Orange Goblin Speak To SonicAbuse

Neither space nor time provides for the eulogising necessary for the mighty Orange Goblin. They are a British institution, a band who embody the spirit of rock ‘n’ roll and whose performances frequently become the substance of myth within hours of having taken place. There is not an ounce of artifice with Orange Goblin, they simply play their collective hearts out, and their back catalogue contains an embarrassment of riches. Headlining Day one of the inaugural Hard Rock Hell, Doom Vs Stoner event is the natural position for the band and it provides them the opportunity to hold court in front of over 1,500 people. Whilst at the festival, we were lucky enough to have the opportunity to speak briefly with the band about whether Doom Vs Stoner offered an opportunity to celebrate their impressive legacy, their love of the album and its attendant artwork and more. The result is published below, and whilst we can lay no particular claim to revolutionary journalism, the revelation that guitarist Joe Hoare has a secret stash of Mariah Carey and Yes albums may come as a shock to some…

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Over your career you’ve gone through various phases from deathly beginnings; through a more stoner sound to a more rock ‘n’ roll vibe now. Do you see this festival, Doom Vs Stoner, as a chance to celebrate your heritage a bit more and did you consider it at all when you came up with the set-list?

Joe: No! [much laughter]

Right, that’s the first one done then…

Joe: We do what we do. We don’t analyse…

Joe: We never considered ourselves as being particularly stoner. We consider ourselves a rock band.

Ben: The set list is basically picked by what songs we like playing, what songs people want to hear… what songs we know! What songs we can be bothered to play and songs we still like.

Joe: After twenty years, you get to realise what people like live. So yeah… there’s a lot of songs that people ask us to play that just don’t work live. They’re album pleasers. The amount of times we get people asking “why don’t you play ‘beginner’s guide to suicide’”

Ben: You fucking play it!

Joe: It’s got slide guitar, lap steel guitar, harmonica… Ben’s just not that good!

You could go the Guns ‘n’ Roses route and have an army of spandex-clad session musicans…

Ben: You realise something, we’re poor! You have to pay the bastards…

This is really just for you, Ben: lyrically the band has always been very interesting and literary – is there anything particularly that inspires you or do things just jump out and grab you?

Ben: It used to be alcohol was a go to for inspiration, but anything really. Books I’m reading, films I’ve seen, obviously I have a keen interest in horror whether literary or on screen. Literature-wise, obviously H. P. Lovecraft is a massive influence on a lot of people. I grew up reading Stephen King, James Herbert and stuff like that, hence ‘the fog’, and horror movies are probably my biggest passion outside of music. That started at an early age, watching 80s slasher films and video nasties. We grew up watching Hammer House of Horror, tales of the Unexpected, things like that, so yeah – just a  broad spectrum: Italian Giallo movies, seventies stuff from Spain and France as well through to some modern horror. A lot of it gets dismissed as crap because it’s been made in the last ten years, but there’s a lot of good film-makers out there now and it all goes into my lyrical melting pot?

Does it time to go from an original lyrical concept to the point where you are prepared to put something out there?

Ben: Yeah, you sort of read it back to yourself and you think “that’s garbage!” You do have to keep going over stuff until you’re finally happy with it, then I run it by these guys and they say it’s shit and I have to start again.

Joe: Or you just ignore us and keep singing the shit!

Musically one of the things that I like a lot about Goblin is the way you get the albums to flow, and I know you get asked about song-writing a lot, but one of the things that always interests me is the art of sequencing an album and how much work goes into that side of an album’s creation?

Joe: That’s one of the main things we… we don’t argue as a band, hardly at all, ever. We don’t argue during that either, but that is the one thing that we sit…

Martin: The songs aren’t written with a particular order in mind

Joe: No

Martin: We write the songs for a particular album and then we decide how they go, and that’s the most difficult part, deciding where they go.

Joe: It really is.

Martin: Even more so now that, obviously, vinyl is on the come-back. You had the first song and the last song and everything in between and now you’ve got to think about each side and it’s quite hard.

