I have been asked to write a article about an album that has been a part of Orange’s history and ever since then I have been wracking my brains about the band to choose. Then I had an idea! Why don’t I write about one of the bands that propelled Orange into the 21st century with a bang! The band that came straight to mind was Oasis.

Oasis were formed in Manchester in 1991,consisting of two brothers Liam and Noel Gallagher. The band broke into the mainstream in the mid 90’s, with at the time the fastest-selling debut album ‘Definitely Maybe.’

The band followed this success by choosing Rockfield Studios in Monmouth, Wales to record their second album in March of 1995. Critics struggled with the bands change to more ballads and huge chorus based songs, this quote from Melody Maker shows some of the issues reviewers had:

“Laboured and lazy. On this evidence, Oasis are a limited band. They sound knackered.”

Melody Maker

Time would show these reviews to be unfair, with first week sales of 347,000 copies and the album selling over 22 million copies at most recent count. The album cemented the band as one of the biggest British bands ever.

Recording the album

To say the recording of the album was a bed of roses would be a lie, but sessions did start off at breakneck pace, with the band averaging recording a song a day. Infighting between Noel and Liam eventually ground the recording to a standstill, but more about that later.

Control room in Rockfield Studios

The band enlisted Owen Morris to produce and engineer the album, Noel Gallagher the bands songwriter was also on production duties. Morris had previously recorded and produced The Stranglers and Johnny Marr before working with Oasis on their debut. He was largely credited with giving the first two albums the “huge” sound that shaped the bands early records.

Rockfield Studios

‘Some Might Say’ was the first song recorded for the album, it was tracked in March 1995, the reason Rockfield was chosen, was the size of the studios and its accommodation suited the band better.

The studios were split into two, with the Quadrangle and the Coach house which was a smaller room. When Oasis recorded the album they were using a Neve VR console with flying faders. The live room was on the left of the control room, with drum area directly in front and the main studio on the other side. Two vocal and guitar booths were located at the far end.

The guitar amps were all mic’d the same way with an SM57 and a Neumann U87, Bonehead was using a Marshall amplifier while Noel had a Vox AC30, Marshall Combo, a WEM combo and his trusty Orange Vintage Overdrive OR120 Head (see below).

1990’s Orange OR120 Head and matching PPC412 Cabinet from Noel’s collection.

Noel was using Les Pauls and his Epiphone Casinos, while Bonehead just used an Epiphone Casino. The bass amp was recorded using a mixture of an RE20 and DI to the desk.

Into the recording

After the “Some Might Say” recording session came ‘Roll With It,’ this track was recorded live together as the band were familiar with the song. The band played half a dozen takes of the track but in the end the first take was used for the record.

After this the band reverted to using a vocal and acoustic guitar guide to click before the band then overdubbed their parts, this was a method used by Marc Bolan and T-Rex and helped the band to record the songs they were unfamiliar with.

A Visit to the Pub…

Things were going smoothly with the recording session until a visit to the pub stopped recording in its tracks. The band were starting to track ‘Champagne Supernova’ and Liam was bored as he had recorded his guide vocal. So he decided to go down the pub. After a few hours he came back with about 20 locals from the pub and brought them back to the accomodation at the studio. This lead to an argument between Noel and Liam, which led to Liam battering down Noels door to his bedroom. The response from Noel was to hit Liam with a nearby cricket bat. After 10 days of cool down, the band met back up to finish the record and the whole incident was water under the bridge.

The Final Push

All that was left to do was to record the overdubs for ‘Champagne Supernova’, Noel spent most of the time systematically recording his parts without listening back to them in the control room. This lead to them being recorded very quickly. Then the band enlisted Paul Weller to come in and play the lead part on the song. Paul turned up to the Orinoco Studios in South London with his White Gibson SG and an old Vox AC30 amp and laid down the guitar.

He recorded 4 versions of the guitar and then Noel picked his favourite, the Vox was mic’s up with a 57 and there were no pedals used.

What Next

The album became a classic for the band and British music and still is widely regarded as one of the best albums recorded. The band went on to play two huge gigs at Knebworth to a crowd of 250,000 people in total, 2.5 million people applied for tickets.

Noel and Orange

Noel used Orange amps throughout the late 90’s and until the early 2000’s. As well as the OR120 Head and PPC412 cabinet, Noel suggested changes to the Overdrive. He was using the amp with everything up to 10, Orange’s Technical Director Ade Emsley spoke to him about ways to approve his sound. Oasis were on tour in 1997 with U2 and Noel had been using an Orange combo and he wanted more crunch from them. Ade made some changes to the overdrive circuit, which includded modifications to the phase inverter and preamp. These changes gave the amp more sparkle and also formed the basis for the new OTR amplifier.

