During Black Orchid Empire were on tour with InMe earlier some months ago, we had a chance to meet up with them in Bristol. The band sat down and talked lengthily in depth and with a great deal of humour. If you are either a younger musician, just starting up or just started, this two series interview would help you in many ways. Enjoy the second half of this exclusive interview! Also you can find the links to their latest music video and the music below.
Click here for the first half: Interview Part 1
Black Orchid Empire are-
Paul Visser –Vocals/Guitars
Dave Ferguson –Bass/Vocals
Billy Freedom -Drums
I came here with plugging some interesting shit and that’s kinda why I started doing this but yeah anyway… With that in mind, how do you make your income? How do you make this sustainable?
How does it work? Well, it didn’t work for ages, it’s a huge investment. It’s like starting up your own company, so for maybe 5 years at least, unless you are really lucky and something happens as well as the hard work. Because the hard work is vary the way, it’s going to be a massive uphill battle from the beginning and basically the aim for any new band starting up should be to get to the point where they can play pretty much any venue in the UK and bring 300 people. If you can do that, you can make a really good living from it.
The problem is, that is really hard, it’s not a simple thing to do. That involves like a lot of expense, but it isn’t the same as saying the only way to make it in the industry is to be Metallica. It’s quite easy when you are young to think that you go from like pubs to stadiums and somehow like someone walks in and goes “I like what you’re doing, here’s millions of pounds.”
That is like a myth! It’s like all the actors that went to Hollywood thinking they were going to get a roll and they work as waiters. It’s just not a thing.
So, you have to treat it like a huge investment of your time and your money. It costs a lot of money to be in a band, it really does. And if you can get a label behind you as early as possible, that’s great. But how you gonna get them involved, it’s a huge cycle.
You gotta show that you are willing to invest…
… before they invest in you and I think a lot of bands fail to see that.
They just wait around.
This thing doesn’t bother. You can have a 9 to 5 job, do all your work and save up some money and that helps pay for everyone, you can be in cover bands, you can get a crowdfunder thing going. You can busk.
Yeah, if you’re any good right, you can be in your originals band you play, realistically most bands, apart from those that are on a long tour, they are not going to be playing more than once or twice in a month really, because you can stagger around that out and do really good gigs. Another point, don’t gig every week in the same place, what is the point? Do little dotted shows around the country, it’s great, you can do that if you can get out. Our next London show is Camden Rocks and our last London show was Camden Rocks last year, and we are a London band. We have been touring around the UK though. But yeah, if you can do that and at other times be in like a corporate like function band thing, maybe with different people maybe with the same people. You can get paid a couple of grand to do someone’s wedding, great! And you are playing music, you are not working at MacDonald’s.
There are loads of ways of doing it, you have to be pretty good to do that, to be fair, and you have to be very dedicated. Yeah anyway you are right, it’s the band investing over a long time. Then it flips all of a sudden and you are making a profit.
So how long did it take of losses, I mean I’m just guessing now…
Are you assuming we are not making a loss right now? No, I would say we are literally at a turning point now. It depends on the type of tours. Because as soon as you start touring to Europe, you have quite a lot of costs. If you are supporting, you are probably not getting a big feed to do that show either. So you have to have label support and that really helps, but we are only at that point now, where we can start to make that work.
So without going into to too much detail into the mechanics of it, for some people it could be really early in their career, whatever reason is, they could blow up really quick. For other people, it could be like 10 years of work before you are going to see a return and it has to be consistent. But you can always get to the point where you can invest in merch and sell that and make a profit. To be honest with you, it was always just about having an audience, as soon as you have an audience you can make money, if you don’t have an audience you never can.
It’s being over to maintain that constant stream. Like if one person is interested, they will continuously come back, like if anyone fell into InMe.
Yeah. I’m sure there are people here have seen them 20 years ago almost, you know.
Yeah. OK, is there anything you would like to mention, names or like who are your idols?
Yeah. Not necessarily bands, like just day to day people who inspire you? Like politicians or …
Oh no, I’m not inspired by politicians.
All right, Miles Davies then.
That’s the real shit there, and actually here’s another thing, here is one of my axes to grind. So many people now are copying people that are copies of copies of copies, so their influences are like maybe 10 years old.
But those guys all had influences. So if you’re into a band and you think they are amazing, they will tell you they were really inspired by someone, then they will tell you they’re really inspired by another. Then it’ll be people like Pink Floyd and then you’ve got Dave Gilmour being inspired by Muddy Waters, you keep going back through history and you find who inspired who and then you get to the real, deep music that ended up being like at the top of the tributer that inspired everybody. If you can see that, like Bill was saying Miles Davies has massive learning impact on so much other music, and I think it’s really important to go back down those roots and check it out.
