Norwegian band Shaman Elephant recently released their debut album ‘Crystals’, which the critics and music know-it-alls have been all over. Based in Bergen, one of the rainiest cities in Europe and the black metal capital of the world, I was intrigued to find out more about their trippy, feelgood psych-rock, so I decided to pin down guitarist Eirik before their release gig at Bergen’s legendary music venue Garage.

So, Eirik, fellow Norwegian viking, new record – tell us about it!
We started recording it about a year ago and did almost all of it at Bergen Kjøtt (Translates to ‘Bergen Meat’, and old factory converted into music studios and rehearsal spaces), except for vocals and overdubs which we did at Solslottet. It’s been out just over a month now and people seem to really like it! Niché magazines and music blogs have been giving it pretty good reviews, and BT (Norwegian newspaper) gave us 5/6 which we’re pretty damned pleased with. The only one who didn’t like it was Gaffa, but they can go fuck themselves.

Fair dos – clearly Gaffa knows fuck all.

How long have you guys been playing together?
The three other guys, Ole, Jard and Jonas have been in various bands together for years, but I’d say Shaman Elephant’s been going for about three.

You’ve got a big night tonight with the record release show – how’s the next couple of months looking? 
We’re heading overseas to London in April, where we’ll be playing a headline show at The Unicorn with GNOB 18th of April, followed by a set at The Jonesing Jams at 93 Feet East two days later. Besides that, I reckon most of our gigs will be in Norway, possibly some German dates.

…damn, I’m really fucking hungover. Went to a gig last night and was only meant to have one beer, but when’s one beer ever actually been ‘just one beer’? Before you know it it’s 6am and you’re still going strong. It’s all good though, I’ll get another few beers in me and then chill out for a while before I go on stage. I’m really stoked about tonight, our bassist’s got this old Orange guitar amp which he’s running his bass through, it sounds sick!

Speaking of Orange, you’re an Orange man yourself?
Sure am! I’ve got a Rockerverb.  I work in a guitar shop so I’ve tried pretty much all there is, and the Rockerverb’s just brilliant, same with Dual Terror and Tiny Terror, massive fan!

 

What got you into Orange in the first place?
I was looking for a new amp but didn’t quite know what I wanted, all I knew was that I didn’t want Marshall because I think they can get too complicated, and I wasn’t too keen on getting a Fender. There I was watching a Prince show and he was using Orange, which kind of just settled it for me. I decided on a Rockerverb – I’d never tried one, but I knew I needed one. It’s been six years now, and I couldn’t be happier with it, you get that filthy and fuzzy tone that you can only find in an Orange. A lot of sustain, and simply just a great sound. Plus, they’re Orange so they look fucking cool. I’d love to get two 4×12 cabs, it’d be pricey but worth it. Build my own wall of sound, like Sleep’s Matt Pike and his rigs of doom.

Growing up in rainy Bergen, what music would you be listening to?
I’m very much raised on my dad’s music. I went through a hip hop phase, which I still can appreciate today, but when my dad told me to check out Hendrix that changed everything. I remember finding ‘Purple Haze’ live from Woodstock, and it completely knocked me out. After that he’d just feed me whatever he’d be listening to, whether it was Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple or AC/DC, it was all thanks to my dad.

Bergen’s been mostly known for it’s black metal, how is the music scene when it comes to other genres? Is there room for variety?
Absolutely! There’s been a fair bit of this prog-jazz as well as a wave of retro noise/psych. I dont think there’s too many other bands like ours in Bergen though, so there’s always room for more. That said, Bergen was either black metal or pop music for a long time, but the last couple of years I’ve seen that new genres have been popping up between the two, filling the gaps out a bit more. Norway has a lot of trap and hip hop, so it’s cool when people break the norm and do their own thing, we need more of that.

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Photo: Jennifer McCord

Hey dude, who are you and what are you about?
Hi, I’m Jonny Hall, the one with the bigger beard in HECK. I play guitar and bleed on things a bit.

How would you describe HECK’s music and live performances to a stranger?
Musically, HECK are an intense beast. We have always seemed to thrive off relentlessness. It’s like that moment when you have that secret scream at the mirror to purge your frustration, except very public. The live shows are essentially an arena for everyone to sack off inhibition and join us in accepting that most of real life is bollocks, ‘so let’s do whatever the fuck we want for an hour’. It’s chaotic, extreme and powerful, and it’s fucking fun.

