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Code Orange

Interview von: arne mit Reba, am: 21.03.2017 ]

Am unsteten, rücksichtslosen und beinharten Spiel von CODE ORANGE aus Pittsburgh ändert sich auch mit dem Wechsel zu Roadrunner nichts. Der Nachfolger des viel beachteten Vorgängers „I Am King“ schlägt genau in die Kerbe, die der Band die gesteigerte Beachtung eingebracht hat. Überraschungen bietet „Forever“ aber ebenfalls. Grundsätzlich bleibt es bei der Mixtur aus Düster-Hardcore, punkigem Mathrock und verstörendem Noise. Rohe Industrial-Klänge und fiese Metal-Parts runden das Spektrum ab. In der Konsequenz bleiben CODE ORANGE eine destruktiv eingestellte Hardcore-Kombo, die in bester DIY-Manier tut, wonach ihr ist.


Musicscan: First of all: people who got introduced to your band often are impressed by your “different” and open-minded approach to heavy music in between hardcore, punk and metal. What do you think about statements like these, and what is your approach towards music and being Code Orange?

Code Orange: I will always be appreciative of statements like those. There are many goals we have as Code Orange, but truly one of the most important is to make an impact on musical minds, and show the intricate ways in which you really can mix those three styles. Hardcore, punk, and metal have been our backbone since we were young, a very close deep connection, and it’s always been important to us to weave each style into our sound in a way that hasn’t quite been done before. I don't think we consciously realized we wanted this when we were young and starting off, but almost unknowingly I do think we tried to do it. We were inspired by so many artists, and naturally just wanted to put it all in there! It didn't always make sense, but as we grew up, I feel as though we learned to approach writing music in a more intentional way, but while still keeping everything real, with natural influences that were very personal to us. That to me is what makes a musician interesting. That’s why our music doesn't sound like one thing, why it doesn't sound contrived, and why it sounds open-minded. I like how you ask what my approach is to being ‘Code Orange’. Thats how it feels to me; it feels we strive to be a genre of our own, Code Orange, music that is personal and fresh and fueled with all types of pain and anger. We want people to see us as Code Orange, not as a punk band or a hardcore band or a metal band. We are a musical band, and write music that invokes feeling, not a band meant to be placed in any kind of box. There are not assumptions with us. We will continue to approach music this way, and will continue to be inspired, and will continue to surprise you.

Musicscan: Could you perhaps tell us something about the intention and the spirit of the band when Code Orange (Kids) came to be. What has changed until today, what is the basis for what you are doing?

Code Orange: The spirit of this band is literally what kept us together. We started super young, but even then we all knew we wanted this more than anything else. We all would and did sacrifice everything to do this full time and with 100% dedication. Our songs were all over the place and we hardly knew what we were doing, we played tons of shows to nobody and got to some dark places, but we kept going and going and going, as our purpose and motivation came from within and not anywhere else. We were never handed anything, we created this, using strong and literally unstoppable desire to be in this band for as long and far as we could take it. We all were addicted and still are. We have the same morals and values concerning this band as we did then, but are just more self aware and confident with our ideas.

Musicscan: From the outside perspective you keep on following your DIY roots and ethics while the circumstances have become professional and commercial: is it hard to stay true to what you come from and to find an arrangement with the industry? What lessons have you learned from being involved with the underground music scene since 2008?

Code Orange: It definitely can be hard, as there is usually logic to both sides, but we know where we come from and we also have seen many people try to jump ship on their roots and it literally never works out. That is definitely a lesson in itself, though honestly I don’t think we would’ve ever gone down that path as we are all very skeptical people, and only really trust each other anyway. As I somewhat said before, we brought ourselves here and we fully trust our own instincts. We would never say no to opportunity, and we always take risks and chances to grow our band, but at the same time, we are a self-sufficient machine, and we stick to what we know is Code Orange. We’re not in a situation where someone told us how to run our band, how to write our songs or create our art, and we don't rely on anyone but ourselves. The hardcore community and the city we come from were our support system, and our goal would never be to leave that behind, as we literally couldn't, but instead, we want to grow with it. We trust ourselves to make our own decisions for our future and for every detail of this band.

