Community has long been one of the mainstays of Hardcore. Known for their fierce sense of loyalty, Hardcore is no doubt one of the biggest brotherhoods out there. Rooted in the art of the traditional, bands go through what you could almost compare to initiation. Not known for its experimentation, the want for change can be an unwelcome thing. Though on the surface antagonistic, once through these hurdles you’ll be shown loyalty like no other. So what if you want to rewrite the rules? What then?
Well established in the Hardcore community, Code Orange, though they might be young are creating a serious ruckus. Particularly since releasing their brand new effort Forever early this year. As we sit in the upstairs of what is a soon to be jam packed Forum, I spoke to guitarist come vocalist Reba Meyers about Forever just well it was doing.
Good as far as I can tell! In my world that I can see it in we just had a headline tour in the states and that was probably the best tour that we have done. That was just us and this band Youth Code and a bunch of regional bands. It was a great tour and it was mixed bill, there were a lot of different kinds of kids. New York, LA and Pittsburgh were all seven – eight hundred people which is a lot for us! It was varying between 250 to three to four in other cities so it was definitely our best. I think it just worked out! We had done different kinds of support tours, we got some kids from different places. You know Metal kids, Punk kids it worked out really well.
Expanding from their Hardcore roots the band have been working their way up the food chain with performances the world over since 2008. Not content being within the confines of just one genre the band are constantly pushing the boundaries. Now, three albums in, the band are at last seeing the rewards of their tenacity. No doubt in part owing to their brand new album Forever and their expansion further into other genres.
It used to be a little harder for us but now we have expanded our sound a lot. Especially with this record just made it more intricate in the ways that we are. It’s still agressive and it’s still dark but we’re trying to find different ways to do that, that cater to different types of music fans. I talk to people about our band and people seem to have different aspects of us that they like. I feel like we’re able to reach a larger spectrum. We have always been a band that has a large palette. We love all kinds of music, it’s just that, with this record we were able to do that in a way that still made sense. It was predictable and unpredictable in the right place. We’ve always been a band like that, that’s been like, us. Code Orange is a band that doesn’t necessarily fit into one category I think we were able to do it in a way that didn’t just fit in one category.
Ironically being able to fit anywhere due to a paradoxical sound that fits nowhere. Their interesting take on songwriting is particularly intriguing but what lies behind the songs themselves, in the message that Code Orange are putting out is far more substantial. Illustrated similarly in their uncompromising artwork, which, despite its simplicity has an incredibly visceral message from the band.
I am King was a very confident record and it’s just kind of an expansion on that. I don’t want to speak too much about it but it’s about us, being here and that we’re going to stick around and be here and make our mark.
We care about our artwork. We’ve always done it ourselves, Jamie thinks that a lot of the conceptual ideas up and the images and lyrics often fit together. It’s the same layout as I Am King, we just wanted to make it, a different more bolder version of that, a lot darker. Eric and our friend Kimmy who has done a lot of our art in the past all worked together to create the cover and the back layout. It’s always hard to tell when it’s coming along if it’s right but then when it was done and you see it and you’re able to take a minute and say “This is awesome”.
Their creativity doesn’t just extend itself to artwork however. The band’s secret weapon is their unique understanding of the unorthodox. Personally, I remember listening to “Real” and understanding the groove before everything going black and the true horrendous nature of the band was revealed. Bringing this uncompromising nature from Hardcore with them, the band have created a sound entirely different and incredibly fresh, ironic then that they’ve been doing it for years…
That’s just again one of those things that we’ve been doing. I don’t really know where we got the idea for doing that! It’s just, live when you do that I think that’s when it really hit us when we were young. It grabs people’s attention when you do unpredictable things like that. When you’re out there watching a band do the same thing over and over you kind of zone out and that’s fine! Some of my favourite bands do that but we really want to catch them off guard. That makes you really think about stuff and that’s why we have always done that. We’ve done that since we were fourteen years old, we’ve had cuts like that.
