Q&A with The Orange
[Editor's Note: This piece was penned by Krissi Reeves, not Chelsea Mueller.]
Ethereal psych-rock band The Orange is experiencing a wicked state of euphoria these days. After three years of exploring its musical purpose, the Dallas group has finally reached a blissful peak with the release of its new EP, A Sonic Collection of Short Stories from La La Land, and upcoming New York tour dates. The Orange will celebrate this accomplishment with an extravaganza of music and "surprises" tonight at the Curtain Club. (Get a taste of the new album at the end of this post.)
Scott Tucker and Aaron Berkes are guiding The Orange's journey and have come full-circle from their adolescent days of sneaking into Deep Ellum venues to watch their favorite bands. Creating music together for more than half their lives, Tucker and Berkes possess a distinguished bond anchored not only by their shared musical vision, but also by an innocent curiosity to explore the full potential of their creative bursts.
After a touch-and-go experience in the much grimier version of themselves, Special Edword, the friends stripped themselves bare (literally, according to tales of Tucker's late night cemetery crusades) and began the reconstruction that lead them to this moment.
Surrounded by shiny, vintage rock equipment and headless mannequins, we sat in The Orange's Arlington practice space to dig a little deeper into the orphic energy of the 25 year-old bandmates.
(Note: Bassist Brandon Morris also joined us. He sat politely and bashfully in the corner.)
Tell us about the title of your new EP, A Sonic Collection of Short Stories from La La Land.
Tucker: Well, the name comes from... OK, there are so many bands that seem to be writing songs that just don't seem to mean anything. Even the words of the songs and the titles of the songs are like "Wait" or "Breathe." (To Berkes) What's another one?
Berkes: Or like "Capture!"
Tucker: Yeah! "Capture!"
Berkes: This is a new one from our album called "Capture!"
Tucker: And it's like everyone names their albums, you know..."Blue...Steel! Blue Steel Magnum" from Never Said.
I've never heard of that album...
Tucker: You know what I mean. It's just that everyone tries to be so (death metal scream) hardcore, metal, Dallas. I was sitting in an English class, actually, and I had just read a book, The 2005 Best American Short Stories.... I was relating literature to the lyrics I write and I thought, in a way, music now is the literature that people really - well, people don't go out and buy books like they did in the '20s or the '30s and especially the 1800s - so, this is the literature of the day. And I just wanted to call it "A Sonic Collection of Short Stories," because every song is a story and it's sonic because it's musical. And it's from La La Land. La La Land is like this place where I wish I were. This is La La Land (points to the vibrant woods in the band's new press photo), just a place of bliss.
You guys worked with Dallas producer Jim King, yes?
Berkes: Yes, Jim King. Sonic Dropper. He was great to work with. He pushed us to the next level. We've recorded with other people before. (With Jim) it was like you did a take and even if you thought it was good, Jim would be like "no."
Berkes: No. He'd hear things that you didn't even know that you didn't hear.
Tucker: Especially me.
Berkes: He'd say, "Do it again." That extra push that he gave us, that extra drive, not only increased us professionally as musicians, but also made the record sound a lot better. It was really good to work with him.
People are always looking to slap labels on bands to describe their sound. So, what words do you attach to the sound The Orange?
Berkes: Hmm. Well, right now, it's a little dance-y. There's a dance element to it. But it's not something that we are trying to go for - it's not like, "hey, let's write dance songs!" That's where it's at right now. It's not emo. It's not screamo. I can tell you what it's not.
Tucker: It's not metal, hip-hop or grunge. I don't know. That's tough. Well, our manager describes it as a sonic, dirty bomb.
A sonic, dirty bong?!
Tucker and Berkes: A sonic, dirty bomb!
Aha! I get it. That's cool.
Berkes: ...because we were brought up in the early '90s.
Tucker: I can't really think of one of our songs that has that though.
Berkes: We were way into Nirvana, Deftones and Silverchair. All those bands.
Tucker: Yeah, Daniel Johns (of Silverchair) is a musical prodigy. Do you listen to The Dandy Warhols?
Yes, actually. My friend has been emailing me their music lately. I've been revisiting.
Tucker: Courtney Taylor is really inspirational to me, actually. Courtney Taylor has really taught me to just release myself. After I discovered The Dandy Warhols and the Brian Jonestown Massacre I really decided that whatever comes out, comes out. If people like it, then they do. If they don't, then whatever.
The Orange is influenced by psychedelia, obviously. Tell us about that.
Berkes: We are definitely influenced by psychedelia. I've got a pedal board with a bunch of pedals. (Grinning, his sneakers motion to his massive pedal board.) That makes us psychedelic.
(Both Berkes and Tucker are humorously approaching the stereotype while pointing out the inventory of acid-rock paraphernalia around us.)
But, it's not just in the music; it's in the image, the show...
Tucker: I'm a visual artist, and I just really enjoy early psychedelic bands like 13th Floor Elevators and Rocky Erickson and that whole genre because it's so original and it's so fresh.
Berkes: We like the bright colors. A lot of the music out there is so depressing and we try to bring an element of color and light.
The Orange is hosting its CD release party tonight at the Curtain Club with The Future Cast, The Salutation and Wonderfool. Admission includes a copy of The Orange's new EP, A Sonic Collection of Short Stories from La La Land. -- Krissi Reeves
And, now that you're fully enticed, check out the track "Teleprompters" from The Orange's new EP.