Musicscan: Growing up, was there anyone that you would look up to and say “Oh I wish I could be like so and so…I wish I was as cool as him?” If not on a famous level, do you remember seeing any local bands when you were younger that you looked up to and that made you start your own band career? And do you feel any responsibility nowadays, knowing that there are a lot of fans looking up to you as – let’s say – their rock heroes?

Code Orange: Honestly, it may be abnormal to not have heroes in that way, but I really didn’t growing up. My biggest inspirations came from the people around me, my closest friends and then as you said, local bands and bands that would come to Pittsburgh. It was never that sort of thing like ‘I wish I could be them’ or ‘I wish I was as cool as them’, but simply was that I admired that people played whatever music they wanted to and that they were freaks and literally didn’t care. And then with my friends, I was inspired by them to keep writing songs and keep getting better at it. But first and foremost I feel my motivation to do this came from within, as that’s the only reason I stuck with it. I didn’t look outside for a sort of reason to play in this band, but I just knew that I wanted it, and I had a personal deep and unexplainable desire to do this and be as good as I could be at it, even if that wasn't too good, haha. But yes I do feel responsibility now, and I definitely did then. Especially being a woman, I always felt I wanted to represent that in the most aggressive, strong, individual way I could. I want nothing more than to be a inspiration to anyone and will always try to do my best for myself, and for them.

Musicscan: In general: how do you feel about your place within the heavy scene at all as well as in between tradition and gaining new ground to bring forth what the heroes you grew up with did before Code Orange were around? Times and sounds changed a lot since you once started, but you kept on playing your own sound…

Code Orange: I feel proud and excited with our place in the heavy scene. I feel we will be able to carve our own path within it as the years keep coming and we keep putting out records. We will always have the desire to gain new ground and we continue to have new influences. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t be doing this. We want to use that drive to bring heavy music to a new and fresh place. We all are huge music fans of all kinds, and to me, that is a quality that helps us continue to have our own sound. We have a large palette of tools at our fingertips and in our minds, and we use that to stay creative and interesting.

Musicscan: You are around for a longer career already, and built up your career constantly. But nowadays it seems anyone can find a gross picture on the internet and make “20 minutes of noise” and be an underground sensation. Do you consider it cheating or lazy? What do you think of this recent phenomenon and about possibilities for musicians - even in the underground - in general?

Code Orange: I have no qualms with the way things are now with exposure on the internet. I think it’s awesome people can come from anywhere and create music that someone else could hear on the other side of the world. It will always be hard to be a musician, and I support any avenue that makes it easier. If music is real and alive and passionate, then it doesn't matter how easy or hard it was for that artist to get recognition for it. Typically, the harder the path, the stronger the end product will be, but I do feel that as long as the music positively impacts a scene or community or world, it doesn't matter how it was recognized or how hard it was to do so. I am always disappointed when I see the wrong artists getting recognition for lazy sounding music and cookie cutter ideas, but that is just life. Code Orange will never be that way, and there are many passionate musicians in the underground and all over that care and don't take the easy way.

Musicscan: How do you deal with expectations? Is it easier or harder to come up with new songs nowadays knowing that there are fans worldwide waiting for new tracks, and many people showing interest in what you are doing?

Code Orange: It is definitely harder to come up with songs nowadays, but I don't feel its due to outside pressure, but more internal. We have high standards for ourselves, and we never want to put out a record that isn't better than the last. We of course have the goal to create something that people connect to, but if we don't personally connect to it, and personally feel extremely proud of it, then that would never be possible anyway, so that’s always our first priority.

Musicscan: Everyone is always speaking about the so-called difficult third album of a band. Looking back on the process of creating Forever - was it this difficult?

Code Orange: It was difficult yes, but also more rewarding because of that. We take each record as a new opportunity and a new chance to push ourselves, and to grow. We learn so much during the writing process about ourselves and our capabilities, and even though it’s an immense struggle, it’s totally worth it and just makes me excited to write another when that time comes, and make it better.

