Orange Goblin

Orange Goblin shouldn't need any introduction, for over 14 years they have upholding the great tradition of "British Heavy Metal" by delivering killer album after killer album. Not only that but their live shows have consistently been getting great live reviews since the beginning of the bands career. The band has naturally progressed from the Psychedelic Stoner Rock of "Frequencies From Planet Ten" to the Punk Metal crossover of "Coup De Grace" and beyond. I have been a huge fan of this band since 1998 so getting this interview with vocalist/madman "Ben Ward" was a buzz.

The band started out as "Haunted Kingdom" so where did the name "Orange Goblin" come from?
We had the name Our Haunted Kingdom as it seemed to fit what we played when we first started. It was more of a British doom band in the vein of Anathema, My Dying Bride, Paradise Lost and Cathedral. We were also into stuff like Obituary and Autopsy but as we evolved we got into bands like Trouble, The Obsessed and Saint Vitus etc and suddenly found ourselves a part of a small scene in the UK alongside bands like Electric Wizard, Mourn and Acrimony. As the band evolved we decided to change the name to something more suitable. It's really just an amalgamation of having a color (like a lot of our favorite 70's bands) and a creature inspired by Tolkien. Hence Orange Goblin!

The band released the first 5 albums on "Rise Above" but then moved to Sanctuary. What was the reason behind this decision?
It was just a natural progression. After 10 years with Rise Above, our contract was up and we decided to try something new. Lee Dorrian gave us his blessing as he wanted to see the band progress and after a little bit of looking around we found Sanctuary (literally!) and they seemed to share exactly the same enthusiasm and outlook as the band. It was good while it lasted, it was very eye opening for the band and has held us in good stead ever since. As did our days with Rise Above and we continue to have a great relationship with everyone involved at both labels to this day!

Originally the band had a "Stoner Doom" sound but in recent years have moved to a more aggressive Metal/Punk Crossover sound. What forced this changed in your sound?
I guess we just evolved. We wanted to try something different in a scene that we considered stale for a while. All of a sudden around the late 90’s and early 00’s there were a million and one bands playing what was termed ‘stoner rock’ and we tried to keep one step ahead. Whether this worked for us or not I don’t know but I’m glad we did it as it gave us a chance to incorporate more of our diverse influences into our music. It also helped set us apart from the majority of bands and kept things interesting. It may have split our fanbase for a while but I think that after a certain amount of time everyone can forgive us for trying something new.

What was the early days like for the band? I remember the mid 90's as being a very exciting time for Stoner/Doom bands!
Yeah, as I said before, in the UK there was this very small scene involving ourselves, Electric Wizard, Acrimony, Mourn and a few others. Cathedral were the leaders and we all grew out of respect for what they were doing and kind of adopted our own signature sound out of that. It was cool as there was also an explosion of cool bands going on in the US and in Europe too, particularly in Germany, Holland and Sweden. It was great to be considered a part of that movement and we made some great friendships with people from those days. We all learned a great deal from this and I think it has helped us mature quite a bit as we used to be a little bit chaotic in those early days. There was a lot of the stereotypical booze and drugs and we probably got a bit carried away from tie to time. Let’s just leave it at that!

You are now signed with "Candlelight".How has that been for the band?
So far, so good. I guess we’ll learn more as we get nearer to recording and releasing the next album but so far they have shown great patience as we continue writing. The album was supposed to be released this year but we are so slow at getting things done that we didn’t want to rush the album and they have been cool with that. It is definitely an honor for us to be on thee same label as so many bands we look up to such as Obituary, Crowbar, Emperor etc etc

You have played many many live shows. What has some of the highlights for the band?
Over the course of our 14 year history there have been so many. Highlights for me include Wembley Arena, supporting Alice Cooper, performing at the Download festival at Castle Donnington, our first appearance at the Dynamo festival in Holland, 2 shows in Poland supporting Heaven & Hell. There are just so many. Recently we played at Hellfest in France alongside bands like Down, Saint Vitus, Manowar, Heaven & Hell and so many more and that was just a fantastic weekend. Everywhere we’ve been we have been lucky to have great tour mates and always seem to get along with whoever we tour with!

What is your live set like at the moment? Do you play a real mixture of songs from all the albums?
Definitely. We’ve really been trying to mix it up lately and having 6 albums of material to choose from makes the set very hard to decide on. The fans all seem to have so many favorite songs that it becomes hard to squeeze them all into the set. Personally I like to play a little bit of every album, that way you keep everybody happy!

