Saturday, July 30, 2011

ORCHID : interview with Theo Mindell !!!

It's pretty rare to see young bands unanimously acclaimed like ORCHID is, since the release of their monstruous "capricorn" debut album. But there's absolutely nothing hasardous in this increasing notoriety, people are more and more nostalgic with 70's sounds and what ORCHID has achieved is pretty singular : make something delightfully new and good, with old recipes, perpetuate and refresh the heritage of Black Sabbath and more generally the 70's heavy rock style, while keeping faithfully intact the original spirit of these gloomy early years...
About six months after the album release, some nice gigs and new compositions in the work, I felt it was time to ask vocalist Theo  Mindell a few questions...

* Hey Theo, thanx this is an honour to feature Orchid here... Almost every tasty doomster speaks about you these past months, but except that you released an ep before "capricorn", which was a very nice debut , we don't know much about your history, background, etc..., could you briefly sum it up ?  
T :   Well,i started thinking about the idea of a band like Orchid in 2008 I think.I hadn't been in a band for years.I just got tired of all the B.S. that had come along with being in a band for me in the past.But I started writing songs on guitar...just really sloppy ideas with a few titles and melodies.I had played in a band with Mark Baker a few years back before Orchid.i knew he was the only guitar player that was capable of doing the kind of thing i was trying to do.i bugged him until he finally agreed to jam with me.we went through a bunch of different bass players and drummers until we finally found Nickel and then later,Carter.That was the true beginning of Orchid.

* Why this band's name ? Any common characteristics with your music or anything particular that could have justified this name over another one ?
T :   Well,surprise-surprise...I got it from the Sabbath song title.But also i wanted a band name that didn't sound like a cliche heavy metal/rock band name...Something that would kind of counter the sound of the music and evoke feelings of psychedelia and the late 60's-early 70's.I think if we had been called something really dark or evil,it might have seemed a little forced or put on.I wanted something a little ambiguous that gave us some room to grow.I've always liked the way the name hung on us.

* The EP and CD covers are simple but catch directly the attention while the inside artwork of the album is very rich and personal, as it's you who have released the general artwork,
what's your position about that ?
A few weeks after the normal version of "capricorn" (yet superb) , Church Within has released the limited "book" version, very enriched and in a special format, who did have this idea ?
T :  you know,that was the owner of Church within's idea.Oli is such a great guy in that way.he just totally cares about making cool music and giving people something really special.when we had ideas for the C.D. packaging,he never once said "ooh,I don't know.that sounds really expensive".he always goes 120% ...As far as the artwork goes,I guess i try to do things that i feel will draw people into the "Orchid cosmos" and get across the way i feel about the music we make as a band together.

* Just like your artwork, "the batcave", your rehearsal place seems to be a very special place, with an occult and refined decor ... looks like a very cool place !?
 T : ha ha!...Yeah ,it's our club house.That was kind of an attempt at "method acting"...I figure if you want to try to make music that evokes a certain time and feeling,it helps to be in an environment that sets you up to do so.I think it definitely helps us get in that zone.

 * Your sound, the general atmosphere, some riffs, the production, your look, many things made it impossible not to evoke the Black Sabbath's influence, but, as others certainly, I see before all ORCHID as their best disciples in 2011, you can't obviously avoid systematic remarks, maybe sometimes awkward or a bit tiring ?
meanwhile some songs, still perfectly in the global mood, really show a rising personality, like "he who walks alone", "electric father" and "albatross" ... how do you see the band's sound evolution for the next album ?
T : As far as the comparisons to Sabbath? I don't really get to bothered about it.I love Sabbath.they've been one of my favorite bands since i was a really little kid.I dont know how I could possibly write heavy rock songs with out that sound or identity coming out in them. It's just what i think is cool.I think there are a lot of other influences that are pretty present in Orchid's sound as well.But people will always take the shortest road to a destination even if it's pinning some kind of a "rip off tag" on you.If that's the worst name tag I ever have to wear in my musical life,I'll wear it proudly.As far as the growth of Orchid's sound...I'm not sure because I'm probably too close to it to get any true sense of whatever evolution is happening.I think Orchid knows what it is but isn't afraid to play with that sound a little.I dont think any of us want to keep writing the same song over and over.but it seems like when i sit down with a guitar and sing,there is always a little bit of desperation in the sound that comes out .that's just what moves me when i write music.even when the other guys throw ideas in the mix,they seem to get "Orchidized"..., meaning put through the natural filter that has become the sonic identity of the band.I think we're all pretty comfortable playing the music we play.we all grew up on it in some way or another.I think we all just want to keep trying to bring knew things to it that we haven't tried yet to keep it interesting.Sometimes there are challenging moments when you're getting comfortable with a new song.I guess that's just a natural part of stretching out our idea of what our band IS.
      As far as us as players...I think we're becoming a better band all the time.more intuitive with each other.the songs might be more manifested by us as a group and less of their identity taking shape it the recording process.i think with something like Electric Father or Albatross for instance,the guys in the band may have kind of felt like "whoa...i didn't know that's how that was going to sound" when they finally heard it finished and mixed...I have all these sounds swimming in my head when i sit down and write songs that the other guys aren't aware of until after the fact sometimes.When we rehearse, i can almost hear what the finished song should sound like recorded.I'm pretty hyper focused in that way.That still happens,but i think with the new stuff we're doing,those sounds are coming more directly from the band at the time of writing and arranging the stuff together.It's always been a struggle for me to let things breath.I suppose I'm trying to learn to trust my band mates with my children,ha ha! I even hear Mark's songs finished in my head when we're working on those.i have issues.

