BY MORAG FARLEY
Interviewed By: Naomi Jeremiah & David Lydiard
Photo Credits: Morag Farley Photography ©
At any music festival, there will be acts that, for whatever reason, spark interest in the audience. Ahead of Winters End, Outlaw Orchestra has been the subject of just such a buzz. Many people had decided to brave the Sunday hangover to watch them. A banjo on a rock stage is one thing, but a double bass as well? This I have to see!!
Outlaw Orchestra were formed in 2016, and since then, have recorded a debut album and more recently, a 3 track EP. Both of which I would recommend you listen to - providing you can get hold of a copy, that is!
Down The Front Media caught up with them some time after their very different set for a chat. With obvious excitement, they told us they had “Just come off the merch stand - we couldn’t get out because of the queues - it was like we were being held captive”. Given the reception they’d had, I wasn’t surprised to hear that their merch had sold like hot cakes. There is real excitement exuding from the band, even though it’s been a good couple of hours since their set finished. “We’ve got about three or four t-shirts left....We only did 100 CD’s and we sold out of them in about 15 minutes”. The amount of merch a band sells at a festival is usually a good indicator of how well they were received by the audience, particularly for new or relatively unknown bands.
Talking about their experience of Winters End, “This festival is incredible because it brings new bands to fans that’s maybe have never heard of them”, Which was particularly true for this band. They continued, “They took a gamble on us - its almost a comedy slot - It ain’t Rocket Science - its rock’n’roll,” laughing, they added, “One bloke suggested that should be our next album title”. I’d watched their set and was completely mesmerised by them.
The set started with Aerosmith influenced accapella singing - a brave start - but the crowd reaction to the band was fantastic. As they relived the experience they said, “Just five minutes before the set, the place was half full... then we are singing accapella and you realise the place is jammed”. The band are humbled by the response from the rock fans at Winters End, especially as the response they’d had from social media was less than positive. “People we spoke to before we played [were] saying that ‘it’s not really our cup of tea - we might give it a miss’ but once they actually heard what we do... it went really well”. Even better, in the couple of hours after their set, the reactions on social media were really positive, “This afternoon proves that the hard work that we put in has paid off big time”.
Having sold out of their CDs on the merch stall, DTF asked about the recording process and how the EP was put together. “We planned that we were going to put down a basic track, Ryan will put down the drums, then we go in and map our own part, delete the scratch track and put in your good take”. After many takes, the band decided on a better way, “We’ll have a beer and go in to play it live and capture that - it’s the only way we can do it, I think”.
The band were keen to talk about how they write their songs, “We don’t do prog. I don’t think we’ve ever done a ballad...we just write 3 minute bangers”. At Winters End they picked their set list carefully and played their “rockier side” explaining, “We can’t flex our bluegrass credentials too much since we would alienate a bit of the audience”. The band are a tight group, working collaboratively together in the song writing. With some self deprecating humour they admit “The lyrics aren’t very deep - The lyrics are sort of jokey like the song we did called ‘Milk My Cow’. We have the light and shade and the different dynamics”.
The band all have different influences, with their first album purchases ranging from The Spice Girls to Saxon, which all get to shape their songs, “We all put in our own bits to the lyrics and then we piece it all together and eventually it comes to life so it’s not just one person dictating, although Dave’s going to say he writes all of the songs”.
For a band, the future is important, so we asked what the guys had lined up, “A couple of festivals - HRH Crows. We’ll be rubbing shoulders with lots of similar bands, so we might be really shit that weekend” - I doubt that very much - but the Crows is a very different festival to Winters End! “There’s a lot of bands that might not necessarily do what we do, but they have the same South Americana Vibe,” they explained.
They have many and varied influences and they are still developing their sound, with each of them having a say, the sound on the record may have changed when they play live. Alex agrees and says “On the EP, I played bass guitar, not double bass.” He went on to explain, “The double bass looks brilliant especially if it’s in my hands, they are an absolute bastard to record because you have to mic them up and they just sound a bit shit to be honest”. It is a set up that I don’t think is replicated anywhere in the rock scene, “Its tricky though - Drums are acoustic as is the banjo and the double bass. Three acoustic instruments being played at hard rock volume levels”. It sounded pretty good to the crowd - with no feedback but that’s not always the case. Alex continued, “You go to some venues and for one split second you take your hand off the strings and the feedback almost brings the building down.”
We asked them about future plans, and they are looking to recording some new songs, “We’ve got loads of songs in the pipeline and basically, we want to do a full album”. The band are currently without a manager or a booking agent, but are really keen to get out there and play. “We really want to play everywhere. We play at the local pubs to keep the pub scene alive and we get a great response. If one of your good mates runs a pub and they ask us to play Sunday afternoon - we’ll do it.” They are hoping that they impressed the Planet Rock team enough to play Rockstock in December 2018.
For any band finding their way around gigs and recording, sponsorship is important. One sponsorship they are particularly proud of is by Cloven Hoof. Earlier in March, they played at the launch of ‘Overhoof’, their new 66.6% spiced rum. “Cloven Hoof sponsor a lot of festivals... and they bring us along.” The launch party was held in Cheltenham, headlined by Aaron Buchanan and the Cult Classics with Outlaw Orchestra having a good spot in the running order. Ryan said “I’ve personally been sponsored by a Czech Republic drumstick company so that helps”. As many bands will know, that sort of sponsorship is important. As the Outlaw Orchestra’s profile gets better, they are hopeful of more sponsorship. Alex in particular seems delighted that Rota Sound seem keen to come on board “Those bass strings are £120!”.
We hope that we get to see a lot more of Outlaw Orchestra. They’ve made a lot of new fans at Winters End and we, here at Down the Front Media, hope they continue building their fan base and go from strength to strength, especially as they have been tipped by Planet Rock as ‘Ones to Watch’.
To hear the interview in full, check out our podcast here: http://downthefront.podbean.com/e/episode-61-down-the-front-podcast/
Follow the band here:
PHOTOS ARE NOT TO BE USED WITHOUT THE PRIOR CONSENT OF DOWN THE FRONT MEDIA. PLEASE DIRECT ALL MEDIA ENQUIRIES TO INFO@DOWNTHEFRONTMEDIA.COM