Remember Orson? Go on… stretch that music-soaked mind of yours and think back to 2005. Chances are, you boogied to their Number One single ‘No Tomorrow’ or wiggled your bits to their platinum selling album, ‘Bright Idea’. The boys from America are back and they’ve turned things up a notch or four on their new album ‘Culture Vultures’ (released on October 22nd).
In the lead-up to the release, I cornered trilby-topped singer Jason and tattoo emblazoned drummer Chris to chat about the journey so far. Their first platinum selling album was released in 2005 under a budget of about $5,000 but there was a bit more cash to splash this time around. Jason explains; “The reason the budget was so cheap last time was because nobody had any money and we just had to make an album however we could. When you have computers and stuff, you just don’t need a lot of money. Half the time that we spent on the last album was trying to find rooms where the sound was good.”
The band recorded ‘Culture Vultures’ during the early months of 2007 in West London’s Townhouse Studios. The skills of Bright Idea producer, Noah Shain were put to use and the band soon skipped back to their roots. Sometimes all a band needs is a Producer they click with and some good old original instruments. “Basically, we didn’t really do things a lot differently. We had a choice of some nicer stuff but we still used the stuff which we could afford last time.” Chris explains further “He captured what we do and that is all we ever ask”.
Fun Rock is, after all what Orson do best. ‘Culture Vultures’ is an album with a simple aim; to make people smile. One look at the video for ‘Ain’t No Party’ and you’ll see they’ve gone about it in the right way. Jason explains the single. “For me, it came out of the fact that on Oscar night, every year; it is like a ghost town. You can drive around, it’s really creepy because there is no one about as everyone is out partying their arse off.” But, he tells me… you can’t always get in. It is kind of about this fantasy party that you know no one is ever going to show up to.”
Piss ups aside, the album is more about the Rock this time (though I’m assured the band is “Still sweet, loveable, adorable Orson. Just a lot louder”)
I ask whether the aim was to capture the live Orson experience and the response is mixed. “We wanted to write a bunch of new stuff and all kinds of stuff that didn’t even make the first album. It was important for us, in a new environment, to get in there and get the wheels turning. I don’t really talk about this much, but this is one of the first times as a band that we have actually had more than an hour in a rehearsal room. When we were in LA we would just come up after work and say ‘Oh, I had the worse day,’ and ‘Don’t piss me off’ whereas now, it’s like wow, this is our job. We had always dreamed of a day when you could just roll up to the studio in the morning and get some coffee and then just rock out all day.”
“We wanted to do something quick and loud and anti Indie – not because there weren’t any genuinely talented artists out there, but just because of what it was turning into. It was just turning into a haircut”. Chris pipes in; “It has turned into a haircut!”
Not that Orson haven’t had their Indie cake and eaten it too. James explains… “Nobody was more Indie than we were. We had no money at all, but we didn’t feel like, let’s take what little money we have and make it as big as possible. We were just shooting for the moon with Fleetwood Mac and Motown stuff. We were just really trying to make a very precise, specific sounding record.”
The Orson highs have been huge – touring with Duran Duran and Robbie Williams certainly go down in the memory vault. The ‘double Ds’ impressed Jason the most; “It was bizarre for me because Duran Duran is huge in America. It was disgusting how many songs were actually hits.”
With company like that, it has surely been a Rock and Roll party so far. “Yes, it has been amazing but we have been working. People keep asking us what those crazy parties are like, but I think that actually, we were those partying guys but we got fixed and cleaned up. I can’t imagine what we would have been like with a little bit of cash…”
They may try to convince us otherwise, but it looks like life really one big party in ‘Orson world’. Join in folks… you’re all invited.
Ain’t No Party – single out October 15th
Culture Vultures – new album out October 22nd