ORANGE GOBLIN “We don’t care about sounding retro, we leave that to the bands that do it well.”

Written by Interview


See the picture above ? These are four accomplished and happy musicians. The least we could say is that ORANGE GOBLIN haven’t been idle since the release of their excellent record “A Eulogy For The Damned” in January 2012, constantly touring around the world and playing in cool festivals like Soundwave, Hellfest or Bloodstock. Furthermore, metal medias haven’t stopped praising the band recently, although Orange Goblin has been one of the standard-bearers of the UK’s modern heavy metal scene for 18 years now. However, in 18 years they hadn’t set foot on the French soil to headline a show, or just once at most. Fortunately, things were finally set right and they played five very successful gigs last June. The sold-out venues and thrilled crowds every night definitely shown to the boys how much love the French got for them. Being in Toulouse for one of these fine nights of stoner, I jumped on the opportunity to interview two of these four gentlemen, Ben Ward and Martyn Millard, and get their highlights on this very exciting year.

Ok, let’s go straight to the point. Why is “A Eulogy for The Damned” so good that people should absolutely buy it ? 

Martyn Millard (bass) : I guess it’s a combination of everything we’ve ever done and us being older and a little bit wiser. The recording process and the songwriting are a little bit more mature, I guess. I think this album is the best we’ve done.
Ben Ward (vocals) : The whole approach on this album was a lot more professional this time, like a last chance to lay your cards. It gave us a new breath of life, really. While we’re here touring and getting around the world. We’re doing it for a living because of the success of “A Eulogy For The Damned”.
Martyn Millard : That’s pretty fair. If the success of the album wasn’t what it was, then we wouldn’t be here now, you know.
Ben Ward : In the past, we’ve probably been a little bit guilty of going out of a way to try and make an album sound a little retro, but with “A Eulogy For The Damend”, we just tried to make it sound as good as it possibly can, you know ? I don’t care about it sounding retro or recording on analog, I leave that to the bands that can do it well like Graveyard, Witchcraft… We just wanted to enter the studio and embraced the technology. I’m sure that if Black Sabbath or The Beatles have had Pro Tools available, they would have made a great use of it !

I’m sure that if Black Sabbath or The Beatles have had Pro Tools available, they would have made a great use of it.

I think that’s what makes this record stand out from the rest of your discography. It sounds rounder and heavier than ever !

BW : We worked with a young lad called Jamie Dodd, it was the first time he’s ever done a full metal album. He’s really young but so enthusiastic !
MM : He brought a fresh ear on what we do. He likes some metal music, he has done indie music and a couple of pop and soul stuff, but he hadn’t done a metal record in that sort of scale. He had fresh ideas and it grew up on us a little bit, he made us realize that a fresh pair of ears is always good… (to Ben) Was he a fan of us beforehand ?
BW : I think he had never heard of us.

That’s even better.

BW : He told us he’s a massive Metallica fan and he likes stuff like Mastodon or High On Fire. But when we met in that studio a year previously to do one song of Black Sabbath cover for a compilation album, we so clicked with him and he so got it in many ways… Having producers who work in that kind of music, that’s always a sort of deal with them, I guess eventually that music starts to sound the same to them. Whereas with him, it was something new and exciting to him.
MM : He said he got the sound we wanted. And the album sounds exactly like what we had in mind.

Does it mean you intend to work with him on the next record ?

BW : I think so. We’d foolish not to, really ! You’re not going to change something that’s not even broken.

Since the beginning of the “A Eulogy For The Damned” promo tour a year ago, you haven’t ceased touring the world…

BW : Last year when the album came out, we did as much as we could. We did a UK tour, we did a lot of festivals during the summer of 2012 like Hellfest, Bloodstock, Sonisphere in Spain…

And you also did some more international festivals like the Soundwave in Australia earlier this year !

BW : Yeah, this January we went to Australia, the U.S and Canada, now we’re doing Europe and we’ll get back to the U.S… You know, it’s a job for us now ! We need to be working, and the way to earn money in a band is to get on tour and sell merchandise. People aren’t really buying records because they download, it’s bad specifically for bands like us. If you’re U2, Radiohead or Coldplay, I mean, they can afford to give albums away or to download, they’ll make their money in the end.


Orange Goblin nailing it in the US (Photo : O.G.)

One song that represents our life on tour ? “We are the road crew” from Motörhead !

What was the place you enjoyed the most during this world tour ?

MM : Australia ! We’ve never been there before, and we were treated very well, like all the other bands. The weather was beautiful, the gigs were great, it was just like living a dream trip.
BW : It was so huge playing at Soundwave Festival, like Martyn said, every band was treated equal so we got on the plane with Slayer and Anthrax, we went to a barbecue in Brisbane on the first night with James Hetfield from Metallica… You feel special ! That’d be the highlight of my year so far…

And what about this completely atypical underwater interview you did in Sydney ? 

