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For those who’s not familiar with Khemmis, can we get a brief introduction?
Ben: I moved from Mississippi to Colorado in August 2012 to begin my PhD at CU Boulder. I put an ad on Craigslist looking for some folks to play heavy music in the style of Neurosis, YOB, Rwake, etc, and nobody responded. I reposted it with a picture of Jawas carrying a Sunn Model T and Dan responded fairly quickly. We met up at TRVE Brewing to grab a drink and talk music. We didn’t know it at the time, but the head brewer, Zach, had recently relocated from Texas and was itching to create some heavy tunes too. Phil was actually a student in the same PhD program that I’d just entered, and I mentioned to him that some folks and I were putting together a band and were looking for a singer. Although he had never sung in a band before, he had cool gear and good taste in music. After the two of us got together and jammed on a bunch of riffs through obnoxiously loud amplifiers, I immediately knew we’d found our Huckleberry. 

Khemmis was an ancient Egyptian city, any particular reason why you went with that as a name?
Naming a band sucks. We landed on Khemmis because it’s short, doesn’t tie us to any singular sound/style, and someone else hadn’t already taken it. 

For the average Orange reader, how would you describe your music?
Khemmis: We call ourselves doomed heavy metal. We draw inspiration from a wide variety of metal subgenres such as death, black, sludge and trad, but we strive to ground our music in the feeling(s) most strongly associated with doom metal. That said, I recently saw someone on Twitter describe us as “Candlemass meets OSDM” (old school death metal), and we really dig that description as well.

….aaaand how would you describe it to your grandma?
The Devil’s Music.

Okay – let’s talk gear; what are your different history and experiences with Orange?Ben: Shockingly, I don’t think I ever played an Orange amplifier until our set at Psycho Las Vegas in 2017. I plugged into a Rockerverb 100 and a pair of PPC412s that night and conjured the best tone I’d ever had in this band. I knew and loved the magical Orange cabs, but that amp blew me away. As luck would have it, our friend Eddie of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Beer Guy podcast was in attendance along with Alex from Orange Amps. We got off the stage, took our guitars to the hotel room, and then saw a message from Eddie saying that Orange wanted to talk to us about working together. We soon sold off the amps we’d been using and all switched to the same kickass Orange heads we’re still using today. Though that was the first time I’d played a Rockerverb, I own a PPC412 with v30s and WGS ET65s in an X-pattern that has been “the cab” on everyKhemmis recording. Dave Otero, our producer, has been trying to buy the cab from me for years! 

Dan:  Ben sounded amazing that night. I saw Sleep with Matt’s wall of amps, mostly of the Orange variety.  I was sold in that evening, and knew that nothing crushes like an Orange. 

Phil: That Orange sounded so much better than the Marshall I played that night. It was night and day what the better amp was.

What’s your current set ups?
Ben: We’re not the sort of band that throws a Muff or Rat in front of an amp from the 70s and calls it a day. That’s not to say that approach is flawed—it just isn’t the one for us. Phil and I both use Rockerverb 100 MKIII heads, which are simply the perfect amps for our sound; the gain channel is thick with just a touch of fuzz while retaining the clarity to allow complex chord voices to ring out without turning into a pile of mush. Even though we both use the same head, our guitars and signal paths allow for two decidedly different flavours of heaviness. My main guitars are both Dunable Asteroids (flying Vs). My go-to has a mahogany body and neck, burl maple top, ebony fretboard, and Seymour Duncan JB and 59 pickups. It is the best guitar in the world. My other Asteroid has a maple body and neck with a claro walnut top, maple fretboard, and SD Nazgul and Sentient humbuckers. I use a lot of “flavour” effects to add texture to our music, but my main rhythm tone is a Seymour Duncan 805 into the dirt channel. I switch from the 805 to a KHDK Ghoul Jr to shape my lead tone a bit differently, cutting some lows and adding a bit of grit to make my solos slice through our wall of riffs. I use a Fortin Zuul, which is the best noise gate I’ve ever used, to keep things quiet and under control.

