I received an Instagram message saying, “Hey, man, big fan. My band The Orwells are playing in SF tonight at the Great American Music Hall if you’re not busy, and looking for a rock ‘n’ roll show” Fuck it. Sounds rad. Awesome name and I love the venue. I had been at my cousin’s memorial service and a show sounded like a real cool time after a heavy day. I had no idea what to expect with it being a Wednesday night in the city. From a block away, I saw their name on the marquee. I walked in and it was a sold-out show! I was already blown away and I hadn’t even heard them play yet. They came out and fucking crushed it: jangly guitar tones, catchy bass and hard-hitting drums. It was loud, pure, young, raw and refreshing. I met up with the dudes after the show and their dressing room had shred sleds lined up against the wall. We got to talking about bombing hills, the road dog life, comic books and how their music is inspired by skateboarding. The Orwells rule. If you get a chance to see them, don’t think twice. Go! –Corey Duffel
I saw you wearing Emerica shoes on stage and was stoked! I love skateboarding and fan out any time I see a band that skates. Did you guys get a chance to skate around the city and bomb some hills before the show?
Yeah, there was a lil’ beat up wallride spot when we pulled up to the venue. Some bum that parks his chair outside the Great American Music Hall starting barking at us. Somethin’ like, “Not the building. Jesus, take it somewhere else!” And while he’s bitching all these cops happen to be walking by to get coffee. So the cops side with the chair bum, so we get moving. Marched up the hill past the strip joint and found a ledge goin’ downhill to butcher a noseslide on before sound check.
SF is the best city in the world for skateboarding. Do you guys get just as hyped to go sidewalk surfing around the city as you do selling out the GAMH?
Yeah, I’m always freaking the fuck out when I spot something I’ve seen in a video part. When we’re in LA I’m like a little fan girl looking out the window for stuff I’ve seen my heroes throw down on. I’ll take cruising around the venue looking for a spot to have some fun at 10,000 times over sound check and green-room chilling. As far as the actual playing part goes, I like to think I’m a bit better on stage than on the board, so I think I’m gonna stick to the mic. full time.
What came first to you, music or skateboarding? How does skateboarding influence your music?
Skateboarding all the way. I got my first board, a Blind deck in 2nd grade or something. Then, through skating and the crowd I got to hanging with I started discovering bands. I was at the skatepark in middle school wondering, what’s that skull patch all these kids have on their jackets? Like, “Oh, you don’t know the Misfits, you fuckin’ dumbass!” So I learned real quick about bands from people I met at the park or video parts later on.
Were there any video parts with songs that stuck out to you growing up?
Not to kiss your ass too hard, but your Cataclysmic Abyss part was a big one. Ali Boulala’s Sorry part, Ragdoll’s Slaughterhouse part to name a few. Always had Baker 3 on repeat growing up too. My friends and I waited for parts to drop the same way people wait for albums. Thrasher was my Rolling Stone. I was more inspired by skateboarders and the lifestyle I saw them living than any musician. It’s still like that.
Who would you want to see skate to an Orwells song?
Fuck, anyone. That’s the highest honor right there. T-Funk! That kid has put out some banger parts. Probably my favorite skater of the next generation.
The song “Black Francis” is being used in an upcoming episode of King Of The Road, and you’re in the Bible. How bitchin’ is that? Are the teenage Mario and Henry tripping out ?
Trippin’ straight fuckin’ balls! I can’t wait to see who throws down to our music. I’m way more stoked to be in here than any bullshit music publication—hard to find one that still covers stories about music nowadays. Anyway, pullin’ for Deathwish for the win KOTR 2016.
Life on the road can be a headache, but what’s better than traveling with friends to play music and ride skateboards in different cities? Are you looking forward to getting back to Chicago? Why do you stay in the Midwest after you’ve seen how amazing the rest of the world is? The hotdogs are tight, but fuck those winters.
Fuck Chicago winter in its frozen ass! Its like you only get to really live half the year. Its fine in Chicago, makes traveling easier, bein’ in the middle and all. I could see myself getting out soon. It’s tough, though. We all got our own reasons to stick around whether it’s dogs, girlfriends or Italian beefs. We need to write together too. Emailing lyrics across the country just don’t sound right. I got the tightest career next to professionally skateboarding—I’m guessing—and I recognize that. I believed in our shit and now I’m fortunate enough to support ourselves and live it year round.
Were you taking the train into the city to skate and watch shows, or was there stuff happening in the suburbs?
Oh yeah. Weekends, Go Skate Day was nuts every year. We played a lot in the ’burbs—garages and basements—but as far as seeing shows, we weren’t the biggest fans of other bands in our suburban scene. So we’d go down to the city to see every show we wanted to, then started driving down to play venues. I moved down when I turned 20, been here a few years now.