Yes, I guess I see it. More in younger bands and no offence to most metal people. Metal people, they have difficulty in contextualising.
Yeah exactly, art that’s before them, more than any other genre, metal is very good at being blinkered where they’re like “I only like the one band” that you can’t read the logo of and I can’t believe they tuned into c for that record I’m out, you know what I mean so ..
We are already eclectic, we all have musical backgrounds where we’re into like Jazz and classical and stuff, and then I guess in a rock world, its people like Deftones and Queens of The Stone Age, Love Massugar, Periphery…
I was going to say, I can definitely hear Queens of The Stone Age, Tool, I can hear more Perfect Circle than Tool.
Yeah that’s fair, because I find Tool, yes musically they’re brilliant.
I think A Perfect Circle captured the songwriting.
Yes, I think A Perfect Circle, like Mer De Noms is one of my favourite records, It’s incredible. But equally Deftones are probably one of my top 5 ever I’d say.
And then, I love all the modern like techi stuff cos we are on quite a techi label actually.
Yeah like Long Branch Records, and they have just signed up Valis Ablaze who are Bristol based and they are super techi and really cool.
We have elements of that kind of thing, we’re quite twisty.
I love Massugar man, but the trouble with being like Massugar is, there is no point because they’ve already absolutely completely nailed it.
This is one of the things I’ve started to notice is that bands are like ‘I wanna be the top of my game within this niche’, so instead of, kind of like, I wanna be a great band. So, like Periphery, have reached the top of their game for that niche.
Apart from Massugar!
No no they are slightly different, but yeah I get what you mean they just wanna go up in this kinda one channel.
Yeah, but like for me and I sense that in you guys you just wanna be the best f##ing band that you can be.
We want to be the band that we would love to listen to.
Competitiveness is very undervalued in this country actually, because these guys are from the States and New Zealand where people like want to win things, where as in the UK a lot of people are like …. ‘Oh I can’t be called rubbish’.
Yeah if you’re good they call you a wanker.
It’s our own problem,
I’m really sorry. Actually, no, I’m not sorry, that’s a British thing to do.
Right. So, the thing is for us we, I’m quite into competitiveness in terms of I want, cos obviously we are really DIY and we mix everything ourselves and produce it all ourselves and I’m like, I want that record to be up there with the best productions. It’s like I don’t want to ever listen to it and its not competitive with everyone else.
You can’t really compete with a different band, it’s kind of a fallacy, what does that mean like, I like many bands, I don’t have like one band and if anyone else is better… It’s ridiculous, everyone is unique.
And just because you like one thing doesn’t mean you can’t like another.
That’s a real weird thing for me, so that whole thing it’s just bullshit really.
The lesson to do is just make music you really really like yourself. And I know a lot of people that are in bands and they wouldn’t really listen to their own band and they also think the idea of enjoying your own music is in a way a little bit weird.
Yeah, it’s a strange thing for me.
I’m not on that page. Wearing your own bands merch is a no no.
I do it all the time!
He does it all the time
He does it all the time, that’s because you have no clothes with you on tour.
Like for me, our first single is my ringtone.
Because you like it, because you made it, you wouldn’t have made it if you didn’t like it.
I totally agree, and I still listen to our own stuff, I get a kick out of it, we play our own shit every show, we don’t play anyone else’s music.
If you wanted to like, listen to Pantera all the time, you’d be in a Pantera tribute band.
I don’t think I want to do that.
Ha ha that could be quite fun!
I can’t stress enough that making something you like, it’s so obvious, it’s very strange but I think a lot of people are caught up in thinking that whole cycle of saying “but what if this label doesn’t like that kind of music.”
Well, that’s the wrong label then.
If people think this or that about me, please, who cares, just be yourself.
In fact, it’s a really good sign. Because for every person that hates you, there’s probably someone else that likes you, because at least you are being noticed.
And being polarising often has a really good lift.
I mean Black Veil Brides, I personally do not enjoy much listening to them, but a lot of people do. And I think the hate makes people defend them more.
Yeah, it’s totally true. Every single person that loves something, they statistically must be, maybe you don’t hear about it so much because you know, say like a million people listen to an Adele track, there aren’t a million people proving that they didn’t listen to the Adele track, but they probably are, they are probably there. I just think, thinking about it as a popularity contest is really pointless, the fact is if you engage with one person you probably will engage with other people. I think that’s how that works.
It might not be, this could be our last tour!
On that note, what have you guys got coming up?
All sorts of shit, so … we finish this one at the end of the week, we’ve got 4 more shows including tonight, then we have got a week off then we’re heading over to Germany with Black Nap, they are cool have you checked out Black Nap?
