Orion: In Conversation
By Stephen Lord
Perth's Orion are one of the newest acts to emerge from Western Australia's thriving metal scene. After an impressive debut performance in February 2001 they have forged a solid live reputation, and are in the midst of recording their debut EP "Control." All five members of the band recently spoke with UM's Stephen Lord about some of their ambitions, influences, challenges and conquests.
Ultimate Metal: For those who may not know much about the band, could you give us a brief history of Orion? What have some of the highlights been for each of you?
Sam Korn Vocals
Alisdair McLaren Guitar
Troy D Lead Guitar
Paul Spencer Bass
Iain McLaren Drums
Orion was formed in July 2000 by original members Alisdair McLaren, Iain McLaren and Paul Spencer. After extensive auditions the band became a six piece, featuring lead guitarist Troy D. On September 5th 2000 the band made its first apearance at the Cockburn Battle of the Bands under the name of "Warlock". Since then the band has streamlined to a five piece format (with new vocalist Sam Korn) and changed the name to Orion. After many long hours spent in the rehearsal studio, Orion made its pub debut on February 2nd 2001 at the Whitesands Hotel. 2001 has been a busy year for the band, playing at many venues throughout Perth and recording our first E.P. titled "Control".
The highlight so far for everyone would have to be the recording of the E.P. It's something that we have always wanted to do and I think that we as a band have had a good time doing it. I guess it was just a new experience for us.
UM: You've played at quite a few venues around Perth throughout 2001. What sort of audience does Orion attract, and how do they respond to your performance?
IAIN: (Our gigs) have been fantastic. The guys turning up to the shows have been great and we have been getting a lot of excellent feedback which is very pleasing. Because we are a new band we are working hard to try and get a fan base and it's slowly getting there. It'll just take time and we are prepared to work hard for it. At the moment we've mainly played the metal circuit but we will also be aiming for the hard rock scene over the next 6 months. The more supporters the better, as it all helps to get the band out there.
UM: Your name comes from an instrumental on the Master of Puppets album. How important was early Metallica in shaping your sound, and what other bands have influenced you?
PAUL: A couple of the band members are big Metallica fans, though we all come from varied backgrounds. Between us, I think that we're probably into just about every kind of music there is. Our influences range from AC/DC to Megadeth to ZZ Top and everything in between. I don't know if there has been any direct influence on the sound, apart from the fact that we have a very Marshall sound. We basically go with what we like and as long as the sound is clear, big and in tune that's fine.
ALISDAIR: I would have to agree with Paul, as everyone in the band has their own influences. My brother Iain and I grew up very big Metallica fans and I think that's what made us take up playing a musical instrument. We used to jam out our favorite Metallica hits (ie Seek and Destroy and Creeping Death) in the back room of our house when our parents were out and I guess it just went from there. Nowadays we listen to everything that we can get our hands on as long as it sounds good.
UM: How did you cope with the different lineups and other changes during the band's early days? Were you discouraged at first, or did all the obstacles make you more determined for Orion to succeed?
TROY: Getting the nucleus of the band together was relatively easy. The difficult thing for us was finding a vocalist that suited the style we wanted to play. That was frustrating at times, but after many auditions we eventually found the right person and I think the end result speaks for itself. We're very happy with the line-up now, as we are all good friends who share the same ideals and goals for Orion's future.
ALISDAIR: I found the search for a vocalist to be the most frustrating obstacle. I'd place an ad in the local music paper and we'd audition anyone that phoned me up. It seemed to be a very long process and I think it was weeks before we found Sam, which was just in time as we were already booked down for our first gig! I could see the other guys getting a bit frustrated as well, since we had all this new material but no singer. Fortunately we bumped into Sam who has fitted right into the band.
UM: Your demo includes four tracks (Too Late, Warrior, No Mercy and Dreams). Tell us about some of the other material that you play live or are keeping up your sleeves for future release.
SAM: The songs on the demo are our earliest compositions. We have been writing continuously this year and we now have over a dozen additional new songs with more on the way. The material we're starting to write now is getting more technically demanding to play, but the main thing for us is that while it sounds heavy, the songs are musical. The band is really starting to evolve and develop into something we think will be very good. As far as the end result is concerned, who knows?
IAIN: Funny enough the very first song composed was the ballad Dreams, which was written in 2000 when the band was known as Warlock. Since then we've slowly started to find our own style which we are all happy with.
UM: The whole band is equally involved in the writing of songs . Do you have a certain formula for who contributes which parts, or is it just a matter of who comes up with the best ideas?
TROY: I think the basic formula is "keep it simple and make it musical". When we have some new riffs or ideas, we get together play the various bits to each other and then just experiment until we find a way to make the song(s) work. The songs are usually structured in a standard way to keep continuity and musicality of the material. Sometimes either myself, Paul or Al comes up with a four bar riff and then from there the rest of the song eventually evolves. It's not the common way for a band to write material as many bands tend to jam for ideas but we find this is working for us and that's what's important.
UM: You're currently working on your first EP. What has the recording process been like so far, and when can we expect to hear the finished product?
PAUL: The recording process has been surprisingly easy for us, very painless actually. The people we've been working with at L.S. International Records have been fantastic. They have been professional, easy to work with and very accomodating with what we've wanted to do. Our producer Dave at L.S. has been great to work with and that has made the whole process very easy and user-friendly. We are very pleased with the final product and we look forward to its release which should be over the next few months. The E.P contains three songs which were actually quite hard to select with our large repertoire as we wanted to record them all. So we chose three songs that show the style and diversity of the band. Hopefully there's something on it for everyone.
UM: Finally, what do you have in mind for the long term future of Orion? Where do you see yourselves in 5-10 years time?
SAM: Our main goal is to achieve some success overseas and to get an album out as soon as possible.We don't see the Australian market for what we are playing as very big when compared with some other countries. Realistically we are aiming for Europe, Asia and America. This doesn't mean that we don't want to be successful in Australia but if it arises then all the better. Basically, we're in it for the love of music and we'd like to keep it that way. Recording our E.P through L.S. Records can give us the kind of distribution we need, and we all believe it has the potential to work very well for us.
Many thanks to Sam, Alisdair, Troy, Paul and Iain for the time, patience and input that helped make this interview a reality.
Visit the official Orion website at www.geocities.com/orion_metal2001/
and watch this space for a review of "Control."