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24th October 2011
METAL DISCOVERY: You described this tour on your website as “what will become the most boner inducing tour of all fucking time”.
JOE: [laughs]
(Joe Dexter on the 2011 Bowling For Soup tour living up to expectations)
"We’ve had huge erections the entire tour! Non-stop boner central!"
Interview & Photography by Mark Holmes
Official Orange Website:
Official Orange Facebook:
Welcome to the World of... (2005)
Albums & EPs
Thanks to Emma Watson for arranging the interview
A few labels have been deployed over the years to describe Orange's music from power pop punk, punk 'n' roll, new wave punk rock, and, more straightforwardly, just punk rock. But, labels aside, one cannot deny that the LA-based outfit write uplifting songs chock-full of catchy hooks, albeit sometimes with lyrical content that contraposes such sonic buoyance with various melancholic themes. Fronted by the British-born Joe Dexter, who remains one of two surviving members from the band's inception alongside drummer Zak Glosserman, October 2011 saw the band return to the UK as opening support act on Bowling For Soup's autumn tour. Joe spoke to Metal Discovery in the band's splitter van a couple of hours before their set at Lincoln's Engine Shed...
Joe Dexter outside the Engine Shed, Lincoln, UK, 24th October 2011
Photograph copyright © 2011 Mark Holmes - www.metal-discovery.com
MD: Two thirds of the way through now, so has it lived up to your expectations so far?
JOE: Absolutely. We’ve had huge erections the entire tour! Non-stop boner central!
MD: Any particularly good gigs in terms of crowd reactions?
JOE: Yeah, Birmingham was amazing. That was brilliant…probably my favourite so far.
MD: So many bands talk about getting bored on tour during the day and just live for the show at night, so how do you generally spend your time during the day?
JOE: Well, how I spend my time is updating Facebook, chatting to fans…I’m really into audience interaction like talking with our fans on Facebook or whatever, so I do that all day. Our guitar player, Alec, he just sleeps. He is never, ever awake! He wakes up, says - “Where’s the vodka? Show me the stage!”
MD: I’ve read you comment that the UK is your favourite place to play because you get more lively crowd reactions here…
JOE: Oh yeah.
MD: What do you think it is about the UK where you connect more with the audience and they connect better with you, more so than in the States?
JOE: Well, I think what it is, we’ve been doing it a few times now and I think the English kids know how to have fun whereas, in America, everyone’s just more obsessed with looking cool and like, “how can I pose?” and “I think this band’s really good but I won’t show any excitement whatsoever.” So, playing America, compared to England, it’s very boring. We love doing England as that’s where it’s at. There’s no agenda; the kids are here to have a good time.
MD: That’s what it should be all about. Have you noticeably expanded your fanbase over here since you started the tour with more Twitter followers, Facebook likes and that kind of thing?
JOE: Definitely, yeah. Maybe 200 likes on Facebook a day after every show which is really good. But, yeah, I think this is our fourth tour in a year and, every time we come back, it’s building and building so hopefully, maybe this time next year, we’ll be popular enough to headline some decent venues.
MD: I gather you’re called Orange after the first song you wrote on the first album…
JOE: Yeah.
MD: …and it’s your favourite colour as well…
JOE: Indeed.
MD: So what’s so great about the colour orange?
JOE: No idea! It was always my favourite colour growing up as a kid. I had an orange bedroom and everything I had was orange – orange duvets, orange clothes, orange pillows…everything was orange. What kind of worked out in the end was orange turned out to be the colour of joy and we’ve always been a sort of joyful band so it just sort of worked out.
MD: I’ve noticed you use Orange amps as well – is that just a gimmick or is that coincidence?
JOE: It’s because we have the same name and thought they’d look really good on stage with us. It took two years for them to buy in but, in the end, they were like, “okay, we’ll do an endorsement deal with you guys”.
MD: Do you ever get people dressed in orange at your gigs?
JOE: All the time, yeah. Actually, one of our things is that if people come dressed up in orange, they get a signed Pokémon card from the band. So that’s kind of our way of rewarding the fans for being so cool.
MD: And walking around town dressed like a cock for the rest of the night!
JOE: Exactly! Precisely!
MD: Do you get many puns made on your band name? I’ve read things like – “the future is bright, the future is Orange” and so forth…
JOE: Yes. When we first started, we actually tried to steal that; we tried to use that tagline. We figured that we don’t really want to get sued right now, so maybe we’ll leave that one alone! But yeah, whenever people don’t like us they call us “borange” or stupid shit like that.
MD: So I presume you’ve never tried to get sponsorship from Orange, the telecom company?
JOE: No, but the first song I wrote was called ‘Orange’ and I’ve always tried to get them to use that for their theme song…about six years in the making now so hopefully one day!
MD: I’ve read your music labelled as pop punk, new wave punk rock, power pop punk – do you pay much attention to labels yourselves or do you not really care how people choose to brand your music?
JOE: I’m sort of cool with people calling us whatever they want to because I’m a big believer that music, and songs in particular, should mean something to the individual, so I’ve never really been too bothered by it. We’ve always considered ourselves a power pop punk band but anyone, whatever you think we are, we’re totally cool with that, so choose your own.
MD: What’s the weirdest description you’ve ever read about your music?
JOE: We’ve had some strange comparisons to other bands like someone compared us to Marilyn Manson. That was probably the weirdest one.
MD: Really?!
JOE: Yeah.
MD: Had they ever listened to Marilyn Manson?!