Noel continued to use Orange amps until the early 2000’s, Orange even built him a Custom Shop Combo 140 amplifier, with 3 12” Celestion speakers. This amp was sold recently on auction site Reverb and fetched £6,800.

Orange Custom Shop NG140 built for Noel Gallagher


Back when the gods of rock were bending our minds with new styles and sounds, it was clear that besides their immense talent, analogue amplifier technology played an imperative role. Even though amp design back then was still in its infancy, that classic analogue tone is still highly sought after. So much so that many manufacturers are attempting to recreate those sounds through digital modelling amps.

Arise the first digital amp

You may or may not know this but Orange Amplifiers were at the forefront digital amp design way back in the ’70s. The original OMEC amp was a digitally programmable 150-watt solid-state amp that could store preset sounds. It was so far ahead of the game that it was produced before the development of the CMOS chip!

These days digital amps has come a long way, making it possible to replicate almost any amplifier by modelling analogue circuitry. Yet still, there is still huge demand for true analogue amps, and that’s not to do with black magic, witchcraft or Don Draper-Esq marketing genius. It goes much deeper than that.

The basics of digital vs analogue amplifier design

Analogue amplifiers come in two main forms, tube and solid-state, although sometime they are configured as a hybrid, with a tube pre-amp and a solid-state power stage.

All-tube amplifiers such as our classic AD series use pre-amp tubes to sculpt the tone, and then power amp tubes to smash pure analogue gooeyness out of your speakers.

Solid-state amplifiers like the Orange 4 Stroke bass head or the Crush Pro Series use all analogue components (transistors, resistors and capacitors) in both the pre-amp and power amp circuit. That means you get the warmth people associate with analogue circuitry but reduce the overall size and weight of the amplifier by switching out the tubes for a solid-state power amp circuit.

In contrast, digital amps use digital algorithms to produce the tone at the pre-amp stage and most commonly, solid-state circuitry for the power stage. Some manufacturers offer a tube power stage, but this goes against the core benefit of a digital amp: flexibility.

Orange AD30 “Flagship” Guitar Amp

Flexibility

These days we’re expected to be everything to everyone. It’s part of the immediacy culture. Rather than learning to understand the nuances of tone, we’re now able to flip a switch and change between two completely different sounding amplifiers. One minute you’re playing country blues and the next moment, black metal. Sounds pretty fun? But nothing is clear-cut.

The cost of flexibility is impact.

We’re talking about pure unadulterated grunt that you get from an analogue amp. It’s not just that you can hear it; you can feel an all-analogue amp pushing through your very soul; whole-bodied and direct, accurately representing the true nature of your instrument across the whole frequency spectrum. When you’re hammering it out on an all-valve or solid-state amp on stage it moves you, undulating like sea waves.

Warmth

Unlike an algorithm that digitally recreates a signal, when you drive valves, they compress and produce warmth that has an almost erogenous aspect to it. Solid-state amps are cleverly designed to meet the needs of the most discerning player, creating complex and harmonically rich tones. When people speak of the warmth of analogue, they’re talking about how the sound unfolds and wraps around the music.

Live or in the studio, that full body of sound of analogue gels together the other instruments into a unified whole, sitting just right in the mix. Yet, solo instruments can still be attenuated without feeling harsh or out of place.

In all circumstances, one of the key aspects to a great sounding analogue amp is just that, you need to do very little to get just what you want from it.

Simplicity

Time is money, in the studio, it’s all about the flow and onstage even more so.

Orange Amplifiers are synonymous with simple setup, be that getting a gnarly guitar tone or Venice Beach muscle man bass.

With an analogue amp there’s no shrillness you’d expect from digital, instead they accent the natural harmonics of the top end, thickening the midrange and levelling the boom of the bottom. The devil is in the detailed response to the natural ebb and flow of your instrument.

On the flipside, modelling amps could be seen the epitome of simplicity. Jogging through banks of classic amplifier setups certainly feels like you can conquer anything you can throw at it. But still, recording studios aren’t discarding their banks of ‘go to’ analogue amplifiers in a hurry, especially when it comes to pummeling the overdrive settings or looking for a sweet clean tone.

Aggression

While valve and solid-state amps have an artful beauty to their clean tone, it’s when you get down and dirty that digital begins to lose its way. That is unless you’re looking for that specific sound you get from modelling amps; incisor sharp, transparent as Perspex.

Digital amps try to get close to modeling pre-amp circuitry but there’s nothing quite like the throaty roar of analogue. It all comes down to the imperfection of the technology that provides depth that is seemingly impossible to replicate honestly.

