On the eve of U.K. doomers Orange Goblin’s first run of U.S. dates in the five years since they came around with Scissorfight to support 2004’s Thieving From The House Of God, I rang up frontman Ben Ward for a quick chat about the timing. You see, it’s been four years now since Orange Goblin released Healing Through Fire, and even with a five-CD box set released by former label Rise Above, it seems like next year, when they’ll have a new record out, would be the way to go.
Things work out how they work out, and as The Goblins are coming through NYC this week with The Gates Of Slumber and Brooklyn’s own Naam, I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to ask Ward about the band’s plans for their forthcoming studio time and much more.
Orange Goblin is Ward on vocals, drummer Chris Turner, guitarist Joe Hoare and bassist Martyn Millard. Hope you dig the Q&A.
Tell me how the tour came about? What was behind the decision to come back to the States now?
Well, it’s something we’ve wanted to do for years, ever since the last tour, which was 2006. Obviously, we recorded an album after that and it would have been nice to come back to promote Healing Through Fire, but for some reason or another, it just never materialized. All of us are no spring chickens anymore. We all have families to look after and jobs to do. Getting the time off to go tour America isn’t as easy as it used to be, and we just felt that this year we kind of owe it to our fans over there as much as to ourselves.
We’re thinking this could be the last time. We don’t know how much longer the band’s gonna be going on, and that sort of thing. It was just a group decision. We all said, “Definitely, 2011, let’s do it and go back.”
The people at Tone Deaf Touring have been very keen, very supportive and very helpful in getting us over there and making everything work. In the past, we’ve been over there, but we haven’t arranged visas and that sort of thing, we just sort of snuck in the back door. This time, we’ve done it all properly and we’re gonna be legal and above board.
And you’re doing Maryland Death Fest, too.
That was kind of the starting block that set the whole thing in motion. As soon as we got the offer in for that. The offer there was great, and it’s a real iconic festival to do these days. It’s one of the biggest in the metal world, and to be invited is an honor for us. So we didn’t want to turn that down, and like I say, we used that as the building block for the whole tour, really. We said, “If we’re gonna do Maryland, we might as well do a whole tour while we’re there.”
And as I say, Tone Deaf have been great booking the whole tour. It works out perfectly for us, so we’re really happy to be part of Maryland Deathfest this year. I think the lineup is insanely strong. Every year is great and this year seems better than ever, so we’re really looking forward to it.
Have you played with The Gates Of Slumber before, or is the tour the first time?
No, we’ve never played with Gates Of Slumber before. I mean, we know them through when they’ve been in London, hanging out with them, and we also know the new drummer, Clyde [Paradis], from when he was in Sourvein. I think we’re two very different kinds of bands, but not a million miles apart.
I think it’s a really good sort of mixture between ourselves and Gates Of Slumber, so it’s an interesting bill for people. As I say, we’ve met the guys before, we’ve socialized with them, so I know we all get on. There’s gonna be a lot of good fun and hard drinking getting done on the tour, so we’re looking forward to it.
How did the box set come about?
[Cathedral frontman and Rise Above Records owner] Lee Dorrian suggested it initially, and I was keen on the idea, but I wanted to hold off a little while, because in 2007, the last album came out, and I think Lee first brought the idea of the box set around 2008, and we said, “Well, if we re-release the back catalog now, it takes away a little bit of the latest album, and it also gives the impression that we’re saying, ‘that’s it, we’re done, here’s what we did in our career.’” But this year, I think the time was right.
There’s been a long enough gap since the last Orange Goblin product, and we just all decided it was something we were keen to do. We’ve been getting a lot of messages through the MySpace and websites and things from people saying they couldn’t find certain albums because they aren’t available anymore or are out of circulation. So I think it was about time to re-release them so people that weren’t even into us the first time around can buy those records.
Frequencies From Planet 10 was 1997, 14 years ago, and you get kids now who come up to us at shows, 19-20 years old, going, “Yeah, I was only five when that record came out.” All of a sudden we feel like the bands our dads listened to (laughs). Makes you feel old.
We had an instance of that recently, where our drummer was out at the merch stand after a show, and some kid came up to him and said, “You’re amazing, you’re really cool.” And Chris was like, “Oh, thanks so much,” and the kid was like, “Yeah, my dad got me into Orange Goblin. They’re his favorite band,” and Chris was like, “Go away.” But yeah, I suppose it’s to be expected now.
What about Healing Through Fire? Is there any chance of a reissue of that, or since it’s a different label, is it a different situation?
Yeah, it’s a different label, which doesn’t really operate anymore, so it’s always gonna be difficult. It’s something I would like to do, because again, it’s up to the stage now where people are contacting the band going, “Where can I get this album? It’s not available anywhere,” and I’m hassling the people we used to deal with who’ve moved onto labels like Universal now, and obviously we’re the small fish in the huge pond at Universal.
They don’t really worry about what we need. We haven’t got dealt with yet, but hopefully in time someone’ll take pity and sort it out, or at least give someone else the rights to reissue it and put it out on a different label.
It’s a shame to have it get lost in the shuffle. It was a good record.
I still think it’s the best thing we’ve ever done. I’m proud of everything in our catalogue, but that album, probably because it’s the latest, which is a very typical thing to say, but I love it.
The good thing for this U.S. tour is it’s actually the first time we’re going to get the opportunity to play the material from Healing Through Fire for the American audience, apart from that one Planet Caravan show. For the tour, we’re going to go out and play four or five songs off that record the crowd might not have heard before.
Do you know yet where you’re going to record the new album?
We’ll record it in London, a studio that we discovered last year, when we recorded a Black Sabbath cover for Metal Hammer magazine. It’s completely digital. There’s no sort of retro sound there. We’re not really one of these bands that are fussed about that, we just want it to sound as good as we can possibly make it to our liking, and this studio offers us that.
Also, we’re going to record over a series of weeks, rather than 14 days solid, so that we can go away and come back and start fresh and it suits everybody’s schedule. There’s no big-name producer or anything like that. We wanted to work with Billy Anderson again, and people like Sanford Parker we’ve spoken to, and all these guys are producers we admire, but as I say, having to have a certain schedule and do it over a certain time-period, then it’s inconvenient for us to fly someone over here from America and pay for them to stay here for two months (laughs).
There’s no reason why we can’t plan for the next record, if there is going to be one, to work with Sanford—or there was talk of working with Nico [Elgstrand] from Entombed—he’s very keen to do something. There’s a list as long as your arm of producers it would be nice to work with and studios where you’d like to go, but realistically, you’re never going to do 90 percent of them, so we had to make a decision for this album, and we’ve made it.
Orange Goblin’s box set is available now through Rise Above Records, and the band hits Santos Party House in NYC this Saturday, May 28 with The Gates Of Slumber, Naam and Kings Destroy supporting. More info at orange-goblin.com.
JJ Koczan has the complete Q&A of this interview at his blog, TheObelisk.net. firstname.lastname@example.org.