Grutle  I am Grutle Kjellson, singer and bass player of Norwegian heavy metal band Enslaved.

I spent some time finding the right amplification, I tried several brands but I was never satisfied with the way the sound of the bass just didn’t blend in the way I wanted it to blend in. It might sound good individually but it’s supposed to fit in with two guitarists, keyboards, drums and vocals.

When you have five members in a band all playing, it’s of course difficult to separate all of the instruments for a sound man, live and in the studio. It’s crucial to have the right amps, that blends well with one another. Orange is probably the easiest amps to blend with other things, the attack is still intact, the tone is intact, the thickness is intact. Even with loads of other sonic violence surrounding it , like the attack of two heavy metal guitars, or some massive organs and the pounding of heavy metal drums.

I think Orange is perfect for, not necessarily for blasting black metal or death metal but if you add a little dynamic and groove into the mix, then Orange is definitely the real deal. Everything from pop/rock and all the way up to extreme metal, as long as you are using the dynamics of the music and don’t just go full throttle, if you go full throttle then it doesn’t matter what you play.

My live set up at the moment is an AD200 B amp head and an OBC410 cabinet, which is more than enough. On this tour the hire company only had an 810, and i’m standing right infront of that! It’s pretty massive, it really works! I would prefer on the smaller stages a 410.

I’m really happy with the gear, I have done a few tours with Orange and they are real workhouses. There is never any problems with amps or cabinets, we always have two amp heads, one spare and never have I had to use the spare one. It’s really reliable and they sound the same and great every night.

It feels great to be on the Orange roster, I could never picture being on the same roster as Geddy Lee 15 years ago or any of the other great musicians. It is full of really great and cool musicians and it’s an honour to be onboard.

 

From an Artist Relations perspective, the AD200B bass amp is one of the best weapons in my arsenal. It’s an amp with extremely pure bass tone, lots of clarity no matter how you’ve set the knobs, and it’s overdrive is a perfect blend of classic and modern. I’ve had hundreds of artists make the switch from “the other standard bass amp company that which will remain unnamed” onto the AD200B.

Artists love it because it’s produced to the same standard as most vintage tube bass amps. They also tend to make the switch when their classic bass amps are ready to come off the road to become studio-only pieces.

Here’s the backstory on a handful of Orange Ambassadors that use the AD200B (which we commonly refer to as just the “AD200”):


Geddy Lee – Rush

This might be hard to believe, but Slipknot is actually responsible for Geddy Lee playing the AD200.

Rush and Slipknot were recording next to each other in a Nashville studio. On a whim, Geddy heard the bass tone coming out of Slipknot’s studio and peeked his head in to find out what was making that glorious sound. Martin, Jim Root’s tech at the time, told him it was the AD200.

It took us about NEGATIVE FIVE MINUTES to decide Geddy could make or break Orange bass amps. Once we got that now-iconic photo of him chilling on top of his AD200’s we started buying up a ton of full page ads in guitar magazines. It was basically an entire year of promoting Geddy. The result? A nearly 100% increase in bass sales (and they’ve been growing every year since then).

Geddy used the AD200 for ¼ of his onstage bass tone. He turned the gain and the treble all the way up and everything else down as far as it could go. So basically the AD200 was his overdrive tone. However, the bass tone on Rush’s 2012 album Clockwork Angels is FULL of AD200 (check it out).


Glenn Hughes – Deep Purple, Black Country Communion

I was at Winter NAMM in 2011 when suddenly I got pulled into our demo room by an extremely excited Cliff Cooper (Orange’s Founder and CEO). He told me Glenn Hughes had stopped by and asked to try the AD200. We stuffed ourselves into that demo room like sardines. Glenn plugged in, played for 10 seconds, and then stopped and looked at all of us. His face had an expression of disbelief.

“This is the tone I’ve been trying to find for decades…this is my sound.”

Since then Glenn has been using the AD200 at 99% of his shows without fail. When I can’t find backline for him in some random city in, say, Africa, he makes sure I know how sad it makes him. He recently switched from playing through a combination of OBC115 and OBC410 speakers, to a pyramid-looking set up featuring (3) OBC810 cabs turned sideways.


Tom Petersson – Cheap Trick

Everyone knows that Tom is constantly switching up his rig, but for the past 7 years Orange has become a staple of Tom’s tone. Tom plays 12 string bass guitars (which he’s famous for doing) and his rig is a mash-up of bass and guitar amps.

The first Orange amp he added to the mix was the AD200. Then he started throwing in Orange guitar amps, specifically the now-discontinued AD50 hand-wired, the AD30, and more recently the Custom Shop 50 hand-wired. For about a year his rig was entirely Orange, but in true Tom fashion he’s started to put some Fender back into it. Honestly, as long as Tom Petersson of motherfreaking Cheap Trick has Orange on his stage I’ll be OK with whatever it is!


