Orange Goblin are true heroes of the British metal scene. They’ve had an impressive career lasting twenty years which has granted them the chance to play across the UK, Europe, Japan, and America. But while doing this they have held down day jobs the entire length of their career. Speaking to the boys before their excellent performance at Colchester, we talked about the tour, their career and the industry, plans for the future, and about their heroes Black Sabbath.
Jack: So Orange Goblin, how are you guys doing?
Martyn Millard (Bass): Alright
Chris Turner (Drums); Not bad.
Martyn: How many dates are we in? 5 dates.
Chris: Is that all? Feels longer.
Martyn: But it’s all going good. I guess.
Jack: How’s the 20th anniversary as a band going?
Martyn: Alright really. We’ve had a busy summer and been a bit iffy here and there. We soon have to go to work unfortunately rather than being a full time band but that’s the way it is. Apart from that it’s all good.
Chris: It’s been like any other year really.
Jack: You’ve got day jobs like a lot of bands, is it hard to fit it around?
Orange Goblin: Yes
Martyn: It seems to get harder the older you get, I don’t know why.
Chris: When you start off and you’re younger you have no responsibilities. I didn’t go on holiday for 15 years, as all the holiday time goes on band stuff. But the older you get you start getting families, kids, wives so your time becomes more precious.
Martyn: Mortgages and debt comes into it too.
Jack: I know a band and one of the band members is a school teacher so they can only tour when the school holidays are on. Is that similar to your situation?
Martyn: Yeah, kind of.
Chris: We generally get away with it by doing shows on weekends.
Jack: Aside from this tour what have you done to celebrate 20 years as a band?
Martyn: Done a lot of moaning.
Chris: A lot of: ‘are we still doing this?’
Martyn: Wondering what we’re doing here.
Chris: Nothing special really.
Martyn: We did the Desertfest shows earlier in the year where we played The Big Black in full so as well as celebrating us going for 20 years, we played that album in full to celebrate the 15 years of that album and our existence.
Jack: How do you feel about that album being out for 15 years? It contains a lot of your hits like ‘Scorpionica,’ and ‘Quincy the Pigboy’ and a lot of your fans consider it to be one of your essential albums.
Martyn: It’s got good memory.
Chris: The recording process was brilliant, it was drunk and debauch beyond belief.
Martyn: It’s just a recording of a record.
Chris: Those two weeks were great.
Martyn: How we got anything done I don’t know but it came out sounding great. All the albums are dear to my heart in some way, all eight of them. We actually held a poll 18 months ago on Facebook to see the fan’s favourite album and I think Time Travelling Blues won favourite album with The Big Black a close second. I like The Big Black, it’s definitely the heaviest.
Chris: It’s up their with the best of Orange Goblin.
Martyn: There’s no such thing, it’s the worst.
Jack: What was it like playing it at the Desertfest shows in full? Were they quite sentimental shows?
Martyn: It was a bit yeah, it was nice to play the shows as a five piece.
Chris: Especially playing some of the album tracks. When you write an album and when you do eight or nine track album you’ll only get to play five of them live. We played some of the songs we rarely get to play and it was nice to play some of those tunes again.
Martyn: I guess when you write a record and you start airing songs on that record, some go down well and some not so much and the ones not so much you don’t tend to play again. Like ‘298 KG’ which is one of my favourite Goblin songs.
Chris: When we played it back then people went ‘huh’ with dead faces. You have to work out which songs people like and the ones they don’t.
Martyn: People tend to like the upbeat songs more, it’s how the live environment works.
Jack: Did you ever imagine you would ever last 20 years as a band?
Chris: I remember when it was our 10th anniversary, and we did those 10 year shows and going ‘bloody hell we made it to 10 years’. When people said ‘what about the next 10 years,’ we were like ‘you’ve got to be joking.’
Jack: Would you say you made it as a band?