You released your debut album ‘Instructions’ earlier this year, how has life been ever since?
It’s been difficult but rewarding. Self releasing the album means there was no one to do our dirty work for us, so we plunged headfirst into a world we knew nothing about and we’re thankfully still afloat! We’ve done some amazing tours and played to thousands of incredible people. We’re frankly amazed by the response we’ve had, people seem to have really ‘got’ the album, bizarrely. The only downside is that everything awesome that you do only makes you hungrier for more. I’ll never be completely satisfied.

Can you tell us a bit about your history and experiences with Orange?
When I was a nipper just learning to play orange amps seemed like some unobtainable relic of guitarness. Pro’s played Orange, I couldn’t play it too, as I was clearly not good enough. I played about with a few different amps in my youth but nothing ever gave me the huge sound I’d been after. I wanted something with balls. Preferably several sets. The more superfluous the better.

When I started jamming with Matt (the smaller beard in HECK) he had a Rocker 30 running into a PPC212. It sounded to full that, despite the fact that my rig was considerably more powerful than his, I genuinely couldn’t hear my guitar due to it being made to sound so thin by his. I immediately applied for a credit card because clearly, owning an Orange rig was more important than any hint of financial security. Totally worth every penny of debt.

What’s your set up?
I currently run a Rocker 30 into a PPC212 and PPC412, drive channel only, with a ProCo RAT as a ‘death’ pedal before it. When i kick that in, it sounds like the amp-apocalypse.

Back to the band – if you were all zoo animals, who’d be what animal, and why?
Paul Shelley would be a walrus. He’s mighty, girth, stubbly and wise, with a touch of class and an air of authority. The rest of us would be the shitty pointless grubs they feed to the lizards in the reptile house. We’re there out of necessity.

You recently did a massive co headline tour with Black Peaks around the UK and Europe, how is it being back home after a month of madness on the road?
It’s rubbish. It’s difficult being in a touring band as it’s like getting post holiday blues every time you get home, but from the best holiday you’ll ever have, where you feel like you’re actually achieving something with your life, but it’s actually your job, that you love, and you want to do forever. Then one day it stops and you find yourself sitting in your pants eating microwave Tesco Value macaroni cheese and dry bread, watching six consecutive seasons of Friends because you can’t be bothered to click ‘back’ on Netflix. I do get to see my girlfriend though, which is nice.

Top ten songs played in your tour van:
Talk Dirty – Jason Derulo
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While at London’s Live Evil Festival earlier this month I caught up with Horisont’s Charles, Magnus and David, which consisted mostly of backstage beers and burgers, and the occasional bearded stranger in denim high fiving them post performance.

Horisont for Dummies – can you tell us a bit about how it all started?
Charles: Horisont for Dummies – We’ve been together for a bit more than ten years. Magnus, Pontus and I go way back, we all met in school.
Magnus: That’s not true, but ok…
Charles: Well yeah, we originally had a band prior to this, which is where we met Axel, and then Horisont was formed in 2005. We’ve been playing together ever since and have released four albums. We’re releasing our fifth album next February, which will be David’s first record with us as he only joined us six months ago.
How has that been?
David: *Sighs….* (while looking incredibly sad, worn down and broken)
Kidding, it’s been really good! They’re great guys, and we play great music.

It’s clear that you’re influenced by 70’s rock, and I’ve noticed there’s a massive scene for that sort of music in Gothenburg, why do you think that is?
Charles: I’m not sure if it was like that when we started out, but then bands like ours and Graveyard were formed and did really well, and maybe that created a the scene for new bands like that.

Although most of your songs have English lyrics, you’ve got some Swedish ones in there as well – will the Swedish tunes be making an appearance on this next record?

Magnus: It’ll have one Swedish song on it which I’ll be singing, I’m doing my singing debut.

Did you guys decide primarily on English as that’ll reach a wider audience?
Charlie: We dont really make a decision of writing an English or Swedish song, we’ll kind of just make the song and then we’ll see what sort of vibe it gives us and the lyrics just happens. It’s much harder to write in your native tongue though because it easily sounds cheesy if it’s too simple. You can get away with simple lyrics in English, but not in Swedish.