Jason Narducy – Bob Mould, Superchunk, Split Single

I’m putting Jason Narducy, one of my favorite people in the world, right below Tom Petersson because Tom is the reason Jason picked up a bass. I’ll just let Jason tell you what he thinks about the AD200:

“The first time I played an AD200 was in a rehearsal space in LA in 2006. It was the first practice with Bob Pollard’s new band and we had to learn 357 songs or something like that. We also taught our livers what 357 beers felt like. Despite the beer and avalanche of songs, I knew right away that the Orange AD200 was special.

I noticed the amp was orange just like the manufacturer’s name. They nailed that. But more importantly, it had the best tone for my P-bass. There were no hollowed out frequencies that you get with the common rented bass rig. The AD200 has presence and muscle. It is my favorite thing besides beer. And my family, I guess.”

 


Ben Lemelin – Your Favorite Enemies

If you’ve been following Orange closely over the past decade you know that there’s a super insane French-Canadian dude named SEF from the band Your Favorite Enemies who has done product reviews for us. SEF is like the human version of candy-flipping. However, we also have been working with the band’s bassist, Ben Lemelin, for the same period of time, and he’s just as good at doing killer demos.

Ben loves the AD200 for its super pure bass tone and for its ability to get wildly overdriven when necessary.

 

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE ORANGE AD200B PAGE

Hey guys, what’s up I’m Scott Middleton and I play in Cancer Bats. So we just dropped an album called The Spark That Moves. It’s our 6th studio album. We kinda did a surprise thing – right now we’re celebrating our 10 year anniversary of our 2nd album Hail Destroyer which has been really cool and everyone’s been really excited. While the focus has been on that, we’ve been secretly making a new record and we just dropped that the day of our first show for the 10th anniversary as just kinda like, to give back to all our fans that have supported us through the years. It’s like, “hey it’s for you guys” it’s not about hype, we worked really hard on these songs and we hope everyone really enjoys this just as much as our past stuff – the reception has been amazing and all the reviews that have been coming in have been way better than what we could have hoped for.

It’s exciting to celebrate the old Cancer Bats and user in the new era of the band. I think our band, when we first stared out was was a bit, um, a bit more simplistic in terms of arrangements and idea’s I think. Things were a little bit faster, a little bit knarlier – we were pushing different styles for the bands and trying to be creative. It’s like how do you make a heavy interesting for 2018? Because so much of it has been done before. Yeah, we’ll always have classic elements of rock, punk and metal in our band but we’re always going to try and thing forward and see where we can push boundaries forward too.

The Bag Bangeetar is a pedal that I got a couple months before we actually went into to record and I mean, that pedal blew me away the second I tried it. I threw it in front of my little crapp practise amp that I’ve had since I was 15 – this terrible thing, but it’s something that I’ve used to write riffs on when I was home. I just plugged it in and it just sounded like a monster stack – it was crazy. Just the flexibility of the EQ – the Baxandall EQ… it just has a crazy amount of range and it’s all about sounding good. Because there’s a parametric mid-range band, i’m able to take out of any nasty frequencies that a certain guitar pickup might push through too much and I can take that out or I can add stuff that’s missing. The other thing that I notice is that the pots on it are the highest quality – it’s all de-tended to it’s easily recallable so if there’s a setting you just take a photo or write it down and it’s easy to go back and find that place again. As I experimented and wrote a bunch of song idea’s with the pedal, I had to bring it with me to write the new album. The Orange sound is becoming an important part of Cancer Bats in the new direction that we’ve been going in. I bought that pedal with me and I was able to just plug it into the effects return of a loud amp and there it was. There was the sound. When we track the guitars, we do yto9u know passive left and right, and we stereo pan them and entirely one side is the Bax Bangeetar and into an amp  that is cranked up and it sounded amazing. It was like ‘holy shit, this is just what we’ve been looking for’!

The other thing that I’ve been doing lately – I don’t know if everyone knows about it – but I’ve been producing a lot of records at my studio at home. What I found was super great with that pedal is that I can use it as a way to have guitarists track live in a room with a drummer. So when we’re tracking drums, I don’t have to have an amp that’s cranked up that bleeding into the drum microphones. It was a Cab Sim out which sounds awesome and gives the guitarists the a comfortable and accurate tone that’s inspiring. One of the drawbacks to headphones is how do you give the guitarist enough gain and tone so when he’s playing alongside a drummer, he’s giving it his all, and that in turn inspires the drummer to hit even harder. That’s been an indispensable studio tool. I had a band come in with the OR120 and you know, it was crazy how close I was able to dial in the Bax Bangeetar pedal to sound like a real Orange Amp – that’s the real difference with so many other distortion pedals out there… we’ve all used them and tried them! This pedal, really feels and sounds like a real amp.

