Sydney‘s latest grunge collective Orphans have hit an impressive chord amongst Sydney’s punk community. The release of their first demo tape still resonates as a solid attempt to reinvigorate a sound that has too often been humiliated and done an injustice by, for lack of a better portrayal, Nirvana fanboys.
We chat to Orphans about their fast growing musical connection, their newly released debut demo, touring the world, and much more.
By no means do I wish to pigeonhole Orphans as a revivalist group, or a group living in the past; this would simply prove untrue. Rather, the notably popularised flame ignited during the definitive 90’s era, is re-ignited by Orphans through contemporary stylings that inject life into a sound that has too often been butchered by lacklustre attempts at nostalgia.
The release boasts five tracks of grit, cumulatively only just shy of the ten-minute mark. With a tight grasp, victim to dejection, you will descend into the stifling clutches of thrashing riffage, and the undeniable presence of the groove. Orphans convey a poised approach, offering a brief insight into the collectives numerous methods of allure, as the young group cautiously experiment with various means of approach.
With a demo now on the table for the world to relish, and a national East-Coast tour on the horizon, I sat down with Orphans to discuss the road ahead.
Happy: Before we get into the specifics of your first release, why don’t you tell us some history about the band? How did you guys become a collective?
Jason: We have the most stupid band formation story the world.
Andrew: I had my mind set on starting a group called Stooge, just as a piss-take.
Jason: Of all our friends, Andrew was the only one with a job, so naturally, we called him ‘The Corporate Stooge’, then started this band called Stooge.
Andrew: We then got Jack on drums, and changed the band name to Le Grill.
Jason: This is stupid, let’s not go there. To put a long story short, we all met in high school, played in a couple of bands together, and eventually decided to get serious around December of 2015. After I had returned from my tour of Asia with my other band The Nuclear Family, I spoke to Andrew, and we settled on the name Orphans. I had the name brewing in my mind during my time in Asia.
Happy: Why Orphans? Was there any particular reason for that name?
Jason: It’s the name of a painting by an artist called Alexander Tinei.
Happy: It’s been a long time coming and the day has finally arrived. Orphans have released their first tape via Urge Records. I must say, I was expecting riff driven punk with a catchy delivery, and it’s precisely what you delivered without disappointment; can you tell me more about the writing process behind the tracks featured on the tape?
Jason: Normally I just write some songs on my acoustic guitar and show they guys in practice.
Happy: So you’re (Jason) the primary songwriter of the band?
Jason: Yeah. Though, when we all get together we each put our separate inputs into each idea.
Happy: The tape has a 90’s grunge vibe to it, accredited mostly by the driving riffs and straightforward yet addicting arrangements. Were there any particular inspirations behind the Orphans material?
Andrew: I’d say Yonic for you (Jason).
Jason: Definitely. Yonic are from Manchester, England; They’ve opened my mind to a whole new range of music. Overall, they’ve definitely influenced me. However, while we were writing the songs for this demo, I don’t think we had a sound in mind. Rather, we were doing what we wanted to do.
Happy: I know there’s a diversity of tastes in the group. Notably, your drummer Jackson has a strong liking to Hardcore; this was an element that remained an anticipated aspect of your live shows. It’s always a treat to see Jackson burst away from the drum-kit, wild-eyed and borderline demented. Would you say that hardcore influence seeped its way through onto the Demo Tape?
Jason: Well, Jackson wrote the last track on the demo, Shellshock. So that’s dominated by him, he’s also on vocals for that one.
Andrew: Jackson offered essential input rooted in hardcore for the first track, Cough Syrup, as well. That was essentially a mix of two separate songs stitched together; one song written by Jason, the other by Jackson.
Happy: So, this tape has an unavoidable low-budget presence to it; after all, this remains a demo tape. How did you guys go about the recording process?
Jason: I had some recording equipment, and Jackson had a mixer; For the large part, I recorded each of the tracks individually at home.
Andrew: The process was a bit cluttered, and we rarely found time to record together due to our schedules, hence why we recorded each track separately. The overall recording process took a month or two. However, if you were to tally up the time we legitimately spent on the project it must have been a mere couple of hours. We pieced the tracks together and stretched out the recording process over an extended period.
Jason: It was crazy, the drum track alone took less than half-an-hour.
Happy: If you had to pick a favourite track, what would it be?
Andrew: Definitely Cough Syrup.
Jason: I can’t say for certain, but I’m leaning toward In Circles. That’s likely because it was the first song we wrote together. At that time I wasn’t thinking about the band, it was something that I had written for myself.
Happy: You mentioned earlier the influential role visual art played in modelling the cover image for the Demo. I must say, the artwork is great. Who designed that and is the visual process an important aspect of the group at this time?
Jason: Thanks, I did the album art. I read this Arthur Rimbaud book and made a collage from the front cover. I don’t feel as though we have an image yet. We are starting to develop one with our album artwork and concert posters, however I wouldn’t say we have anything set in stone.
Happy: You guys are fresh out of high school, and already have your first east coast tour locked in. That must be pretty exciting. Is there anything in particular, that you are looking forward too?
Andrew: It’s my first time on the road, so I’m pretty excited. If I had to pick, I’m eager to play Melbourne in particular.
Jason: I’m excited to travel around the country with my friends. The whole experience of being on the road in enthralling.
Happy: Jason, you are not new to touring. Do you care to tell us about your prior experience on the road?
Jason: Last year I embarked on a tour with my other band The Nuclear Family. Nationally, we ventured up and down the East Coast. The biggest feat was our journey across SE-Asia, it was an entirely foreign yet extraordinary experience.
Happy: That’s quite an impressive feat for someone who’s merely 18 years old. Do you have any notes for younger artists who aspire to follow in the same direction?
Jason: I recall struggling to connect with like-minded individuals are the area where I live, it was an undeniably hard road for a while. After a fair few failures, it can get disheartening. Toward the final year of high school, I was adopted into The Nuclear Family, that was my break, and I was dedicated to it.
Once the bell rang signifying the end of a school day, I would run to the train station and endure a three-hour train ride to Wollongong for band practice. Bottom line, once you see an opportunity ahead of you, drive and push yourself, by any means necessary for the love of your craft. Dedication is crucial.
Happy: What can people expect from an Orphans show on the upcoming tour?
Andrew: It’s hard to say. I feel as though our live show is frequently changing, every show is a little bit different.
Jason: Yeah; we’re still trying to figure out our sound. Our live shows feel fresh as a result; we’re at a stage where we are regularly trying to find ourselves.
Happy: I have attended a hand full of Orphans shows, and I can say with certainty that the group is noticeably growing, developing not only creatively but the live shows only get tighter with the more experience under your belts. Soon I think the group will be skintight.
Jason: I feel the same way. Hopefully, we continue to grow positively and learn from each other.
Happy: Are there any notable bands joining you on the road?
Jason: We were supposed to be playing with Screaming Females at Rad Bar as part of the tour, regrettably that was canceled. Otherwise, the tour is heavy on local artists relevant to the areas we play.
Andrew: Just make your way down to show, and support the local artists.
Happy: With the first release done-and-dusted and the first national tour locked in, is there anything you are avid to add to the list of accomplishments?
Andrew: Obviously I want to record and release more material with a larger production value, however, leaving the country on an international tour is a dream. First and foremost, a decent quality recording is in high demand.
Jason: We are planning a 7”. Hopefully, we can arrange that by the end of the year.