At a lower gain stage, the waveform becomes asymmetric, rich in even harmonics. But when you push the amp even further the bottom of the wave flattens, producing a symmetric wave with odd harmonics. It’s those odd harmonics that release the beast from within.

4 Stroke Bass Amplifier

Weight

OK, so all-valve amps aren’t all that portable. Designed for functionality above anything else and are unmatched in pure brute strength and killer tone. Their modern digital counterparts sit on the other side of the fence; form is their strength, portability a supreme asset. At a cost, many professional musicians would agree, that is outweighed by their novelty.

Somewhere in-between sits the solid-state amp, the choice for many touring musicians where portability is a big benefit but without compromising too much on the essence of your sound. Ultimately ringing out true to the nature of your composition.

Authenticity

Fundamentally, above anything else, Orange has been at the forefront of producing innovative amplification since the late sixties, creating what is now recognized as the British sound.

First heralded by legends such Fleetwood Mac and Stevie Wonder, and blown into the stratosphere by Led Zeppelin.

Re-emerging, again and again, Orange Amplifiers has always been there to define the sound of artists such as Oasis in the ’90s and again taking the world by storm along with the Arctic Monkeys in the decades to follow. Orange Amplifiers, seemingly the Swiss army knife of the music industry.

When our marketing director asked me to write a blog post comparing analogue vs digital amps, I have to admit that the first thing I did was to turn around to see if he was talking to somebody behind me. Here at Orange there are a number of very skilled musicians, many of whom are seriously into their rigs and can not only play but also understand the technical side of said rigs.  

I do not fall into this category.

Don’t get me wrong – I love playing but the thing is, I’m one of those people who have to work really hard to be mediocre and I’m really not interested in all the bells and whistles, I just want to plug in and play.

First thing I needed to do was find out what the difference is, so I had a chat with our techs. After they realised a primary (elementary) school level explanation was required, we began to make progress and I can summarise thusly:

Analogue guitar amps have a solid state, (transistors, resistors, capacitors etc.) or valve pre-amp that produces the tone and a solid state or valve power amp, which amplifies the signal and drives the speaker.

Digital guitar amps, use digital algorithms (complicated mathematics) to produce the tone and a solid state power amp to amplify the signal and drive the speaker. Digital amps therefore can theoretically reproduce any sound you want. It’s just a case of rearranging the order of the 1s and 0s in the signal. Brilliant!

So why would anyone want an analogue amp? Surely, digital is better. My digital TV is miles better than the old analogue signal I used to get from my RF antenna. (If you don’t remember those, ask your parents.) Before anyone starts, I realise reception and broadcast quality are different things, I’m just making an analogy. No pun intended.

Well, it would appear in this case digital isn’t necessarily better.

If you think about it, the signal going into your amp from your guitar is analogue – it has to be, it’s the sound of a string vibrating. The sound coming OUT of the speaker is analogue, again it has to be. We don’t have digital processors in our ear’oles so we need a soundwave in the air to vibrate our ear drum. So what’s the point of converting an analogue signal to digital and back again? Surely that means that analogue gives you what a digital amp is trying to emulate?

These thought experiments are all well and good but there’s no substitute for giving them a try, so I did. I’m not going to name the amps I tried, that’s not the point of this post – as I said at the beginning, I don’t have any strong feelings either way but I did have fun with both amps.

The digital amp was a bit daunting at first. Lots of knobs and lots of settings but once I sussed out what I was doing, I was able to dial in a load of different sounds and had a jolly old time making some wonderful noises much to the chagrin of the neighbours. The convenience of the digital amp cannot be overstated. I could see how something like that would appeal to gigging musicians hugely. There’s your tone, (or any other you may happen to need) right there in a box. Beats having to cart a load of heavy gear around. Awesome! How can analogue compete?

Pretty well as it turns out. As much as I enjoyed the digital amp listening to the analogue amp made me realise that the digital amp was quite sterile – on reflection, it was almost as if the amp was dictating things.  

I was wracking my brains try to think of a way to explain what I meant by that and the only thing I could come up with was to imagine a beautiful room full of expensive furniture but everything is white. The analogue amp coloured some of the bits in.

I’m no amp reviewer, so I can’t use a load of flowery words but it seemed to me that the analogue amp was as idiosyncratic as my playing. There was a relationship between what I was trying to do and what came out of the amp, that didn’t seem to be the case with digital. Also, I was able to just plug my guitar in and play. No messing around, no working anything out just instant fun.

I’m really not any wiser as to what’s better, all I know is what I prefer and I preferred the analogue amp although I can totally see why people would want to go for digital. The convenience and the ability to have everything right there in one place is very desirable, it just isn’t for me.

