Recently, The Hook had the opportunity to speak with ORBS about their latest music, their favorite snacks, and what they're up to. You can check out the interview below!
1. You just released a single, “Dreamland II," for the new record Past Life Regression. Is this track a sneak peek of what the record will be like?
- There’s really not any one track that can sum up what this album sounds like. Lyrically I know this one doesn’t deal with reincarnation which a lot of the other songs do, so it’s kind of an odd ball in that regard, and it’s one of the shorter more concise songs on the album. When we were doing the track order we thought of it like an A and B side even though it’s a four sided 2xLP, and what was the back side in our minds is definitely darker and weirder. The first song we released “Exploded Birds” is more in that vein. This is just kind of a weird little mid tempo rock/classical song.
2. What inspired the track and the rest of the record?
-Well, musically "Dreamland II" was inspired by a two handed piano technique Ashley was working on, double hitting each note trying to mimic using a delay pedal. That’s the piano line you hear in the chorus. So the verse was written with the same kind of floaty feel but with more elaborate piano arpeggios. I wrote the drum and bass part to kind of feel like a salsa, I just had that droning syncopation in my head over top. I think it helps hint at the energy that the part is about to erupt into. This song was the second we started and the second to last we finished three years later..the first version was about 6:30 minutes long, same beginning and end but it went on this crazy journey. It was nice to have the time to come back to it and focus on what the core idea of the song was. “El Burro” which ends the album was another one that went through a major change like this, but I think that plays a lot into how we were able to grow as musicians and arrangers from our first album.
3. Dan Briggs, what is it like producing this while also playing on it?
-I produced this album in more of the way a movie producer does; I paid for it haha. Every album I’ve recorded with any band is planned and arranged perfectly before going into the studio. I’ve never written in the studio with an engineer acting as a producer helping to shape songs, so in that regard every group I’ve ever been in has produced our records; in more of the music sense of the term. One of our pre production demos for the song “Peculiar, Isn’t It?” is available in the pre-order for the album with a bonus EP, and you’ll be able to listen to that and then the version on the album and they’re completely identical; with maybe a few vocal approaches being the only thing that’s a little different. In the studio I just love being the first one there and the last to leave in general, being on top of every hit and every effect adjustment.
For this album I recorded the guitars and bass over the course of a week, so it was literally just me and the engineer Kris Hilbert in the room for like 70 hours just killing it and going totally psycho; and as he’d tell you a lot of it was recreating sounds that were on demos from a few years prior. In Orbs especially the sonic world of the song is as much of the carefully planned arrangement as anything else.
4. It’s been awhile since the release of Asleep Next to Science, why such a long hiatus?
-Well, the last run we did was really bad, shows getting pulled out from under us the day before, working with promoters that just didn’t care. There was one day we got into Phoenix the day before our show and went to see our friends Letlive play at the same venue we were playing the next day, so we printed up some flyers to hand out because the shows had been pretty weak up to that point and you know..we come from the DIY hardcore world of the 90s/2000s and that’s just how you promoted shows. So we show up and there’s not a flyer or anything anywhere for the show happening the next day; and the kid working the door was the promoter and I just sort of lost it in a way- enough that he didn’t show up the next day. So, at that time in 2011, it was just a huge stressor. My life was playing music and I was going from BTBAM tour to Orbs tour, and after that one I think we were all just feeling it. I started my fusion group Trioscapes that summer and it really reinvigorated me. Adam, Ashley and I started chatting after that summer and just ironing things over; because we already had a handful of ideas at that point. Flash forward a year or two later and the three of us were getting it all put together in the same way we wrote the first album. And then you know, funding the album ourselves...everything just took longer. Each step of the process was drawn out a bit because there was no real deadline. It was such a relief when we had a finished product and EVR came on board to help us release it because things have been in motion ever since.
5. What inspired you guys to get back together again to work on a new album?
-Honestly some of these songs had been around before our first album even came out, because there was a long wait for that one to happen as well! The first version of “El Burro” and “Jaws on Repeat” were written in the fall of 2009, “Death Is Imminent” and “Dreamland II” happened in the spring of 2010; and our first album didn’t come out until August 2010. So there were these pieces we were so excited about already, and then Ashley shared with me the beginnings of “These People Are Animals” and “Giving Tree Hanging Me”, and I sent “Not That Kind of Ouroboros” and “Exploded Birds” and we fine tuned everything had our LP. It just took...awhile haha.
6. You worked with Kris Hilbert and Will Yip on this album, what was that like?
-They’re true warriors. The album wouldn’t have happened without working with really passionate people all along the way and those dudes set the tone. We recorded this when Kris’ studio was in its original layout and it’s now evolved into this incredible studio, but at that point was us huddled in a pretty small room in a big building. It was this same time of year in 2013, we just plowed through tracks. I’d do the guitar on both sides and then pick up the bass, and then move on to the next song. It was intense haha. I remember we were loving the Queens of the Stone Age “..Like Clockwork” record and probably listened in the car every day on the way to dinner. He then flew out to Long Beach with me for a week to record Adam at his house to accommodate his work schedule, which I think was pretty relaxing for him and nice to get away from his studio here in North Carolina. And Will really reinvigorated us with positivity and his input as an outsider to the band. Kris is one of my best friends and has a connection to Orbs, but Will I just emailed because I dug his work and he latched on in the same way Kris did and that meant a lot to us. Will was insanely busy at that time (and I think still is) so any time I got an email from him with a new mix idea I was always super excited. We met up at his studio later in the process just for a day and slammed through levels on the album and it was a blast. Definitely a winning combo!
7. What makes ORBS different from other groups you’re all involved in like Between the Buried and Me and Fear Before (the March of Flames)?
-Well, there’s stylistic things that are obvious; Orbs is really more of a rock band at heart. Things get weird, progressive, experimental; but for me I just feel like I’m writing as straight forward of songs as I can haha. My natural tendencies are just based off of my musical make up, but that includes everything from Frank Zappa to Nirvana to Bartok and Rachmaninoff...so things just naturally are a little different for us, and I think that’s a similarity to BTBAM and Fear Before.
8. Is ORBS going to tour to support the record?
-Tour dates for the end of July/early August should be wrapped up next week hopefully! We’re doing a week on the east coast with Ivadell from Columbia, SC just to kind of get out there and get our feet wet playing together again, and to support our album which comes out July 15th. I’ll be in Europe right before hand with BTBAM so it has a similar timing and feel to 2010 all over again haha. But I couldn’t be more excited. Adam and I have talked about how we don’t understand how we’re going to be able to contain ourselves emotionally on stage playing these songs because they’ve been this pipe dream for us for so many years now and it’s finally really happening. We’ll see what happens from there, it’d be great to get some opening slots on tours for sure.
9. What is favorite part about working with each other?
-This band was so fun for me to put together initially because it’s made up of a lot of my best friends. Adam and I had gotten really close when our two bands toured together, and we had him sing on the BTBAM “Colors” album. Right after that Ashley and I started writing together and I knew I had to get him involved. I was living with our bassist Chuck Johnson at the time and I had to get him playing bass, and now Matt Lynch who I’ve worked with since 2011 in Trioscapes has just been my rock ever since and he’s kind of stuck going everywhere with me haha. I don’t think he minds though! The 5 of us were all together for the first time in five years two weeks ago when we filmed a music video in LA and it was awesome. It felt so good!
10. Do you expect to keep ORBS going in the future?
-There’s well over a half hour of music already written...I’ll let you figure that out based off of earlier answers!
11. Lastly, tacos or nachos?
-Well, today is Tuesday so I should say tacos. Also I lived with a cat named Taco and she is magical.