’ I rememer as a little kid thinking, ‘I want to play stadiums’, well… I did it for a year.
ILM: You can tick that box now for sure. And Robbie’s a nice guy too isn’t he?
Chris: He’s nothing but gracious. He’s a funny dude, we got to hang out with him a lot. I have nothing but great things to say about that guy. He’s a show man.
ILM: Yeah, I went to Knebworth and he was incredible. He makes you feel like he’s singing just directly to you. He’s amazing.
Chris: And he’s a good guy.
ILM: Yeah, nuff respect for Mr Williams.
ILM: Lots of songs these days have a focus on relationships because we all have them, be they with partners, family or friends, do you have lyrics relating to relationships that you feel people can relate to (your own songs or songs you’ve heard that have related to you)?
Chris: They all do. That’s what’s great about this subject in people’s songwriting from the 60s, 70s, 80s and beyond, it’s boy meets girl, boy loses girl, girl doesn’t call boy back, it speaks to everybody, everyone can relate. And that’s what’s great, everybody can relate, it speaks to everybody, it speaks to a broad audience, because everyone understands. Everybody’s been shit on; everybody’s shat on somebody, so lyrically they all make sense to me.
ILM: Please describe your ideal night out and the friends you’d have with you, and also describe your perfect night in and the people you’d have share it with you?
Chris: They’re both with my wife and they’re probably both the same, hitting a movie. When we’re on tour that’s when I’m on vacation, that’s when I’m living the life. When I’m home I pretty much stay home, I just rent movies, hang out with some friends and that’s about it and stay out of trouble as much as I can. I’m a home body too. I’m not too crazy any more…[pause] any more!