"If it’s not fun playing music then go and get a job in an office or drive a van"
We talked with Ben Ward from the great British stoner band and asked him about their future plans, their musical and lyrical influences and their upcoming live show at Greece.
Ben, I’m glad we have the chance for this interview. Let’s get start with by asking you how do you feel about 'Back From The Abyss' almost three years after its release? Are you satisfied with the result or would you change something to make it better if you had the chance?
We were all very proud of that record as it was the first album we did as a full time band and having to adapt to the whole writing - recording - touring cycle so it was a very different experience for us. Usually writing an Orange Goblin album talks a bit longer so we had to write material on the road. Looking back there are always things that you could change but I think it was a worthy follow up to "Eulogy For The Damned", arguably our best album. Since then we have all gone back to work day jobs which is why the next album is taking a bit longer!
You are a band that doesn’t afraid to show the influences that create your sound. You know, when someone hears your music for the very first time, can easily recognize Black Sabbath, Lynyrd Skynyrd or even Motorhead as your primary influences and sometimes like “The Devil’s Whip” from your last album this is more than clear. In that case, do you think that these similarities could harm the reputation of a band or do you see it as a great way to pay a tribute to your favorite artists?
I don’t see it as harmful thing at all. We’ve never been afraid to where our influences on our sleeves and it is these same influences that help create the Orange Goblin sound, which I think is actually quite unique. It’s difficult to pigeonhole Orange Goblin as we have so many different inspirations and influences, from metal, rock, punk and everything else. If people ask what we sound like I usually say that it’s a mix of Black Sabbath and Motorhead so in that respect it’s very helpful.
You are at the scene for more than 20 years now. So, do you feel the same passion to continue creating and playing your music as the first years of the band and for how long do you see yourselves keep going?
We all still love getting together to create and play music so as long as we have that, then we will carry on. I don’t understand bands that keep doing it and complain about touring etc.. If it’s not fun then go and get a job in an office or drive a van, you’ll soon realize that the opportunity to create music and tour the world is far more fun so stop whining and get on with it! This attitude has kept us going for over 20 years now and I don’t see it stopping anytime soon.
There’s already 3 years passed from your latest studio effort so, I am wondering, when will we have a new Orange Goblin album? Do you have any complete ideas or it’s too soon to talk about this?
We are actually in the process of writing the new album right now and have been for the past couple of months. We have a couple of songs pretty much finished and the bare bones of another 5 or 6 too so we are all quite excited. We will start recording in January 2018 and this time we are working with our good friend Jaime Gomez Arellano at Orgone Studios. He has recently worked with the likes of Ghost, Paradise Lost, Cathedral, Grave Pleasures, Ulver and more and he is an amazing producer so it’s exciting to see what we can come up with together.
So, how is a typical Orange Goblin writing/recording session? Do you go to the studio with almost complete songs or do you prefer to create them by jamming all together?
Joe, Chris and Martyn come up with the riffs and usually we go into the writing session armed with a load of new ideas and then just start going through them all to see which riffs go together, like a huge musical jigsaw puzzle. It works for us and means that we all have a say in the creation of the songs. Once the music is there I can start to come up with vocal melodies, lyrical ideas and eventually the finished lyrics. Sometimes we’ll just jam in the studio together and that’s when a lot of the best ideas come together, a few drinks always tends to help too!
As we mentioned it before, which are your main influences as an artist and which was the album (or the band) that made you take the decision to be a musician?
We all have very different influences I think and come from varying backgrounds but for me personally the first band that made me want to play metal was Metallica. Those first 3 or 4 Metallica albums are still amazing and have stood the test of time. From a personal perspective I also have to say that it isn’t just the typical musical influences that inspire me. Obviously there is Black Sabbath and Motorhead but I find a lot of inspiration for lyrics from science fiction, horror movies and classic horror writers such as HP Lovecraft.
Been for such a long time in the scene, which are your best and the worst memory from the life on the road?
There have been so many good times that it is hard to pinpoint just one. When we started we never thought we would achieve half of what we have done so it has been great to play and tour with our heroes such as Tony Iommi, Geezer Butler, Ronnie James Dio, Alice Cooper and more. Touring the US, Australia and Japan were amazing times with amazing people and bands too. There haven’t been too many low points, I guess when our original guitar player, Pete, left the band we thought it could be the end but we carried on and got stronger as a four piece!
And what about your favorite moment from your discography, when you look back at it? My personal favorite Orange Goblin album is “Time Travelling Blues”, it’s such a great album…
I’m very proud of all our albums, each one has a special memory attached about a certain time in my life so they are kind of like our children in a way. I still have a lot of love for “Time Travelling Blues”, “The Big Black” and “A Eulogy For The Damned” though!
Your love about H.P. Lovecraft’s writings isn’t something new. So, what’s the very first Lovecraft book that you read and what other writers stand among your favorite?
The first Lovecraft book I read was a compilation of his stories called “At The Mountains of Madness” and I think the first story was “The Call of Cthulhu”. There are so many great Lovecraft tales but I think my favorite would be The “Dreams In The Witch House”. By reading Lovecraft and checking out old magazines such as Weird Tales I found a lot of other great writers such as Robert E Howard, Algernon Blackwood, Edgar Allen Poe, Robert W Chambers etc. Really great stuff that often gets overlooked. As I kid I also read a lot of Stephen King, James Herbert and Dean Koontz too.
You are part of the heavy rock/stoner/doom scene for more than 20 years now and this sound seems like having a second youth this period. Especially in Greece, where I am from, this is an almost mainstream genre, with many bands choosing to play like this with huge success. So, do you think this is a good period for this kind of music or it’s just a local circumstance?
It's a great period for this style of music and I think it’s been helped by the resurgence in popularity of bands such as Black Sabbath, Pentagram, Trouble, Saint Vitus etc. They were all a massive influence on us and when we started all of them were pretty much dormant or on hiatus but now they are constantly touring and it’s exposed a lot of people to this great music that was always very underground. Now there are a new wave of great bands like Graveyard that are carrying on what these bands started.
In a few days you will play at Desertfest Athens, along with the great Saint Vitus, Church Of Misery, Stoned Jesus and many more. How do you feel about this and what do you expect from the Athenian crowd?
We are all very excited to be a part of Desertfest Athens having already played the festival a few times in London, Berlin and Antwerp. The lineup is amazing and there are a lot of friends in all the bands that we are looking forward to seeing. The Greek crowd has always been great to us and we feel at home there so it’s very exciting and we can’t wait!
That’s all from me Ben. Thank you very much for your time and answers. Close this interview as you want...
Thank you for the interview and thank you to Greece for the continued support for Orange Goblin. We are very grateful and hope to keep coming back to such a wonderful country for a long time to come!