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Let’s dive right in and talk about your history with Orange – do your remember your first ever encounter with the brand, whether it was playing it yourself or seeing someone else play one?

Danko: Yeah I totally remember, and the reason is why I play Orange. We went on tour with The Supersuckers, and the only way we could do that was if we could use their gear, and I used Ron’s Orange head, and I remember thinking “Holy fuck, this is just the best head I’ve ever played!”. That’s how I started with Orange, before that I’d seen other use it and I’d always liked it, but I was playing a variety of amps so it wasn’t until playing through Ron’s that Orange was really put on the map for me. When I then got the opportunity to work with Orange myself that just made sense.

You guys are known for touring relentle-
Danko: I mean – yes, yes we do, or at least have done that, and I guess we’ve been on the road a fair bit this year as well even though for me it feels like an off year. We opened up for Skindred in the UK at the start of the year, came back for festivals, made an album, and now we’re here again. The off years are always the year we make the albums, although looking back at it now it doesn’t really take us much off the road at all.

When constantly on the road, how does a day in the life of Danko Jones normally look like?
Danko:
You know, not that exciting to be honest. On a day like today, I pretty much just hang around near the venue. I need sleep for my voice, so that’s about it, lots of down time. The best thing is to not think about it too much, and especially when it comes to playing the show; the moment I start thinking about things, I fuck it up on stage. There’s also this banter between the band and the audience that you just can’t plan, I’ve seen bands do that, script their set – and whenever someone shouts something at them from the crowd, they have no reply and there’s just no way of bouncing back form it. Have the songs rehearsed and that’s it, whatever happens happens. The best thing to do most days is to just go at it with a blank head and brain. So many bands these days have backing tracks and vocals and everything just seems so pre-programmed that there’s little room for spontaneity, and I think the audience picks up on that. I don’t mind if the show goes off the track, cause at least it shows the audience that they’re getting whatever we can serve them on the night, and there is something to be said for that. We go out there pretty low key, play the songs, and see where they take us.

You mentioned off years are album years, do you still write when you’re on the road or do you save that for when you’re back at home?
Danko: No, we allow enough time at home to do the writing then. We spent some time this time last year as well as before and after summer digging deep into writing, and with those sort of writing sessions we were able to figure out what we wanted, and pick 11 or 12 favourites to go on the album. Ever since Rich Knox (drums) joined the band, I haven’t felt nervous before any of the releases, more than anything I’ve been excited and impatient for people to hear what we have been working on, which means I’m confident about the songs. This album we’re due to release is another one of those. I’ll admit there’s been some albums previously where I’ve been slightly nervous whether people would like it or not, and whenever I’ve had those sorts of doubts, those are always the albums that have had mixed reviews. I’ve always liked it, but it might not appeal to everyone else. The last two albums we put out, Fire Music (2015) and Wild Cat (2017) I wasn’t even nervous, and the reviews were really good, and our new album is just as good as both of them, if not better.

To dive back into Orange for this last question, what’s your setup for tonight?
Danko: I’ve got a Rockerverb 50 head, and you know what, I’m not a gear head, I’m a creature of habit – whatever I find and like, that’s what I stick with. I can’t give you any specks of what it is I like about the head, it just have to sound like this (makes riff noise), which is a sound I’ve been making since I was seven. If it sounds like that, great. I don’t go searching for new products, and usually if I switch to something else or try something new, that will have to be presented and put in front of me. To me, amps aren’t precious possessions or collectables, they are the tools of my trade, the tools I need to do my job, and I gotta be honest, Orange is the best tools I’ve ever used.

The Dual Dark, as Lead Designer Ade Emsley describes it, is an Orange amp “for guitarists who don’t usually play Orange amps.” The Dual Dark is a completely different beast, both in terms of gain and voicing, from every other amp Orange has ever produced. It’s tighter on the bottom-end and has an almost percussive nature to its attack. And while all Orange amps tend to have massive amounts of distortion, it’s the searing brutality of the dirty channel (Channel B) on the Dual Dark really sets it apart from amps like the Rockerverb MKIII.

There are a lot of similarities between the Dual Dark and our now discontinued Thunderverb series. The Thunderverb 50 and 100 were the first Orange amps to feature attenuators and shape knobs. The attenuator is great for the studio and bedroom practice, since it allows the volume to be decreased without affecting the tone. The shape knob is actually a mid-scoop that takes the player from classic rock all the way through to mind-melting metal. These features, when introduced originally, were received well by Orange enthusiasts so it only made sense to keep them on future models (the Rockerverb MKIII also has an attenuator).