JOE: Yeah, I know! We have this song called ‘Resist’ on our new EP which is kind of heavier and…fuck knows where that came from! [laughs] But that was the weirdest one.
MD: That segues nicely onto my next question…talking of the new EP, it’s the first new material you’ve released for a couple of years, so did you see it as important to get something fresh out there ahead of doing this big tour with Bowling For Soup?
JOE: Definitely. I felt like this was definitely the tour to do it with as well because it’s probably the biggest tour we’ve ever done so it was like, let’s get a new product out there, show the kids what we’ve got and show our older fans that something new is coming in 2012.
MD: So, apart from sounding like Marilyn Manson…
JOE: [laughs]
MD: … ‘Resist’ is about a bad relationship with an ex-girlfriend and ‘Pistols and Pills’ is about the breakup of a relationship, but the music itself is very uplifting and optimistic…
JOE: I know! [laughs]
MD: Is that supposed to inject a bit of irony into those themes by having that contrast?
JOE: Yeah. Well, you know, what’s funny is we’ve always had that kind of issue ever since we started. Some of our lyrics can be quite melancholic but the music’s really fun. So I suppose, in some ways, some of our songs do tend to be a bit ironic. But it’s not really intentional; it’s just the type of music I like to write and sing and then, sometimes, the lyrics may just be a little bit on the edge of unsuitable. I always think that’s kind of our style.
MD: Yeah, that’s your niche within the power pop punk genre. It actually said on the press sheet that a new album’s due later this year but you said 2012?
JOE: Yeah, early 2012 probably.
MD: How’s that progressing? Have all the songs been written?
JOE: Yeah, we’ve got about…what we always do is by the time we come to a record, we’ve got about eighteen songs and then we have to narrow them to twelve. For the new EP we had to narrow it to three which was almost impossible but we’ve got about fifteen songs that we feel pretty confident with right now.
MD: And Ryan Hewitt produced the EP, of course – will you be using him again for the album?
JOE: Oh definitely, yeah. We’ve been through a lot of producers over the years but I feel like we’ve finally found the guy that really gets the band and has made us even better so we’re really happy.
MD: How’s your working relationship with him; does he have any creative input as well as producing?
JOE: Yeah, he wasn’t one of those producers who just presses record and says, “just do your job guys”. He was really heavily involved in it for weeks. It was supposed to be a weekend project for him, like no big deal, but he got really into it, and he was like - “I really believe in this band and these songs are fucking killer.” We spent, probably, a couple of weeks working on it.
MD: I gather you’ve signed a big publishing deal and you wrote the theme song for ‘Arthur’, the Russell Brand remake, and you’re writing songs for the next ‘Twilight’ movie?
JOE: Yeah.
MD: And commercials in the States as well?
JOE: Yeah, there have been a few commercials. We got fortunate enough to get the publishing deal right after we did the theme song for Cartoon Network. Someone heard it and thought, this is a good song, let’s see where he is, and they found us. I had always wanted a publishing deal, ever since I was sixteen, so it’s a dream come true for me.
MD: So is that just for you as a songwriter or Orange as a band?
JOE: Just for me.
MD: But obviously it will be good for the profile of the band as well.
JOE: Absolutely, definitely.
MD: Which is your main priority I presume.
JOE: Yes, definitely, one hundred per cent.
MD: So what kind of relationship do you have with your fans; have you had any crazy encounters over the years?
JOE: Yeah, I remember this one thing that happened, which is always a favourite of mine, where what happened was these three Japanese kids flew from Japan to come and see us play at some club in LA called The Echo and we didn’t know they were coming at all. We just walked out of sound check and then, immediately, they started crying. I was like - “Oh shit, what the fuck did we do?! What have I said wrong?” It turned out they were huge fans, they’d flown all the way from Japan just to come and see a gig. So it was pretty cool to see that sort of dedication, from such a far off country as well. I really enjoyed that experience.
MD: Were they dressed in orange as well?
JOE: Of course! [laughs]
MD: What’s the strangest gift you’ve ever received from a fan?
JOE: Strangest gift? Actually, someone gave me a hair comb yesterday. That was a bit weird. Just a regular standard comb. The coolest gift, a few nights ago at one of the shows, these two girls came dressed as the characters from the 'Dead Sexy’ EP, like the front cover characters, head to toe, and they had baked ‘Dead Sexy’ cookies that were in the shape of the characters. They had the faces on there, the hairstyles and then, on top of that, they made an entire box of all orange muffins. We ate the whole thing up and that was pretty much the coolest gift I’ve had.
MD: What’s the most random Spinal Tap moment you’ve ever had as a band?
JOE: Oh, definitely the other day in…god, what was that venue? I don’t remember. All the dates start blending into one! One of the gigs, the backstage was literally like Spinal Tap as we could not fucking find the entrance to the stage to save our lives!...“Where the fuck do we go?! We’ll miss the gig!” It took us ages to find. It was like ‘Labyrinth’! It really was!
MD: Finally, for people who haven’t checked out your band yet, what would you like to say that might make them check out Orange?
JOE: I’d say if anyone’s looking for a fun, theatrical, feel-good, power pop punk experience, I’d say check out Orange and come hang out with us because we like hanging out and are pretty friendly guys.
MD: …with occasionally depressing lyrics!
JOE: Exactly!
MD: Okay, thank you so much for your time.
JOE: Thank you, man.
Escape From LA (2007)
Phoenix (2009)
Dead Sexy (2011)