So you’ve all got great taste and use Orange Amps, does any of you remember first ever encounter with the brand?
Charlie: When I was younger I was a massive Hellacopters fan and they always used Orange amps, which I guess kind of triggered this urge to get my own.
Magnus: The band we had prior to Horisont had very much like a Hellacopters-y vibe to it.
Charlie: Yeah, action rock ’n’ roll, we were very into that sort of music.

You guys are off to North America with Electric Citizen next month, what will your set up be for that tour?
Charlie
: We wont be bringing our actual own amps, as that’s too much of a hassle, but I’m pretty sure it’ll be OR50’s.

What do you look for when deciding on an amp?
Charlie:
Something that brings out the character of the instrument, but also makes it sound better. You dont want to lose your own sound, you need something that enhances it.

As mentioned earlier, I know you’re influenced by classic rock and the 70s, but was there any bands or artists you grew up listening to which is completely different from the music you’re playing now?
Charlie: Well, I went to a Backstreet Boys concert… I think I was twelve. But that’s pretty much it, after that it’s been mostly 60s and 70s music.
David: But that’s still quite a vide specter of music though, as it’s everything from rock and funk to RnB.
Charlie: Yeah, I just really like the sound of the recordings from the sixties and seventies.
Magnus: We’re all very into the production of that era.
David: The quality was a lot higher back then.

So no guilty pleasures then?
Magnus:
What’s the name of that song Axel always plays…?

Here all I could hear was a lot of whispering which ended in a ‘dont tell her!’, so I guess we’ll never know.


Sef is the guitarist from Canadian rock band Your Favorite Enemies (http://yourfavoriteenemies.com/welcome-biam/). Sef is an interesting dude, to say the least. He, along with the rest of the band, all live in and rehearse in a church they purchased. It’s a seriously huge church too. Like, “holy crap you bought this?”-huge.

Besides living and rehearsing in their church, the band also records their own tunes and shoots their own music videos in their church. And the stuff they produce in their church is not only hilarious but also extremely high quality. Here’s the video Sef did for the Orange OR50 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WFNLMEgVGb8) in their church. Did I mention they own a church?

Now Sef has done it again and provided us with an extremely irrelevant, but thorough, review of his new favourite amp: the Orange Custom Shop 50 (https://orangeamps.com/products/guitar-amp-heads/custom-shop-series/custom-shop-50/). Check out the amp and check out the church in the video above!

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Welcome to the family! What’s your thoughts having just become an official Orange ambassador?
I’m very excited to be part of the Orange family! Orange has been the dream amp or me for a while and it’s an absolute honor to be accepted as an ambassador of the brand. I was invited to the HQ a few months ago to try some amps with the techs and they were super helpful with ensuring I was getting the right tone and the best sound, not only out of the amps, but for Vodun to sound as huge as possible.

What was your first ever encounter with Orange? 
I first came across Orange amps when the Datsuns returned from the UK to New Zealand to play The Big Day Out 2004. Being a keen 17 year old guitarist, I spent most of my time dreaming of guitars and amps, and when The Datsuns stepped out onto the stage in front of bold Orange cabs it blew my mind! I had never seen such a bold, brightly-coloured amp or heard of the Orange brand before. A few days later I did some research into availability in NZ, but sadly being so far away from England, the only amps readily available and affordable were anything getting imported through Asia. It wouldn’t been until I set foot in London 3 years ago with just a guitar that I would be able to get my hands on one at Red Dog Music in Clapham. The guys were really helpful down there and as I plugged into a TH30 they saw my eyes light up – I bought it that day.

Now that you’re officially a part of the family, how does your brand spanking new Orange rig look like?
It looks, (and sounds) amazing. I’m still working on my rig’s design, but then again when has a guitarist ever not got their eye on the next pedal to add to the chain? Big shows means I’m running 3 rigs off one guitar, so I have my original TH30 as stage right, OB-1 500 Bass rig next to it with 4 x 10 cab, and my main amp is a Rockerverb III 100 through a 4 x 12. This allows me to get the feel of a full band, dropping in bass and a second guitar as needed as well as panning left and right. Smaller shows I strip it back to the Rockerverb III 100 and OB-1 500 but they still deliver great tone and punch! I throw them either side of the stage to help thicken the sound. I really love how huge the bass rig has made us sound – the built in gain in the head helps keep my signal as big as possible, where previously it was getting squashed by effects pedals.