As a pre-amp pedal, it’s inspiring to play, so when I’m trying to convince other guitar players to try something they’re like “you want me to plug into a pedal? Shouldn’t I be using a guitar amp or something?” and they’re like “oh, no, that’s good!”.

For me it’s been a revolutionary tool for studio work. I can plug in and go direct, that’s one thing, but I can plug into any amplifier and get that Orange sound that I’m looking for which is really cool.

If you think about the Bax Bangeetar in terms of a traditional pre-amp… what I would normally do is, run any other pedal I’m using before it. So I’d put my wahs, compression, any boost or fuzz – I’d run that into the Bax Bangeetar and I’d run any modulation or delay effects, post that pedal so it all kinda ties and again, because it has such an amp-like feel, I don’t need to think too much. It just compliments it really well. That pedal itself is a game machine. It’s not meant for clean tones really, you’re either putting it into a lcean amp or the effects return and turning it into a monster sound – and that’s what I love about it and what I’m always looking for. There’s so many amps out there with a million differnt knobs and six different channels and everyones trying to add extra features and such, but this is just everything you need, it is the high-gain channel that you want. That’s the difference for me. The simplicity with the pots, being easy to recall in a live setting, it’s flexible in it’s EQ – it can work with so many different amps, guitars and pedals… that’s why it’s kind of become the secret weapon for me.


To learn about the Bax Bangeetar click here

 

I must be getting older cause the years keep flying by, and it’s time for Desertfest London yet again, having just about recovered from the last one. Just kidding, I’m totally recovered from that one, but still slightly sleep deprived from last weekend’s Roadburn festival – anyway, enough about myself and my speedy or not so speedy recoveries.

This weekend, as every other year, Camden will be infiltrated with mostly longhaired, although not limited to, music and beer enthusiasts ready to shout along to some of their favourite bands before let’s admit it, getting hammered at the Black Heart and The Dev until 3am before when it’s time to, venture to Woody Grill for lifesaving kebabs that will prepare them, myself included, to do the same thing all over the following day – and then again, the day after that.

Covering last years festival I started out incredibly professional with pen and paper in my bag for professional notes to go in my professional daily recaps I’d be getting up at 8am the following mornings to write, and earplugs because we only get one pair of ears and we must look after them. Four hours into the festival I’d had about eighteen pints, lost an earplug, and a single puff of a cigarette that definitely wasn’t a cigarette and sent me on a magical mystery tour for about 3 hours, making me run away at an incredibly slow pace from my friends to watch various bands in the dark on my own, all while feeling uncomfortable about the way my arms were attached and hanging down the side of my body and accidentally brushing unknowing by-passers.

Radio Moscow, Desertfest Antwerp 2017

This year I’ll be kickstarting my festival nice and early on the Friday when London noise connoisseurs Swedish Death Candy takes the Black Heart stage at 2.45pm. I’ve seen ‘em a million times before, but they continue to deliver impeccable live performances every time, so I wouldn’t wanna miss them. Following that, I’ll be making my way to The Dev for Orange ambassadors Lionize where guitarist Nate will brighten the place up in his all gold outfit, which will most likely be the only all gold outfit at the entire festival. After that, we’ve got Orange ambassador Anthony Meier taking the stage at Underworld, which might just be my favourite venue in all of London, with his band Radio Moscow, and I’m pretty sure will be one of the festival highlights as they blew the roof off as headliners at last year’s Desertfest Antwerp. When Radio Moscow ends, I’ve got half an hour to make my way to KOKO where the kings of Gothenburg and 70s revival rock Graveyard will be headlining the night, with bassist Truls Mörck flaunting his AD200 (Product placement, advert, shameless name drop etc.)

Saturday I might as well set camp at Electric Ballroom with bands such as Church of Misery, Weedeater and High on Fire playing. London, lock up your ladies cause who knows what’ll happen when a shirtless Matt Pike plays his first note through his stack of turned up to eleven Orange amps taking everyone on the train to vibration station – the entire Roundhouse will be speaking in tongues not knowing what hit ‘em, most likely all in a haze of, uhm, Willie Nelson scented incense. ‘Incense’.