As mediocre a player as I am, music is more about how it makes you feel than it is about the technical side of things and for me the analogue amp had feeling. But hey, I’m not trying to convince anyone. What do you think?

So Orange has released a new guitar amplifier, you are shocked right, an amp company releasing an amplifier! But the TremLord is something a little different for Orange. 

The centrepiece of the amplifier is an all valve Tremolo, this is Orange’s take on the 1950’s amplifiers that used this effect to such acclaim.

This made me think one; what is tremolo and where will I have heard it before.

First, what is Tremolo?

Tremolo is simply put a modulation effect, it changes the volume of your signal at certain speed and depth. This is not to be confused with vibrato, which changes the pitch of the signal.

On the TremLord you can set two different speeds of tremolo and also the depth of the modulation. This means it’s perfect for use live with a footswitch.

Uses of Tremolo in Songs

Otis Redding – “A Change is Gonna Come”

This is the song that made me explore songs using tremolo, Otis Redding’s version of “A Change is Gonna Come” is a fantastic example. After the opening horn section the unmistakable tremolo guitar chords float in, which then stay throughout the whole song.

After this I dived headlong into finding more interesting and diverse song that used this effect, trying to find examples from across the musical spectrum and also the past 60 years.

Radiohead – “Bones”

Hearing “The Bends” for the first time I remember the raking sound of the tremolo on “Bones” being one of my favourite parts. It felt like the start of the band moving their sound away from the grunge sound of the first album. I chose a live version as it shows Jonny Greenwood using the effect throughout the song. 

Rage Against the Machine – Guerilla Radio

Tom Morello is known for his unique use of effects and I think this was one of the first Rage Against the Machine songs I ever heard,  I remember struggling to understand what that sound was! Heavily leaning on his trusty boss tremolo pedal the track has become a mainstay of the bands live performances and as the live footage shows it’s no wonder why. 

Rolling Stones – “Gimme Shelter”

The lilting almost glassy sounding guitar intro to the track could be one of the most famous uses of the effect. This stone cold classic was released in 1969, sometimes I feel it gets forgotten about, as people remember “satisfactions” fuzzy tones more. But this for me is the Rolling Stones in a song and the guitar makes it.

The Smiths – “How soon is now?”

This couldn’t not be on the list, its so in your face the Tremolo effect. One of The Smiths most famous songs, this was actually originally a B-Side of the 1984 single “William, it was really nothing”. The original demo for the song was called “Swamp” which hardly surprising when you hear the song.

One thing I noticed while going through this is how many great songs that use this effect, I could have provided another 30-40 songs easily. So if you have any songs that you think I may have forgotten, please comment in the comments and I look forward to delving into even more tremolo songs!

As 2018 is coming to an end I think we’re all reflecting on the year just gone, whether it’s good or bad. For me, 2018’s been great. I’ve achieved some goals I’m super stoked about, like my first ever on camera interview with Matt Pike which went surprisingly okay despite the week prior spent sleepless knowing I’d be ON camera for once, and not just behind it. I also got to interview Glenn Hughes which was pretty unreal, having been raised on Deep Purple as a kid. I’ve also seen some incredible bands and artists I’ve been dreaming of for years, some which left me crying to the point of dehydration, although this could also have to do with the fact that it was 34 degrees outside… Without further ado, my top picks of 2018.

Motorpsycho, Roadburn Festival

When I think of my musical highlights from this year, Motorpsycho’s always the band that first pops to mind. The only band granted a full two hours at the festival, famously known for their intense psychedelic build ups that keeps building and building and never releasing, until you literally can’t take it anymore. Their performance was nothing but spectacular and mesmerising, and just a pure masterpiece of performance and perfection beginning to end. My dear fellow Norwegian vikings, even eight months down the line I’m stunned their performance.

Hawkwind, Desertfest London & Hawkwind with Arthur Brown and a Symphony orchestra, London Palladium

I never ever in a million years thought I’d get to see Hawkwind at the Roundhouse, but I did. Having spent the entire Desertfest weekend carrying around our precious Orange camera which probably could cover my rent for several months – hence guarding it with my life, I finally got to clock out and hand over the precious belongings just in time for Hawkwind’s set at the legendary Roundhouse – time to party. I’ll admit I was somewhat apprehensive seeing young guys Haz Wheaton on bass, purely because he had long hair and played a Rick, and had some similarities with a young Lemmy – did this guy get the job because of his Lemmy look? It didn’t take long before I realised how much of a dick I was for even thinking that, as Haz literally stole the show, alongside the female dancer dressed as a cat, obviously. Hawkwind did certainly take me on a journey through to different dimensions, just as I hoped they would having listened to Space Rituals religiously. I left the venue buzzing with excitement, if Hawkwind could be this rad in 2018,  I can’t even imagine seeing them in they 70s heyday, with naked Stacia on stage and everyone off their shit on acid – a feast for all senses I imagine.

