Orange Goblin albums are often buried in a damp dusty corner labelled “stoner” in record shops amongst forgettable Black Sabbath tribute albums and unspeakable Fu Manchu rarities.
In fact, not since Kyuss (the band that spawned Queens Of The Stone Age) have such a quality and hard working band been denied the exposure and recognition they deserve.
Despite this, the London quartet have just celebrated their 10th Birthday and are glad to be back on English soil having just completed their second tour of America.
musicOMH caught up with vocalist Ben Ward to uncover the Goblins’ desire to win new fans and discover how they are preparing to play with Chuck Berry!
After releasing The Big Black album in 2000, Orange Goblin were teetering on the spring board of rock grandeur and awaiting their dive into the mainstream, but with their follow-up, Coup De Grace, some would say it all turned into a bit of a belly flop. Ben agrees:
“With Coup De Grace, we tried to distance ourselves too much from the so-called “stoner scene”, and ended up splitting our fan base down the middle. In hindsight you have to realise which side your bread is buttered on, and Coup De Grace should have been the album that took us up a notch after the Big Black, but it didn’t come off.”
However, Ben explains that the disappointment this situation evoked has now been fuelled into a new lease of life for the band:
“There came a point when we got back from the US last time when we were close to breaking up. We didn’t rehearse for two weeks, and eventually we were like, ‘This is no good man, we’ve gotta get back into the studio and start making music again!’ Even though we lost our other guitarist Pete, who’d been there from the start, it didn’t affect the way we wanted to do things.”
“I think we’ve got a lot to offer musically too… We’ve never compromised, or changed into something we’re not – we’ve always stayed true to what we believe.”
“When a heavy riff and a raise of a pint glass is all you need, Orange Goblin are the band to get you through the bad times.” – Vocalist Ben Ward on the therapeutic qualities of Orange Goblin’s stoner-metal sound.
It’s hard not to admire a man like Mr Ward for his sheer determination to make his dream work, but what about those times when even he has felt like chucking in the towel?
“In the lows, for me personally, it’s the support you get from the fans that gets you through. There aren’t many Goblin fans about but the ones that are out there are really loyal, dedicated and inspiring. We were summed up recently by someone saying: ‘When a heavy riff and a raise of a pint glass is all you need, Orange Goblin are the band to get you through the bad times.’ That’s the sort of thing that keeps you going you know?”
Despite the bad times, there have been some pretty high and mighty ones also in the band’s decade of existence:
“Yeah, loads, I guess getting interest from Lee Dorian (former Napalm Death and now Cathedral frontman), and then actually signing to Rise Above in the first place… We played the Dynamo Fest, we did a US tour, we’ve been to Japan, we did an arena tour with Alice Cooper and with Dio. It’s like every time it gets a little big bigger… For me the best thing about it all is that the band is still going after 10 years, and we have never been as enthusiastic about what we do as we are now.”
“If new young bands are being influenced by bands like MC5… then good luck ‘cos I’d rather listen to that than some fat c**t from Pop Idol!” – You should hear Orange Goblin vocalist Ben Ward when he’s being rude!
Speaking of enthusiasm and the like, what inspires the towering vocalist when he is concoctinglyrics for the Goblin’s unique brand of stoner-tinged blues metal?
“In the early days it was Tolkien and stuff, but then you grow up and want to move on, so basically we dropped the fantasy influence that was in the first three albums, and now I tend to concentrate on more down to earth issues. We’ve all been through bad relationships and bad break ups during the course of the band so we can start getting all those heartfelt blues out of that.”
For a band who hold integrity and honesty so close to heart, presumably there are also “blues” about putting in such hard graft each year, only for some new “retro-rocker-pretty-boys” to come along, and steal the limelight?
“Yeah that gets me a bit, but I’ve always been a fan of good music and if new young bands are being influenced by bands like MC5 and making music that does those sort of bands justice, then good luck ‘cos I’d rather listen to that than some fat c**t from Pop Idol!
“I’m not a big fan of The Darkness but you have to respect what they’re trying to do, and they’ve put guitar music back on the map. I mean, a Darkness fan can go and buy an AC/DC album and then maybe discover us somewhere down the line – you never know!”
“We need to stop putting so much baby sitting money in the hands of 11 and 12 year old girls to go out and buy Pop Idol records, and get them buying rock instead.” – Orange Goblin vocalist Ben Ward on how to cure the musical ills of society.
It’s possible, but in the meantime it seems that Orange Goblin are trying to match the touring schedule of US Presidential candidates in their struggle for global domination:
“Well, we’re off to Europe now till the end of July, then were playing the Hells’ Angels Bulldog Bash with Chuck Berry! Also, while we were in the US, we got chatting to Jimmy Bower and he loves us and wants Goblin to be the main support for Superjoint Ritual when they come over at the end of the year, so that’s really encouraging.”
Indeed. So finally, I ask Mr Ward what remedy he would prescribe to get bands like Orange Goblin out of theunderground and into the public arena.
“We need to stop putting so much baby sitting money in the hands of 11 and 12 year old girls to go out and buy Pop Idol records, and get them buying rock instead… The best thing about rock and roll is that it’s here for the long haul, it’s not gonna go away. In five years no one will remember most of the pop stuff in the charts, but bands like Sabbath and Zeppelin will live on forever.”
Amen to that sir!
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