Can you tell us a bit about your band?
Vodun is a three piece heavy psychedelic band with afrobeat inspired drums and a soul singer. Although we’re a three piece, there’s no bass player – hence why it’s so important for me to make sure my sound is as huge as possible. Vodun was actually the first band I saw live when I arrived in London and they completely blew me away! I joined after the original guitarist Ollie had to step down, but in true ritualistic spirit his Gibson guitar lives on with the band and I still use it in shows. Vodun as a religion is rooted in animism, it’s positive at its core and celebrates women in its worship of female Loas or Goddesses. As a band, we draw on this for inspiration and we try to make our shows a positive spiritualistic experience.

You guys put on quite the performance when playing live, what’s the story behind the make up and costumes?
The short and sweet answer is “to give you a reason to come and witness live music, for it to be an out of this world experience and so that you aren’t at a show thinking ‘this sounds better on CD’. More than that though, it gets us into character for our live ritual. Zel and I will always start the set staring each other down as if we are going into battle, clearing our thoughts and allowing the music to take over completely. The makeup and costumes are inspired from West African culture to help add to the aesthetic and performance of the band. I don’t think the audience at our shows would feel the same spiritual experience if we just played in black jeans and a baggy shirt. Kinda like when KISS took their makeup off….

How would you explain Vodun’s music to your, mine, or someone else’s grandmother?
I played Possession to my Nan when I was home earlier this year for my sisters wedding, “Nan, this is my loud band from London, I think you’ll like the singer, she has a great soul voice and you have been to one of my old bands shows so you know it will be loud. I’ll start you with Bloodstones so you can ease into it”

To someone elses grandmother: It’s a beautiful chaos that represents the world as we know it; we have the godly soulful voice that brings peace and harmony, we have the loud aggressive beats that can bring the deafening destruction of earth quakes and volcanoes then we have the guitar which drifts between both of these two like the human race, kind and gentle one minute and greedily struggling to be heard over the weight of the world the next – you also might want to turn your hearing aid down…

As an emerging London band, is there any other bands or artists you’ve come across we should keep an eye at?
Being fairly new to this side of the world, most bands I come across I haven’t heard of before as it takes a long time for some bands to get to NZ, so I may have mentioned some bands that have been around a bit longer than newly established but are fresh to my ears.

A couple that come to mind immediately:

Causal Nun – We had the pleasure of having them on the bill at our album release show in London and they’re causing a bit of a stir.

Church of the Cosmic Skull – Recently released their debut album to a sold out crowd. The band members have previously played for some great bands.

His Masters Voice – Genuine down to earth fantastic people, album due to be released soon, but as they are from NZ you wont get to see them live unless you are on holiday there. But go check out their style of the devils blues Jessie has a wicked voice.

Petrol Girls – Pure passion and always blow me away with their genuine execution.

God Damn – the name says it all “God Damn”

HECK – They torn the Big Red apart at the Kerrang nominations and it was just a truly impressive show. 
Slabdragger, Limb, Derelics, Shitwife
There is too much choice in London, I can’t keep up.

How has life been for Vodun since the release of “Possession” earlier this year?
Life has been hectic in a very positive way, the album has been received really well and our small tribe of followers seems to be growing bigger by the day. It’s been fantastic chatting to people after shows who have turned up not knowing what to expect and are then rendered speechless by our performance! We are getting some great gigs coming in, played Stonefree Festival with Alice Cooper and The Darkness as well as the childhood dream gig of playing Bloodstock alongside Twisted Sister, Slayer, Anthrax, Mastodon, I’m really looking forward to playing some more great European festivals next year. we have also had some great press come in – it’s a bit of an unreal experience picking up a copy of Kerrang or Classic Rock to send copies back home to your mum. In short, life seems ridiculous! 

What’s next?
Album 2! it’s going to take a lot of hard work to execute another album like Possession and keep pushing boundaries, but we’ve started gathering ideas so hopefully you should hear some new tracks being vibed out at live shows soon. We’re heading to Europe in October to play Desertfest Antwerp and a few dates in Germany then Italy. There’s a music video in the works and a UK tour with Uncle Acid & the Deadbeats at the end of the year. We’re certainly keeping busy, and it looks likely to be even more the case for next year. All fantastic news, especially now I have my new Orange rig behind me!

