The biggest announcement for 2024: Orange Goblin’s return to Australia after a decade! “It is very exciting, 2013 was the last time we were there, as part of the Soundwave Festival”.
What stars had to align for this tour to get off the ground? “This tour was due to constant pressure from the fans” [Laughs] “Obviously we were out of action for a few years because of Covid and Martin (Millard, bass) left the band. You know, touring as part of Soundwave was an incredible experience – but we never really got to do our our headline shows, in intimate venues and that’s something that we felt was kind of missing. The Australian fans have always been really enthusiastic and we’re looking forward to experiencing that for the first time. We’ve had a lot of people tell us how amazing it is to tour Australia. Our friends have toured, King Parrot, friends of ours are always telling us how great it is. So we’re really excited”.
I understand the band have just wrapped up the makings of a new LP? “We’ve finished recording, December 19th round-about, it’s currently in the mixing stage right now, our Producer – Mike Exeter who’s worked with Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Heaven and Hell – is absolutely brilliant, he’s given us a preview, and it is sounding great. I mean everyone says it, but its our strongest album so far. There is that core Black Sabbath, Motörhead influence which is dominant on most Orange Goblin albums but I think there is something different this time around. After thirty years of this, I think we’ve finally cracked it”.
How did you approach the material this time around? “Well, obviously its a different process this time around as its the first time with Harry Armstrong playing bass, since Martin left. And Harry is a very accomplished musician – he’s a guitarist, a keyboard player, he’s a very strong singer himself and having him around kind of, I think helped us all raise our game a bit I think. I mean, its an Orange Goblin album, but there are a lot of different elements; stuff that’s a little bit different, a bit more mature and vocally, for me, its my strongest performance because I’ve been sober for almost two years now which I feel has really benefited my heath and what I can do with my voice, so I’m really keen to hear what fans think of it. Its our first album with Peaceville Records, who are really keen to help elevate the band to where we think we should be because the 2018 album (The Wolf Bites Back) was our last with Candlelight Records and we feel it was kind of swept under the carpet a little bit, and that irked us – so now that we have this campaign with Peaceville it’s exciting again. It has given the band a new lease on life, the band is really enthusiastic and I think you’ll hear that on the record and you’ll see that in the live shows. The band isn’t getting any younger so we feel refreshed and ready to go”.
What influence has Harry had on the band so far? “Harry was the obvious choice because he’s been in and around the band since its inception. He sang guest vocals on the Big Black album and has been credited numerous times. We knew what we were getting with Harry and likewise, Harry knew what he was getting into. When Martin decided to leave the band, it was Martin himself who said ‘If I’m going to stand down, I want Harry to take the bass role’. It was unanimous across the board. Harry is one of us – he has fitted right in, settled in nicely. And we were quite fortunate that after Martin left, the world shut down with Covid. We were supposed to go out and do twenty fifth anniversary shows, ultimately Martin’s farewell shows. It gave Harry the opportunity to learn the songs, so once we finally got together to introduce him to the band, he had already hit the ground running. In regards to writing the new album, Harry has contributed ideas and riffs, as did Martin – and it is still very much a group effort. The only difference is, we all raised our game because its a new body in the room. “When you record an album for a label like Peaceville, its an honour that these people are putting their trust in you and investing in the process, so you want to reward that. This LP is part of our legacy, it is our tenth studio album, not many bands get that opportunity and we are quite fortunate that all our albums have been very well received and we think fans will be very pleased with what they hear”.
It’s definitely a new era for the band and you are now staring down the barrel of thirty years – what factors do you attribute to the success of the band? “The reason that we’re still here and doing it is that we never got ahead of ourselves, we’ve never taken ourselves too seriously. We’re not big headed about it, we don’t have these high opinions of ourselves. I think we’re a very good band and that’s why we’re still here. In the early days, we had no aspirations of superstardom or touring the world. It was just four guys that wanted to get together. We were bored basically, and we wanted to start a band that catered to the musical taste we were into, we wanted to create a band that combined this big melting pot of everything we were into. That became Orange Goblin. It was a really fortunate time for us to come out; In the mid nineties there was what was deemed as a ‘stoner rock boom’. In the UK at the time you had Electric Wizard, Cathedral, ourselves, then the northern death-doom bands like Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride. There was a lot of focus on the heavier end of the musical spectrum in this country. Then the Americans came over; Kyuss, Monster Magnet and whenever these bands came through town, we were chosen as the local support band, so that helped elevate us, and it snowballed really. Lee Dorrian (Cathedral) was a big fan and really showed us amazing support in those early days, and signed us to his record label (Rise Above Records). From there it was five albums! So we went from four kids on the Dole and bored to the kids who were on a tour bus with our heroes touring around Europe. How did this happen? We still enjoy it, and if we don’t I suppose we’ll stop and go annoy other people”.
Orange Goblin have grown as a collective over thirty years, the networking, the DIY, the industry, the experimentation and the lessons learned. What have you learnt about from your time in the band, your craft and how you future proof the band? “It has been a really big learning curve for me. When I came into it, I had no experience with the industry, I didn’t know how it all worked. To me it was kinda like one big piss up, and just having fun with it. I didn’t take it too seriously. If I look back now, I’d like to change the way I went about things because as I say I was a little bit out of control, I could see how I embarrassed the record labels and disappointed people turning up drunk to things. When you’re young you don’t consider those things. The world has changed so much in thirty years, when we first started out we were having to send demos, letters – there was no internet to spread the word, so we had to do things the hard way. I think that instilled a lot of resilience in the band. A lot of bands these days don’t have that resilience as its all at their fingertips. There isn’t a great deal of work going into the promotion. Yes, these tools benefit bands these days, but it is taken for granted. I like to think that this is the reason for our longevity – our resilience. That’s why you see so many bands still doing it; Sepultura, Paradise Lost – we’re all from the same school. Its a different world now but just as exciting. When we started Orange Goblin, I’m not sure if you noticed too, but it was such a rare thing to meet someone in a band. These days, they’re everywhere. There’s good and bad to that, but as long as there is decent music coming through to fill the void when the old headliners are gone – I’m all for it”.
I agree, the market is definitely oversaturated and the romance has been taken away from the ‘rock star’. The mystery has been lost, I guess because of this access to the world. Perhaps thats why we love all the old skool bands more than the new skool? “You didn’t have Lemmy posting what he had for breakfast on Facebook…. It would probably be a whiskey and Coke”.