When a band has been around as long as 18 years they can go two ways – out the door or on to yet further success: for Orange Goblin the second option is the one proving that longevity can result in greater rewards and the just triumph of god solid heavy metal.
As Orange Goblin prepare for their Limelight2 date on January 27th we caught up with the bass maestro Martyn Millard who provided an insight into where 2013 will take the band, thoughts about the unifying strength of metal and the prospects of QPR staying in the Premiership…
But first, we like all sensible men and women wanted to know just how Orange Goblin gave birth to their finest release to date, A Eulogy for the Damned, which by all accounts had a little trouble before its birth.
And Martyn was brutally honest on why it took so long for this masterpiece to hit the shelves.
“The length of time it took to come out was generally down to our inability to rehearse on a regular basis and get off our backsides.” he said. “It’s certainly our most mature work to date but I'd put that down to the longevity of the band and what we we've been through over the past 18 years, rather than tweeking songs for months on end until they were right.
“We had 1 song (Red Tide Rising) which was written 2 or 3 years ago but the rest were written very close to the recording date and just kind of happened in a very short space of time”
The last time Orange Goblin played in Belfast was yet another live tour de force from a unit that seems to revel on the stage and translate the intensity of recorded output into a ferocious live set. Just how does the band always seem to keep their ‘game’ at such a high intensity?
“We're not entirely sure to be honest,” said Martyn. “I guess it’s a big melting pot of us genuinely loving the songs, loving playing live, feeding off of the energy we get from the audience and maybe being fans and quite down to earth ourselves.”
Perhaps one of the magic ingredients for Orange Goblin is that they’re not ‘stuck up’ rock prima donnas.
“Yes, I believe that has helped us as we have such a good relationship with our fans. We are always are approachable. “We will being in the bar a lot of the time talking to people about music and football etc,and not hiding away in dressing rooms. I think people feel like they can connect with us - we are no different to them, which is exactly how it is and how it should be!”
That connection – along with a straightforward work ethic (despite earlier comments about getting off their backsides) saw its just rewards in 2012 when Orange Goblin netted arms full of accolades, including being named as Terrorizer’s Best Band of the year.
“In all honesty we were stunned by the Terrorizer poll results. To win 'best band' and feature in so many other of the categories was fantastic and truly humbling.We never expected those results,ever!
“We knew we had released a decent record so if the album was in the top 20, we would have been over the moon but for people to vote for us over so many categories was unbelievable. So thank you from all of us if you voted! Whether we deserve it or not is a question other people may have to answer, not us .I think we deserve a little recognition certainly!”
And, the just reward for a commitment to getting out there - and to paraphrase another singer – getting down to business is a solid following of devoted fans.
“It takes a long time to build up a fan base and 99 times out of 100, the only way to get that is by jumping in a van and playing up and down the country as much as you can,” explained Martyn.
“We've always been lucky and the four of us get on so well that we just treat it as a trip away with your mates. It just so happens that an hour or so of that time is us playing on stage. You have to enjoy it. If you don’t enjoy gigging and playing in different cities then there ain’t much point being in a band really.”
With that base behind them 2013 promises to be a momentous, busy, globetrotting year for the mighty Goblin’s march to, well to world domination!
“2013 is huge for us,” Martyn continued. “The opening show of the in Dublin on Saturday (26th January) will be our first as a 'professional' band.
“It’s taken 18 years but we finally have a chance to properly tour the world, so that is exactly what we are trying to do.
“After the UK tour we head down under to take part in the Soundwave festivals as well as some club shows with Kyuss Lives and Red Fang. From there we fly straight to the US and Canada where we tour with Clutch for 7 weeks. We have 60 club shows in Europe pencilled in for the summer which are waiting on festival confirmations and then we hope to go back to the States, South America, Japan, New Zealand and maybe even India, but these are only being talked about so nothing definite. But as you can see it is going to be a busy year.”
One area of the fan base that is a times excluded from access to the live power of Orange Goblin is the under 18s, who cannot get to shows in pubs and clubs – a source of concern for Martyn: “The youngsters are the future of anything, be it metal, politics or whatever, so to alienate them is dangerous. I understand the laws but there are ways round it.
“In the US, some of the bars are split down the middle, so you have drinkers and over 21's on 1 side and non drinkers and under 21's on the other. It’s a strange set up, but at least the teenager gets to see his favourite band thus keeping the music alive in the younger generation. We don’t people like teenagers becoming disillusioned with our music and going elsewhere because we are not accessible.”
Throughout the so-called Troubles the flag of metal and punk helped save a generation of fans from alienation and despair here in Northern Ireland, and metal bands like Orange Goblin know the responsibility they bear in helping music as a unifying force, something Martyn is acutely conscious of:
“I think music, no matter what type or genre, is a way of bringing people together,o r at the very least a form of escapism.
“But rock/metal has a bond which its fans feel an allegiance to: much more than any other form of music. That is what makes this type of music special and that is why bands have to keep playing, no matter what the troubles or problems .It’s a way of life!
“A religion in itself. Just without the bullshit!”
Metal as a no bullshit religion – that’s something we can get behind! And let’s face it, if you haven’t already began to worship at the altar of Orange Goblin it’s time you got your groove on, neck brace and stand by and drinking arm well limbered up.
Come January 27th we’ll be there to see the Martyn and his trust cohorts rip apart Ormeau Avenue in Belfast – see y’all there!
But before finally wrapping up the interview we had to ask about QPR. Martyn is a long standing fan and tweets regularly about the highs and lows of following the Loftus Road men. But with this season so chaotic, what is the future for QPR:
“Harry is doing a great job but it won’t be enough. Mark Hughes left a terrible and unbalanced squad of players behind that was beyond repair. You never know but i think the job is too big...even for H!”
Some tickets still remain for the Orange Goblin show and are available from usual outlets or from Katy’s Bar. A Eulogy for the Damned is out now on Candlelight Records.