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Drenge are a three piece band from Derbyshire, Eoin and Rory started the band in 2010 and in 2015 invited Rob formerly of Wet Nuns to join. Rob has been playing Orange for the last 2 years and is currently using the AD30 and the PPC212V cabinet. Rob explains how this combination gives him the perfect platform for his many pedals and how he was impressed to the versatility of Orange Amps.

Hey I’m Rob, I play with Drenge and I play Orange.

My first forays into guitar kind of started in the 90’s and sort of followed the influence back through time. Fugazi especially I found were the first band that I came across where they just plugged straight into amps and there was just one guitar, no pedals or particularly complicated going on rig wise. It was just that sound and using the volume control for your effect on the actual guitar, which is still something that I still do now.

I guess I had an idea in my mind as to what Orange amps sound like, definitely like the whole of the stoner rock, as much as I love that whole sound, it’s really not the right sound for this band. So I guess it did kind of surprise me when I got it and started playing with these guys, how much it didn’t have to do that sound, it didn’t have to do the thing, it is capable of lots of other guitar tones. It sounded fuckin’ great and really fuckin’ loud and what more do you want really?

I’d like to use both channels and do a switching thing because I like the sound of both channels but I have just been on the cleaner voiced channel. I’m kind of using pedals to do the aggressive stuff at the moment but I hope to explore the channel switching at some point very soon.

I’d always prioritise sound, having something that sounds excellent and you are not constantly worried it is going to give up on you, stop working, it’s a really well made thing, I’m very happy with it.

So I’m playing this Ampeg, it’s like a reissue of an old 60’s guitar that Dan Armstrong made and it’s made of plastic. This is like the Gregg Ginn of Black Flag guitar, he played one among many other cool people. From the guitar we go into a Boss tuner and then into a Octave TC which there is some tunes where on the recordings its double tracked so its two guitars. One is playing a riff and one is playing the riff but an octave above, so that just does those bits.

Then I have a Mellotron pedal that again there are some tunes on the record that have Mellotron parts and rather than switch over and play them on keyboards, we just have that. That is for a full wet, strings and choral stuff. After that it splits, for that i’m using the Orange Amp Detonator, which is ace it does exactly what its supposed to, it does it very well and not noisy, it’s great. After that we go into a Stone Deaf PDF which I use as a set wah sound, kind of honky lead solo stuff, to cut through and I have that on a pretty brutal setting which is pretty fun. Then the Rat, its like the most distorted that I go and then there is a Micro Amp as well which is after the amp crunchy setting, the Micro Amp is the next stage, then the Rat shreds your face off, then PDF does the shred your face off but with a very specific mid range.

Then we have the Melekko delay pedal which is ace, it’s quite an unconventional sounding delay, it does a lot of high oscillatory feedback stuff which is cool and then it goes into this guy. So I’m on Channel One which is the less aggressive, less gainy channel, pretty loud and it’s just full bass, quite a lot of mid and the treble is rolled off just a bit because of the brightness of this Ampeg. So that is the base of the whole thing and there are plenty points in the set where it is just that, it’s not like there is always pedals on. There is quite a few bits and bats where there is just the amp and I do quite like to use the volume control on the guitar to full on volume on the guitar to get it quite aggressive and then if it wants to be really clean will roll it off a bit.

Hailing from Saskatoon in Canada, the Sheepdogs have been playing their unique brand of country infused blues rock since 2006. The band came to catch up with Orange at Black Deer Festival just outside of Tunbridge Wells. Jimmy had just played the Main stage on the Sunday before sitting down with us to chat about how he started playing guitar and how the AD30 is perfect for his playing.

How did you start playing guitar?

I guess I was inspired by my dad’s good friend at the time, he is a fantastic guitar player. He played an old 65′ Telecaster and it was just the most beautiful guitar, he is a very soulful player and him and my Dad would play and sing, that was kind of my first inspiration to play.

What were your influences when you started playing?

I listened to Hendrix, Cream and Zeppelin, all that kind of stuff, Free! Traced the routes and got into the blues pretty heavy. So I was emulating people like Robert Johnson, Charlie Patton, Sutton Hose and then into 50’s and 60’s with Muddy Waters and Howling Wolf. All that kind of stuff.

How did you join the band?

It’s kind of funny, they had a guitar player leave about 2/3’s of the way through an American tour and they were in a bind. I was good friends with their guitar tech at the time, he bet a weeks wages that I would be a good fit. So they called me up and gave me all the material the night before. I stayed up the night before and learnt everything I could as best as I could. We did one rehearsal and then we did the rest of the tour and I have been with the guys ever since.