Church of Misery, Desertfest Antwerp 2017

Then there’s Sunday, the grand finale which already had a pretty damn strong lineup since day one, until they about a month or so ago threw in King Buffalo which will be headlining the Black Heart at 9pm, Elder playing Roundhouse at 4.30pm, a band that simply just blew me away when I saw them for the second time last August, having added a second guitarist/keyboard player to their line-up, as well as adding a second headliner for the day which is none other than Hawkwind. Hawkwind. H A W K W I N D. ‘Hawkwind live at the Roundhouse’, kinda rings a bell, doesn’t it? The legendary kings and pretty much inventors of space rock will be taking the stage at 7.50pm, and that really is a show I don’t wanna miss. I met Phil Campbell last year, and he told me Hawkwind live was ‘the scariest fuckin’ thing he’d ever seen.’ Fair, that was in the 70s when they had a topless Stacia on stage surrounded by some of the trippiest visuals the world had ever seen at that point, but surely even decades down the line Hawkwind are destined to provide you with a night you’ll late forget. Let’s not forget Monolord who just finished touring with Black Label Society where the played London’s infamous Royal Albert Hall, and will be taking their caffeine fuelled doom to yet another iconic London venue as they open up the Roundhouse at 3pm.

Monolord, Desertfest Antwerp 2017

Between all of this, running between shows, catching up with friends from near and afar and drinking lukewarm, flat beer that I’ve held in my hand for far too long, I’ll also be conducting artist interviews and keeping Instagram a float, keeping you guys up to date with the mayhem and the madness going down in Camden town.


If you wanna join the madness and share the fun, head over to Desertfest London’s website and get your hands on a or two ticket before they’re all completely gone – see ya there!

As far as current music goes, not many bands, most likely none, can compare to Earthless. Their musical craftsmanship is out of this world, and they’ve created an explosion of emerging psych bands coming out of San Diego and the surrounding areas. But then again, when Isaiah Mitchell used to be the local Encinitas guitar teacher, what else can you expect? Having obsessed over Earthless since I first came across them years ago in my bedroom back at my mum’s in Norway, they’ve always seemed like these unattainable gods from sunny California, so when I recently was told Isaiah would be playing Orange during their next UK and European tour… Ahh, yes, I was so stoked. About freakin’ time, he’s only the Hendrix of our generation.

You’ve been pretty busy touring lately as well as just releasing your latest record ‘Black Heaven’ on Nuclear Blast Records, which is an amazing record, but also pretty different from your earlier stuff.
Isaiah: It’s super different, we didn’t expect it to be exactly the way it was when it came out, but we’re all happy with the end result. We knew we were gonna do at least one song with vocals, but we didn’t expect it to be four songs, that kind of just happened. Those were the strongest songs, so by natural selection they ended up on the album.

You’ve obviously been singing in Golden Void for years, and I also heard rumours about a band from way back called ‘Juan Peso’ where you also used to sing?
Isaiah: Oh wow, yeah that’s from when I was about 19, and you have to do a lot of digging to find any of that online. You might get lucky on youtube but that’ll be it. I’ve always sung in bands, but for Earthless we just didn’t want to do it, it wasn’t our thing. It’s been fun not doing it, but it’s also been fun throwing it in there, do something different.

Last time I saw you guys in California you were using an old Orange cab, and tonight you’ve got a full Orange backline! Care to run us through the two?
Isaiah: I got that 4×12 cab when I was 17 or 18 from a music shop in Encinitas called ‘Moonlight Music’, I used to work at this shop and my boss Russell had two brand new Orange 4×12, I think both early 90s, maybe even late 80s cabs in the garage of his house. We didn’t have any other 4×12’s in the shop, so he told me I should get one of them, and I was just shocked when I saw them, they were so – Orange! At that point in my life I’d never seen an Orange in the flesh before, I was just a kid and they weren’t very common in the US at the time, my only ever encounter at that point was this old Black Sabbath video with Paul Shaffer in the background, and Sabbath playing ‘Iron Man’. Sabbath were using Orange amps there instead of their usual Laney amps, and they just stuck right out due to the bright colour!

I ended up taking the cab of his hands, and putting it up against any other cabs like old Marshalls or whatever, my Orange would just always sound better. Maybe it’s because the walls on the Orange are so thick compared to others, especially Marshalls’ who’s really thin, I don’t know, but there’s just no competition in any other amps, the Orange would just always do it better. For this UK and European tour, I’ve also got two Orange heads, a Rockerverb MK II and a Rockerverb MK II and they’ve been treating me well. Our sound guy’s really into Orange as well so he’s happy – we’re all happy!