Martyn: No. In my eyes to make it as a band you’ve got to make a living off the band. It should be your main job and that’s how you paid for your house, bought a nice car and paid for your parents to go on holiday.
Chris: Making it as a band utterly is living comfortably, there’s not many metal bands that do that.
Martyn: There’s not many bands at all that do that these days. It’s when you hear that Chuck Billy from Testament still has a day job you realise.
Chris: There’s a lot of kids in school that have the ideal of joining a band and starting a band and that kind of thing. You travel around and we played local support every night as there were so many bands around. On one level we’ve done really well as we’ve lasted twenty years and stuck together.
Martyn: There’s not many bands that when we started and are still going now.
Chris: We’ve done eight albums with the same line-up.
Martyn: There’s Electric Wizard but that’s just Jus still going and he’s got people coming and going around him. Fu Manchu maybe.
Chris: We’ve achieved more than ever we wanted to than when we set out to when we started the band. We’ve recorded eight albums, we’ve toured Europe, the US, Japan, and all other the world. We met a lot of our musical heroes who’ve become friends of ours. We’ve achieved a lot but in the grand scale of things it’s our version of going down to the Football at the weekend.
Jack: What would you say has been a highlight?
Martyn: There’s been a lot of great shows and great tours with great experience, there’s tours.
Chris: You get things like some of the festivals, for example there’s playing to 12,000 people at Hellfest.
Martyn: Hellfest is always great.
Chris: Seeing people go mental is always great.
Martyn: Touring with Dio a couple of times was cool, once with Alice Cooper and another time when he was in Heaven and Hell.
Chris: Being forced to have a disco with Phil Anselmo.
Martyn: Forced to dance in his dressing room.
Chris: Mental. But meeting those people was great.
Martyn: We’ve met a lot of great people.
Chris: Getting to go to Japan and staying in the best hotel in Tokyo and being treated like The Beatles was great.
Martyn: We’ve met very few dicks and that’s nice. Apart from the four of us who are idiots, we’ve met very few people who’ve made us go ‘urgh’.
Chris: There have been a few nobs but there always is.
Jack: The main support for the tour is Gentlemans Pistols, why were they picked?
Orange Goblin: They’re great!
Martyn: There’s no point in getting bands that sound the same.
Chris: When you are doing a tour, the package has to work together. There’s no point in having bands that are too different because you spilt the crowd.
Martyn: They’re friends and they’re bloody good.
Chris: They’re different to us and they’re not so different. It’s also fucking Bill Steer, you know that cunt.
Jack: You’re big Carcass fans I take it.
Martyn: Yeah, I’m been a Carcass fan since I was a kid.
Chris: When I was a kid growing up in the Midlands when Napalm Death started they supported every bloody show known to man. So when I was 16-17 years old I used to see them every weekend.
Jack: Opening the show is Colchester’s own Goat Monsoon, are you aware of them?
Martyn: I’ve heard of them. I don’t know much about them but I’ve heard very good things about them.
Jack: I’ve seen them before and they’re good.
Martyn: Our merch guy (Griz) knows them and says they’re good.
Chris: I’ve heard their good.
Jack: Every show on the tour has a local opener, why was this added to the package?
Chris: It’s quite common for a touring package to have a local opening band, it raises the highlight of the show in the local area, their mates will come see them as their mates will see them which is great for us. It’s where we started as well.
Ben Ward (vocals): Every time we announce a tour we get people from bands asking if we could open for them.
Chris: We were that band that opened for everyone. Every vaguely metal show we were playing it and it’s how we started. The more you play the more people get to see you and the bigger you get. There’s probably a bunch of idiots in twenty years time who will say they opened for Orange Goblin.
Martyn: If we’re still playing in 20 years time I want you to kill me.
Chris: I don’t think we’ve got another twenty years left.
Jack: Have you ever played Colchester before?
Martyn: Yeah it’s the third or fourth time.
Chris: At least three.
Jack: Does playing in a former church add to show?