Photo via Youtube

I’m pretty used to dingy basement venues and sticky floors, so when my boyfriend surprised me with front row tickets to see Hawkwind at the Palladium with a symphony orchestra and Arthur Brown on vocals, my jaw nearly dropped to the floor – they sell champagne popsicles! I’ve come a long way from lukewarm lager… Anyway, Hawkwind, round two (This time without Haz who’s ventured onto Electric Wizard) – I’m not quite sure how to describe it, as weird and cosmic as the above, but with A SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA AND ARTHUR BROWN DANCING AND GUESTING ON VOCALS! It was spectacular, unlike anything I’ve ever seen before – the orchestra adding a whole new world of layers to something that’s already so unique made this evening pretty amazing, even more so with a grateful Dave Brock telling the story about how he once as a young kid was busking outside the Palladium, and got fined for doing so – little did he know that years down the line he’d be inside playing with an orchestra.

Roger Waters, British Summertime Hyde Park

I was 13 when my dad got me Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” for Christmas with a note saying it was time I got my shit together and started listening to some proper music. Around this time, I also saw Roger Water’s “In The Flesh” DVD for the first time, and this was so different to everything I knew from before, it was music with a message, composed in such strange and spectacular ways. From that point, I started digging deeper into the Pink Floyd catalogue, and started dreaming of seeing Roger Waters play. When he was announced to play Hyde Park this summer, it didn’t take long before I got tickets and started to counting down the days, to what also happened to be one of the hottest days of summer. When Roger Waters took to the stage I was nothing but an emotional mess, with 15 years of anticipation and excitement finally getting to flourish. They opened up with “Speak to Me”, and I burst out crying, crying to the point of nearly having to hold my breath so I wouldn’t start sobbing. Following that, was “Breathe”, “One of these Days”, “Time”, “Great Gig in the Sky” and a bunch of other songs from Pink Floyd’s peak as well as Waters’s solo albums – I did not stop for a second. I cried constantly for an hour until they stopped and took a break before the second act. As it began, I was at it again. Hearing all these songs written all those years ago with such important messages relevant today was the most powerful musical experience I’ve ever had. I felt drained at the end of it, the sweet release of finally having seen one of my heroes, and overwhelmed by the feelings released while doing so.

George Clinton’s Parliament & Funkadelic, The Roundhouse

Photographer unknown – Funkadelic way back when.

The above is the most I’ve opened up emotionally in about 28 years, so let’s dive right back into this with George Clinton’s Parliament & Funkadelic, one of the craziest, most fun gigs I’ve ever been to. I’m a sucker for old Funkadelic and the Eddie Hazel and Bootsy Collins era and was quite curious to see the band without them – modern Parliament and Funkadelic with a bunch of unfamiliar faces, and ya know what? It was incredible. A mix of soul, funk and even modern heavy hip hop, it felt like going to a party at George Clinton’s house, with him being some sort of jazzy-outfit funk king thriving on his throne, making sure every single person there were dancing. But then again, if someone were to make British people get loose, who else could take such a task upon himself than mister Clinton? “Free your mind, and your ass will follow”, a wise man once said, and I’m glad to see the message gets through, even in times like these when things are falling to shits – we could all do with some more funk in our lives.

Fantastic Negrito, Dingwalls

Photographer unknown – Photo via Fantastic Negrito’s Facebook Page

Fantastic Negrito kind of seemed to appear out of nowhere, releasing the spectacular “The Last Days of Oakland” in 2017, and swiftly following up with “Please Don’t be Dead” in 2018. However, he’s got quite an interesting and inspiring background, being one of fifteen siblings with a strict Muslim father and selling drugs and carrying guns at a young age, to teaching himself how to play music after hearing that’s what Prince did. He got a record deal in the 90s, but got dropped after nearly a fatal injury that left him in a coma for nearly two weeks. Years later, shortly before he passed, Chris Cornell took him under his wing and he was back with a bang – and now to the performance. Fantastic Negrito is a storyteller like no one I have ever seen, preaching and howling while struttin’ and dancing, teaching peace and love to the grooviest funk beats –  I never saw James Brown, but from what I’ve heard I feel confident saying Fantastic Negrito could have given him a run for his money – King Charisma, to say the least.

