Michael Ciro knows a thing or two about tone, about session work and music life in general…

We first met four years ago during top-selling artist Alejandro Sanz´s Sirope tour in Málaga, Spain. After some promising emails about technology, my work as a product designer, and his session work, we immediately felt a kinship, like old friends that just hadn’t met yet.

Mike was (and still is) the Musical Director and Guitar player for Alejandro Sanz. Aside from that he has recorded with Mariah Carey, Luther Vandross, Notorious, B.I.G., Alicia Keys, Janet Jackson. He’s also performed with Stevie Wonder, Sting, Shakira, Mary J. Blige, Beyonce, Missy Elliot, Corey Glover, Chaka Khan, Alicia Keys, and many more.

With such a background it is my real pleasure to bring him on board to the Orange Artists family, where we can support him on tour and in the studio, as well as learn from his input while testing our amps and pedals worldwide.

Ladies and gents, our friend Mike…

“Hello my name is Mike Ciro and  I’m the musical director and guitarist for Alejandro Sanz on the tour “La Gira”.

I’m a new member of the Orange family I’m very happy and using this this gear is perfect for this tour that I’m doing now because the Pedal Baby is perfect for the way I’m using the Fractal and the cabinet is projecting the sound that I need so I’m very happy with this situation right now and I’m happy to be in the family.

My favourite setup to use the Celestions and the 412 cabinet. We have a mic on this and I also use another situation direct to the PA if you want to… come over we’ll take a look at this here !!

I’m using the brand new Pedal Baby 100 this is a straight power amp just with volume and tone,  that’s very simple but it’s perfect because I use it I paired up with the Axe FX too so all my modelling and everything comes through here into the power amp out to the cabinet we also come out direct to the PA from here along with mic in the cabinet so I have a lot of variations and sound and this thing has been great so far it’s really stable and and I love it

I’m really happy with orange and the support they’ve given me. Danny Gomez is the best and the whole team there and I´m excited about this tonight we have 60,000 people sold out in Madrid so we’re gonna have some fun so stay tuned…  we’ll talk again !!”

[Editor’s Note: This interview was conducted by Orange Artist Relations Nashville Rep, Pat Foley]

Marvin King and I have gotten to know each other pretty well over the last few years. I wanted to know how he’s enjoying his son’s phenomenal success and as a touring guitarist himself for many years, just how proud he is of his son. We were chatting away on the phone when I realized that I had better turn on the recorder and get to it.

[Marvin] This world we live in now is so different, you know. I think if this were the 70s or 80s he’d already be all over the radio.

[Pat] Well, because we had consolidated radio, we all listened to the same music. Now it’s so widespread. But anyway, I gotta go meet a tour manager at the showroom and swap some cabinets out at 2 o’clock. So, I’m gonna get on with this. All right?

[Marv] Yes sir, rock n roll.

[Pat] Marvin, you brought an amplifier to the Marcus King Band Family Reunion Festival in Asheville, North Carolina a few weeks ago, which was fabulous. And it was an old AD15. So, is that an amp that you’ve used a long time? And is it, perhaps the first Orange amp that Marcus played through?

Original AD15 Combo

[Marv] Ok. The amp that I showed to you and Jon actually belonged to a friend of mine and Marcus’, Charles Hedgepath, who plays with the Shady Recruits. I sat in at an after party one time here in Greenville. The stage was loaded with big amps and they tell me to play through this little Orange. I said ‘OK, what the heck’ as it was mic’d up and all. So, I jumped on it and I said ‘holy crap!!’ I played it and absolutely fell in love with that amp!

You know in about 1970, I bought a Marshall stack. At that point I never had heard of Orange except maybe from Wishbone Ash.

When I saw the Allman Brothers. I saw them in about 72 here in Clemson, they opened for the Brothers and they had all Orange amps. And I said, ‘oh man,’ cause we were already doing Wishbone Ash songs before we saw them. I believe ‘Jailbait’ was a song we were doing then. But I thought they were a great band. I thought they sounded awesome. And the Orange amps just blew me away. I just loved the way they looked and sounded.

From 1970, I think it was, not to bring up the friendly competition, but I bought that Marshall. I used it for several years and then it got to where I had gotten married. I had to play to eat and feed a family.

I had to play stuff that I couldn’t use the Marshall for anymore, you know. It’s just too rock and roll. Like top 40 club crap. So, I just got a [Fender] Twin and used pedals. But my whole career, Pat, and I’m not kidding, I’ve always tried so many pedals and amps and stuff that would work, and I know in my head I’ve always been wanting to get that sound that, you know, I cut my teeth on. When I played through that Orange, I went, ‘that’s it, that’s the sound I’ve been looking for,’ you know. Celestion speaker, British tube design, and its orange, too. How cool is that? So, I loved it. I loved that amp.

I said, ‘Charles, I want to buy that amp,’ and Charles, of course, said ‘man, if anybody, I’d sell it to you but I ain’t selling it. It’s my amp, sorry. Maybe I can find you one.’ You know, then I told Marcus, I’ve gotta find an amp like that of my own. But as far as Marv goes, that was my first experience with that.

And you asked about Marcus. I think Marcus played down in a little place here called Chicora Alley in Greenville where Charles was playing. And he sat in there and Charles let him use that amp. If I’m not mistaken, that was Marcus’ first experience with an Orange amp. And he dug it, too. He really liked it. You know, he was only about 13. He had Xs on both hands. He wasn’t supposed to be in there, that’s for sure. In South Carolina you have to be 21 to be around alcohol in a bar.

Listen to Marvin and Marcus King’s first musical project together

[Pat] Well when I first met Marcus that was the first thing that he said to me is that his dad had always loved Orange, so that was the connection for him. He was very receptive to trying some Orange amps. We got talking and we just hit it off. And that was a good few years now.

[Marv] So, when Marcus and you guys were so nice to get me that AD30 Combo, I mean it just was a beautiful moment in my life when he gave me that. I was just tickled to death. And then, you know, just for me. I’m 66 years old. I’m back at the same level I was when I got out of high school, but I’m 66. Until I sit in with Marcus, then I’m up there. You know what I’m saying.