Joe: We did have problems with ‘back from the abyss’, I know that we, for ages kept looking at it. It’s a fun bit, though, too. Because it’s yours, it’s your project, it’s your baby as it were; so people get to see it, I think it’s kind of fun to put it together properly. A lot of the time you listen to an album, well I have anyway, and you think “it just doesn’t flow properly” and I think a lot of times an album could be a lot better if it had been put together properly – they become a different animal, so yeah.

There’s a big difference between an album and a collection of tracks – I grew up with prog albums in particular…

Joe: Absolutely

Ben: I find myself at home listening to music and thinking, even with classic albums, “Oh, why did they put that song there?!” I think the only one you can’t do that with is ‘Dark side of the moon’…

Joe: Of course, that’s pretty much perfection anyway.

There’s also the art of presenting your music in terms of packaging – something for which Goblin are well known. How involved are you as a band with that side of things?

Ben: Yeah, that’s another thing we take a lot of care over. It’s an important thing because when you go into a record shop, the first thing you notice is the album art. You can be struck by an album cover – you might have never heard the band before but then you’ll be tempted to buy it.

Martin: Literally, my early music collection was basically based on the album art. I’d buy something that looked cool, then you’d read the liner notes and the thanks list and they’d mention other bands that they liked and then it’d be like “fucking hell, I’ll listen to that!”

Joe: I bought ‘Holy mountain ‘by Sleep because of that. It was on Earache, I listened to Grindcore and all that and because it was on Earache I thought, “Fucking hell, it must be great!” And it was! I bought my dad ‘Life after Death’ for Christmas when I was 11 and it was like “woah” because the artwork for ‘Live after death’ is untouchable! My Mariah Carey albums as well… I kinda wish I hadn’t based that on the artwork…

Ben: You were just looking for something to have a hand shandy over…

Joe: No it’s true, I’ve also got hundreds of copies of Yes albums… hundreds of them. Thousands.

Martin: All of the same one…

Joe: Yeah thousands, just because of the art…

One of the things that got me into Monster Magnet, after a friend had pointed me towards them, was their album artwork and that was my next question – you guys played at their recent anniversary show, back in March I think, and that must have been awesome for you, as fans, to be on the bill for such a special show.

Ben: Yeah, we’ve been good friends with Monster Magnet for a long time and we’ve played shows in the past with them whenever we’re in the states and hang out with those guys in Philly or something and CBGBs. So they’ve been good friends for a long time and as soon as those dates were announced, the promoter got in touch and asked if we wanted to be a part of it. It was a great show to do – those are obviously renowned as the classic monster magnet albums, that A&M era, so it was a good opportunity for us to play a huge hometown show.

It was huge and it looked like you guys had a blast

Ben: Yeah it was fun, and they’re one of our favourite bands. I remember going to see Monster Magnet in 94/95 at Subterranea, just after ‘superJudge’ came out and they were amazing. They kind of flirted with commercial success when ‘Powertrip’ came out, but they’ve always been an amazing psychedelic rock band. They’ve always had that striking image of the Bullgod on every album as well…

I love the Bullgod – Dave’s got that patch on his jacket

Joe: Yes!!!

You’re out on tour at the moment, do you prefer to headline your own shows or to join the line-up of a festival?

Ben: Pros and cons of both. These festivals give you the chance to play to… 1500 – 2000 people or something like that here tonight; but sometimes you don’t get the intimacy you get with those small club shows. Touring-wise these days it’s better for us to play to 15000 people at Hellfest than to spend three weeks in France playing to 250 people in clubs every night. So there’s pros and cons to all of it.

Any final words, whether it be Spandex underpants or Mariah Carey revelations?

Joe: Mariah Cary and spandex underpants are our favourite words

Ben: I like ‘plinth’

Martin: ‘Dave’

Joe: ‘Marrow’

Joe: ‘Meringue’

Martin: My current favourite word is ‘Bob’

 

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