I have not checked out Black Nap.
…so their guitarist was in Dredge.
They are like an Alt Rock super group, one of the guys from…
F**ing hell I’ve not heard that name in a while.
Well that’s another thing, these guys are like Killer and they’ve got their own thing going on now together, so yeah it’s kind of a super group. But like for lots of people who have never heard of them.
Black Nap yeah? I will have to check that shit out.
You will like it, they are cool, they are not dissimilar. They are similar, like us, a 3 piece as well and that’s going to be really wicked. So we are doing that across Germany and then a week back in the UK and Camden Rocks festival and then finishing off at Download Festival, and then a couple of weeks later is Pile up Festival and our next single comes out on Friday and our album comes out 25th May when we are in Germany.
We are going to be playing in Hamburg when that comes out.
And then after that, we are gonna do some headline stuff later in the year, which is all being sorted out at the moment as we recently signed to Artery.
I noticed that.
Which was pretty wicked.
So that’s all kicking off, and then I think what we are going to have to do is write the third album before we run out of time to do that and try to make that as well so .. because it’s quite hard to fit all that in with a busy schedule…
But yeah, it’s gonna be a really cool year and to be honest with you, I’m just really excited to get the record out to the world, because it’s far in the way the best thing we have ever done by such a long way.
What sort of things is it covering?
There’s quite a lot of different stuff like there’s a song Burn on there, which is about Challenger Spaceshuttle exploding which is one of the earliest really negative memories I have, because I was like three or something when it happened, which dates me, apparently I was like in the high chair watching and crying because the spaceshuttle, it was like exciting shit right, an actual rocket and then it blew up which is kinda sucky. So I wrote about that.
And then there’s Pray To The Creature, which is about the film Nausicaa and The Valley Of The Wind which is a Japanese anime, it’s all super geeky.
And then, there’s like, my first choice for the next single which is about some people who are like some friends of mine who are in a difficult place and the fact that they knew each other super well but become essentially complete strangers and didn’t actually know each other like they thought they did and analysing that from the outside.
What is that single called?
That is called My Favourite Stranger and that’s the one that’s out on Friday 11th May is it? I do not know what day it is.
Yeah, and I’m excited for that as well because there’s lots of ridiculous bass in it.
In fact, there is 2 versions, the album version has got this big long like bass intro bit, but we cut that out for the radio version so … you don’t get to start a radio single with bass.
I don’t know why the general public don’t like twice as much bass.
Because they don’t like Les Claypool as much as you, that’s why.
Hey, you don’t know, we have never tested it, we should maybe.
How important is it to make a radio version?
You have to understand who you are selling to and, also it didn’t compromise it. We cut out some wafty stuff at the beginning which works great because it’s the intro track on the album, so it needed that introduction. And on a radio station, you don’t need to like ease people into stuff, you have someone doing that for you like “and now it’s the new single!”
It’s like you can play something differently live from how they’re recorded, it’s a different listening environment really.
So, it’s all about matching what it is you are trying to do with who it is you are trying to have listen to it. If you’re not doing that you are not understanding what the relationship is with yourself.
We are our most brutal producers most of the time, we are literally our own producers, but we don’t mind cutting stuff up all day long, it’s absolutely what we do. In fact, we were getting annoyed because the label suggested some of the changes and we met them half way because they were right on some things and we kind of felt a bit differently about some of it, and came up with a compromise and it went really well. And now we are like, that’s kind of how it should have been on the record and it’s kind of how we should have done it live, but not all of it like there is a midway.
I’m a bit between the two as well, like the annoying thing is, I’ll be playing on stage going, yeah that’s right, I wonder if it would be better, then stop thinking about it, you’re playing it right now! And it’s really hard.
You should be concentrating right now, it’s probably the most challenging song to play like its rock hard.
Yeah, it’s hard to play anyway and we’re singing over the top of it as well, but yeah that’s making it worse.
The harmonies are on point.
No that him I can’t say thank you for that, I’m just ignoring what he’s doing.
I was going to say because it’s very hard to match harmonies, like tonally.
Dave’s like a professional backing singer, like he’s never fronted anything ever.
No, you don’t want me singing out front, I can get away a lot more in the background.
What’s really funny is, because he is so used to playing live, and singing in the studio, he basically stands as if he’s got a bass in his hand, which is amazing.
It’s the only way it works!
Yeah, so that’s how that works.
Cool, amazing! Well, that’s that.
Cool, wrap it up.
Yeah. Thank you very much.
*Interviewer: Harley Watson (R X P T R S)
*Photographer: Dave Doherty
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