What is some of your personal favorite tracks from the band?
I’m very proud of everything we’ve ever done and wouldn’t want to associate myself with anything that I wasn’t 100% happy with. Obviously as we’ve got older we’ve learned many new things about songwriting and some of the older material doesn’t hold up as well as what we’re doing now but a few of my favourites would be Round Up The Horses, Blue Snow, Scorpionica, Black egg, Cozmo Bozo………………………………I could go on!!!

Have you got a favorite album that you have done?
It would have to be the most recent one ‘Healing Through Fire’ as I think that it is the perfect mixture of everything that Orange Goblin is about. The songs are very well crafted and incorporate all of our influences to the point that it all just sounds like nothing but Orange Goblin! We put a lot of thought into that album with the lyrical content, the theme running through it, the riffs and the way songs were structured and I’m very pleased with the way it came out. Every album holds a special memory for me, ‘The Big Black’ particularly as that was when we realized that we didn’t have to stick to a formula and could do whatever we wanted. Also I like ‘Thieving From The House of God’ a lot too as it should the bands defiance. When Pete left the band, everybody thought it would be the end of us but I think we came back stronger than ever!

Who or what inspires the band's lyrics?
I write all the lyrics (with the exception of the song ‘The Big Black’ which Chris wrote). The last album was hardest to write as everything had to be themed around the Plague and the Great Fire of London so I had to stay loosely within those parameters, but it was fun and a challenge at the same time and the research helped me discover the works of Samuel Pepys and Daniel Defoe. I’m a huge fan of horror movies and literature so they give me a lot of inspiration. Film directors I like include Argento, Fulci, Romero, Carpenter, Grau, Franco, De Ossario, Jodorowsky, Hitchcock and many more. Literary wise I like Bukowski, Hunter S Thompson, Dickens, Huxley, Orwell, Jack London, Brian Keene…………………………………………………we could go on and on all day!!

What about other singers/frontmen? Is there anyone that has been a real influence to you?
There’s a few that I look up to and admire. I don’t know about inspirational as I try to be myself on stage and in everything I do but I have a lot of respect for people like, Ozzy, Lemmy, Lee Dorrian, Phil Anselmo, LG Petrov and others that have always walked their own path and not been swayed by anything going on around them. As for actual singers, the I would say that Ronnie James Dio is the absolute master. I also really like the voice of people like Rod Stewart, Paul Rodgers, Aretha Franklin and more recently JB from Grand Magus!

I read a new album may be out in September. Can you give us any updates on that?
As mentioned before, it is still a work in progress. We have a few songs written but they’ll still get tweaked a bit. We plan to record sometime in 2010 but we aren’t going to rush anything. A couple of working titles for songs we have so far are ‘The Bishops Wolf’ and ‘Red Tide Rising’ and the material is definitely very exciting. There are things that we’ve never done before with hints of Rush and King Crimson as well as all the usual Sabbath and Motorhead headbangers!

What has the album sales been like for "Orange Goblin" and in this era of the stealing of music from the Internet has it been a struggle to get actual paying customers?
It’s always a struggle but in this digital age it is always going to be harder for bands like us. We’ve consistently done Ok as I think we have a very loyal fan base that are willing to support the bands in our scene. I mean, it’s OK for bands like radiohead and Coldplay to give albums away as digital downloads cos’ they’ve already made fucking millions but to us, every tenner counts! The main thing that pisses me off are the people in countries that don’t buy our albums, get them off the internet and then moan that we don’t tour there when we have no money!!!

What is the next year or so looking like for live appearances? Any plans on touring the US?
We’ll try and do as much as we possibly can. It’s hard to tour extensively like we used to as we all have families, children, good jobs to look after all that sort of thing. It’s a shame but I guess its all part of getting old. For the last 14 years we have all given everything to this band. This year will be the first time any of us have had a summer holiday with our families as normally all our holiday time is taken up by touring commitments. That said, there are some plans being made for the US at some point in 2010 so hopefully we’ll be back!

What is your lifestyle like when you are on the road ? Is it hard to stay focused and healthy with all the temptations of drugs and alcohol?
It used to be carnage, drunk and high all day everyday completely terrorizing anyone we met and generally making a nuisance of ourselves but I think we’re far more sensible and reserved these days! When we are on tour we make more of an effort to look after ourselves and we also realize that when you’re the headline act you have more of a responsibility to the fans to give the best performance possible. Of course there are still occasions when we all get a little bit out of control and we leave a trail of vomit, blood, destruction and black eyes!

Ok Ben, thanks for doing the interview. Any final words for the fans out there?
Thanks to the Doom Metal Alliance for years of continued support and thanks to all the fans that make it possible to keep the Orange Goblin wagon rolling! We hope to see you all sometime soon, if we do, buy us a beer!
Interviewer: Ed
Nov 6, 2009

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