Phil: I try to keep things relatively simple while complementing and filling out the space not occupied as much by Ben and Dan’s sounds. I also use a Dunable Asteroid (mine is mahogany with a maple cap), loaded with some humbucker sized p90s that Dunable built for me, and I play very, VERY hard with my picking hand. I have a Reverend Volcano with p90s as a backup, which sounds very similar and is also a great guitar. Naturally the p90/heavy handed playing combo produces a lot of upper mid range and very ‘present’ sounds, so I have my Rockerverb and pedals tailored to emphasise that. My main dirt is a Way Huge Saucy Box overdrive, which I like because it doesn’t really effect the tone of my guitar other than adding a bit more “push” to the amp, and I use the Orange Two Stroke EQ in the effects loop for solo boosts to get some additional volume, cut low end, and boost the upper mids a bit more. Other than that I rely on Mr Black pedals for some ambiance, their Wolfmoon for reverb and the SS 850 for delay, which I absolutely love and never take off my board.

Dan: The first time I plugged into an AD200, I knew it was exactly right for me.  Tubeyness and plenty of headroom… but just enough to still get that growl. The Orange 810 is dark and doomy without losing expression. I don’t know if a cab can be tight and fat at the same time, but if it is indeed possible, the Orange has achieved it. I am keeping pedals quite simple these days.  Before the amp, the venerable Darkglass Alpha Omega Ultra is the go-to, mostly-on, pedal.  On occasion I’ll add the DOD Preamp 250 in front of the UltraOmegaOk. A touch of the Seymour Duncan Pickup Booster in the back reintroduces some thickness.  Much or all of this may be replaced with the Orange Bass Butler, which I experienced for the first time at NAMM.  Ade and Alex hung out with us during the demo, from which I am still recovering. I’ve enjoyed playing Dunable Basses for many years.  However, like all true gear heads, I’ve had fun mixing and matching a bit. The mainstay for touring in 2019 was the Sandberg California Grand Dark TM4.  I also have a very cool Sandberg VS4 that is far too nice to travel with.  The Grand Dark is very versatile, sounds great, and plays oh so very nice.

You’re heading to the UK for the first time ever in a couple of months where you’ll be playing Desertfest London, are you pumped?
Ben: We are honored to be part of Desertfest and can’t wait to finally perform the UK. The lineup is nuts! Quite a few folks in the Nuclear Blast UK office have been asking when we’d finally make it over there, and we can’t imagine a better debut than being part of Desertfest.

Dan: So very excited. I love London. I was able to visit for the first time in 2018 and I just couldn’t get over the rich history, architecture, and musical pedigree of the city.  Desertfest is a tremendous honor.  

Phil: I’ve never been, and I’m am super excited! It is a great fest in a really cool part of the world that I’ve always wanted to visit. I’m hoping to stay after for a bit on my own and make a vacation out of it.

Your latest album ‘Desolation’ was released in 2018, will there be a follow up soon? Maybe some new material played live in London….?
Khemmis: We recently began writing for album #4, but these things take time to get right. That said, we might have a new track ready for Desertfest, who knows? Regardless, we do have new material coming out this year. We contributed a song to Magnetic Eye Records’ reimagining of Alice in Chain’s Dirt, one of the most important albums ever to me. That should arrive this spring. We also have something special that we’ll be announcing sometime next month. What could it be? Stay tuned, hellions!

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With an itheberg..

It’s #VoiceOfMetal month and we’re focusing attention on our hard rocking, dope-smoking dooming, metal shredding artist Ambassadors. Here are a few of the metal albums we know for a fact were dripping in Orange tone, some with quotes from the artists themselves about how they used their amps.

Monolord – “No Comfort” (2019)

“For bass, Mika used an AD200B into an Orange OBC810. And just listen to the new record, the bass tones are thick yet clear with lots of string. Mainly he used the Dunable R2 model bass.