Can you tell me us a bit about how the three of you met and got the band started?
Jeff, Noah and I all grew up in the same scene in Bellingham, Washington, which is a small town so we all kind of knew each other. I was just coming out of another band and we all wanted to do something different, so we got together, gave it a go and we just stuck with it.

Did you have a mutual idea of what kind go music you wanted to make, or was that just a result of the three of you coming together with different ideas?
We did a lot of experimenting, when we first started playing together we would just thrash around and play as fast as we could, without vocals. We were all into Converge and Dillinger Escape Plan and that kind of vibe, but also into 70s prog rock like YES, King Crimson and bands like that, so we were just trying to figure out how we could put it together. We started experimenting with traditional song structure, and that was when it really clicked.

Listening through your album I do find a lot of different genres, which keeps it really interesting.
People who listen to the album seems to have a similar reaction to you, they don’t know how to classify it or call it, which is in the win column for us, we love that kind of stuff.

You released your album ‘Harvest of Darkness’ last year, have you been busy since doing so?
Absolutely, when the album came out we were touring with Red Fang, followed by a big tour with Kvelertak who’s on the same label as us, Roadrunner. Then we had about a month of rehearsing for this, and now we’re back at it. So to answer your question, yeah we’ve been busy.

What’s your relationship with Orange?
I haven’t used it for long, touring in the England I couldn’t not use Orange, so I got a Thunderverb 200, and when I plugged into soundcheck I just knew I wanted an entire Orange set up, I was in love. It actually kind of shook me up a bit.

Do you remember the first time you saw an Orange amp?
Yeah, I went to see The Blood Brothers, which is from my home town, and I remember they’d just gotten signed and were putting on a show, and their guitarist Cody had two Orange half stacks, and it just looked so cool with the bright colour and the vintage logo. They were just the coolest band for me at the time, so I remember thinking, ‘THAT’S cool!’

You say you’ve been touring a lot, how does your day to day schedule look while on tour?
Sometimes we have to get up really early for a long drive and an early load in and soundcheck, if we’re lucky we’ll have a few hours to explore outside the venue, which we always try to do. We don’t really get that much time, but then again we get to see the entire country while driving through it.

What’s the highlight for Wild Throne thus far?
There’s always the one highlight after the next, instead of one definite moment. We never take anything for granted. There’s a few one that sticks out, getting to meet our producer Ross Robinson and make an album with him, traveling to Europe to play our music, that’s a dream for a kid playing guitar in his room.

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Monolord’s Mika & Thomas talk Orange at Desertfest 2016


Thomas: Hi my name is Thomas. I play guitar and sing in Monolord.

Mika: Hi my name is Mika and I play the bass in Monolord.

When was your first experience of Orange amps?

Mika: My first memory of Orange amps is from 23 years ago when i was just a small kid learning to play guitars. I was with my best friend. We were learning how to play guitar together. His farther had a huge stack of amps and guitars. Of course he had orange there.

Thomas: I think it must of been at an old beat club concert with black sabbath. They had their classic paranoid video, I think that’s the first time I saw an Orange amp.

Mika: The first time I played an orange amp I was about 20. I was with my friends at a rehearsal.

Thomas: When I was about 25 I bought my first Orange amp for recording an album in my old band.

What is your current set up?

Mika: Right now I have an 8 x 10 speaker cab and an OB1500 amp which I’m very happy about it has a lot of power in that. I had to try the OB1500 because of how good it sounded in previews. Now I am looking at getting another 8 x 10 speaker cabinet and an AD200.

Thomas: I have the OR100H. with a high powered 400W cab. Then I have two old cabs, one is from 79 and the other from around 2006. I have an old modified slave head from 73 that was modified a while back. They had put a Matamp face plate on it but now I have found an old Orange face plate that was from 73 as well. So now it’s back to a normal Orange again. It’s reliable, built like a tank! And if you play a smaller club or a bigger club it doesn’t matter, it still works and sounds great.