Hey – Alex here (AR Manager). Once again Dan (Euro AR) couldn’t be bothered to edit his grammar. I took care of that but, seriously, look at the dude’s descriptions below. Is he even trying anymore? My favorite line is this one: “…they have something different about them I can’t put my finger on.” My god, the effort! The insight!

Enjoy.

The Oxford Coma

The Oxford Coma is confusing and brutal. They go hard at their live shows. You leave wondering if your brain is still screwed on properly. This progressive-psych rock band from Phoenix, Arizona recorded their last album, Everything Is Out Of Tune, with Steve Albini. It’s worth listening to anything Steve puts his hands on. – Alex

 

Vokonis

I just signed this band to an endorsement based on their latest album, The Sunken Djinn. Obviously we’re fans of stoner doom at Orange (just look at the rest of our roster), but this Swedish band had a heavy darkness to their tunes that I just can’t ignore. I really can’t find anything wrong with it. I get a Baroness meets Monolord vibe. – Alex

 

Waax – Labrador

Brisbane five piece ‘Waax’ remind me of so many great bands I love but they have something different about them I can’t put my finger on. Their new single ‘Labrador’ is a good place to start with this band if you haven’t heard them before. They are currently supporting Wolf Alice in Australia and I’m sure it won’t take long for them to be over on UK shores so I can go see them. – Dan

 

Drug Church – Strong References

This is a banger. This band just seem to be getting better and better. – Dan

 

Viagra Boys – Sports

Blah Blah Blah band I heard that is good and I thought it would be good to promote them. – Dan

Blah Blah Blah band I heard that is good and I thought it would be good to promote them. – Dan

Now that I’ve got your attention with this photo of Matt Pike, please take two minutes to find out how you can help yet another music venue from shutting down, depriving people from potentially being able to see High on Fire there late September.


Sign HERE.

It seems to be really in the wind at the moment to shut down music venues, kill culture, and deprive the future generation of a platform to both play, perform and enjoy music. Who needs music, entertainment and a sense of community when some rich stranger can, lets say, build a bunch of luxury flats or offices instead?

Shaman Elephant debut album release gig, January 2017

This time around, it’s my all time favourite bar and music venue Garage in Bergen, Norway (The land of ice and snow, and the birthplace and home of black metal, with playing a vital part of it), under risk of being shut down by  – you guessed it, some capitalistic and greedy landlord. Long story short – the venue’s been open for 28 years, providing the city with amazing music from local bands and artists, as well as touring bands from across the world. A few years back, the landlord decided to open up a hotel above the venue, and stated that the venue would have to run the hotel as part of their agreement to let. Surely running a haggard ol’ hotel is the same as running a bar…? Hm, okay then… After a while, the landlord also decided part of the deal should also be for the venue to renovate the hotel, which they again agreed to, to keep peace and for the venue to run smoothly – the building work begun. Mid renovation, the venue learns from the fire department that the premises aren’t up to fire safety regulations at all, and that the landlord’s should never have opened a hotel there in the first place. Sneaky you say, hey? The things some people do for money…

Radio Moscow, October 2017.

Learning this, the venue put their foot down and refused to be part of running the hotel, and this is where it got nasty. The landlord threatened to evict the pub, and put the premises on the market without notifying them, as well as reaching out to the venue’s business partners and sponsors telling them that the venue’s closing down shortly. And this is where we are today, it’s still unclear what will happen – while the owners of the venue are working to keep the it open and their 20 or so employees employed and afloat, the landlord is laying low with their shark like lawyers on the case. Worst case scenario, the venue can be shut down by September 1st. Now, despite being the second biggest city in Norway, Bergen ain’t big, and Garage is the only venue of it’s kind and size (with the exception of student run ‘Hulen’ which closes over Christmas and summer, peak drinking times some might say), and has become a meeting place for musicians and music lovers from all around town, whether it’s grabbing a beer after work or attending one of their weekly gigs – as well as being the perfect 300 or so capacity venue, big enough for bigger acts, small enough to still be intimate.

Triggerfinger, Garage, April 2015

I’ve seen bands such as Turbonegro, Triggerfinger and Radio Moscow there, and sadly enough, missed out on Kvelertak who played what I only imagine was two spectacular shows there earlier this year. For Bergen to lose Garage, hell, it would be devastating. I have lived London nearly seven years now, but keep an eye out for Garage gigs at a regular basis as I’d fly home in a heartbeat. I also make a point of stopping by every single time I go home, last time arriving to Hendrix in Stockholm played on a projector. The day after Lemmy died, they played Motörhead and Hawkind for nine hours – nine. We cheersed in whiskey and cried to Overkill. It was beautiful, a bunch of strangers coming together to celebrate his life and music at Garage, that sorta thing could only happen at Garage, there’s no other place like it, so please don’t take it away from us.


