Code Orange - Interview

An interview with Jami Morgan of Code Orange

An interview with Jami Morgan of Code Orange

Pittsburgh's Code Orange are arguably the most vital band in heavy music right now. After a few years of being at the top of the hardcore scene armed with the records like 2012's 'Love Is Love/Return to Dust' and 2014's 'I Am King' which featured metallic devastation and punk spontaneity as well as their own apocalyptic atmosphere. They recently signed to metal powerhouse Roadrunner Records for newest release 'Forever' which sees them rising above hardcore, but shows no signs of the hardcore being taken out of them.
This record is Code Orange at their most demolishing, yet with their most addictively memorable and well written songs, not to mention the diversity that's at show here.
There's a super catchy rock song, 'Bleeding In The Blur', ambient songs and industrial songs, however these never feel out of place with the straight-up pummelling songs due the overarching menacing, impenetrable tone of the record.

Code Orange recently played Leeds' O2 Academy supporting metal heavyweights Gojira where we were lucky enough to talk with drummer/vocalist Jami Morgan about the band's sound, how they feel about their rise and violence at shows.

Contact Music (CM): You recently put out 'Forever' which is a phenomenal record and seems to be your best received one to date by your fans as well as critics. How have the shows been since putting it out?
Jami Morgan (JM): It's been great. The shows have all been way better. We did our own shows in America and now we're going to support some bands for a while. It's all been different kinds of shows, but they've all been better than ever!

CM: 'Forever' is your first record with Roadrunner Records which has a rich tapestry of some of the most key metal bands of all time such as Slipknot, Machine Head and Type O Negative. How does it feel to be in the same league as those bands?
JM: Well I think we still we gotta put our work in and see where it all ends up, but it feels good so far, everything's good, we get to do what we wanna do, that's really all we wanted, so it's all good in that regard.

CM: Overall Code Orange's sound is very apocalyptic, whether that means explosive riffs or derelict atmosphere's. What conjures up this sound within yourselves?
JM: I think it's just a mixture of things we're into and things we feel and really I think we have our own perspective. Everyone's band is supposed to be a reflection of them, so this is just a reflection of us, that's really it.

CM: 'Forever' is devastatingly dark and heavy, but really memorable. Do you feel that Code Orange could be a gateway band for people to get into heavy music?
JM: I don't know, I mean (pauses) I don't know where we're going until we get there, I just know we made a record that we think is really good and I think that there's an audience for it. I think we've found some of that audience, I think there's a lot more people to find. So, a gateway in terms of if people got into it, would it get them into other stuff? I don't know, I don't really know that, but I feel it's definitely a really great record and it's the record I that would want to hear so that's all you can do when you're in a band. To me it's the best possible thing. So, we'll see, it's up to the kids I guess, but we'll put the work in, so it's all good.

CM: 'Forever' is a really diverse album with there being electronics and ambient aspects, as well as a rock song like 'Bleeding In The Blur.' Are these aspects that Code Orange have always wanted to try?
JM: I think that it just depends how much you've paid attention. I think we've been building these skills for a long time, we've had songs on our previous records that were really melodic songs, I just think we're getting a lot better at it and we're just starting to learn what the Code Orange song of that ilk sounds like as opposed to something that sounds like somebody else. I think it's definitely our best couple attempts at doing a certain kind of song. And it's just something we like and something we wanted to include as part of the mix that we're putting together and I'm proud of those songs. There'll definitely be more songs like that in the future, but we're all about a balance of the things we like and doing things differently. The last record started it and this record continued it, it's good build for what we're going to continue to do.

CM: When listening to Code Orange you can feel a lot of character from each member, especially with the newest record, but it's very cohesive. What does the songwritting process tend to be like?
JM: I think of a lot of ideas ahead of time, I'll talk to everyone in the band about those ideas for a long time and they'll come up with stuff based on that and based on things that they want to incorporate into that and that they like. They'll pitch ideas back to me, then we get back in the room and we try to make sh*t happen and then we just do homework basically. It's like 'well go try to make this thing better, go try to improve on this thing' and we just do that for months and months, every day and it takes a long time. This one took the longest probably. I think we just were pretty good at narrowing it down to the best stuff. There's really no ego involved, in like who's doing what, we all do everything together. The best stuff stays and stuff that doesn't last, on the ear, goes and we just narrow it down, narrow it down, narrow it down to thirty minutes and that's it.