BW : Oh yeah, Soundwave TV…
MM : I think they just wanted us to get naked ! (laughs)
BW : We had a day off, and we were told there was this really nice remote beach in the surroundings of the city’s Harbour. One of them told us “hey, we could do an interview there”. They pulled us by the beard, took us to the beach, so what could we ask for ? It’s nice, because as a touring band, you don’t really get to see anywhere. You just stop in the venue, you soundcheck, go the hotel until the next day… That time off when we got to hangout in Sydney and see the Harbour bridge, that was special to us.

If you had to pick one song that really represents your life on tour, what would it be ?

BW : “We are the road crew” from Motörhead ! (laughs)

If you had the chance to start all over again, would you change anything in your career ?

BW : I don’t think so. We’re not regretting anything, everything happens for a reason. You know, when we first started this band, we never imagined that we would ever tour the world or do what we’ve done. We would have been happy of recording a demo and playing a few local shows. Obviously, progresses made us set a new goal each time. So we did a demo then we got signed, then we toured and recorded our first album… We wanted to keep going ! We’re fortunate so we can do this…

Could you name three bands from the UK that you’d like seeing get more exposure at the moment ?

BW : Our old guitar tech plays in a band called Age Of Taurus, I’d like to see them doing well, I think they deserve it.
MM : Gentlemans Pistols, they’re a great band as well.
BW : And there’s this little band called The Who, but you might have heard a few records. (laughs)

What’s the most insane gig you’ve ever attended as music fans ?

BW : When I saw Pink Floyd in 1994, it was an epic life-changing moment. And then, the two shows Black Sabbath did in 1997, the first reunion shows in Birmingham. We were lucky enough to get tickets both times for that, and I actually got to see Black Sabbath with Bill Ward, that was pretty special.
MM : Yeah there were two pretty good shows. Everyone kind of lost their shit, everyone went mental…

Now let’s go for a pretty silly question : Roadburn of Desertfest ?

BW : Desertfest is a relatively new festival and we know the guys who organize it, they’re very passionate about what they do, they’ve done a great job last year and this year. They had a lot of good bands in 2012 like Corrosion of Conformity, Church of Misery… And this year they’ve grown even bigger, they’ve got a new venue, a bigger crowd. It attracted bands like Pentagram, Unida… I can see that festival getting bigger and bigger as time goes on. And having a festival like that in London, it’s great. Roadburn has been here for many years now. Going back to 1998 when we first played it and there was only four or five bands… And we’ve seen it that grow to what it is now, I’m pretty sure they could move it from Tilburg to a bigger place. It’s more than just stoner rock, you’ve got black metal bands, punk… I wouldn’t want to take one out of two !
MM : HELLFEST ! (laughs)

Good one ! I think people will like this answer pretty much…

BW : Yeah, the Hellfest is probably the best festival in the world. It’s just fantastic. I mean, every year you think “how can they top the lineup ?”. It gets better and better each year.

Hellfest is probably the best festival in the world. It’s just fantastic.

What are the records or bands you’ve been listening to a lot lately, that you’d like to recommend ?

BW : The most famous is Clutch “Earth Rocker”. The new Church Of Misery and the new ASG “Blood Drive”. I also like the new Gates Of Slumber EP, Cathedral, Purson…
MM : Hmm, what else ? I like the new Ghost album.
BW : I still haven’t heard the new Black Sabbath album. Everyone says it’s really good, that the drumming is very basic but the riffs are actually awesome.

Agreed. It’s a very good heavy metal album, but not the best Black Sabbath record of all time.

BW : Still better than much bands !

I’m going to interview Neil Fallon from Clutch tomorrow afternoon, I know you toured together this winter and also shared the stage in Bilbao last night… Anything you’d like to say to him ?

MM : Just say lots of apologizes for our drunken English friends, and for the last three months. We’ve annoyed Neil and got on his nerves a lot… (laughs)

France is oddly one of the countries that we haven’t really toured for our 18 years history.

The last word is for you, guys.

BW : I’d like to use this opportunity to thank the bands in France that came out to these shows. France is oddly one of the countries that we haven’t really toured for our 18 years history. So it’s nice to finally come here and play for these people, I’ve been absolutely blown away by the response we’ve had each night. Small venues but really good crowds, really enthusiastic, it’s great !
MM : We don’t really know why in 18 years, we played only five shows in France. I can’t really explain that. Because there’s a market here for underground metal and stoner rock, so… There’s no reason at all that we wouldn’t be back very soon, you know, after the summer. (Ben is coughing loudly) If he doesn’t die. (laughs)
BW : Until I choke to death.

Yeah, we hope to see you back soon in France !

BW : Hopefully yeah, and we want to go to places we missed previously, places like Bordeaux, Marseille, Nice, Lyon…

Wow, you have a pretty good knowledge of the French map !

MM : It’s because of football ! He’s saying the names of French football clubs ! (laughs)

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Thanks to Ben and Martyn for their kindness and availability. Thanks to Nico @ Dead Pig for the opportunity.

Last modified: 11 February 2015