Thomas: We have been working really hard to get our sound that we can use together, not only sound great separately but to sound great together
Mika: We have gone through quite a lot of gear

Thomas: Ye but now it seems like we have found our thing. It sounds good on stage but we like that it even sounds good out side the stage.

Mika: I get all excited about it every time I get out the amps!

Thomas: ye like ooooo (excited expression)

Mika: Like a giggling small boy

Thomas: Like Mr Burns eeeexcellent (strums fingers together)

Mika: For my main sound I just use one fuzz pedal but of course I combine it with some effects here and there. But basically the main sound is one fuzz pedal straight to the amp and its perfect with the OB1500, you can really turn up the gain there!

Thomas: Ye the sound is more or less the guitar, a fuzz pedal and the amp. It’s nothing more really, I have some delay and flange and phaser just to broaden the sound a little more.
Of course we were really really happy when we talked to Alex in Atlanta and we also visited the office outside London. When we became ambassadors I felt … well it was like a dream!
To be able to use Orange I’m really thrilled about it!

Mika: Ye I’m stoked about it!

IMG_6490 (1)Photography by Aimee Giese

First of all, can you introduce yourself?
My name is Dan Aid, I live in Denver, CO, and I play guitar in Authority Zero.

Can you tell us a bit about the band you’re in – how you guys met, and how long you’ve been together?
Well, Authority Zero has been playing shows and putting out records since 1994, but I first met Jason and the crew in 2013. My other band, Wiredogs was opening up for them at The Marquis in Denver, and we just sort of ended up hanging out that whole night. Then every time they came through Denver after that, whether I was playing with them or not, we would always meet up and grab dinner or drinks and catch up. I got a call from Jason a couple of months ago asking if I could fill in for a couple of shows on Flogging Molly’s Salty Dog cruise, and then we got offered the Japan tour right after that, and then the dates with Pennywise came up, and then the US/Canada run, and then Europe, and I just kept saying ‘Yes!’ to everything, and that’s how we got to where we are now. Mostly I just feel really fortunate to be in this situation where I get to step into a family that has been working at this thing for 20+ years. It’s a very tight knit crew, and there’s a huge amount of heart and respect that go into every rehearsal and show, and I’m stoked to see what we create through the end of this year.

Was there anyone or anything that got you into playing in the first place?
My dad always had his guitar out when I was a kid, and he would play old Dylan tunes or Phil Ochs, and my sister and I would sing along. He then bought me this little Montana acoustic for Christmas when I was eight years old. I would sit down with this red spiral notebook of my dad’s, where he had written out all the lyrics and chord changes to his favorite songs from when he was a teenager, and I would just learn the songs by ear, and when I came across a chord I didn’t know he would teach it to me and I’d keep going.

Do you remember your first ever encounter with Orange?
The first orange amp I ever had the chance to play was a tiny terror. I remember plugging into it, shifting those three knobs into every possible configuration, and loving every tone and sound that came through it. I have never in my life had that experience with another piece of gear. In every other area of trying to create sounds for live shows or in the studio I’m always fidgeting with knobs, adding gear into my chain, taking other gear out of the chain, a constant struggle to capture something that my ears love. But with Orange, so far in my experience of it, I just have to plug into it and I get inspired by the tones that already live there. Plus they look cool. The first guitar player I ever saw playing orange was Lawrence from Mighty Mighty Bosstones. I was 14 years old at the Ogden Theater in Denver, and I distinctly remember the Orange full stack he played with the cabs and head wrapped in the white tolex. It seemed like every other guitar player in the mid 2000’s who was playing punk was playing the JCM Marshall series heads, so the orange aesthetic immediately jumped out at me.

How long have you been using Orange, and what’s your current set up?
I’ve been playing Orange amps for almost four years now. I currently use an AD30HTC head through a PPC412 cab, and I love it.

Playing with one arm you’ve been faced with a lot of challenges other guitarists haven’t, was there times you wanted to give up?
When I lost my hand I think there was a lot that felt unknown. From tying my shoes, to taking a shower, to playing guitar I didn’t know exactly how I was going to do any of it. But honestly, I’ve just figured out each of those things as they have come up. I’ve had to figure out my way of doing everything, and sometimes I’m successful and sometimes I fall on my face, but that’s just life.