Martyn: It kind of does initially then the stage is just like any other stage.
Chris: The acoustics are pretty good in churches, it’s a big open room.
Jack: Lots of bands that play here say they love the blasphemous aspect.
Chris: Strictly speaking it’s not a church anymore as it’s been de-sanctified so it’s a really cool building, so essentially you’re playing in a really cool building.
Ben: Well, as practising Satanists it never bothers us.
Chris: We played in a venue in America that used to be the county morgue and it had been de-morguified. The dressing rooms downstairs had the tile floors with channels going to the drain system.
Martyn: Where was that?
Chris: Where all the dartboards were?
Martyn: Oh, Houston.
Chris: People were like “oh cool you played in the Morgue”, but we never did, we just played in a cool venue with lots of dart boards that used to be a morgue. It was a nice place to play.
Jack: Your last album Back From The Abyss has been out for a year and it’s up there with the best of Goblin. Are you proud of it and would you tweak it?
Martyn: I’m proud of it definitely. I’d probably tweak all of them if we could. If you wrote a perfect record then we wouldn’t be sitting here, we’d be in a luxury bus. If we sat down and analysed them all there would be errors.
Chris: The way we record is that we aren’t one of those bands in the studio for six months recording. We go down the studio for two weeks and hammer it out because we like to do it as live as possible, it’s kind of how we are. If you played us any Goblin song off any record we could play you a mistake like me missing a cymbal. You get Rush, I love Rush don’t get me wrong they’re one of my favourite bands, you hear the record and it’s perfect, you go and see them live, it’s exactly the same. Neil Peart plays the exact same thing day in day out.
Jack: What are your plans for next year?
Ben: We’re going to do a few festivals.
Martyn: We’re taking offers, discussing it, we’ll see.
Jack: New music or play it by ear?
Chris: There’s always a chance, we haven’t written anything yet. But we have twenty years of spare riffs, a huge bag of riffs that we have. When we go to write something we go to the rehearsal studio, could be writing something then someone will pull something out the bag and add it to the mix.
Jack: On your ‘Red Tide Rising’, single you did an amazing cover of ‘Symptom of the Universe’ by Black Sabbath. Why did you pick this song?
Chris: It’s one of our favourites.
Martyn: It’s an iconic song.
Chris: We recorded for a Sabbath tribute album.
Ben: For Metal Hammer.
Martyn: Did it ever come out in the end?
Chris: We don’t do bonus tracks, but if you put stuff out in Japan they always want bonus tracks as they want to be different. Because we’re lazy we write the absolute minimum. So we dig stuff out, like magazine tracks for them.
Jack: You’re on a desert island and you can only take two Sabbath albums. Which two or is it an impossible question?
Ben: It’s like choosing between your children.
Chris: Black Sabbath and Vol 4.
Martyn: Master of Reality and Sabbath Bloody Sabbath.
Jack: I’d probably pick Master of Reality and Vol 4.
Ben: Sabbath Bloody Sabbath and Sabotage.
Chris: Why don’t we get stranded on the same desert island.
Martyn: Then we could have them all.
Chris: Get the whole collection in.
Jack: Does Never Say Die get an unfair reputation?
Ben: I think it does, I think it’s a great record.
Jack: I think it’s great record as well.
Martyn: To an extent. There’s some great songs on there. What never really gets mentioned about Never Say Die is that it sounds quite like a commercial record which is everything that Sabbath fans initially were against. It kind of has gained this 70s arena rock sound, not so much but it’s creeping in. It’s not quite as heavy, I mean it’s a heavy record but a lot of this hate comes because it doesn’t sound as underground and doom as their previous records.
Jack: Thank you for your time and I’ll see you on stage.
Martyn: Yes you will! Hopefully!
Orange Goblin are:
Ben Ward – Vocals
Joe Hoare – Guitar
Martyn Millard – Bass
Chris Turner – Drums