There’s a lot of emerging psych bands coming out of San Diego at the moment with you guys being one of the first ones on the scene more than a decade ago, and Radio Moscow and Sacri Monti bassist Anthony Meier even described you as ‘the godfathers of San Diego’ last time I spoke to him, singing your praises, as most people do – it must be crazy though to have had that sort of effect on your hometown and the place you’re from, leading the way for all these other bands and artists. Obviously, they’ve all had Earthless to look up to, who was it that stood out to you when you guys first got together and formed Earthless?
Isaiah: First of all, I love Dukke (Anthony), he’s just great! We’ve toured with Radio Moscow and it’s always a good time with those guys. To answer your question; Definitely Jimi Hendrix, Cream and all the other great British blues guys who played loud amps. Blue Cheer, a bunch of German kraut bands as well as Japanese bands. When I was a kid growing up I didn’t know of any current bands that were doing that whole Cream style of playing where you’ve got half stacks or full stacks, I had never seen that before in my time. Then I met Mike and we started playing together in Lions of Judah which kinda made my dream come true as he was into all of those things as well. Then one day, someone sat me down and made me check out Nebula’s ‘To the Center’ album and I saw the picture on the back where they were just using all this old, rad gear, and I just had no idea that kinda stuff still existed. All that stuff was influential to me, and still is. I’m also really stoked about the whole emerging San Diego psych thing, it’s a really cool thing to be a part of, especially when you have all these rad bands citing us as influences, it’s an honour.


As I finish typing, I schedule this post for posting 19th of April at 2pm, knowing very well that mere two hours later I’ll be attending the first of three Earthless shows at this years Roadburn festival, and my endorphin level is through the roof just thinking about it.

In a day and age where most things are becoming digitalised, it is pure joy and excitement we feel about the growing return of the vinyl after it’s downfall in the early 90s when CDs emerged. Record stores are booming, and it’s actually financially viable to open a record store, and survive! What a time to be alive, hey?

While in London recently, we met up with three quarters of last year’s Firestone Battle of the Bands winners, Welsh band Fire Fences, in Soho’s Berwick Street, where you find Reckless Records and Sister Ray records only seconds apart. Why? To find out more about their appreciation of music, and their love for vinyl. As we let the guys loose in the shops, they are overwhelmed with options.

«We don’t have places like this in Bridgend! There’s an HMV, but nothing with the amount of options like Sister Ray, or high quality second hand vinyls at bargain prices like Reckless Records!”

We ask them to roam around, and pick out a few albums that have shaped their taste in music, and maybe inspired them as musicians.

James:

Miles Davis ‘Kind of Blue’ – Released: 1959
There was no one in my family that showed me jazz which was quite nice, that I was able to venture on my own journey and explore jazz for myself without my opinions being tainted by anyone else’s. Miles Davis for me was the gateway into a whole new world of music, so unbelievably expressive, without saying any words. That for me, that someone can express themselves so well simply by just playing their instrument, that said a lot. This album, ‘Kind of Blue’ which has also got John Coltrane on it, is incredible. I can put it on anytime, sit back, relax and just enjoy it for exactly what it is.


Freewhelin’ Bob Dylan – Released: 1963
Growing up my dad would play guitar, and he’d always play music such as Stones and Dylan around the house and the one that stood out to me was this record, ‘The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan’. It’s an absolutely amazing record and totally reflective of the time when it was released. Dylan himself is just magical, I always liked him as a kid but I appreciate him a lot more now I’m older. This record also has this nostalgic feeling of growing up and my dad playing it. I think this is the record Dylan really made a mark for himself with, and made people understand what he was about. Personally, I think this is by far his best record and a good representation of the culture at the time. Take ‘Masters of War’, it’s so angry but at the same time just absolutely amazing songwriting, just another level.

Aaron:
The Strokes ‘Is This It’ – Released: 2001
The Strokes didn’t reinvent the wheel when they released this album, but they just did it really well; the album’s got incredible songs, and carries itself really well. Especially for a first album ‘Is This It’ really is quite something – all the singles on there are huge, hit after hit. Their songs are easy listening but at the same time incredibly well constructed. I just love the fact that despite not doing anything new, it was groundbreaking because they did it so well. The album could have been released yesterday and it would still have been as big as it was.

U2 ‘The Joshua Tree’ – Released: 1987
I went to see these guys last year in their hometown for their ‘Joshua Tree Tour’, and it was absolutely mental. I think this album was just ahead of its time, using guitar effects that hadn’t really been used much before. My least favourite track on here is ‘With or Without you’, which tends to often be the only song anyone knows, but then the rest of the songs on there are just amazing. Another timeless album, as these songs are all pretty relevant today.

Will:
Mac DeMarco ‘Another One’ – Released: 2015
I feel like a lot of music today is very over produced, and often a product of people wanting to get stuff out there as quick as they can without taking too much consideration into the end result. Then there’s records like this, where you can tell so much time’s gone into it, especially with the songwriting behind it, which you don’t really find that much today in newly released music. To find that sort of deep meaning in music you often have to go back all the way to the 70s. My favourite track on there is ‘Without me’, a song that just really chills you out after a long and busy day.