How are you finding the festival so far?

Saw Kris Kristofferson, that was pretty amazing! That’s been kind of a dream of mine to see him, I’m a big time fan. It’s a gorgeous festival, beautiful landscape and a laid back vibe, its nice.

What’s your set-up on stage?

It’s not too complicated, I use an old Les Paul, pedal wise an MXR dyna comp for soloing, playing slide and for sustain overall. I have fuzz pedal, a delay, a tube screamer and tuner, I play an Orange AD30. I just love the sound of those power tubes, so I was looking for something that was kind of along those lines but a little more controllable and a lot more volume, so I could get more headroom. It was the perfect amp.

What do you usually look for in an amp?

It has to be reliable and versatile, I have a simple setup, I am a volume control player. So I need an amp to be nice and gainy, but I can dail it back on the guitar and it can be shimmering clean too. In order to have that you have to have headroom otherwise your tone gets too compressed. So there is kind of a happy medium between gain and headroom, I find that amp does it perfect.

What makes the AD30 so suitable for your genre?

It’s that EL84 breakup, it just does something different than any other power tube. It’s a little tighter, a little more top end response and the clarity suits that music fine. It gives me a lot of control, the top channel is great but its pretty gainy for what we are doing, so I use the bottom channel all the time. I will dial it back for different tunes and change the gain structure.

What else makes the AD30 so great?

It sounds fantastic but it’s also super reliable. We do roughly 200+ shows a year and I’ve used mine for the last three years, I have just had to change tubes. That is just super reliable and does exactly what I want it to do every night.

How does it feel being part of the Orange family?

It feels great, love representing fantastic amps that make me sound better!

Let’s cut to the chase.

When we’re talking about blues amplification the apple fell a long way from the tree of its origins. Yet there’s something fundamentally organic about the sound of the blues that hasn’t been lost in translation.

That’s because the foundation of blues lies in the roots.

“The Rocker dirty channel has been at the heart of my guitar tone for 12 years. Standing alone it’s warm and hits you like a wall of sound, then stacked it cuts and sustains in the best way possible. It’s hard to imagine a show without that signature Orange overdrive” – Hannah Wicklund

Just like a tree, breaks overtime spawn new saplings, fed from a lineage of ancient roots that continue to feed musicians. Inspiring them to push their limits, evolving in ways that are almost indistinguishable from their forbearers.

But once you get down in the mud you’ll notice that everything that was, still is.

The murky roots of the Mississippi Delta

To some extent, it takes a lot of imagination to tell the story of blues amplification. But what we do know is before amplification; we had the acoustic blues. A melting pot of sound, mixed up from traditional string bands, folk, Creole and Broadway theatre songs.

It’s no surprise that legends like Robert Johnson originally made their crust playing American show tunes at Juke joints. These places were wild and unruly, the name itself ‘Juke’ comes from the Gullah word ‘joog’ or ‘jug’ meaning rowdy or disorderly. So the need for louder instruments was a prerequisite. Resonators became widely used for those who could afford them. Not many of these players could.

Blues: amplified

Consider the first amplifiers these blues legends were using. Makeshift designs built by converting old radios. They were pure grit; filthy dirt that was brutality embodied.

The Orange Rocker 32 is the perfect amp to achieve that level of grime. All valve monster tone within the footprint of a self-contained stereo combo. This is an amp designed for experimentation.

Orange Rocker 32 Amplifier

Just as the pioneers had rewired and retubed army issue radios (often players would swap out the smoother 6v6s for European standard EL34s) to create roaring beasts usually resigned to closing time on a Saturday night, the Orange Rocker 32 gives you so much flexibility.

12AX7s on the front end allows you to dial the distortion all the way up to Mr Nasty while the 12AT7s give more headroom and chimey cleaner tone. Add in 4 x EL84’s at the power amp stage and the whole thing fires up when overdriven.

Now the old school blues players didn’t have luxurious stereo effects returns with separate valve output stages, but you can be sure they would have been melting heads in the process.

Some other cool features include half power mode for tinnitus-free wailing, perfect for those who don’t want to experience the deafening silence of a motor shelling during an intimate gig.

Boomtown USA

Many of the Delta players migrated northwards during the great depression, up to the Mississippi and along Highway 61 towards the big city lights of Chicago, from there, blues exploded.