[Pat] You played with Marcus and Doyle Bramhall II at the Family Reunion Festival. Have you have you gotten up on stage with Marcus before? And how does that feel to be on the big stage with your son?

[Marv] Oh, it’s phenomenal. I mean, it’s the planets lining up. I leave my body when I when I do that. And no, that was by no means the first time, you know, since he’s gotten to that level. I’ve sat in with him many times down in the (Allman Brothers) Big House and Theater there in Macon. Just a lot of really cool venues. He brings me up and lets me play and there’s a magic to it. Yeah, I’ve played with MY dad and people just, I don’t know how to explain it, but there is a magic to see a father and son play together.

[Pat] Yeah. Agreed. And Doyle Bramhall, he’s a bad ass guitar player.

[Marv] I mean, he sure is. He’s one of my heroes man.

[Pat] Yeah, he even played with Clapton for a couple of years.

[Marv] I told him afterwards, Doyle, I can’t believe I just played with you.

Marvin and Marcus King perform together at Marcus King’s Family Reunion Fest 2019

[Pat] I know that for Marcus, family is really important, obviously. And, you know, he told me the first day I met him that he plays his granddad’s ES345 and he told me a little bit about that story and all. So, your father was also a musician?

[Marv] Well, you know, my dad was in the Air Force but he was in the Army initially and that’s where he met my mom in Munich, Germany, and they got married. Then in 1952 or 53 they moved back to the United States. But dad didn’t play for a long time. We were stationed in Montana and he had bleeding ulcers. And the doctor said, ‘Sergeant, you’re going to die if you don’t get a hobby, do you golf or anything?’ And he said, ‘no, I don’t do any of that stuff. I love to play music, but I haven’t been able to play music in probably 10, 15 years.’ ‘Well, you better start playing again or are you going to die, you need a hobby.’ So, he went out and bought the Holy Grail. He bought that Gibson 345 and a black face Fender.

And then from there forward, he played every weekend. He had a country band, so he taught me Buck Owens and Haggard. I really enjoyed The Ventures and he played Chuck Berry a lot so I learned some of that. My dad played fiddle, too, you know. That was his first instrument.

[Pat] So it took three generations to produce Marcus King the guitar player?

[Marv] Actually, my dad’s father and my grandfather’s father were all fiddlers and my grandmother played acoustic guitar. My grandpa played fiddle you know, so dad had it in his blood. Now I have it in my blood and Marcus in his blood. We can’t even help it. We just, we come out of the womb looking for something to play, you know. Yeah, and it goes all the way back.

[Pat] I know I’ve told you the first thing that impressed me about Marcus, just meeting him, before I even heard him play was his awareness of great music. He was talking about organ players. He was talking about Jimmy Smith. Then he was talking about Curtis Mayfield and the Stax stuff. He invited me to come see the show here in Nashville. And I could hear all these influences like Motown and Curtis Mayfield and Stax-Volt and all this. I was amazed that somebody that young had not only an unawareness of that stuff but seemed to have a real knowledge of it and had absorbed it into his playing.

[Pat] Yeah, he’s very knowledgeable, and he’s an old soul. I mean, you would think that I turned him on to all this stuff. Well, a lot of that stuff. He turned me on to, you know, like being in the Air Force and on a base all my life. I knew Hendrix and Cream and Zeppelin and all that. I just knew they were blues rich bands, but I didn’t know anything about the blues, you know. So Marcus, he just gravitated to that. I didn’t push it on him. He’s just an old soul and he just liked that stuff.

[Pat] Well, he told me once that that he at one point growing up didn’t want to listen to Hendrix and Clapton and all those guys because he didn’t want to be influenced too much by that. He said he started listening to horn players and keyboard players.

[Marv] Absolutely, he did.

[Pat] And he told me that they had taught him to kind of take a breath, you know, like when you’re soloing, don’t play a lot of notes all the time but to kind of take a breath. That’s the way he relayed it to me, like a horn player you blow a line and then take a breath and then play the next phrase, you know. And I think that’s really informed his playing.

[Marv] Yeah. And he just plays what the song needs and no more. He never overplays. It’s great. Have you listened to “Huge in Europe”? You’d really enjoy that especially coinciding with this interview. And it’s an album my band did called “Marvin King, Huge in Europe” Featuring 11 year-old Guitar Slinger Marcus Lee King. You’ll see little Marcus with his cool hat on and his old Stratocaster. You know, you should get that record. I put an asterisk by his solos so his friends would know, because I’m serious. You listen to it, his solo playing at eleven. Okay. I’m forty some years old at that time. Been doing this all my life. His playing at eleven in the studio for his first time, just listen to it. How reserved and how in the pocket he plays, it blew me away. So, I put asterisks so you would know when he’s playing, cause you can’t really tell whose playing him or me.

[Pat] Thank you very much for everything Marvin.

[Marv] Absolutely. I really appreciate you, man.

[Pat] And Marcus has been incredibly loyal and supportive to us at Orange. I just see great things continuing to happen for him. I always have since the day I met him.

[Marv] Oh, yeah. All right, my brother. I’ll talk to you soon. All right. Thanks so much.

Those of you who read last week’s ‘Voice of Heritage‘ article (A little bit of shameless self promotion’s never killed anyone, has it…?) might recall Wishbone Ash and Andy Powell’s significance to Orange as they were one of the first major British bands to take Orange to the States (alongside Fleetwood Mac), with Wishbone Ash’s relationship to Orange dating all the way back to our humble days in Soho. So, needless to say, I was over the moon with excitement and filled to the brim with joy when I was asked to interview guitarist Andy Powell, an inspiration to so many musicians to follow, with the likes of Thin Lizzy and iron Maiden both citing Andy and the band’s twin guitar sound as a major influence to their own music.

They say you should never meet your heroes, but if your hero’s Andy I beg to differ, as he’s humble, kind, extremely charismatic and of course, incredibly talented. The interview turned into an hour long or so chat (for which I must apologise for to my fellow viking Marthe who had the tough job of editing it all together), and I reckon I could sit and listen to Andy’s stories for another three days without getting sick of them. However, I’m sure Andy’s got better things to do than self-indulging for my listening pleasure for days on end. In our hour or so of chatting, Andy shared some amazing stories from his life on the road, and I hope you enjoyed them as much as I did.