Black Sabbath ‘Masters of Reality’ – Released: 1971
This record seems pretty obvious, because it’s Black Sabbath. I was torn between Vol. 4 and ‘Masters of Reality’ but ended up going with ‘Masters of Reality’ due to the variation in the songs – you start out slow but heavy with Sweet Leaf, and then just a few songs later you’ve somehow got ‘Children of the Grave’ which is just mental and completely takes off. I actually ended up buying this record as well as it was lacking in my Sabbath collection; between my brother and myself we’ve got them all now except for Vol. 4, I guess that’s next on the list.

I did actually buy another record today as well, an EP from Inspiral Carpets, a band Noel Gallagher used to roadie for. Noel Gallagher and Oasis have always been a big influence for myself and my music, so it’s interesting to get some more background there and hear some of the stuff Noel Gallagher was around and listening to before his Oasis days.


“Digital music just doesn’t feel the same, or as real, as a vinyl does. There’s something about putting a record on your turntable and carefully dropping the needle and waiting for it to play, holding the artwork in your hands, and admiring all the time, work and love that’s gone into it.”
– James Lee, Fire Fences drummer

 

To recap and remind those of you who might not be completely in the loop with all the different pies we stick our fingers in – last year we were proud sponsors of Firestone’s Battle of the Bands, a competition that encourages artists of all genres, ages and genders to be heard – haven’t played outside your own basement before? No problem, if you’ve got what it takes – drive, talent, charisma and that little extra, you’re good to go! With hundreds of bands and artists applying last year, judges and a public vote managed to get the acts down to a top three consisting of Welsh band Fire Fences, London-based rapper EL-Emcee and Malvern’s Nuns of the Tundra. The final, which was held at BIMM Birmingham, was live streamed on Firestone’s Facebook for anyone to watch, and saw four piece Fire Fences snatch the prize which included fame, glory, Orange gear and precious studio time to record their upcoming EP thanks to Firestone’s backing of the event. Recap done and dusted, bringing us back to where we are today. Three months have passed since Fire Fences’ victory and they recently made their way to London for two very different shows; one late night gig at Hard Rock Café showcasing young music, followed by a stripped back set at Sofar Sounds the next day.

With Hard Rock Café being just a tube journey away, I made my way there and met up with the guys post-sound check, where I found them looking pretty pleased and content, having just indulged in some £7 pizza. Stomachs were full and spirits were high before a sudden abrupt announcement from the band;

“They wouldn’t let us use our Orange amps, they’ve had noise complaints before and the council won’t allow it.”

Bittersweet, bitter as the amps had been brought all the way to London from Wales for their chance to shine, sweet because the Orange amps might just be ‘too loud’ – is there even such a thing? Surely not, just ask Matt Pike.

How have you spent your time since you won the competition?
“We’re heading into the studio next week, which we’re able to do with Firestone’s support, so we’ve been working on material and getting ready for that. We’ve also been practicing for these two very different London shows – the one tonight is prime time at 10pm with a full band, kind of doing our regular thing and what we’re used to. As soon as we finish our set our bassist Dylan has to shoot off and get a midnight bus back to Wales as he’s got an exam tomorrow, leaving us one man down at the Sofar Sounds show. Luckily, we’re stripping it quite far back doing an acoustic show, so if we ever were to play a show as a three piece, this is a good one to do so.”

As Fire Fences take the stage at 10pm it’s busier than they expected, ‘Especially for a Wednesday night!’, and they get a great response from the crowd with people dancing and really getting into it. They finish their set and send Dylan off on his way back to Wales before they prepare themselves for another night in London and the big smoke. However, I also caught up with Aaron, Will and James the next morning – more on that coming soon – and reflecting on the night before, Aaron added:

“The Hard Rock Café show was epic and we really had a lot of fun. It’s a completely different vibe in London than what we’re used to from back home in Wales, almost like a different way of listening to music and more appreciation for it than there is in a lot of other places. People were getting really into it which is great. The show tonight will be pretty different though, the setting will be the kind where if you drop a pin the entire room can hear it. It’s fun for us though as the two shows are so diverse and it’s good practice for us playing our songs in such different ways and styles.”

After the two London shows, Fire Fences head back to Wales where they’re due in the studio the following week, leaving them with three more days to prepare before they record at the Northstone Studios within the Court Colman Manor – which is a pretty sweet place to record an album. We’ll be stopping by to get some insight on how they work in the studio, so watch this space to see what’s going on behind closed doors.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your band Fizzy Blood? Have you been a member since day one?
I’m Ciaran Scanlon and I’m the bass player in a rock band called Fizzy Blood. I joined Fizzy Blood back in 2015 a few months after they had come out of the studio recording ‘Feast’. Our drummer Jake and I had been playing in bands together for years, and at the time we were both living together in Leeds, studying at the Leeds College of Music. When Fizzy needed a bassist, I joined them for a few rehearsals and we’ve been playing together ever since. As well as ‘Feast’, we’ve also released ‘Summer of Luv’, plus we’ve just come out of the studio recording our 3rd EP, which we did with the wonderful Alex Newport. This will be released in the next few months so keep an eye out!