Where money flows, technology grows, and with that amplifier design took off. Classics amps that today now symbolise the American sound became a common workhorse for blues musicians.

Those amps though from back in the day were dirty beasts. The players; innovators. So when it comes to getting close to those classic sounds you got to think about what was going on over there.

Amplifiers were being modded and tweaked, each one was unique, often driven by a need to keep the thing going long enough to play out the next gig. It’s said that when Keith Richards and Eric Clapton paid homage to their heroes by meeting them on American soil they were expected them to be wielding Gibsons, but in fact, they were playing Kays. A perception that comes from an ability to play the hell out of anything and make it sound badass.

Orange TremLord 30

The TremLord 30 is an Orange take on the classic amps that were around in the 50s. It’s quite likely that this beefed up vintage design is an accurate reflection of what was in use, opting for EL84 (nee EL34s) that break up more than the 6v6 type American tube.

What those guys wouldn’t have were contemporary FX chains that give you far more flexibility without suffering tonal loss.

Probably the single most beautiful thing to happen in modern-day amplifier design is to drop the volume but still retain the springiness of a valve amp. That means you don’t need a plethora of amps to keep you away from an anti-social behaviour order.

The Spirit of Revival

Orange, as you may know, played a role in sculpting the sound of the blues from the late 60s when Fleetwood Mac took the first Orange rig out across America. This was a big step away from those early blues players who sacrificed blood and bone to amplify their sound.

This was a wall of sound, thick with mid-ranged compression, tar-like, knurled and jagged edges reminiscent of sun-beaten highways where its origins were performed in road worker campsites. A sound that rang on endlessly as the birds picked at the carrion that laid in their wake, and which has evolved beyond comprehension, yet still is as relevant now as it was 50 years ago.

The amplifier which embodies the spirit of the British sound is the Orange AD30, our flagship all-valve amplifier.

So we’ll let the music do the talking:

Once again we’ve made it through to March and this year’s International Women’s Day. Haters might say we don’t need it, and how can we be equal if men don’t men have a day of their own? Well, men don’t tend to get grabbed and get abuse shouted at them when walking down the street, they don’t get paid less because of their gender, and you know, they don’t have to give birth either so, yeah, we kinda deserve this day – we can grow a human inside us but in some eyes not even that makes us good enough, yikes! Anyway – enough politics for our end, let’s chat music.

At Orange we’ve got quite a few women working for the company such as myself, my name is Ella and I do freelance content creation and artist relations, plus a bunch of other ladies in our offices keeping this ship afloat as well as the wonderful female artists we endorse. Now, there might not be a secret that rock and guitar music might be slightly more male dominated but that doesn’t mean that it’s a boys club, there’s a bunch of rad ladies out there, and today we’ll be shining a light on a few of them:

Orianthi

Rockerverb 50 MKIII
PPC412

Orianthi’s got a pretty spectacularly impressive resume, having performed for Steve Vai at the age of 15, and been asked to jam on stage with Carlos Santana at 18. Her big breakthrough came in 2009 when she played lead guitar for Carrie Underwood at the Grammys, which led to Michael Jackson reaching out to her, inviting her to join his band for his “This is it” concert series, which unfortunately fell through due to his death. Since then, she’s played with Alice Cooper, as well as releasing various solo albums as well as winning the award for “Breakthrough Guitarist of the Year” 2010 by Guitar International Magazine.

Hannah Wicklund, Hannah Wicklund & The Steppin’ Stones

Rocker 30

Despite her young age of 21, Hannah Wiklund, the soulful blues guitarist that could probably fit the description of the love child Janis Joplin and Hendrix never had, has got a remarkable 2000 shows behind her. Hannah was gifted a guitar from her dad an an early age, and had her first ever The Steppin’ Stones band practice back in 2005, with the first ever song they played being Neil Young’s “Rockin’ in the Free World.” By the time she finished high school at 16 they had already played over a thousand gigs together. The band released their debut album last year, and are currently touring and gigging, as they’ve always done.

Thao Nguyen, Thao & the Get Down Stay Down

AD30

Thao Nguyen is a guitarist and banjo player and the front woman of Thao & the Get Down Stay Down, a San Francisco based alternative folk rock band. She started playing music around the age of 11, and ended up starting a country pop duo with one of her friends. Shortly after she began performing acoustic solo shows, before eventually forming Thao & the Get Down Stay Down with fellow students. Thao’s lyrics are often about relationships and childhood, with some crossing over into politics. She has also been featured in the 2017 documentary “Nobody Dies: A Film about a Musician, Her Mom and Vietnam”, which follows Thao and her mum as they visit Vietnam, Thao for the first time, and her mum for the first time since the Vietnam war, where she is faced with the two conflicting cultures that helped shape her and her music.