Back at Fest last year, we caught a Spanish Love Songs set that blew us away. The Los Angeles band’s style of heartfelt punk rock played to a crowd that seemed to feel every word was so convincing, in fact, that we spoke to them about an Orange endorsement that same night.

Cut to six months or so later, after some of the administrative errors that naturally come with trying to sign a band after a set at a festival (read: Dylan lost the email), the band were now part of the Orange family and in the UK playing two sold-out nights at the New Cross Inn in London to an audience whose hearts were won over by the band’s 2018 album, Schmaltz.

So, we figured we’d get to know ‘em a little better and sat down with guitarists Dylan Slocum and Kyle McAulay to talk their journey in music so far, how they’re secretly a country band that have fooled everyone, and what’s to come from their next record.

Oh, and since this was a little while ago now, they’re a lot further ahead in the process of that new record than they were here so hopefully we won’t have too long to wait to hear it.

SO TO START FROM THE BEGINNING, WHAT COMPELLED EACH OF YOU TO START PLAYING MUSIC?

DYLAN: I don’t know, my dad bought me a guitar when I was eight, like, for no reason – I was playing baseball at the time. I just came home and there was a guitar there and it sat under my bed pretty much until I was thirteen. Then when I was thirteen I was like, ‘Wait, people will think I’m cool if I play guitar’. Then my friend taught me ‘Dammit’ by Blink-182 and I was like, ‘I’m a guitarist now!’. I always loved music but I don’t know why I picked up a guitar other than it was there.

WHAT WAS THE DEAL WITH BASEBALL? DID YOU HAVE AMBITIONS TO PLAY BASEBALL?

DYLAN: Yeah I played baseball through college. Then I got a knee injury and quit to play in a band, which was truly the downfall of my life. Yeah…

A GREAT FINANCIAL DECISION. AND HOW ABOUT YOURS (KYLE), WHY DID YOU PICK UP YOUR FIRST GUITAR?

KYLE: I started playing music in sixth grade on the drumline and I did that all the way through high school, and eventually I knew too many drummers and I had a friend who knew guitar very, very well who taught me bass, and then he moved back to Canada so I learned guitar and taught one of my drummer friends to play bass.

DYLAN: You learned the guitar because you knew too many drummers?

KYLE: Yeah, it’s a very weird problem to have.

DYLAN: That’s so backwards.

KYLE: Yeah, I knew like twelve drummers but nobody that played guitar.

DYLAN: Bunch of nerds… Where I grew up I didn’t play in bands for years at a time cause there were no drummers available. I started programming my own drums cause I didn’t have drummers. My high school band was like a computer dance rock band because of that.

WELL THAT’S ACTUALLY WHAT I WAS GOING TO ASK NEXT, ABOUT FIRST BANDS. WHAT WERE YOU TRYING TO PLAY, AND WAS THERE ANYTHING THAT YOU THINK HOLDS ANY MERIT NOW?

DYLAN: No, absolutely not. My first band was when I was thirteen or fourteen – Forever Zero.

KYLE: Ah, Jeez.

DYLAN: Yeah.. It was like a shouty hardcore – we’d just gotten really into Thursday and so we were, like, doing that but not as talented. Then I played in some emo bands in high school – screamo with a dedicated screamer, which I hated but it was a way to play music. And then I did a band called The Mathletes when I was like eighteen, doing synth-pop computer stuff.

I was ahead of my time (laughs). No, I don’t know, I got very bored just like midi programming drums and just thought ‘I can’t do this anymore?

KYLE: My first bands were when I started drumming in hardcore bands, trying to play as fast as you possibly can. Then my first guitar band was pretty much a blink rip-off band that holds absolutely no merit these days. I have the recordings and they’re awful.

DYLAN: You still have ‘em?

KYLE: Yeah. Nobody will ever hear them. Nobody. Ever. I promise.

DYLAN: I wanna steal them for the next album.

YEAH, LEAK THEM AS SPANISH LOVE SONGS NEW STUFF JUST TO FUCK WITH PEOPLE

KYLE: No. It’s never gonna happen. I password protected them.

DYLAN: That would be so good.

WHEN YOU GREW UP AND STARTED WRITING STUFF MORE TOWARDS WHAT YOU’RE PLAYING NOW, WHO WERE THE SONGWRITERS OR GUITARISTS THAT YOU GUYS TOOK INFLUENCE FROM?

DYLAN: I mean, Tom Delonge. Obviously. The stuff that influences us now is probably the same stuff, it’s like Bruce Springsteen and by virtue of that The Gaslight Anthem were huge. I wasn’t really focused on guitarists though, I never really fancied myself a good guitar player. I was more focused on people who made me feel things, I guess. Third Eye Blind, like Stephan Jenkins I think is amazing. They do some amazing guitar work. I guess it wasn’t Stephan Jenkins on that first album, it was that other guy, but Stephan Jenkins is Third Eye Blind so… Yeah, I think those are the big ones.

Then there’s country music too. My parents used to listen to like Dwight Yoakam and stuff like that, and Hank Williams. Then there’s Blink like I said, Thrice was really big when I was growing up to me. They had great guitar players.

IS IT WEIRD IF I SAY THAT COUNTRY MUSIC MAKES A LOT OF SENSE?

DYLAN: No. We’re a country band that plays punk music. Yeah, it is [the storytelling aspect]. Country music is very specific and that’s where it gets its power from. So I always joke that we’re basically a country band, especially with the depressing lyrics and stuff.

HOW ABOUT YOU KYLE?

KYLE: I mean, a lot of what Dylan already mentioned I share with him. Not even a good guitar player, but one of the reasons why I wanted to start playing guitar was that Johnny Ramone looked so cool playing in all the Ramones videos.

DYLAN: That’s fair.

KYLE: I learned a lot of the power of simplicity through that and how you don’t have to be a virtuoso to connect with people.

DYLAN: I don’t think either of us consider ourselves to be particularly good guitarists…

KYLE: No…

YOU’RE A PARTICULARLY SELF-DEPRICATING BAND THOUGH…

DYLAN: Yeah, that’s fair. But every time we read a review that mentions the ‘powerful guitar’ or ‘twin guitar leads’ we just laugh.