I’ve started a petition where you can raise your voice and stick it to the man. By signing it, you state that Garage should remain open, and keep adding cultural value to the community as it’s done for nearly three decades.

Sign the petition here.

Every month our Artist Relations managers, Alex and Dan, submit their 3 favorite artists or bands they’ve been listening to recently. These are bands that might or might not be endorsed by Orange. If they’re not endorsed, it’s probably because they play some other manufacturer’s amps. We don’t fault them for that, but we do certainly welcome them dropping us a line because obviously we love them!

Alex Auxier – Artist Relations Manager

The Features

Another one of those “how’d I miss this band and now they’re broken up” scenarios, The Features is pop-rock at its finest. If you’re a fan of Kevin Gilbert or Jason Faulkner then you’ll appreciate this band. If you’re a fan of Weezer you might appreciate this band. If you’re a fan of Dimmu Borgir then you probably won’t like this band as much.
The Features is a band that should be headlining massive festivals and getting all the Nike endorsements (or something like that). They’re one of the tightest live bands I’ve ever seen. What sucks is that I’ve only been able to watch them on YouTube.

I love the evolution of their sound too. On 2004’s Exhibit A they’re pure power pop. On 2009’s Some Kind Of Salvation they add horns, a bit of a New Orleans gritty vibe, and start crafting really quirky tunes. By 2011’s Wilderness they kind of came back to a straight rock vibe. And then fast-forward to 2016 and “Sunset Rock” sounds like the band from Revenge of the Nerds moved to LA, had a music baby with Spoon, and started experimenting with psychedelics.

End of the day, I just LOVE this freaking tune:

Big Thief

Don’t sleep on Big Thief. I’m certainly not (they just bought a bass amp from me). Big Thief is like the indie-folk-rock version of rain. And I mean literal rain. If rain was an emotion, that’s the emotion this band would invoke. Every single song they write can be interpreted as either sad or happy. It depends entirely on your mood, the time and place, and what kind of liquor you’re drinking.

I also really dig their album covers. They have a “stark reality” approach that speaks to my more candid side.

Harm’s Way

Now here’s a band I actually did just endorse. Bassist Casey Soyk will be rocking the OB1-500 moving forward. I’ve heard of Harm’s Way before but just recently started listening to them. They’re as hardcore as they come, bordering on death metal. In the last 12 years they’ve made a name for themselves with a high energy live show and albums that just keep getting better (in my opinion).


Dan Darby – Euro Artist Relations

Vein – “Virus://Vibrance”

This band was recommended to me by Steve from Every Time I Die, who have toured with these guys recently. I can’t believe I haven’t heard of these guys before! The band are from Boston and I don’t think there is a band that sound like them at the moment.

Bloody Knees – “Maybe It’s Easy”

This track from the Cambridge/London based four piece is taken from their debut EP “Maybe It’s Easy” released in October 2017. The band have had a tough start to 2018, with all their equipment being stolen from their van. Luckily, after a national gofundme campaign, they’re on their way to becoming the band to see this summer.

Lump – “Curse of the Contemporary”

Laura Marling is back with a collaboration with Mike Lindsay, member of Tunng and Throws. This collective is called Lump and is a great mixture of acoustic and atmospheric music. Their first single is called “Curse of the Contemporary” and I can’t wait for the full album which comes out in June.

Desertfest has always been a festival for all manner of reasons I have missed over the past 3 years, due to birthdays, weddings and all manner of silly things that get in the way of actually seeing shows. Which is a pretty important part of my job.

This year though, no one is stopping me from getting down to Camden to enjoy 3 days of psych, doom and stoner rock…I can’t wait. These are the bands i’m most looking forward to.

Lionize – Devonshire Arms – Friday 6.30

After seeing these guys at the Black Heart last year, I can’t wait to catch up with Nate and the guys at the Devonshire Arms on Friday. The band are back on UK shores again, one thing is certain it will be a fun show, Lionize always seem to bring the party, do not miss it!

Puppy – The Underworld – Saturday 2.25

I have seen this band so many times in the past 3 years and every time they are amazingly scuzzy and loud. Opening up the Underworld on Saturday Puppy are one of my favourite new bands, also bass player Mike has an Orange tattoo, which immediately makes him one of Orange’s favourite endorsees!

Graveyard – Koko – Friday 8.30

A couple years ago I missed the chance to see these guys play at Download Fest and have been trying to see them ever since. I can’t wait to see them at such a great venue as Koko, hopefully playing new songs from their upcoming album “Peace”.

