LA rockers Orson have had a busy time so far after joining Robbie Williams on tour and releasing their debut album ‘Bright Idea’. Guitarist, Kevin Roentgen talks to, Charlie Barker about the band’s inspiration, idols and his admiration of a Sheffield’s homegrown talent.
Orson have been a massive success in the UK, it’s almost like you’ve been adopted by the British public. How are you adjusting to working so much over here?
That’s exactly the way we feel about it. The UK has become our second home and none of us ever could have really planned it this way. We were a band in LA playing the clubs for about 4 or 5 years and decided to make a record on our own with an up and coming new producer. We came over here last year and one thing lead to another and here we are. We’ve really not had many days off since February, as we’ve been on the Robbie Williams tour all summer and it’s incredible! We’re loving every minute of it!
Are you now based permanently over here in the UK?
Yeah we’ve been based out of London since January. Like I said, there’s not many days we get to sleep in our own beds. But its home, we live here!
Do you have your families with you here and do they travel with you?
A few of us have had our girlfriends and wives come out. That was something we needed to do when we saw we wouldn’t be coming home any time soon. Most of our family and friends are back in the States, we miss them and we think we’re going to get some time around Christmas to go back, which we’re looking forward to. We feel pretty lucky to be doing what we love for a living and we know it’s not forever. We’re just trying to enjoy the ride.
Let’s go back to before you joined Orson. What did you do previously and had you always planned to do music or could you have seen yourself doing something else?
We had always hoped to do this for a living. A couple of the guys have had record deals before but I hadn’t. But the reality of being in this business is there’s times when you go back to doing your day job. We were all working day jobs back in Los Angeles less than a year ago. We just get to play more now, which is really exciting.
Who were your musical influences when you were growing up and do you find you draw upon elements of their music in your own writing and interpretation?
Yeah, we’re a band of many influences anything from Motown to heavy metal, to punk rock to cheesy 80’s pop. We’re all across the board and I think that part of the Orson sound is us embracing all of the music that we like and not trying to be specific to one genre. There’s just too much music to be enjoyed to let ‘being cool’ get in the way!
Have you ever shared a stage with any of your idols? If not who would you like to gig with?
No I haven’t. Personally I would love to be able to play a gig with U2 one day. That would be a big dream, although every guy in the band would tell you something different.
As a guitarist, do you have any particular guitar idols?
I think I picked up the guitar because I saw a picture of Ace Frehley playing guitar when I was a little kid. I like so many guitar players like Angus Young, Joe Perry and Jimmy Paige. I think probably my favorite guitar player is Lindsey Buckingham. I’ve been practically in tears watching him do some of the things he does!
You’ve played a lot of big shows over here. Do you have any favorites?
One of the most exciting things we’ve done this year is V Fest and that really felt like a homecoming for us. We’d been out in Germany and other parts of Europe for a couple of months on the Robbie Williams tour. The UK has really embraced this band, so it was total proof of that. They were telling us we had one of the biggest crowds of the day and the crowd was jumping up and down singing along. That was a really special moment for us to see that happen.
There are a few artists who’ve recently become more involved with current political situations. Do you think it’s wise to mix music and politics and would you feel comfortable doing that yourself?
You can’t ignore that people are affected by some of the things that happen in the world today. I think being from the States and now living in London and being a bit extra sensitive to some of the terrorist things that are happening. I’m sure somehow it inspires you in your music. You don’t have to include politics and I’m speaking for myself personally its bulls**t if you ignore it.
You’re coming to Sheffield next month to play. Have you ever been to the city before?
Yeah, we have. We came to the Leadmill last time and that was our first time playing Sheffield. We were pretty excited about that because I think it’s always exciting to go to a place in a new town where you’ve never been and a thousand people show up to see you. This time we’re playing Sheffield University. I know on this tour we’re playing bigger rooms and it’s exciting for us. We did our first tour back in February we were playing some of these places in the same towns to two or three hundred people and I think this time the numbers are something like two thousand close to three thousand people, so it’s really cool to see it growing for us.
Sheffield has got a good reputation for music, have any of our bands found their way into your CD collections?
Oh yeah I really like the Arctic Monkeys. It’s funny, I’ve been aware of them since we came over to Manchester last October and we played a conference for A&R people and they were playing the exact same time down the street. We thought ‘Oh man, we’re f**ked’, because there’s such a buzz about them. When I think about how old those guys are, not that it has anything to do with it, but it’s pretty impressive that they’re so young. There are some real creative minds in that band and I think that it’s more than just hype. It almost reminds me of the feeling that was around Nirvana. Hopefully they’ll stay together and we’ll keep enjoying their music.