KYLE: I mean it’s nice, but I don’t get it.

DYLAN: Yeah that was made in the studio cause one of us went ‘ooh, that sounds cool’.

KYLE: Yeah, but that’s how everything’s made. If it doesn’t sound cool, you’re not gonna record it.

DYLAN: We’re actually really lame, cause when we were making the album we were like ‘we’re not gonna put a guitar lead in that you can’t sing’. So, like, we wrote all of our guitar leads by singing them and then playing them.

WHAT DREW YOU TO THAT STORYTELLING, CONFESSIONAL STYLE OF LYRIC WRITING THEN? I FEEL LIKE TO AN EXTENT THAT’S NOT FOR EVERYONE… A LOT OF SONGWRITERS LIKE TO CLOUD THINGS IN METAPHOR BUT YOU’RE VERY DIRECT…

DYLAN: I’m not sure. It just kinda started happening. I’ve always written that way – I don’t love stuff that’s fluffy. I like being direct, I like getting to the point, I like being sincere. I think we’re trapped in a world where being sincere is not valued, and it’s made fun of a lot, and I think that’s dangerous. I was a creative writing major in college, like every other guy in a band, and I was doing a lot of journalism, like longform journalism, and that is very much like ‘get to the point and tell me why this is important’, but in a fun way.

THAT MAKES ME A LOT MORE NERVOUS ABOUT INTERVIEWING YOU

DYLAN: Oh no, I was bad at this. I loved it cause I was so anxious and hated talking to people and I would have to force myself to do it. But I did more like magazine-type stuff. Longform, go live something and do it. My dream job in college would’ve been to be one of those Rolling Stone reporters who goes on tour with the band and lives the Almost Famous moment – even though that doesn’t exist anymore because Twitter has kinda killed the need for that.

WHEN SPANISH LOVE SONGS WAS COMING TOGETHER, WHAT DREW YOU GUYS TO PLAYING WITH EACH OTHER? WERE YOU FRIENDS FIRST, DID YOU MEET THROUGH MUSIC OR…?

DYLAN: No, we met through craigslist – sorry I’m still fighting a cold. He worked at a studio, that really drew us to him.

KYLE: That’s fair.

DYLAN: The story’s kinda been covered but basically he just moved to LA, posted on craigslist looking for people to go to shows with and was, like, ‘also I play guitar’. We were a three-piece when we started, it was me, Ruben (drums) and our then-bassist Gabe and I needed another guitarist cause I wasn’t good enough to do this. Also it’s just limiting. Our songs are incredibly simple, but if you got rid of a guitar they are like sadly simple – like, not-listenable simple. So it was like ‘let’s hit this kid up, he seems cool and we go to all the same shows…’. I think you practiced with us once and we were like, ‘hey, wanna join our band?’

KYLE: Yeah, you had the hard drive in your car.

DYLAN: Yeah, with the original recordings.

KYLE: So I just took those and started mixing them and was like ‘they kinda suck, wanna just re-do ‘em?

DYLAN: ‘At my fancy studio’

KYLE: Yeah, at my fancy studio for free. So that was our first record.

DYLAN: Are we even friends now, I don’t know… Just kidding.

WHEN IT COMES TO SONGWRITING IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU GUYS ARE VERY CHILL, GOING INTO A STUDIO WITHOUT GUITAR LEADS WRITTEN…

DYLAN: That’s not a good thing.

KYLE: Yeah, the reason we could do that is cause I got the time for free.

DYLAN: That’s actually changing now cause we have to do a proper album next and we’re on a budget and we’re on a timeframe and so that’s gonna change real quick.

DYLAN: I think we’re gonna have more time as a whole, cause we’re not gonna have to do it on his days off. And then we’d get to the studio to do guitars and it’s like ‘oh, so and so soundcloud rapper just bumped us’ – y’know, not to name names… So it took us eight months to do Schmaltz, but it was maybe fourteen days of work. Not for him, he had to mix it and stuff, but of in-studio time. It was not a ton of time. On this next one, I think we’re gonna get just about thirty straight days in the studio. Fingers crossed that’s what we’re counting on now at least.

DO YOU THINK HAVING THAT EIGHT MONTHS HELPED AT ALL? LYRICALLY AND THEMATICALLY IT’S A VERY INVOLVED RECORD THAT REFERENCES AROUND ITSELF… DID THAT COME TOGETHER LATER IN THE PROCESS?

DYLAN: Yes, but not because we had eight months. Nothing really changed that much. Mixes and tones would change, but really we’d go to record a lyric the day of and I would flip out in the studio and I’d spend an hour and a half changing the lyrics, but it wasn’t planned or thought out in any grand way. It was pretty dumb the way we did it. I’m a huge proponent of rewriting, but apparently what I mean by that is rewriting while he’s setting up the microphone and shouting ‘DO YOU LIKE THIS RHYME?’ and he’s like ‘NO’, ‘OKAY WHAT ABOUT THIS RHYME?’

SO KYLE, WHY DON’T YOU LIKE HIS RHYMES?

KYLE: They’re just awful.

DYLAN: Yeah, I have some really bad rhymes sometimes. It can be truly terrible.

NOW THAT SCHMALTZ IS DONE, I FEEL LIKE GIVEN THE TWO SONGS YOU’VE JUST PUT OUT ON THE EP, YOU’RE MAYBE MOVING AWAY FROM – OR NOT MOVING AWAY CAUSE I GUESS THE SPIRIT IS THE SAME BUT IT FEELS LIKE YOU’RE REACHING A BIT FURTHER THAN ANYTHING THAT COULD REALLY BE CALLED POP PUNK…

DYLAN: Oh, absolutely. 

IS THAT A CONSCIOUS DECISION?

DYLAN: It’s a natural outcome of what we listen to, and also like… we’re not twenty-two anymore. Not that there’s anything wrong with being twenty-two and playing pop punk, or even being thirty-one and playing pop punk, but I haven’t listened to just pop punk in a very long time. The songs that come out of us tend to be pop punk, but we want to be a rock band. When people ask what we play, I just say rock’n’roll now.