High on Fire – The Electric Ballroom – Saturday 8.30

This is the big one, Matt Pike is coming back to Camden, to make our ears bleed!! Last time seeing Sleep playing the UK was an event, and this time will be no different. I can’t wait to get down to the Electric Ballroom to see High on Fire destroy Desertfest.

Monolord – The Roundhouse – Sunday 3.00

This will sound huge in the Roundhouse and will be the perfect way to kick the cobwebs out to prepare for the final day of the festival. Every time Monolord release a new piece of music it seems to sound bigger and better than the last one which seems impossible to me!

Elder – The Roundhouse – Sunday 4.30

This for me will be the perfect band to follow Monolord in the Roundhouse on Sunday, Elder always put on a great show and I’m sure this Desertfest will be no different!

If any of these recommendations get you excited for Desertfest and you don’t have tickets yet, then you need to sort yourself out and get down to one of the best festivals around.

http://www.desertfest.co.uk/tickets

USA

Welcome to Rockville

I’m actually driving the backline for Quicksand down to Jacksonville for this festival. That means I’m getting an artist pass. And that, my friends, means I’m just one step closer to my ultimate goal: side stage for Queens of the Stone Age. I’m also stoked for Red Fang and Clutch. And Foo Fighters, while not my cup of tea, is still one of the best live bands in the world.

By the way, the people-watching at Welcome to Rockville is unmatched. It would be really great if someone could send me the directions to the JNCO outlet store in Jacksonville that’s clearly still operational and possibly earning record profits.

Photo: http://www.jenkemmag.com

Warped Tour

I don’t feel like I personally belong at this festival anymore. I’ve sponsored it for the last decade so I go to the Atlanta date once a year (to check-in), but Warped Tour, in its final year, still doesn’t have enough throwback artists to entice me. That’s probably because the guarantees for bands on Warped are notoriously low. Naturally artists make up for it by selling incredible amounts of merch, but those low guarantees keep most of the big name artists from jumping on.

For nostalgic purposes mainly, I’ll probably have to go see Less Than Jake play Warped one last time.

Psycho Fest

Last year at Psycho Fest I got drunk by the pool with Mastodon. Then I got drunk by the bar with Sleep, Mastodon, and King Diamond. Then I got drunk at a restaurant with Mothership. All of this happened in a 5000 square foot radius. This festival rules (and has almost got their kinks worked out).
This year I’ll be broadcasting live from Psycho Fest with my good friend Rock N Roll Beer Guy. We have a lot of interviews lined up with some pretty big names. Let’s see if we can get them drunk.

Bonnaroo

This is my favorite festival to go to if I’m in the mood to be harassed by security even though I have an artist pass. Backstage at Bonnaroo is like the Indian caste system. Either you’re Bob Weir (representing the highest caste) or you’re not. If you’re not Bob Weir, then you’re untouchable and I hope you enjoy the off-site parking and carrots-only veggie tray.

On the other hand, Bonnaroo is quite possibly the most eclectic camping music festival in the USA. It’s possible to give some, or most, of the credit to Bonnaroo for starting the trend of large-format music festivals offering massively diverse line-ups.

Also, there’s way less of this dude at Bonnaroo than there is at Coachella (so that’s a bonus):


EUROPE 

Desertfest

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Now in its 7th year, Desertfest just seems to get bigger and better every year. If you are looking for your fix of stoner rock, doom, psych and sludge; then look no further than the Camden based, multi venue extravaganza! This year the headliners are Monster Magnet, High on Fire and Graveyard; other notable highlights will be Puppy, Monolord and the mighty Napalm Death.

Secret Solstice 

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Why travel all the way to Iceland? Slayer and George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic, that’s why! Secret Solstice has been a festival I have been trying to get to for so long, it always seems to get a really good mix of lots of different styles of music, in a great setting. This year is no different, Slayer are playing on their final shows and sets from Death from Above and Dream Wife should add to this being an amazing experience.

Outbreak Fest

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For 10 years Outbreak Festival has been playing host to some of the biggest and best names in Hardcore and this year is no different. Not only have they got headline sets from the mighty Code Orange and Turnstile but the support line-up of Cro-Mags, Broken Teeth, Higher Power and Angel Dust, to name a few just makes this one of the best hardcore lineups of the year.

Hellfest

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I mean look at that line up! Just look at it. Not only is the lineup one of the best but it’s usually amazing weather which never happens in the UK. The festival site is on the edge of Clisson, so you can get amazing french food when you are struggling with a hangover! Also the festival arena isn’t too big, so you have the best chance of catching your favorite bands. I seriously recommend checking this festival out!