Rhythm guitars were put down with one OR100 into an 8ohm PPC412HP cab. The Dual Dark went in to a 90’s Orange cab at 16ohm.

For lead guitar we recorded the whole thing with the Black Country Customs Tony Iommi Boost (and sometimes a few other boosts/overdrives) through the Micro Dark and the PPC112. The tone is really angry in the low-mids and I love it.”- Thomas Jager

Slipknot – “All Hope Is Gone” (2018)

Jim Root had been using a Rockerverb 100 MKI for live touring before Slipknot recorded 2008’s All Hope Is Gone. However, that record would be the first time Root used an Orange for the majority of his guitar parts in the studio. He used the Rockerverb 100 MKI, along with a Diezel Herbert, for rhythm and lead. For the more subtle clean parts he used a Rockerverb 50 MKI 2×12” Combo.

SLEEP – “Holy Mountain” (1992)

Many people think the resurgence of Orange in the 90’s was due to Noel Gallagher using the amp in Oasis. That might have some truth to it, but before that came the liner notes of SLEEP’s Holy Mountain and the Orange OR120 guitar amp featured therein. Matt Pike famously used both the OR120 and a Matamp on Holy Mountain. For a whole new generation of stoner rockers vintage Orange amps became a must-have.

Beartooth – “Aggressive” (2016)

“The Micro Dark has honestly been an amazing tool for me in the studio. It is crazy how much air I can get moving between the speaker and the microphone with this head. It takes pedals great and can be as transparent or violent as you want. The reason I used it was for that pushed crunchy sound in the power section. The sheer amount of volume needed in something like a 50 or 100 watt head for that sound without an attenuator is unrealistic for a basement studio like mine. I’d be tearing the walls down. The Micro Dark has all that beef, low end, and air that I needed without being so loud it’s offensive to the entire neighborhood.

Tube screamer, eq pedal, micro dark through a 4×12… If you want the Beartooth guitar sound, that’s all you need.”- Caleb Shomo

Khemmis – “Desolation” (2018)

“We used a pair of Rockerverb 100 MKIII heads—one into an Orange 4×12, one into an Atlas 2×12 + 1×15—for all of the guitars on Desolation. On our previous records, Phil and I both ran dirt pedals into vintage clean amps for a big, raw wall of guitars. We began using the RK100 as we incorporated more complex chord shapes and single note lines in our new material, as they allowed those nuances to shine through without compromising our ability to be heavy. Not only did the Rockerverbs yield gnarly rhythm and lead sounds, the clean tones we dialed in were glassy and articulate.” – Ben Hutcherson

Chron Goblin – “Here Before” (2019)

“I think an overall goal for the production of ‘Here Before’ was to have it real and organic sounding, avoiding the use of digital enhancements as much as possible. There was a strong focus on capturing the organic input as opposed to editing the output with after effects, which you can hear in the guitar tone. I only used two of Orange’s finest guitar heads, Orange Rockerverb MKIII and OR15, and no other guitar pedals and very minimal after effects. We also made a conscious effort to only have a very moderate amount of gain and treble (opposed to all of the previous Chron Goblin albums in which they were cranked) to ensure the individual notes are very clearly defined, while still maintaining a vicious bite in the tone. For all clean guitar sections we used the Jimi Hendrix approach of rather than use a clean channel, we just turned down the volume and tone knobs of the guitar, which creates that warm, toned-down clean sound while keeping the gain channel settings intact. I think the result is a very organic and honest guitar tone throughout the album that we are super pumped about!” – Darty

“I went into recording the new album knowing the tone I wanted to hear. I tried out a couple basses, and decided to go with my stock 1972 Gibson Grabber (complete with a sliding pickup). After talking with our engineer and general studio jack-of-all-trades, I went with the AD200B with a relatively standard EQ – extra mid and treble, gain around 10 o’clock and master at noon). We re-amped it through the head and OBC810 … and VOILA!” – Richard