The similarities end when it comes to the voicing of the amps. If the Thunderverb was a true modern Orange amp, and the Rockerverb MKIII a melding of classic and modern tones, then the Dual Dark is the amp that bridges them all together. Channel A on the Dual Dark is extremely versatility, boasting a wide range of tones from Brit-rock to R&B. On this channel it can even be made to sound similar to our flagship AD30 head. But switch over to Channel B, the assumed “dirty channel” for most players, and let the shape knob rocket you into Thunderverb 200 high-gain metal territory (this, for example, is the channel Matt Pike from Sleep prefers).

It’s the Dual Dark’s voicing is what allows for such versatility. By backing off on the “fuzziness” that is inherent in most Orange amps (a desirable trait to most of our fans), Lead Designer Ade Emsley has made the Dual Dark capable of mimicking a wider variety of amp voicings. If other amp companies make “fizzy” sounding amps, and Orange is normally known for “fuzz,” then the Dual Dark occupies that in-between “fizz-fuzz” that makes it so unique.

There’s something for everybody in the Dual Dark series. Here are some examples of Orange Ambassadors from a wide variety of genres that have made the Dual Dark their go-to amps.

Matt Pike – Sleep, High on Fire

The Dual Dark 100 is always the first amp Matt requests on his backline riders. He prefers it above all other current production Orange amps. For him, it’s the gain and the gain alone that he desires. If we could supply him with 50 Dual Dark 100’s per show he’d take it.

Al Cisneros – Sleep

After Matt Pike started using the Dual Dark 100 regularly, Al got in touch and said he was interested in giving it a shot. Al uses a huge stack of bass amps, yes, but he also runs his signal through a guitar half stack to achieve a more grindy, trebly top-end to his tone. The Dual Dark 50 has become his go-to guitar amp since 2017.

Graham WhitfordTyler Bryant and the Shakedown

“It’s one of those amps you can plug straight into without a single pedal and get everything you need. I love it.”

Dave Catching – Eagles of Death Metal

We’ve had EODM’s lead guitarist, the absolutely most awesome dude on earth, Dave Catching, playing the Dual Darks on stage for several years. Coming from a Marshall/Fender background, he like a lot of our Dual Dark Ambassadors was turned on by the fact it doesn’t sound “classically Orange.” Dave also found that the Dual Dark can works wonders in his studio, Rancho De La Luna, with bands ranging from CKY to Kurt Vile.

Pop Evil

Both guitarists Davey Grahs and Nick Fuelling of Pop Evil are playing identical set-ups consisting of Dual Dark and Rockerverb 100 MKIII 100 watt heads. For their stage volume needs it’s the perfect combo. It’s a loud, LOUD rig and between both the Dual Dark and Rockerverb MKIII they’re able to recreate the full spectrum of Orange tones.

“If sounds were a person, the sound Orange produces would be the Dos Equis guy.” – Davey Grahs

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.

Photo by: Micke Dinkel

First of all – can you introduce yourself?
My name is Okoi Jones at the ripe age of 33. I come from a loving, musical home, my mother being swiss and my father english/nigerian, and 3 younger sisters living around the globe. I was born in Switzerland, but my parents immigrated to New Zealand when I was 4 years old, so I have spent a proportionate part of my life there, having only moved back to Europe in 2006. My sisters and I attended a Rudolf Steiner school, furthering my interest for music, art and history. My father Paul Ubana Jones has made guitar and voice his life’s profession and I guess having him as a role model and the plethora of musical styles I grew up with at home spurred me to pick up the guitar at 12.

Can you tell us about your band Bölzer?
We are a duo from Zürich, playing a more unconventional hybrid of the black and death metal disciplines. Master of percussive disasters HzR and myself began jamming together back in 2008 and a tangible direction was established soon afterward. Our music is in essence minimalistic, utilizing only one guitar, voice and drums. This initially came about out of necessity as we were unable to find a suitable bassist, but soon grew fond of the challenge we faced when writing and performing with sparse instrumentation. The concept of the band and my lyrics revolve heavily around existentialism, philosophy, history and a general love for nature and the human condition.

What peaked your interest and got you into death and black metal in the first place?
I always loved the 70’s rock records my parents had, and it wasn’t long before I was listening to Nirvana, Metallica, Slayer and Obituary – much to my mother’s dismay I might add! During this time I started making music with a few friends, and black metal became a big passion of mine. It was the perfect soundtrack to a tumultuous adolescence, with a fascination for all things unconventional and existential. I continue to listen to a wide variety of music, including a lot of classical but my fascination with the heavier tonal spectrum remains strong… the sounds of existence!

Reading older interviews, you’ve mentioned that you’re into psychedelic drugs, which might come as a surprise to a lot of people as you’re not exactly the flower lovin’ paisley kinda guy that pops to mind when talking about LSD, acid and mushrooms – how big of a role does the psychedelics play in the music you make?
Haha, well I believe that was intended to be a passing comment, but it seems to have secured itself regular appearances ever since! We are not the drug-fueled psychonauts some take us to be, at least not to the extent of allowing any kind of substance to directly influence our music. We very rarely consume anything grossly mind-altering and even then it never finds it’s way onto a stage or rehearsal room. Needless to say, the experiences we’ve had left a lasting positive impression I’m sure and certainly allow us to view certain aspects of life from a different angle. We are both very imaginative and curious by nature so doing things differently comes naturally.