Choosing her words with an undeniable certainty the confidence bordering on slight arrogance that Meyers has really is infectious. The hardest thing to do in 2017 is to appeal to a new age of audience. An audience that has the ability to make their mind up in an instant, download your album in five minutes and that has seen just about as much as you can throw at them. Appealing to the difficult audience of the twenty first century Code Orange understand this need for change, the need for invention for improvement.
We’ve just been doing it a long time. It’s awesome. It gives us more opportunities when people see us! We’re not just stale, we have new ideas and we know what’s going on, we’re in music now. Not just like on the outside playing music. We’ve been doing this stuff for a long time but we’re up to date. We can connect to people. It’s just different whenever there’s kids doing something new. There’s more of a future to it. I can see that we have a long path ahead of us and I think that we’re all really eager and hungry for it.
You just know kids. That’s how Hardcore is. Obviously it’s different now that we’re doing this stuff it’s just a whole different world and i hope that we can get through to these types of people but from knowing our band I think that we can if we want to! I know everyone in my band and I know that they all want this just as bad as everyone else. We’ve been doing this shit forever. Hardcore is a pretty small community and we wouldn’t have made it here without that. The only way to do it is to really get to know the bands that are around young bands.
With a sound as devicesive as theirs, the likes of “Bleeding The Blur” could well be lost on some or the stomping of “The Mud” could be misinterpreted. Understanding exactly where the band are going, Meyers hints that this is merely the beginning of something far more exciting. Similar to the hey day of the nineties where Roadrunner was at large.
We want to lead that if we can. Kids in the Hardcore scene are more open minded now than they have been in the past for sure. We’re not a standard Hardcore band but we weren’t accepted at first but we kept playing and we talked to people. We always loved Hardcore so it was pretty easy for us to relate and then we were accepted! People will stick with us. There’s always going to be Hardcore bands because there needs to be but I think if we can expand that realm, it’s been through waves like that in the past. Where Hardcore / Metal bands were some of the biggest bands. Like in the nineties, Roadrunner kind of bands, I feel like it could come round.
Keep the ethos alive
As much as their hunger for change and a musical overthrowing might be apparent, the band never lose sight of their roots. Firmly allied with Hardcore, this fierce sense of loyalty remains. Remaining true to themselves, simply put, this is Code Orange. A band meant to make you scratch your head, meant make you question the addition of “dream2” alongside the malice of the rest of the album.
That’s the only reason we made it this far. We’re Hardcore kids. We want to expand our sound and we love so many different kinds of music it’s impossible to not sound different. We’ve always been that way and that’s the reason that we’re good. It’s just who we are, it’s not something we can force out. If we did try and force it out we wouldn’t be good.
That was weird one actually. That was if not the last song on the record. We just thought that we needed another song that was different. More soft and dark as opposed to aggressive and I remember me and Eric and Jamie wrote most of that just sitting in Eric’s house. It was a different thing, most ideas we bring to the practice space and work on as a group. Tweak little things, it was more stripped down kind of song. All the song were written in a slightly different way. That’s actually a really cool song. I can’t tell if people are into it or not but I love it! I think it’s awesome that we’re able to do different types of dark songs. It’s a different mood but it still fits in Forever.
Currently on their latest slew of US dates in support of Killswitch Engage and Anthrax, the band are once more put into a category you might not have expected them in and as much as you might think the band might have some down time, their rest is always shortlived. When I heard the band originally I was skeptical. Now, having understood their want for change, the future is as bright as it is bleak for these visionaries, I mean they have been doing it forever…
I enjoy it. It’s exhausting, everything is exhausting. I think that’s why everything has been going well. Because we’re putting our all into it. We’re not the kind of band where we’re just sitting at home. When we’re at home we are working on this! We don’t have breaks, like ever.
Code Orange’s brand new album Forever is out now via Roadrunner