It’s intentional and, not like from a cynical point of view, but I don’t understand why you’d want to be in a band and not wanna be in the biggest band on Earth. And the way to do that – or at least the way that we feel comfortable trying to really embrace who we are and do what we want to – is just to write big rock songs in the vein of stuff that we like and listen to. And try to, I don’t know, approach some greatness that we haven’t hit yet.

I think Schmaltz was as far as we could go in this direction with this current group of members and be happy with it. If we were to just re-do it again, it wouldn’t feel great.

AND AS A GUY WHO WORSHIPS TOM DELONGE, HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THAT, KYLE?

KYLE: I think it’s great. I think with Schmaltz being out, we’ve kinda broken down the walls that say we have to do ‘this’ because we’re part of ‘this’. Now, with the EP, we just kinda sat around and did what we wanted to do without thinking ‘oh, we gotta write this record so we can play this festival’.

DYLAN: And there’s still some self-editing going on, cause ‘Losers’ when it was first written sounded like a The National song and we were like ‘woah, too hard left’. We love The National, but we gotta steer it back towards the middle.

KYLE: Still down to the core they still have to be Spanish Love Songs songs.

DYLAN: I like that, we broke down the walls while also reinforcing them. I’ve had so many people be like ‘you have to keep singing sad songs now forever’ and I’m like, ‘I don’t! You might not like it but…’

YEAH, LOSERS WHEN I HEARD IT MADE A LOT OF SENSE. THAT FIRST GUITAR PART WAS TOTALLY ‘OKAY THIS IS MORE LEANING TOWARDS AMERICANA AND ROCK’N’ROLL NOW’…

DYLAN: I think that guitar riff is the guiding direction for the next few months. I’ve been writing a lot of little noodley riffs like that. Yeah, I guess it’s Americana-punk. To me I hear like, as cheesy as it is, old Chuck Berry riffs. Even though I don’t listen to Chuck Berry. I don’t listen to old guitar rock and go ‘yeah, let me shred on my axe’.

‘THIS IS WHAT CHUCK BERRY PROBABLY SOUNDED LIKE’

DYLAN: (Laughs) I mean I know what Chuck Berry sounds like. You can’t put that on an Orange interview, this guy going ‘oh what does guitar sound like…’

WHAT ELSE WAS DIFFERENT IN THE APPROACH TO THOSE TWO NEW SONGS? WAS THERE MORE FORETHOUGHT THAN THE SONGS ON SCHMALTZ?

DYLAN: (Laughs) Nope. We had a month to do them and he was working six days a week, so we’d take his only day off and get together. I was like ‘I have these songs, they’re half-formed’ and we just did it all in the bedroom and got ‘em done. I don’t know how. I think there was more forethought as we were working on them. Losers was one thing, and then No Reason To Believe was a deliberate effort to do something verse-chorus-verse-chorus, in that kinda realm and try to be… not catchy, but to write a pop song. Y’know, like a classic pop rock song, which we’d never really tried.

SO YOU SAID EARLIER THAT YOU HAVEN’T WRITTEN ANYTHING FOR THE NEW RECORD – AND THIS IS A PRE-EMPTIVE TIME TO ASK AND YOUR MIND IS ALMOST DEFINITELY GONNA CHANGE BY THE TIME YOU ACTUALLY DO IT – BUT IDEAL WORLD, WHAT DOES IT SOUND LIKE?

DYLAN: We’ve been talking about this constantly. I think we want to hone in on like… My favourite part when we’re playing music is the epic, kinda cinematic stuff, so I think honing in on that.

And then lyrically, finding a way to not just sit around and complain about how bad I feel. It’s getting – not ‘old’, I know a lot of people want to know that other people feel that way, but I think there’s other things we can write about that other people are thinking too. I don’t know, maybe we’ll write a bunch of love songs. That’d be pretty sweet.

I MEAN, IT’D BE ABOUT TIME GIVEN-

DYLAN: Yeah, given our name we probably owe the world some love songs. They won’t ever be ‘happy’ songs, but like we’re writing a rock album and it’d be really cool to capture the spirit of a Born To Run, or Celebration Rock, or The Hold Steady’s albums, of just like… rock’n’roll positivity, but with our cynical look on it. We’ll see.

KYLE: That’s kinda No Reason To Believe in general…

DYLAN: Yeah, it’s a happy rock song that’s like ‘not everything’s good, but maybe it doesn’t matter that everything’s not good cause, I don’t know, the world’s ending let’s fall in love.’ Maybe that’s the vibe.

I don’t know if we’ll go too far over to the happiness side. I love that Culture Abuse album, but I don’t think I’ll ever sing like ‘I’m in love with you and that’s really cool’. That’s not how my mind works, I’m like ‘I’m in love with you, it’s really cool, oh shit you’re gonna leave and also somebody just shot up a school. Wait, that’s Buffalo. I just described Buffalo.

We wanna reach for the positivity, but we’ll probably land somewhere like ‘The world’s bleak, but maybe there’s some cool stuff to go do while it’s slowly crumbling.

I think the guiding principal of the band is making sure that people feel like they’re not alone, but there are other ways to make people feel not alone than just complaining about being depressed. ‘We understand you’re sad Dylan, we’re good.’

It’s dangerous to just sit there and be just like ‘the world is shit, the world is shit’ and yeah it is, but there are bright spots to hold on to. I’d hate for somebody to listen to our music and align to feeling even more alone because of how bad the world is. I hate the phrase ‘building a community’, but I’d rather people come together (laughs)… that’s a synonym, but like y’know.

– ORANGE STUFF –

DYLAN: I didn’t have my first Orange amp until this album. I grew up watching so many pop punk bands play those sweet Thunderverb heads and I was like ‘I want that’. My parents supported my music career and helped me a lot, but that was always one of those items that was Next Level, like when you’re a pro you can have that.

So I ignored it for years and just played my gear, but then I bought a Dual Terror and you bought an OR-15 and now half of our album is an OR-15. Just an OR-15 dimed.

KYLE: At least one side of the rhythm track of Schmaltz is just an OR-15 turned all the way up.

DYLAN: It’s just the coolest tone.

KYLE: The studio, NRG Studios, where I worked and where we did the record, they have a 1974 OR-120 and a matching 4×12 cab. I think that might have been the only cab we used – the studio had like thirty different heads, but that was the one song we used the entire time.