CM: How much tends to be left after the final cut?
Jm: A good amount of stuff. It's a lot of time more parts than songs. We, a lot of times, will take a part from something we're working on and put it in something else because it just fits better and it's just a waste of a song to build something around one part that could fit better in another song that's already a good song. It depends, but we just like to cut the fat and narrow it down. I'll have a real strong idea of all the things I wanna work into the puzzle. Putting it together is the hard part, so once we kind of figured out what we wanted to put in it, it's just about balancing it so that it feels good and it feels coherent to us and it feels like the journey we're trying to create with highs and lows. That aspect takes time, but I think the ideas don't take time, it's more putting it together.

CM: Your music videos and album artwork are equally as visceral as your sound. Is it important to you for the aesthetics of the bands to match the sound?
JM: Yeah, definitely. I think our visuals are very important and it has to match in a way that it works in my head. There's people close to me, people in the band, who maybe won't necessarily get what I'm thinking, or I won't get what they're thinking in terms of something visual, and it works out we tend to all agree on what the vibe should be and what the visuals are. Kind of like the bands you mentioned, some of those classic bands, bands we really love, the visuals were really important in that time and they're very very very very important to us and we work on that almost equally as hard as the music.

CM: Most of you guys are in the band Adventures whose sound is a lot more pretty and sweet compared to Code Orange's brutality. Is it important to you guys as artists to get both of these sides out creatively?
JM: Not really, I'm pretty much over that sh*t. So, that's really it. I liked doing that, but that was just for fun and if I'd feel like doing it again I will, but I don't really have time for fun right now.

CM: Has how well 'Forever' has been doing had to do with that?
JM: It's not really about how stuff's doing, just more like, this represents who I am, this represents who most of us are as people and that's a band. This [Code Orange] isn't just a band to me, that is just a band, that's a record that I liked based on some stuff I like to listen to sometimes, and this is my life. I'm focused on this now, I'm not really focused on that anymore, it didn't feel right when we were doing it live and it was boring, so.

CM: We liked it a lot...
JM: I liked the album! I still jam the album, I think it's a great album, I think it's really well-written and really enjoyable. Playing it live was boring and then on top of that, we just don't have time, so those two things combined... I mean, we'll probably do more songs at some point, but it doesn't fit in right now.

CM: You recently had a fan Emily Hoffman severely injured at one of your shows with her jaw being broken, where you guys responded by setting up a GoFundMe campaign to help pay for her medical bills. Moshing has always been a part of hardcore and metal, but do you think shows could do with having more rules or controls to prevent these kinds of injury's?
JM: I don't know that there should be rules, I just think that I don't want anybody to get hurt like that ever and people have got to make sure that people don't get hurt that way and if they don't then we won't be able to have shows like that, so that's really what it comes down to. Thankfully she's, of my knowledge, the only one who's ever been hurt that way at one of our shows and she seems to be doing okay now which is thankful, so I'm very thankful for her. That sh*t sucks. I don't know what happened in the situation, there's a lot of different accounts of what happened in the situation. All I know is the result is something I never want to see again and didn't ever really see before that. It's happened at other bands' shows many times and it sucks and nobody likes it, but thankfully it's worked out okay, as far as I know. Like I said, if it can't be controlled in that way then it just won't happen, that's how life works.

CM: You guys have achieved a great deal whilst being a relatively new band, only being on your third album. What advice would you give to new bands starting out?
JM: Just don't worry about all the other sh*t, don't worry about what's coming ahead, just make good sh*t and get better at making your stuff and try to get on tour and try to get your music out and there's really no excuse other than that. We're not from anywhere where there's a bunch of opportunities in terms of music people or bands or anything. We just did our band and we keep doing our band and we do what we want to do and we make connections through that and we rise. That's really all that it is, we believe in what we're doing. You've gotta believe in what you're doing and you've just gotta put your head down and do the work. It's just like literally anything else in life pretty much and we're still very much working on it and anyone who does well will tell you that, you can always have a list of excuses but it just means you're not going to get anywhere.

CM: You guys are rooted in DIY hardcore, so how has the transition been from that to bigger shows like the ones you're currently playing with Gojira?
JM: It's great. We'll go back and do that stuff, we'll do this stuff, we'll just do whatever we want to do. That's our model. We'll do hardcore shows, we'll do big shows, we're doing big shows here in June that people don't even know about yet. We're doing all kinds of big stuff and we'll be doing all kinds of old stuff and we just do whatever feels good, whatever we want to do and the result of it is the result of it, we can't really control that. Hopefully more people will get into our band, if not it's all good though, either way.

CM: What do Code Orange have planned for the future?
JM: Just keep touring, keep trying to be creative as possible and try to push new ideas in terms of what a band of this kind can do and where it can go and I have tons of ideas so we'll just have to see how everything plays out, but we're just gonna keep working smart and hard, that's really it.

Max Cussons


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