What made you keep going?
I mean, I love music, and I love playing guitar, and I love writing songs, and I love sharing those songs with people. I have to do this; It doesn’t really feel like a choice. It’s where I feel the most alive, and that affects every other aspect of my life. So I guess I kept going for me, because playing music is where I feel the most powerful. And I kept going for my family, because we all lost a hand, and that sucked, but we all also have worked for and created all of these beautiful moments that I am getting to experience now. No success I have had playing guitar was created solely by me. It was created by the years of love and support from family, friends, fans, and anyone who has reached out and given a fuck and kept me going over the years.

Growing up, who was your musical role models?
Green Day and Rancid were the bands I discovered that really spoke to me as a kid. Green Day made playing the guitar feel accessible, with the simple, but super hooky riffs. Insomniac was the first record I ever sat down with and learned front to back. I feel like I really learned how to write songs from listening to Rancid records, and I feel like I learned how to put on shows from going to Rancid shows. Meeting Lars and Tim when I was 15 had a huge impact on me, they were just very human and encouraging. I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing now if I hadn’t discovered those records and had those interactions at that age.

When you’re not busy making and playing your own music, do you tend to go to other gigs?
I do. There are a ton of great local bands in Colorado like Wire Faces, Spells, In The Whale, and Slow Caves, so I love going out and seeing friends do their thing as much as I can.

What sort of advice would you give to young aspiring musicians faced with similar disabilities as yourself?
We all get knocked down. It’s how we choose to respond in the dark moments that defines who we are.

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Having just released their latest album Bloodsweat, Plague Vendor crossed the atlantic to tour the UK with noise connoisseurs Love Buzzard. Before officially starting the tour, the guys did a set at London’s Rough Trade East where I had a chat with them before politely handing them some tokens while asking them to step into the photo booth for their close ups. Here’s what they had so say.

Can you tell us a bit about yourselves?
Jay: I’m a 29-year-old dude that loves playing the guitar, touring the world and drinking ice-cold beer.
Michael: My name’s Michael and I live in Whittier, California. I love music, my friends and family.

How old were you when you started playing? Was there anything or anyone in particular to inspired you to do so?
Jay: I started playing guitar when I was 13 or 14, somewhere around there. My good friend Andrew inspired me to play, he was super awesome at guitar and would teach me songs. I think one of the first riffs I ever learned was “Crazy Train” by Ozzy.
Michael: My mom and dad bought me a Fender bass package, the one that came with a P Bass and small amp when I was 12-13 for Christmas. My dad loves music and growing up he would constantly be showing me different shit. From The Beatles to Radiohead to Frank Zappa…The list is endless.

Do you remember your first ever encounter with Orange, whether it was used by someone else or your first time playing one?
Jay: I was and still am a super huge fan of The Blood Brothers, I remember seeing them for the first time when I was 16 and Cody, the guitar player, was playing an Orange combo and I thought it sounded so fucking awesome. Shortly after that show I got my first job and saved up for 6 months to buy a Rockerverb 100 and a 2×12 cab. The Rockerverb that I bought way back then is still the same one I use today! I love it.
Michael: I would always see Orange amps in Guitar Center growing up and always thought they looked like the coolest amps.. Then when I heard them I knew they were the coolest amps. I think Jay was the first person that I knew that had one…and then I bought an Orange bass head when we started the band.

How long have you been using Orange, and what’s your current set up?
Jay: I’ve been using the same setup for the past 10 years. I have a Rockerverb 100 and an Orange 2×12 cabinet. I’m all about Orange.
Michael: I’ve been using Orange for the last 8 years. I have the Terror Bass 500w and I love it.

Any specific pedals that works well with it?
Jay: I think the overdrive on the Rockerverb is the best I’ve ever heard so I don’t use any distortion/overdrive. I do use some delay for some of the songs though.
Michael: I just bought a bass overdrive pedal a few months ago and it sounds badass. Super crunchy and heavy. 

What do you look for in an amp?
Jay: Something that is loud and clear and has a great high end. Also, a great amp needs to have an awesome overdrive right out of the box.
Michael: Something that is loud and kinda on the warmer side.

What albums are you currently listening to?
Jay: I really like the new Autolux album Pussy’s Dead. Also, I’ve been really into old PJ Harvey stuff like To Bring You My Love era.
Michael: The new Underworld album Barbara, Barbara, we face a shining future. Also the new Tame Impala record Currents.