DYLAN: Then after the album, I was like ‘okay well if this album is half Orange amps and half the amp we both already play, I should probably try to do it. So I finally went out and got my own AD30 and I remember the first time I took it to practice, plugged it in and played a chord and it was like ‘Oh, it’s what I always wanted it to be!’

KYLE: That’s how I felt at Fest last year. There was an AD30 head at the High Dive and cause we flew I didn’t have my whole pedalboard or anything, so I just remember plugging in and strumming and being like ‘Oh, this is cool’.

DYLAN: It’s nice when you hear what you wanna hear. I guess subconsciously it’s just always been it for us. I think it’s a very distinct flavour too with the AD30 – it’s that specific British voicing, but with that Orange flavour and overdrive. We’re using a Rockerverb on this tour and that’s great, it’s got a sweet crunch, but I can’t wait to get home and get back to mine. Also mine’s a combo, I’m too old to haul around a half-stack anymore. I can’t wait to get home to my little baby combo, swing it around and get onstage with it.



Orange have since the start in 1968 played an important part in British music history, from the likes of Cream’s Eric Clapton stopping by the original Orange store to pick up a left handed Fender Stratocaster for Jimi Hendrix (more on that here), to providing Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac with a full Orange backline during one of their early US tours. Here we take a look at a few artists who have played a vital role in Orange’s success over the years.

Fleetwood Mac, John McVie

Terror Bass
4 Stroke Bass
OB1-300
AD200 MK3
Fleetwood Mac’s story with Orange began in October 1968, when their road manager Dinky Dawson brought guitarist Peter Green to the Orange Shop where they placed an order for the first ever Orange PA, and just a few weeks later, the band got six 100-watt amps and sixteen cabs. The band took the backline for a spin around the UK, before taking them on a three month tour to the states.

Fleetwood Mac’s former guitarist Peter Green

Over the past five decades the band has had several line up changes as well as musical changes, going from classic British blues to melodic pop rock and soft rock. The only constant thing in the band since the early days if the solid rhythm section consisting of bassist John McVie and drummer Mick Fleetwood. With this sort of history with the band, Orange was proud to welcome John McVie as an official endorsed artist in 2015.

Stevie Wonder

Stevie Wonder, one of the biggest names in funk and soul and another one of the earliest artists to use Orange. Stevie Wonders history with the company dates all the way back to 1969 when he used the then existing Orange Studios. He first used Orange Amps while recording Superstition for his 1972 album “Talking Book”, and can be seen using them in a seven minute version of the song on Sesame Street in 1973.

The single hit number one on the Billboards and the album was certified Gold in Canada and the United states. Decades after the 70’s funk and soul heyday, Stevie Wonder is still going strong and is an avid Orange user and ambassador to this day. He’s also stopped by the Orange stall at the NAMM convention a couple of times to reminisce about the good old days with founder and CEO Cliff Cooper.

Wishbone Ash, Andy Powell

Rockerverb 100
PPC412
Orange Matamp

Another band that brought Orange to the states and opened American’s eyes to it were Wishbone Ash, and who’s history started with Orange in 1970 when guitarist Andy Powell stopped by the old Orange shop in Soho. He was then served by founder and CEO Cliff Cooper who sold him a Gibson Flying V which later became his trademark guitar, and one of the original Orange Matamp heads, which incredibly enough is still going strong this day today. Wishbone Ash are known for their two lead guitars and guitar harmonies which got Andy Powell and former bandmate Ted Turner voted two of the “Ten Most Important Guitarists in Rock History”, and in 1972 described by Melody Maker as “the most interesting two guitar team since the days when Beck and Page graced The Yardbirds”.

They have also been hugely influential on other guitarists, and inspired later bands such as Iron Maiden and Thin Lizzy.

Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Page

Custom Shop 50
AD30HTC
This one is pretty self explanatory, don’t you think? We feel pretty confident when we say that Led Zeppelin was, and probably forever will be, the biggest rock band the world has ever seen. From “Whole Lotta Love” to “Black Dog”, “Kashmir”, and “Immigrant Song” to, well, “Rock ’n’ Roll”, Led Zeppelin produced jaw dropping, foot stomping mind blowing powerhouse rock ’n’ roll songs with elements of blues, folk, fairytales and – hmm, lemon juice.. Fronted by Greek God-like Robert Plant and mysterious Jimmy Page in his silky dragon suits with the drummer of all drummers John Bonham behind the kit and multi-instrumentalist and bassist extraordinaire John Paul Jones on bass, well, other bands stood no chance. Led Zeppelin was a force to be reckoned with, heavier than their name itself, and we could not be prouder or more excited to have Jimmy Page as one of our artists. He first started using Orange in the 70s along with a few other amps and have been an avid user ever since. Some of you may have noticed he also used Orange for Led Zeppelin’s 2007 Celebration Day? Yeah, pretty cool huh?

Oasis

The 90s saw a few bands fight for the throne of the Britpop empire, but as far as commercial success goes, none exceeded Oasis, fronted by the Gallagher brothers who were featured as much in the media for their, uhm, ‘disagreements’ and wild lifestyle as for their music. Disputes and partying put aside, their second album, 1995’s “(What’s The Story) Morning Glory?” became one of the best selling albums of all time, with 22 million copies sold worldwide. These were pretty quiet times for Orange, but towards the late nineties the company was making it’s way back to the top, and Noel Gallagher’s decision to use Orange on their 1997 record ‘Be Here Now’ as well as on their accompanying world tour certainly fuelled the fire.

It’s been quiet from The Wytches for quite some time now, what have you been up to?
We’ve been working on a new album. It’s been a long process but we were so conscious of not
just rushing into another one, which we did with All Your Happy Life. We are also excited to get out playing again because it will be almost a year since our last show. 

Last time we spoke you mentioned running an illustration business called ‘Oh So Grim’, is that still going?
Yes it’s still going and I’ve a few new shirt designs that will be ready to go into my store soon. I’ve also just finished illustrating a children’s book for a friend. She is publishing it very soon so I’m excited to see it in print. 

Are you behind The Wytches’ artwork? If not, who is, and does the person work closely with the band to do so?
No, I don’t do the art, it’s an artist and friend called Samuel Gull. Sam did all the artwork for The Wytches’ previous records and I think our music and his art go perfectly together. But no, we don’t work that closely with him on it, He’ll listen to the music and come up with his own interpretation of it. He’s never come back with anything we have thought was wrong for the record. 