Laura Cox, The Laura Cox Band

Micro Dark
Rockerverb 50 MKIII
Dual Terror
PPC212OB
PPC112

Laura’s career got a kickstart in 2008 after joining Youtube and sharing videos of herself playing guitar, the response was overwhelming and she quickly built up a following which has now reached over 363k followers and 80 million views. Due to her online success, she formed The Laura Cox Band, which is influenced by Southern legends Lynyrd Skynyrd and ZZ Top as well as Aussie rockers AC/DC. There was no other musicians in her family when she was growing up, but hearing her dad play Dire Straits and AC/DC records she felt inspired and intrigued to play that music herself, and was shortly after gifted a guitar for Christmas. The rest is, as they say, history.

Becky Blomfield, Milk Teeth

OB1-500
OBC810

MILK TEETH bassist Becky grew up in a music loving household with a musical and saxophone playing dad who regularly  However, it wasn’t until the age of 11 that she found her own taste thanks to bands such as Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins, which are two of the bands that led here to where she is today. Influenced by the above, punk band MILK TEETH was born in 2013 and have been playing together ever since, although with a few line up changes along they way. The band’s latest release is the single “Stain” which was out just before Christmas, and brings to mind bands such as Hole and Nirvana.

Header photo by: TLBrooker Imagery

With a booming heat record of 32 degrees in big ol’ smoky London town, we made our way to Brixton Academy to chat to The XCERTS frontman Murray Macleod before their show with Goo Goo Dolls.

Were you always into music growing up as a kid?
Murray: Starting it all off and sparking the interest was definitely the household I grew up in, both my parents and older sister was very into music. My dad in particular is pretty much a rock ’n’ roll historical – not as a profession or a job, but for as long as I can remember he’s just always had this encyclopaedic knowledge about dates, record companies, releases, band members and tours, and he has this amazing vinyl collection that I’d go through as a kid, pick albums to listen to based on their covers and end up with bands such as KISS and The Monkees, but it wasn’t until he played me The Beatles everything changed; I even remember the day and exactly where we were, sat in our car parked up waiting for my sister, and he played me live at the BBC by The Beatles, and I think I must have been about six or seven, I was really young, but it just felt like real life magic.

After your Dad sent you onto the righteous path of music, what were the first sorts of bands you discovered for yourself?
Murray: As I got older, I started finding my own way of finding music and discovered Nirvana, and their Unplugged session was actually what inspired me to start writing songs, it was unreal. We had this crappy Spanish guitar around the house, so I ended up trying to write Nirvana-sounding songs which were just awful. There was something so fascinating about Kurt Cobain as well, he was this beautiful and intricate, as well as steeped in myth, I was just so fascinated about him, as if he were sent from above. I also got heavily into Marilyn Manson around the same time, which was just polar opposites to Kurt Cobain, but obviously at the same time, incredibly fascinating. I also just have to thank my parents for keep pushing me to pursue a career in music.

Also, I have to mention the whole pop-punk explosion in the early 2000’s with Blink 182, The Offspring and New Found Glory.

Now, let’s get down to business and talk Orange – what is your history and experience with the brand? Do you remember the first time you ever saw someone play an Orange?
Murray: The very first time I had that epiphany of ‘Oh man I HAVE to play Orange!’ was when we opened for Cage the Elephant around 2009, we hadn’t even released a record at this point and it was before they blew up. I can’t remember what amp I was using at the show, but they were using Orange and they just sounded so incredibly good – I remember being completely blown away by their tone, and also noticed that the wood used in the amps by Orange was way thicker which made them so much sturdier than the amps I were using. They sounded so good, but for the longest time I couldn’t afford one, and we weren’t big enough to speak to the company about getting a loan one.

How did you eventually end up playing one?
Murray: Our manager Dan Hipgrave (Toploader guitarist) was selling a 4×12 cab and I tried it and ended up having to get it. I was using a different head at the time, but I still knew that the cab just sounded so good. I ended up trying the AD30 and it just sounded so good, it was absolutely perfect – that cab and head was all I needed. I’ve been using a full Orange rig for about a year now and it just sounds amazing.

It’s nice to have you guys from Orange coming down to our show, as I haven’t really been able to thank you for all your support, so thank you!

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