Musicscan: I like to think your style of play is based on intuition, gut instinct and impulsiveness, but less on planning, right? How do you go about writing your songs?

Code Orange: It definitely starts with that impulsive feeling or idea, and we would never want a song that doesn’t have that kind of intensity and tension within it. However, we do have a lot of planning in our writing process. Each idea goes through a grinder of all the minds in the room, and it either continues on, or gets thrown away, and that decision is definitely one based on intuition and gut instinct. Then usually it’ll go through many more cycles of structuring and expanding and embellishing, and that can either take no time at all, or it can take what feels like forever. And then even still there is then always the chance it’ll get thrown out in the end. It’s a taxing process, very intense and and very focused, but it’s the way we do things and it’s worked for us thus far, so we will probably never change it.

Musicscan: However, it seems to me that the new record has a bit (!) more structure, groove and melody to it. Is this part of the evolution of your band?

Code Orange: Exactly, yes. I do agree with you that our previous records were much more impulsive than Forever, and though they were still very thought out, they were definitely not as calculated. And that’s why I feel Forever is so much better. It still feels and sounds raw and painful to me, but we evolved each aspect of our style, and tried our best to incorporate all of our elements smoothly. We’ll continue to evolve this way and add new elements and new ideas.

Musicscan: What exactly does Code Orange sound like from your point of view? Is it any kind of departure to what people might expect from you if you think of reviews and fan reaction. Do you feel “understood” to say so?

Code Orange: I think a beautiful aspect of our band is that different people understand us differently. I don't have the need for everyone to feel and hear the same things in our music. To me, there are so many colors in our songs and so many different influences that one person could love our band for a totally different reason than someone else. I think it’s awesome when listeners find things in our songs and describe feelings our music invokes in them that I personally didn't even think of and am inspired by.

Musicscan: Are there specific aspects on Forever that stand out in your mind, or aspects that have an inner meaning to you you would like to share with us? Is there an underlying idea behind the album that can stand for the record as a whole?

Code Orange: It’s always hard for me to sum our the album in a few sentences, and I don't necessarily have words to describe the ‘meaning’ of Forever, but generally speaking it is a record that embodies us as people and us as a unit, putting forth the message that we are here to stay. It’s an uncomfortable, hellish, dark yet melodic album, with what I feel is a group of songs that can’t be predicted. There are so many different dark and powerful textures on this record, and I feel the goal with that was to take people listening to a different place in their mind that they don't necessarily tap into very often. And hopefully that same place is then created in the live setting, where the songs’ intensity will become real and living moments.

Musicscan: From being on the road a lot, what is one of the things you've come to realize? I'm sure driving to and from a venue almost every night leaves you ample time to sit and think about things. Do you think it's made you a stronger person at all? It's difficult to maintain friendships with people back home, I'm sure… What's the toughest thing touring taught you?

Code Orange: Touring is tough, and I could talk about its pros and cons for hours, but generally speaking, as you said, it does leave you with a lot of time to think. When you are in the van everything feels so slow, and then when you’re at the show everything speeds up so fast and then it’s all over just like that. It’s definitely made me and all of us stronger. We learn from each other and although it is difficult to maintain home friendships sometimes, we always have the friendships within Code Orange and with people we meet along the way. I’m not totally sure what the toughest thing touring taught me is, but probably something like, it never gets easier. Haha. But yea, it's not a typical lifestyle by any means, but you cope with it and become the person you are because of it. I wouldn't wish it differently.

Musicscan: Lastly: what moments in your history for you sum up the whole experience of Code Orange so far, and what type of “success” did you hope to gain with Forever?

Code Orange: There have been so so many moments with this band since I was 14 years old until now at 23, and it’s truly impossible for me to pinpoint any specifics, but the entire experience has been insane, and I hope we can continue to write music and play shows and have enough means to do so. I never want to become stale, and I feel Forever was the complete antithesis to stale, so in that sense, it was a complete success already.