You mentioned a new album, what can you tell us about it?
Well all I can say is it’s written and demoed, so we haven’t been in to record it just yet. We are still looking at studios and deciding who we want to work with but it will most likely be self produced. The aim is to record it before the year is out and release next spring. 

What do you look for in an amp?
It needs to be able to work with my bass in a way that feels right to me. I’m not that tech minded so I just go by feel most of the time. The head I’ve used since 2014 from Orange feels like it was made to work with my bass and I can get the tone I need really easily from it. 

You’ve been using Orange for quite some time now, can you tell us about
your current set up and why you’ve picked it, as well as any other Orange amps you’ve
used?

I currently use an Orange Bass Terror through a black Orange 810 cab. I originally chose the
terror head because I loved how simple it was and how easy to use it is, and I chose the black 810 cab because I’d used a 410 cab previously when we toured in the States. I loved the tone, but I found I was always leaning down to hear it onstage so it just made sense to get the bigger one.

What would your dream rig be, and why?
Not sure about dream rig but I’ve always been interested in the idea on running my bass through my current setup as well as a guitar rig and blend the two together. 

I first became aware of the Orange brand way back when Black Sabbath played on The Beat Club, a German TV show. (Remember when videos were played?) In the 80s, it was all about the wall of Marshalls ala Judas Priest/Iron Maiden/Metallica. Of course, being a zit-faced pre-teen, that was the most amazing thing to see. But what was this Orange?! Why weren’t metal bands using them?

I honestly was not familiar with the Orange brand as it was not really in people’s faces. But the first time I saw an Orange amp in MY face was when I worked in music retail. Another employee brought his amp head for me to listen to, and I remember it being SUPER loud, louder than any Marshall I ever heard. I think he had a Rockerverb 100 MKI. (Sorry but my aging brain can’t remember what I had for breakfast just now…) My attitude at the time was “Yeah it’s louder than hell but…” and that was it. I was more into amps that had super high gain. I felt I had to be “brutal”. Boy was I wrong!

Many years later, around Memorial Day weekend in 2013, my daughter was trying to learn guitar and asked to try out a pink Ibanez. She saw the pile of Orange amps and said “I want to try THAT one,” which was a Rockerverb 50 (that I do remember!) She hit the low E string and I exclaimed “Gimme that guitar!” This was not a brutal metal amp and something resonated inside of me. Was this THE amp for me? I bought a Crush 20 combo amp on the spot and did a gig with it that same night. That was the first time I heard nice things about my guitar playing, especially my guitar tone. “Best you ever sounded!” and “Orange! Wow! Something different for you.” And all I could think in the back of my mind was “This came full circle because of Sabbath.” (Oh and some guitarist Jimmy Page uses Orange too, as well as this guy Geddy Lee…I had to be part of this!)

I reached out to a friend who was a publicist and asked “Who can I talk to at Orange?! This is amazing stuff!” And he put me in touch with the AR rep Alex Auxier. I said something to the effect of “I found my sound finally!” and then when I met Cliff Cooper at NAMM in 2014, the deal was struck. Even if no deal happened, I would still sing Orange’s praises and play their amps.

In my million years of being a guitarist, it took half a million years for “that sound” to find me. And I am glad it did. I have never been happier with an amp as I have been with Orange. Every time I plug into my own rig, or a rig in a music store, I am captivated by how amazing the tones are. Always inspiring and truly blissful.

That’s my personal history of Orange. I admit that I am learning more and more about their history and it’s an amazing journey.

Thank you, Black Sabbath.

———–

Steve Bellow plays the Orange Crush Pro 120. For more about Steve Bello please visit https://stevebello.bandcamp.com/.

Hailing from the Black Country, Wolf Jaw are very much flying the flag for, as they describe it “thunderous rock and roll.” Listening to their huge songs and riffs, you can’t help but imagine their live shows are a force to reckoned with. Bass player Dale came in to try our amps and the O Bass and was blown away. In this interview he chats BMX accidents, Orange stacks and amp reliability.

Hi i’m Dale Tonks and i’m the bass player from Wolf Jaw.

I used to ride BMX with the guitarist and I actually broke my leg and I was six weeks off school. I ended up in a cast and my dad went out and bought me a bass and gave me a Black Sabbath album. So I listened to that and since then it’s been all that I have wanted to do, is play like Geezer Butler, the tones he gets and just the whole Black Sabbath thing is incredible.

I’m using the OBC810, that thing is a monster, it really lets loose, it pulls all the clarity and mids out, you get that bottom end that drives straight through you, its incredible. Playing the AD200 it just brings so much clarity to the sound and it has been something we have been able to work with Custom Shop 50 and the AD200 together, it is something we have been able to craft together. The tones they just work, you can’t describe it having a full valve bass amp is completely different to anything else. You get the feel when you try to drop down and play something a little quieter, you get the clarity. And when you want to go balls out, that is where the drive is.

When you have got the reliability and the clarity behind you that Orange gives you, I have had amps fail on me before but I have never had an Orange fail on me! Just to have that reliability behind you, plus they cool as f#ck on stage! I’m not going to lie when you have got a stack one side and the AD200 and 810 on the other side, it looks incredible.

Last week I was doing Sweden Rock and to fly into there and know you have that sound behind you, that tone doesn’t change, that is the way it is and it always will be. You get there and it is so simple, you don’t have to set it up, to change your tone is a turn of four or five knobs and that is all it will ever need to be. That is what got me into the amp, the simplicity, I don’t need to be able to EQ every stage of my sound. I just want to get there, crank it and know that sound is going to be there, balls to wall, all the way through. That is the most enjoyable part of owning an Orange to be honest.

Kristian, first of all – welcome to the Orange family! Can you tell us a bit about why you wanted to swap over and which amps you’ll be using?
Thank you for having me. Well my amp broke a while a go so I started using Dan’s touring Terror Bass that he’d left at my house. I’m not sure if that’s bad for the amp or anything, but it sounded great so at practise I started using an AD30 they had at the rehearsal space. My old amp didn’t have a gain knob, so I had a gain pedal for clean, but had to turn it off when a fuzz pedal was on. The big muff sounded better to me going through a clean amp, but with the gain of the Orange it seems to make the fuzz sound better. 
 