Any hilarious jokes, words of wisdom or funny anecdotes you wanna share with the readers?
Jay: I’d say if you start a band keep pushing. Things will happen even if it’s a slow start.
Michael: Find what brings you joy in life and do that. No matter what it is and no matter what anyone tells you. Life isn’t meant to be lived for someone else. You do you, boo boo.

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How did you end up using Orange?
When we started out I was using Marshall, which I did for five or six years. They’re big amps and it was a bit of a hassle getting them around, so I ended up trying a Rockverb 50, and I was like ‘That’s it, this sounds amazing!’ A year later they both got stolen out of our trailer, and we went and got three more so we’d have one for back up. After that we used them for about three more years, before deciding to experiment with a few different brands. After about a year of doing that and not really finding anything I liked as much, I went back to Orange.

What’s your current set-up then?
Over here in the UK, I’m playing the OR50 head with two 2×12 cabs, and it sounds monstrous! Back home I was using the Custom Shop 50 with two open back cabinets. The ones over here are closed, and I’m kind of digging them, you know? The OR50 and the Custom Shop 50 both sounds good, and I almost feel like I’m cheating on one of them. I haven’t tried the Custom Shop 50 through the closed back cabs yet, so maybe I should give that a try.

How about when you’re recording?
We recorded with Brendan O’Brien, and he’s got so much vintage gear and old amps, so we would use a bit of whatever he had around. You don’t need the same massive wall on sound in a studio as on stage, and often a smaller amp might sound amazing in a studio. We used a lot of different things instead of just sticking to one. On the ‘Little Piece of Dixie’ record I used Orange the whole time.

I’ve noticed there’s been a bit of a wait between all of your albums, with five years between the two first ones, is there any hope of new music from you guys before 2018?
The reason it’s been such a long wait between the records is because we’re always on the road. When recording an album we don’t spend more than a week in the studio, we know what we’re going to do, so we just go in and get the job done. After that Charlie and I will go somewhere else and lay down the vocals. But to answer your question, it shouldn’t be that much of a wait before the next one, this one’s only been out a year and they’re already talking about recording again. Charlie’s already got quite a few tunes written, and we’re all looking forward to it.

All of your albums have been released on four different labels, do you think you’ve ‘found the one’ now?
Here in the UK, Earache records are unbelievable. They don’t have an office in the States, but if they did I wouldn’t go anywhere else. We’re so happy to have them over here, we love everybody there and they’re all so nice and fun to be around. In the US we’ve been hopping a bit around as record labels just change so much. We haven’t landed any major record deal yet, but we don’t really worry about that. We’re at that point in our career where if we want to give out an album, we can.

You keep getting compared to Lynyrd Skynyrd, is that something you get a bit sick of, or do you just take it as a massive compliment?
When we started this band I’d never expect that, we just got together and started playing, and people would just associate us with Lynyrd Skynyrd, which is awesome. At first I thought it was unbelievable, as I honestly don’t think we sound anything like them, they’re in a league of their own. It still blows me away when people compare us to them, and I feel honoured.

You’re also known to cover some heavier rock bands like Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin how did that come about?
All of us are kind of metal heads in a way. But then Charlie’s also introduced me to so much music I’d never really listened to, like bluegrass. It’s crazy that when you listen to metal you hear all these guitar players that are just blazing, and I was always like “this is amazing, these guys are killing it!”, and then Charlie started playing me some bluegrass, just a guy with a tiny mandolin, and it was just unbelievable. It’s got a totally different feel to it, but it’ll blow your mind watching a bluegrass player play. But yeah, back to the rock thing. We all listen to it, but I tend to be a little bit more outspoken about it I guess, which has kind of labelled me as the ‘metal head’ of the band.

To me you almost seem like a crossover band, where people that wouldn’t necessarily listen to southern rock, will still listen to Blackberry Smoke, I guess the fact that you’re influenced by so many different genres might be one of the reasons for that?
Yeah definitely! Truth be told though, it was actually Charlie’s idea of covering Sabbath, but we were all really into it, and we do all listen to all kinds of music. I grew up listening to bands like Megadeath and Maiden, the latter which I have yet to see live. I snuck in to one of their shows when I was younger, but didn’t get to see the whole thing.