You’ve got some impressive shows behind you with your three years in the band, what would you say has been the highlight for you?
For me, it has to be playing overseas. We performed over in South Korea for ‘Zandari Fest’ and Austin Texas for ‘SXSW’, which were both pretty surreal experiences. In the UK, this headline tour we’ve just done is definitely a highlight as well. The gigs we played in Leeds, London and Birmingham were really exceptional and the crowds were so energetic and responsive. It was a really unique moment for the band.

How old were you when you got into playing, and what led you towards playing the bass?
I have been playing bass since I was about fourteen years old, so for about eight years now. I first started when I was in secondary school when a few friends of mine were learning instruments. I used to turn up to the practice room, hang out, and try to get involved any way I could, and with bass being the one instrument none of my friends played I thought ‘why not give that a go?!’. Later I got a bass for Christmas, and the rest is, as you say, history. My dad was really into the bass as well, just as much as I was, so he got me lessons to help develop my learning of the instrument. A few years later I decided to pursue it further and study music at university, which is where I eventually ended up joining the band.

 

What kind of music did you listen to yourself growing up?
Growing up in an Irish household in Birmingham, I was exposed to lots of talented Irish music and musicians. My parents were very much into the Manchester music scene, so bands like The Smith, Oasis, Joy Division and The Stone Roses were always played on repeat.

Can you give us a lowdown on your history and experience with Orange?
When I first started playing I had an Orange combo practice amp, which was one of the first pieces of equipment I ever owned. The Orange amps I have used over the years range from everything from practice combo amps to a Terror Bass and an AD200. I’ve always been a fan of Orange, especially with Fleetwood Mac’s John McVie being a part of the Orange family and roster. From the moment I first played Orange I’ve been sticking to them due to their top quality sound and pristine production, and I’ve been really lucky to use Orange amps across a wide range of tours in the UK with Fizzy Blood.

So you’ve played the Terror bass and you’ve given the AD200 a go, what’s your current set up for this most recent UK tour?
For this as well as the last few Fizzy Blood tours I’ve been using the Orange 4 Stroke 500, it’s got everything I want and I’ve had such a great time playing it. I dont rely on too many pedals either, and my small pedal board consists of a tuner running to a Sansamp into a pedal called a ‘Steel Leather’, which is essentially a treble boost that emulates a pick sound as I play with my fingers. It’s been nice using the 4 Stroke as I normally use my Sansamp to control my tone, as the 4 Stroke has allowed me so much more creative freedom.

If you could go back in time and give your ten-year-old self some words of wisdom, what would it be?
Save up all your pocket money and get yourself an orange amp. You won’t regret it.

Thanks so much for taking the time to this interview, and congratulations on your latest record ‘Alamort’ which is out today!
Dan: Yeah thanks! It’s out today, and it’s really exciting. This is album number four, as well as having released two EPs. I initially started it as a solo project seven years ago, then after awhile it kind of just went out of hand, and here we are now!
Ryan: Myself and Marcus have been in the band for about a year, and we have both been apart of this album and writing process. This is the first album with this line up.

Dan: It’s a real departure from what the band has done before, as it used to have quite a lot of folky elements. We’re now playing more melodic punk taking inspiration from the 90s emo genre. It’s kind of more of the music I’ve always wanted to be making, so when these guys joined that just all fell into place and happened naturally.
Marcus: like Dan says, we’ve gone more full electric, with more pedals and force and all that, more noise.

Now, Norwich might not be the centre of the universe, and most people might not be that familiar with the Norwich music scene. Can you guys give us the lay of the land?
Dan: The Norwich music scene is really healthy, one of the reasons I move to Norwich was actually due to the booming Punk scene. All the bands kind of support each other, and that is how we all met, on that scene. That is how Ryan and I met about four years ago.
Ryan: I do sound engineering as well and made a fair bit of people through that, that is also how I met Dan, as I did a few shows for him.

So Marcus, how did you end up in the band?
Marcus: I am kind of the outsider of the group as I initially joined the band as a fan. I was already aware of what they were doing and knew the band quite well. So when I saw there was an opening I just thought to myself ‘fuck it, I’m going to give it ago’. It’s been nice since the lineup had already changed and the band was changing, I got to come in and bring my own opinions and put my own sound on it, I also got to add my personality and stamp on some of the older songs. No one is precious about anything so if any of us comes up with a new idea and it doesn’t go down well with the whole band we won’t do it. Everything we do, we do together.