Do you remember your first ever encounter with Orange, whether it was seeing someone else play it or playing it yourself?
I remember seeing a Black Sabbath video with some Orange stacks in the background, and I loved how vibrant they looked matched with dark music. A friend of mine at school also had an Orange head and cab which I thought looked and sounded great, he was the first person I knew who actually had one. He is an amazing guitarist with a kind of Sabbath sound and I used to love hearing him play.
 
It’s been quiet from The Wytches for quite some time now, what have you been up to in the meanwhile, any other musical adventures?
I released an album with my other band ‘The Mark and Kristian Band’ earlier this year, as well as recording a few other bands, and I find it really beneficial working and recording with others as it makes me think more about guitar tones and sound. 
 
Can you tell us a bit about how you got into playing in the first place?
I initially started out playing drums as a kid, and didn’t really get into guitar until I was 17. I’d watch people play Nirvana covers on YouTube and just copy what their hands were doing, that’s how I learnt the basics. I guess already knowing how to  play an instrument was a bit of a head start but I wouldn’t really say I’m a real guitar player, I just wanted to be able to play the Nirvana songs.
 
What are you currently listening to?
I’ve been listening loads to these two Captain Beefheart albums, ‘Spotlight Kid’ and ‘Clear Spot’, and not much else. I didn’t know much about him before and was told those two albums were some of his more conventional ones, but they still sound pretty out there to me!
 
What would your dream rig be, and why?
I really like the 50’s and 60’s Gibson ES hollow body guitars. I used to have an ES120, but sold it a while ago. I’d love to buy that back and have a good quality tremolo pedal, the one I have was like £15 on eBay, but it does the job I suppose. I like the old hollow bodies because they have this ‘plonky’ sound that seems good for a lot of genres. Surf, jazz and rock ’n’ roll. 

A couple of weeks ago I was watching Sleep in London, or to be more specific, staring down a shirtless Matt Pike at the Kentish Town Forum. Of course, there’s plenty of shit-hot guitarists out there, but Pike’s something else, he’s like some larger than life icon, like the Godzilla of metal and doom – guys, have you got any idea how many amps we’ve sold because of this guy? I mean, I don’t actually have any legit numbers on hand as numbers ain’t my forte, but it’ll be tons, guaranteed – Matt Pike, and Black Sabbath using Orange in the ‘Paranoid’ video pretty much opened the doors for Orange to the world of stoner and doom – so thanks guys, for paying my bills. Anyway, back to topic.

Let’s rewind back a bit to the early 90s, 1992, to be specific. While Brit-pop was very much a reality in the UK, something way heavier was going down across the Atlantic as a baby Matt Pike at the tender age of 21 released Sleep’s iconic ‘Holy Mountain’ alongside bassist and singer Al Cisneros and drummer Chris Hakius. One can only imagine the Earache rep’s reaction receiving the demos and ‘Dragonaut’ blasting out the speakers, Tony Iommi’s legacy embodied by the next generation!

With the release of ‘Holy Mountain’, Sleep became one of the earliest stoner rock connoisseurs, and pretty much created the genre alongside Kyuss. Following the successful release of ‘Holy Mountain’, the band ventured further underground and away from the mainstream, as they followed it up with the hour long track titled ‘Dopesmoker’ or ‘Jerusalem’. Unfortunately, Sleep didn’t last for long after that, and went their separate ways. However, if music’s what you do, a hiatus is gonna kill ya, so Matt Pike returned not long after, this time with High on Fire, where he, after a few hits and misses with various band members ended up on vocal duties as well as guitar.

In recent years, Pike’s been busy with both bands as Sleep returned with the spectacular The Sciences, which was conveniently released, in secret, I might add, on the 20th of April 2018 via Third Man Records – of course it had to be a 420 release! Now, this is one of those albums I remember exactly where I was when I heard about it, sat at some far too swanky (but amazing…) hotel in Tilburg getting ready for Roadburn Festival when all of a sudden my Instagram feed was filled with the surprise record, and I knew there and then that my instinct to haul my Bose speaker from grimy London to sweet, sweet Holland wasn’t for granted; I found the album and shut my girlfriends up and made them listen, and lo and behold – Sleep was back, as if they never left. Opening and title track ‘The Sciences’ builds up for a solid three minutes, before all hell breaks loose with ‘Marijuanaut’s Theme’, which I must just say is Sleep at it’s finest.

The following month I had my first ever on camera interview lined up with no one else than Matt Pike at London’s Desertfest, and this fantastic new release peaked my fear and excitement even more – I struggle at times to transcribe interviews I’ve conducted due to the sound of my own voice recorded, so adding my face into the mix with a camera monitoring my every movement caused for some sleepless nights, and I had about five of them before I eventually dragged my wreck of an anxious self to Electric Ballroom to conduct my biggest interview to date, and you know, without the exception of looking slightly out of place (who wouldn’t? It’s the ‘Matt Pike Effect’!), I didn’t fuck up! Plus, the positive comments I received after were just so enocoura… Ahhh, in a perfect world, eh? People love talking shit online, and here’s one of my personal favourites from the Youtube comments:

Classic comment section BANTER. It took every inch of self-restraint in my six foot tall Viking-self not to fire back at cool guy numero uno ‘MasterBait’ for questioning my Motörhead knowledge, but as I’m not a certified keyboard warrior myself I let it pass. For the record, it’s ‘Stay Clean’ – why? Cause of Lemmy’s sexy solo, duh, although the entire ‘Overkill’ record is a masterpiece on it’s own.

More than a year has passed since the interview, and in that time Pike’s released ‘Electric Messiah’ with ‘High on Fire’ who also won a Grammy award for ‘Best Metal Performance’ earlier this year, and he’s chopped off half his toe of due to diabetes, which is pretty god damn rock ’n’ roll on it’s own. While he’s been busy touring excessively with both bands after their latest releases, I do wonder what he’ll bring us next. Living in a time where the original rock stars are fading, I am thrilled about Matt Pike’s existence and continued contribution to music.