* Just as for the ep you've worked with Will Storkson for the production "Capricorn", but this time his name is mentioned first, did you work differently ? He's playing keyboards too on the album but does he also play live with you ?  
 You know,i'm not sure why that was.i think we may have felt like he drove more on that road trip than the one before so it was the right thing to do...i've definitely learned what a huge asset he is.he just has a great ear for capturing sounds and what you think you hear versus whats really going on in a song.I think we have a great balance with him as far as him letting us get a little "out there" but keeping classic sonic quality.If i were left to my own devices,our records could end up sounding like a mix of the Stooges Raw Power and Sabbath bloody Sabbath...I'd love it,but it might sound pretty soupy.I'll just keep piling fuzz and reverb on until you cant hear anything.

* What about your lyrics, you seem to be very attached to the occult image ? Who's the electric father :  a god, a guru ?T :  ha!  no...the Electric Father is a satellite listening to everything we think and do...kind of a "big brother is watching you" trip.

* The occult doom scene is actually in an interesting dynamic, do you feel particularly attached and identified to this scene ? Which bands do you enjoy most ?  T :  Not really to tell you the truth.We never set out to be a part of any scene,just to make music we loved.Sometimes timing is just on your side and there are enough bands with a slightly similar thing going that you can be associated with some musical "movement".It seems like that always helps bands get heard in the beginning.It can also be a noose around your neck if you don't have the songs and talent to transcend any attachment to what,later,might be considered a musical trend.No one says much about GruntTruck any more.but, i remember hearing a lot about them ,and other bands like them in the height of the "grunge" movement.I do love a lot of what people are calling "doom" music for sure.but i always just thought of Orchid as a dark,heavy,classic rock band.almost like really dark 70's stadium rock to tell you the truth.i suppose that's what Sabbath and Alice Cooper were... and What Pentagram were hoping to be.I've never shied away from a catchy chorus if i can put one in our songs.I just cant submit to the idea that being traditionally melodic is sounding like a sell out.i wouldn't be being true to my self if i tried to sound super sludgy and heavy ALL the time just to fit in to a musical category.But ,"doom" seems like a pretty wide and loose genre compared to the rest of a lot heavy music...Electric Wizard are pretty sonically different from The Devil's Blood or Pentagram.but,i hear people refer to all of those  bands as,whatever ,i'm not bothered.people can call our music whatever makes them feel comfortable listening to it.i like a lot of the bands that get put in that section in the record store so i'm proud to sit on the shelf next to them.

* You're born 1969, did your parents bought you "black sabbath" or "paranoid" for your first anniversary ?!!  when did your interest start for heavy musics ?
 T :  No,i don't think my parents listened to that stuff.My dad was 16 years older than my mom and was British.He listened to old sailors hymns about leaving your woman behind when you went out to sea and might die...really downer tragic stuff...Ha,maybe that's where i got the "doom" in me from.And ,he listened to classical music.My mom listened to the Beatles,Neil Young ,bowie,and Bob Dylan.that was my first introduction to music.The first two records I ever bought for myself were Yellow Submarine and Sabbath Bloody Sabbath.I was ten years old i think...I've been trying to sound exactly like both of them ever since.

* What kind of deal do you have with Church Within ? Am I wrong if  I suppose some bigger labels have yet tried to contact you ?
 T :  Oh my...i don't know if i really want to get that in depth into the inner workings of Orchid's business opportunities.Oli has been so good to us.we're a pretty loyal lot.i hope to be involved with church within in some way or another for years to come even if we get some help from someone else in the future.Mark really handles that stuff and he does a great job.

* You're gonna play at the next Hammer Of Doom in November, the bill is impressive, I guess you're all  very  impatient !?  Any other European dates that could be organized in this same period ? is Germany the country where you the most interest from in Europe ?
  T : Yeah,i believe we're playing in Holland,France,a few more dates in Germany,Switzerland...we'll be in Europe for a couple of weeks.i cant wait.

* You had holidays in Europe last year with your girlfriend, Germany, ITaly and maybe more, how did you enjoy coming down this different part of the globe ? T :  It was great.I've spent a fair amount of time in Europe because of my work as a tattooer.One of my best friends lives in Verona ,Italy so I'm there at least once a year but usually was cool to share that with her and watch her experience seeing really old things for the first time.Europe just has a completely different rhythm than the states.people seem more relaxed to me.

* You gave quite many gigs since the release of the album, which songs do you especially like to play live and is there one that has always a special success ? Which bands did you enjoy most to play with ? Any interesting new bands in the L.A. area ?
T : Hmmmm...I always really enjoy playing "Down into the earth" live.It just has everything I like to hear out of a live band.Heavy groove and a real journey.People always seem to respond to that on and Eyes Behind the Wall.Maybe because they both go out with a bang...Not sure.As far as bands from L.A.? I'm not sure,we don't spend much time there.we've only really played shows in the bay area ,where were from.And,a the Planet Caravan festival that happened in North Carolina a few years back. we've played with Astra from San Diego a few times who i really like.they're phenomenal players.really great!

* Thanx for your words Theo, add anything if you wish  
T :  Thanks for your time and supporting Orchid!

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