You just released your debut album ‘Hero’ a couple of weeks ago – how was the build up and the process of doing so?
Arduous! Well at least with respects to completing the artwork and layouts, and then coordinating the finer details with the pressing plant. We are well accustomed to obstacles as a band – if anything can go wrong it usually does! But any hindrances only make you stronger, so we see the process as fruitful either way. The recordings as such went very well, only more time was needed to reach a satisfactory mix which was obtained in the end. Everything was done with two stellar engineers and friends, Michael Zech and Victor Santura at the Woodshed Studio in Bavaria, so a very enjoyable, albeit demanding time! We remain overwhelmed with the growing response to the new record, something we are very grateful for!

Which three words would you use to describe the album?
Warm, resplendent and courageous.

And last but not least, why Orange?
Because aside from good looks they give my guitar the gain-laden voice of death she needs to perform victoriously on the fields of reckoning! The suffocating drone I get from my low A string and a hot Rockerverb is unmatched!

 

Kvelertak-Maciek-and-Vidar

You just finished touring with Slayer and Anthrax – how was that?
Maciek: It’s been really fucking cool, and kind of a milestone as they’re bands we all look up to. Definitely something to tick off our list.

How long have you been using Orange?
Vidar: We’ve been using Orange for long time, since before we started recording. Bjarte’s been using Orange for as long as I can remember. I had an old vintage Marshall amp that caught fire, and after that I swapped to Orange.
Maciek: I’ve got the TH30, Rockerverb and Thunderverb, and they just always deliver and they’re very reliable. And it looks fucking cool.

Do you have any specific pedals you feel work well with the amps?
Maciek: Well, yeah, there’s quite a few, but Orange sounds really good on it’s own. It’s a really good base, and then you can have fun with some pedals on top. I always use my Echoplex Preamp from Dunlop. Since we’ve got three guitars we all have to be on different levels, and I think it works really well with that one.
Vidar: I try to use as few pedals as possible, if it was up to me I’d just plug it straight into the amp and go, but obviously I do use some, I’ve had a Big Muff for a while and that works well, but then again, all my pedals works well with Orange.

Kvelertak (1)

Do you remember the first time you saw an Orange amp?
Vidar: I think it was Hellacopters, in the Toys and Flavours video.
Maciek: Not really, but I remember that when we started in 2009 Norway got kind of like an Orange boom, because I cant really think of any other Norwegian bands besides us having used Orange..?
Vidar: I’m sure there are a few, I just can’t think of them.

You’re one of few bands with Norwegian lyrics to have made it outside of Norway, was there ever any doubt, or moments when you considered English lyrics?
Vidar: We’ve actually never had a proper conversation about it. There’s been a few people saying we’d get further if we did, but I guess we kind of just proved them wrong.
Maciek: It’s a part of our sound as well, we’d sound completely different if our songs were in English. We’ve got one English verse, that’ll do. And to be fair, I don’t really know how much of a difference it would have made if our songs were in English, we’re doing really well as it is. It’s pretty cool doing gigs outside of Norway when you see people singing along, trying to get the Norwegian words right. It’s almost tempting to stop and ask them what they’re actually singing.

Kvelertak.

What kind of music did you listen to growing up? Was there anyone in specific that got you into music?
Vidar: Whatever my parents were listening to, so a mix between Dire Straits and Abba, but I guess what kind of sold music to me was when I got a Guns N’ Roses cassette.
Maciek: I’ve always liked music. I used to be really into skateboarding and listened to a lot of punk. It wasn’t until a bit later I got unto metal. Death was one of the bands that made me want to be good, but I guess it was mostly punk that got me started.

What are you currently listening to?
Maciek: I listen to quite a lot of hip hop, there’s been a lot of Lars Vaular lately, and Yelawolf.
Vidar: There’s a Finnish band called ‘Vasas Flora och Fauna’, which is kind of folk music. While touring with bands such as Slayer and Anthrax and listening to metal non-stop, it’s nice to unwind with something completely different.

Norwegian hip hop and Finnish folk music, I can imagine a few people will find that quite surprising!
Maciek: I listen to a fair bit of Hawaii music as well, like Johnny Pineapple.
Vidar: We’ve been playing Scorpions in our tour bus, which I never knew I liked.
Maciek: Erlend’s got Hellbillies backstage playlist, which consists of a bunch of bands that sounds just like Hellbillies. We’ve listened to that a lot.

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