Stoner rock ain’t exactly inventive, but goddamn is it ever fun. Playing with the parameters of blues, rock ‘n’ roll, doom metal and working class passions for motorcycles, smokeables and psychedelics, songs under its banner are anthems for burnouts, partiers and weekend warriors. The U.K.’s Orange Goblin has been carrying that torch high for 18 years now and not once wavered. It’s this commitment that’s enabled them to finally headline a tour in the frozen North, riding high off the critically acclaimed Eulogy for the Damned (2012). In fact, this is the first time since they kicked off the band in 1995 that they are “full time musicians” and they couldn’t be happier. After all, the true test of a band is their live performance and presence. It’s Orange Goblin’s strongest suit.
“I agree with that 100 per cent. We’d be the first guys to admit that, throughout our career, we have often struggled to capture the true essence of the band in the studio,” writes vocalist and guitarist Ben Ward, who conversed with BeatRoute via email. Capitalizing on the attention they received in the wake of Eulogy, the band released their first live album Eulogy for the Fans later in 2012.
“We’re honest enough to admit our flaws, we know that none of us are the best musicians, technically, but there is a certain spark between us when we walk on a stage together and I think the live album captures that perfectly. We are hard working and dedicated to putting on the best show for the people that have turned up and paid their hard-earned money to see us. Clutch have the very same work ethic, they don’t bullshit anyone. They’re just four guys that go onstage every night to entertain the paying crowd and they give it everything they have time after time.”
In that sense, Orange Goblin is most certainly the European and far more punk version of Maryland road warriors, Clutch. This year alone, they’ve played 108 shows and have another 60 scheduled. It’s a far cry from their status in 2011, when it seemed the band might be throwing in the towel as Rise Above Records issued the Orange Goblin box set, compiling their first five albums into a convenient package. It’d been four years since their previous outing, 2007’s Healing Through Fire. Instead, they came charging back to battle and haven’t stopped since.
“If you want to do this job for a living you have to be prepared to work hard and at the moment we are enjoying the challenge. Obviously, throughout the course of a year on the road, there are challenges and obstacles,” writes Ward. “This year, we have had to deal with airlines losing our equipment, our guitarist having to fly home from a tour with a ruptured Achilles tendon, venues burning down, tires blowing out on the motorway, shows being cancelled, hotels not being booked, promoters trying to rip the band off and lots more, but everyone faces daily challenges, no matter what line of work they’re in. We don’t complain, we just get our heads down and get on with it.”
A truly proletariat attitude that extends even to their surge of success. Sure, it’s been a long road, but that doesn’t faze or frustrate Ward.
“It’s taken us 18 years to be able to make a living,” he writes, without any ounce of complaint. “We have done things the hard way and gone the long route but that has also made us appreciate what it takes to get here and to survive. Bands like Sabbath and Motörhead are shining examples of sticking to your guns and believing in what you do.”
He finishes, “Who’d have thought that in an age of so much shitty, manufactured pop music, a doom metal album would [chart] on both sides of the Atlantic.”
See Orange Goblin at the Palomino Smokehouse and Bar on Tuesday, October 15 with Holy Grail and Lazer/Wulf.
By Sarah Kitteringham