Interviews

Thank God For Orion's New Album, We Played Their Demo Until It Fell Apart

Listen to three tracks from the Sydney band’s debut album that is an early contender for one of the best of 2017.

by Tim Scott
25 January 2017, 12:14am

Despite the song title there's a breezy and joyous bounce to Orion's "Execution". Over bright, poppy synths and snappy drum machine, Yuta's nuanced and emotive vocals rise with the guitar and bass. It's the kind of melody that makes you want to dance with your arms high above your head.

But listen closely and there's something more sinister going on as Yuta sings about dark shadows, lost prosperity, massacres and how "You always knew this day would come".

In many ways the track defines the Sydney four-piece's debut self-titled album. Radiant pop delivered with a despondent and at times even morose mood. These are songs of insecurity and anxiousness passed through a strong pop filter. Pop music made by punks.

Yuta, bassist Dizzy, guitarist Chris, and synth player Sarah have done time in darker and more aggressive punk bands such as Oily Boys, Low Life, M.O.B and Whores. While not exactly an outlet, Orion gives them a chance to explore more space and melody.

Following a sold out demo, the band are set to release their debut on Cool Death records. The core of the album was recorded back in early 2015 by Laurence Williams from M.O.B, but time spent on vocals and overdubs and the regular 'waiting for the pressing plant' shenanigans means that it's only now seeing a release. But it's here and we couldn't be more excited.

Take a listen to three of the tracks below and read a chat we had with Dizzy.

Noisey: So Orion started back in 2013?
Dizzy: Yeah, (laughs). Jesus, that was a while ago.

The album is finally about to be released. Why the wait?
A number of reasons. Playing in punk bands you usually get records done pretty quickly and it's usually better that way. With Orion we wanted to record, listen back and take time. With punk music a record sounds better, and a bit more charming, if it's slightly rushed. With what Orion is doing, it's more interesting to have more subtleties. Also because we could jam at our mate's place there was no time blocked. "Well, we can do this whenever we want, let's not rush" (laughs). But that's a learning thing and I think the next album will be a lot faster. We will be writing and recording at the same time.

The four songs from the demo have been recorded for the album.
Yeah, and they were all written before we were even a proper band. All the other stuff on the album was written as a group and I think we are now better at just sitting down and writing songs together. There's no awkwardness or egos.

The album starts with your bass line on the track "Church Bells". I believe this was the first song that you and Yuta jammed?
Yeah, I have a real bodgy recording of that when I was living in Chippendale. Yuta and I were sitting down in the living room at like 3am and just jamming it on guitar.

How has it changed from then to what's on the album?
From what I remember it was just the two riffs. Then by the next time we had got together Yuta had structured the song. When I think about it, it's still just two riffs really.

You all have punk backgrounds but the music is pop based.
Yeah, very much a pop structure. A,B, A,B, C. That whole verse, chorus, verse, chorus. I think we are expanding beyond that a tiny bit but the pop song structure is always going to be there.

I've thrashed the demo so much so I've been enjoying some of the newer songs like "Last". I like the mood.
Oh right, that's actually a real early song but we rarely play it. I think we are all really sick of the record to be honest (laughs). Because it's so old and we had to listen to it so much during recording. You can kind of lose something when you do that. You forget what it would be like to listen to if for a first time. So it's always surprising when people say they like it because Im "Really? I kind of hate it now." (laughs)

Do you get a different vibe from an Orion show than when you play an Oily Boys show?
Playing guitar in Oily Boys seems easier. With Orion I have to concentrate more on playing bass and it's actually more tiring. I don't know why that is, I guess it's because I've been playing guitar longer. I'm in a zone so I don't really know what's happening (laughs). Whereas with Oily Boys I can play and still watch the chaos. (laughs)

Yuta has increased in confidence as a front person too.
Yeah, he used to be very shy. The first couple of shows he wouldn't face the crowd properly (laughs). He is a lot more loose now. I remember the Sunday night show of the first Maggot Fest we played. Maybe it's because he had just played with MOB who are a bit aggressive and he was riding off that, but I think he was like, "I can put a lot more energy into Orion and it works" (laughs. Maybe I'm wrong but from that day onward he's always been more energetic as a frontman.

How long have you been playing music with him?
The first time I saw him play drums was with Taipan at Club 77 with Low Life. This was with Low Life 1.0 with a completely different lineup. I was just really into the drumming and the next time I saw him I was like "Hey we should do a band" and that became Oily Boys. I think we had it in mind to be a more 77 style more stripped back punk but it turned into it's own thing.

I just heard WRX which is like your house project. How did you get into this kind of stuff?
I actually got into a bit through Orion influences. My gateway into house was through New Order who I love as well as Pet Shop Boys and things like that.

Do you enjoy the freedom of writing/recording when you want?
I struggled with it for ages because it's really hard. I'm still learning. I'm still a newbie when it comes to that stuff. All the bands I've been in has been punk bands and it's all communal. It's actually good because you may write something that you think is crap but others may like it and give you encouragement. There's so much self-doubt when you write on your own.

Paradise Daily released the demo but Cool Death is doing the album. Why is that?
I can't remember. It was maybe the second time we had come to Melbourne. Yuta and Coco from Cool Death were playing pool, I can't really remember the story but I think there was a bet that if Coco won then the Orion album would come out of Cool Death. (laughs) Also the record has been in the works for so long. We love Paradise Daily but I don't think they were doing records at that time. They are now which is great. That kind of gives you an indication of how long it's been. (laughs)

What are your thoughts on Keep Sydney Open?
I like the principal but I don't really like that group. The people running it remind me of young Liberals or something. They seem very petit bourgeois. But it's a good thing too. I don't know… Any assortment of people getting together on their free will communally, and for something that isn't profit driven is a good thing. And the NSW Premier hates that. It's the government's worst nightmare; people organising and doing something that isn't shopping or a big commercial event. Even if I don't go to certain gigs, in principal I want them to keep happening.

Does Orion still have a reputation for being late for shows? How did this rumour start?
(Laughs) I have no idea but I think we are getting better at it. I think our mate Hannah from Destiny 3000 told me a story of when she was living with Yuta and she remembers him being on the phone and saying to someone "Yeah I'm on my way. Wait, what - we are playing now!"? Ha. I think Chris has a problem with time but I'm not sure if it's bullshit. I don't want to disparage him. (laughs)

Orion's self-titled album is available Jan 27. Pre-order is available now.

Images: Dakota Gordon