I grew up 20 miles away from the city, and I feel like the suburbs is part of the reason why I got so into punk rock and skateboarding. Taking the train and the bus to a show in the city or to go skate felt so special! I was escaping the dull sprawl of stucco shopping centers. I didn’t wanna be like all these normal chumps around me. If you were from proper Chicago would the band even exist? You know what I mean? Punk rock spawns from the suburbs.
I highly doubt our band would exist if we were city grown. We were so fucking bored. For me, besides skating and trying to finger chicks in the park at the age of 14, you don’t have many options besides raising hell, stealing liquor and picking up weed or buying a lacrosse stick and asking a girl to wear your football jersey to school on Friday. It was one or the other, and thankfully with the help of skate videos and great albums, I went to the dark side at a young age.
You were going nuts tonight and it felt so sincere and unpredictable. Nothing seemed synchronized and I didn’t feel like I was watching an overproduced band that practices their moves in a mirror backstage before the show. How important is it to not give the crowd the exact same show every night?
I might check the hair in the mirror a couple times but there aren’t any a capella jams going on backstage. We can’t stand that shit, vocal warm ups, none of that. We never practice, really. Once we learn the song you better learn your shit good at home or you’re getting your ass chewed out after we get off stage for fucking up. All in good fun, of course. I don’t think we could play the same show twice if we tried. Too many factors, from shit security to a shitty dude in the crowd fuckin’ up everyone’s good time they paid for.
You think that being a band of skateboarders could be some of the reason you guys bring so much energy and excitement? Obviously you guys aren’t tech skaters. You dudes don’t give a fuck and, to me, that’s the attitude of skateboarding and rock ‘n’ roll: no rules and not being ashamed of being an artist.
Mainly the influence from the attitude of skating itself impacts how we do our thing the most. We aren’t a tech band, that’s for sure. We grew up on bands that could barely solo. Take no shit, whether it be from a security guard at a spot or the ones you see at a show. If they grab a kid wrong, if they get in our space, you set ’em straight. Stop the show if you gotta and let ’em know how it’s gonna be. Work around ’em if you must, deliver the performance you want and make sure you/the fans leave fulfilled.
A lot of skateboarders don’t like authority and do what they want, and it seems like you guys don’t give a shit what the press thinks or says about you. You do what makes you happy and aren’t scared to call out other bands or the industry.
Can’t give too much of a shit about press when they’re to busy reviewing movie trailers and Buzzfeed type shit to do their usual twist of the artists’ words in an interview. They can review an entire record without touching on the music—pretty incredible. A solid record can stand the test of time. No rant or review some button-down beard with a stick-up-their-ass types up will ever be remembered or inspire anyone the way a song can. The professional asshole is a dry, short-lived career.
Is this a rumor or did you really say something on Letterman about growing up and maturing as musicians.
You can’t sing about beer and head forever. Basically you can’t be those older creeps still trying to finger high school girls.
What’s the next LP gonna be about, grocery shopping at the health-food store and buying proper furniture for the flat?
Not sure where I said it but right now I’m not off the suds and BJs but we got enough tunes about that sorta stuff. So, you know, church and state. Don’t jizz where you eat kinda thing. I have no idea what the fuck it’s gonna be about. I know I’ll like it, though. If we feel like making an acoustic album that our fans couldn’t stage dive to then tough shit for them. They can stick with us or we’ll make some new fans. Gotta make it for ourselves first or I’d never wanna get up there and share it with everybody.
Fucking awesome that you dudes got props from him and played on the Late Show. Do kids from your school days—before you dropped out—that use to give you shit for being different now wanna be your friends? I always find it funny to get hit up by some munson I was never bros with or some babe that wants to be friends now. Shit, we didn’t talk once in history class other than you laughing at my leather and my hair.
All the time. At some bar seeing my old homies after visiting my parents, somebody will put us on the jukebox and think it’s cute or come up and say some shit, like, “Hey, you were on fucking Jimmy Kimmel! Lemme buy you a shot. I’m proud of you, man.” In my head I wanna say, “It wasn’t Kimmel, dipshit. And remember when you called me a faggot for wearing my mom’s pants? But wouldn’t swing back ’cause you couldn’t risk being suspended a game? Well now look at you. Now you’re buying me shots and I’ve fucked your prom date since we last crossed paths in the hall.” Instead, I just smile and nod and take the shot because one of us has been around the world. One of us is just in town catching up with family and friends, but one of us still lives here and nobody knows his name anymore.
Record to buy?
Terrible Human Beings Out now. Ha!
Comics to read?
All time: Preacher - Currently: Deadly Class
Tour food highlights?
Sushi, always, whenever I got time to sit down
Spot to skate?
Parking-lot gaps. I’m talkin’ Micky Ds to the Burger King, real Midwest shit
Movie to watch?
All time: Sin City. But anything Slasher/Greaser/Samurai
Are The Orwells Terrible Human Beings?
More like pretty sarcastic dudes
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