BLOG - HOCKEY & HEAVY METAL
OCTOBER 10, 2013 • 08:08 PM
PERSEVERANCE, THY NAME IS ORANGE GOBLIN
Okay, first, I need to point out that there’s been another long-ish gap in between posts here, which I’m not thrilled about, but there are reasons: I was away on vacation for 10 days, then I got home and had to get caught up on everything, and I also got new ink. Add all that together and it means I’ve missed three straight weeks of hockey class, and it also means still I’m barred from heavy physical activity for at least another week or so while the tattoo work heals. (More on that in a later post, as the work was designed and applied with the intention that it integrates with my prosthetics. You’ll see.)
However, last Saturday some old mates of mine from London rolled through town, and a number of you will be familiar with them, as they are the English heavy metal institution known as Orange Goblin. As a quick recap, I lived in London from 1996 to 2002 and got my start in the music industry while I was there. My first real job was that of a writer and editor for Terrorizer magazine, and once I started going out to shows 4 or 5 nights a week as part of that job I started to get familiar with the myriad of local and unsigned metal bands out on the London scene. One of them stood out right away and quickly became my favorite, and that was a new band called Orange Goblin, who had just changed their name from Our Haunted Kingdom. They had their own sound and vibe early, and it’s still there today: a mix of Black Sabbath, Motorhead, good times and beer. On top of that, the lads were all metal fans to the Nth degree and were out at the same shows and rock clubs that I was, so singer Ben Ward, guitarists Joe Hoare and Pete O’Mally, bassist Martyn Millard and drummer Chris Turner all became fellow kings of the nighttime world and good friends.
Soon enough Orange Goblin got signed to Rise Above/Music For Nations, and when it came time to do the full-length feature article for Terrorizer on their debut album, of course I got the nod to write it. At that time four of the five band members lived together in west London at a locale affectionately referred to as “Goblin Towers”. If you think that place was an absolute den of iniquity, you’re absolutely right. It’s a little blurry (sorry, Doralba Picerno!), but the photo above was taken during the interview that ran with the article. And really, the only difference between that day and many other nights like it was that we used a tape recorder to preserve the conversation for me to write up later. It was like that out there for a few years. A weekend night out with Orange Goblin generally meant staying out until the rock clubs closed and then repairing back to Goblin Towers to drink more beer and play loud music until dawn, or until everyone passed out, whichever came first.
Eventually, everyone kind of grew up. The band dropped to a 4-piece and carried on without Pete, and the long nights out stopped happening so much. I moved back to the States and headed to Los Angeles for law school. And Orange Goblin? Well, they persevered. They were always a band who did what they did at night and on the weekends, and they had to use their vacation days for tours. Over time, they got married and had families. Suffice it to say that keeping a band going with all that going on is a lot harder to pull off than you might think. While I was living in London they released four albums and established themselves pretty firmly throughout Europe and Japan, and since I’ve been living in Los Angeles they’ve put out three more and a live DVD, and have now firmly established themselves here in North America after several tours.
The band continued to do all of this while holding down day jobs - until 2013. Finally, after more than 15 years of laying groundwork and building up their fan base a gig at a time, they achieved a major goal: the guys were able to let the day jobs go and make Orange Goblin their full-time career. When I found out, I was so proud of them you’d have thought they were my kids. I was so happy for them. Orange Goblin’s perseverance in the face of everything that the music industry and life in general has thrown at them is downright inspiring. Just thinking about what they’ve gone through to get where they are now can very quickly get me right back on track when I’m dealing with the frustrating bits of day-to-day stuff in my own life.
And that brings us to last Saturday’s show at The Satellite in Silver Lake. I was psyched to be able to bring three friends of mine to their first Orange Goblin show (Esme Bianco, Ashley Walters and Mariam Saffarian, and those are their well-manicured hands throwing the horns with me in the top photo), and as we arrived the main support act Holy Grail was absolutely shredding the crowd. Check them out. We got to say some quick hellos to the Goblin boys before they went on, and they got up there and did what they’ve been doing for over 15 years and just rocked the place the way they always have, only better. You cannot overestimate the effect of a band keeping a stable lineup throughout their entire existence, and after hundreds of shows and dozens of tours these guys have gone from tight to telepathic. The old songs took me back to London, the new songs reflect their evolution as songwriters and performers, and throughout it all Ben led the charge and refused to let go of the crowd once his frenetic, crazed but benevolent stage presence grabbed hold of them. Winner.
Cheers, lads. Thank you for all the tuneage and the shows. And may it last as long as you want it to last.
And the rest of you? Please check out Orange Goblin and buy some of their music if you don’t already own some. Start with the new one, “Eulogy For The Damned” and work backwards from there.