Now, the reason were all here – Orange amps. Can you tell us a bit about your history and experience with the brand?
Dan: I used to guitar tech a lot for various bands, some of which would use Orange, and I was just baffled by the fact that you could get such clarity and crunch at the same time, you can’t seem to do that with many other amps. I was playing Marshalls for years, but it wasn’t until I first plugged it into an Orange I finally found my sound.
Marcus: I play a Dual Terror, and I was first introduced to Orange by a friend who had a Tiny Terror, and I just loved how you could get that big sound something so small, it’s had this amazing huge sound and it would just really fill a room. Before I started playing guitar in this band, I originally played bass, and I didn’t have any money to buy any pedals, so I had to learn to compensate for that by using my hands and away I would use the settings on my amp. I got that overdriven sound without having to use any pedals, and if they wanted to make it even more overdriven I could just play harder, mechanically. I like how transparent the sound is, and the amps are incredibly responsive to what you’re doing. So yeah, I guess it is just the evolution of not being able to buy any pedals and learning how to work around it and using my amp to compensate. Even today, I still only use three pedals when we play live, as the amp pretty much sorts me out with the sound I want and require, with most of my sound coming strictly from the amp itself. Gain, volume, tone – nothing fancy, just plug and play!
Ryan: My first encounter with Orange was similar to Dan’s, doing shows, working as a sound engineer and seeing bands coming in with different gear all the time. I played bass for years, but had never managed to find that had that was quite right. One day, I was working with a band who’s bassist was using a Bass Terror, he played a 68’ Fender Precision bass through it, and the tone was just unbelievable. Straight after that, I went out and bought to my own which lasted me five years, until this Christmas I decided to put my big boy pants on and get the OB1-500. All I want from my amp when playing the bass its power and clarity, and it is true what everyone is saying, you really can just plug and play.

Ryan : Hi i’m Ryan, and I’m from the Cribs and here we are in London, at the University.

The first time I remember seeing an Orange amp, I think it was in Weezer’s first record, I opened up the sleeve and there was a picture of all their gear. Their bass player Matt, had this Orange amp and I thought it looked really cool. I became interested at that point because as a kid you end up looking at pictures of gear more than you do using gear because you don’t really have many opportunities. I think I really fantasised about owning one as a school kid. I remember cutting out a photo of an Orange stack from a catalogue and sticking it on my bedroom wall and being like, one day I’m going to get one of these amps.

The first time I got an Orange, was probably in like 2001. It was when the Orange crush came out and I got one for my birthday. I was really excited because there was an Orange amp out there that I could actually afford, it was a way of getting an Orange, on a modest budget. I still really love that amp! I think it was the Crush 30, it became our main recording amp. All our early demos we recorded with the Crush and even now when we go to the studio, I always take the Orange crush with us. We split the signal between my Orange rig and the crush because I think it sounds good on record. I really love that amp!

My main criteria of an amp is that it sounds raunchy, I don’t like it to sound super scooped like you get with most amps. I think a lot of amps are missing something in the mid range and that’s what I liked with Orange. To me they always sounded like the guitar sound of the 70’s records which I always really loved.

A lot of other amps that I’ve used, don’t feedback well and that for me is a really important thing, we use a lot of feedback. I see feedback as one of the more exciting parts of playing guitar as you can’t really control what it is going to do. I always loved the way Orange’s sound when they are being cranked up and the feedback you can get from them and the way you can play the amp in that way. It’s always been an important part of our sound.

My current set up is AD30 that I bought in 2002-2003 maybe, it was the first thing I bought when we got a record deal. Because I thought it would sound like a big Orange Crush and I loved the sound of it. I’ve been using it every since, that’s been my only live amp since 2003-4. In the last couple of years i’ve added that bottom cab and then the Matamp, the Green amp. I used it, all set to bass frequencies, it was mainly when we did the big outdoor stages or the arena shows, I wanted to feel the amp behind me. I’m so happy with my current set up, i’m kind of so used to it, I don’t think I could deal with using anything else at this point.

I tried the Getaway Driver out recently on a new song we have been working on, I thought I would use it as the main pedal for the session. I was really impressed by it, the thing that I find interesting about it, it is definitively a drive pedal, it really has that character but you can get really crazy with it. I was surprised at how dirty that pedal actually gets, usually drives can be a bit tasteful. Which obviously the Getaway Driver can do but it can also do something at the other end of the spectrum which I appreciate.

Ye, it feels cool to be part of the Orange family, when I was a kid I dreamed of owning an Orange. When you become a touring musician it’s easy for you to see the amps you use as the tools of your trade but I still try to contextualise how I felt when I was a kid about the gear and dreamed about owning it. To be a recognised part of the Orange family feels really good, strokes my ego!