The Metal Report exclusively interviews Orange Goblin guitarist Joe Hoare about new album The Wolf Bites Back
Orange Goblin have had an insane few weeks but guitarist Joe Hoare managed to find some time to talk to The Metal Report‘s Morg about their new album, The Wolf Bites Back.
It’s been a busy few weeks for Orange Goblin as you announced the tour with Corrosion of Conformity, released The Wolf Bites Back and played the O2 Arena in London as part of the Stone Free Festival, how are you feeling?
Exhausted! Actually we’re all feeling great. it’s always a really exciting time when a new album comes out, it almost feels like we’re re born again. It’s a funny thing, but although we’ve played lots of shows over last 4 years its not really until you release something new that you realise how loyal people are. It’s nice to know that after 23 years and a long 4 years between albums that people are still into the band and excited to hear new stuff from us. Its a great feeling and we’re all really chuffed that people are digging the new album! Yeah we headlined the Indigo stage at the O2 which was awesome and the crowd were fantastic, as was Hellfest in France last week. Its amazing that a lot of the crowd were singing along to the new tracks, it’s a great feeling so thank you for the support out there! The tour announcement has gone down really well also, it’s gonna be lots of fun!
The Wolf Bites Back is undeniably an Orange Goblin album but there seem to be some other influences creeping in this time, with Suicide Division having an almost punk sound?
Yeah we really pushed the boat out on this one and just wrote whatever came to mind, no rules. We all come from different musical backgrounds which I think has always been present on our albums, but with this one we really didn’t hold back, trying different sounds and ways of recording. Chris is the punk in the band and Suicide Division is one that he wrote the music for. I think he was getting bored of all my blues riffs and ideas and wanted to make us sweat a bit! Ironically we probably spent more time on that song than any other on the album and it’s only just over 2 minutes long! People have said that we’re a confused band in the past, not really knowing what genre to put us in, but that’s OK, we don’t want to be a one trick pony that plays the same song over and over again but with different vocals. It’s fun to mix shit up a bit and explore different styles. It worked for the Beatles!
There was a four year gap between albums this time but you were incredibly busy during that time. Did that lead to the long wait for this album or were you biding your time, gradually putting the album together?
To be honest it really doesn’t feel like 4 years. Probably a sign of getting old but the years are scarily flying by! The truth is we’ve all been incredibly busy in that time. Shows aside we all have families and commitments that completely supersede the band during those quitter periods. That’s why it’s so nice to get the ball rolling again and pretend to be rock stars again for a bit! As for writing for the album I’d say it was a bit of both. I’ve always got little things that I’ve been working on at home, as do the other guys. So when we get in the studio there is always a box of riffs to pull ideas from. We tend to work pretty well under pressure so there is normally a panicky period prior to recording where we all go “fuck! We have to record an album in 10 minutes and we haven’t written anything yet.” That normally does the trick and the songs start to flow out pretty quickly. That’s certainly what happened with this one.
Were there any nerves about following up on a huge album like Back from the Abyss, especially with The Wolf Bites Back being something a little different to previous albums?
Yeah a little bit, but after 23 years of doing this band we tend to write stuff for ourselves first, and then worry that no one else will like it! You have to take a few risks if you’re in a band otherwise what’s the point. We could’ve written an album that was tuned to Y and sounded like the big black with lyrics about smoking weed and I’m sure some of the fans would’ve loved it, but that’s not what we’re into any more. Don’t get me wrong we all love those kind of stoner rock bands and still listen to that music, but we like to experiment a bit and take a few chances, sometimes they don’t work but it keeps it fresh for us.
Lyrically there seem to be a lot of different themes on The Wolf Bites Back with alien serial killers and ghosts seeking revenge; tell us a bit about each song and the inspiration for it.
Ben writes all the lyrics so he would be the best one to ask but I’ll give it a go! Sons of Salem. From what Ben has told me its about the witch trials of Salem back in the olden days! He thought it would be cool to write about what became of the kids once their mums had been executed for being witches and how to get their revenge! It’s a great idea for a song, or even a film if it’s not already been done!
The Wolf Bites Back. When I wrote the riffs for this one I had been listening to a lot of early Scorpions and 70’s/ 80’s classic metal bands. I love the simplicity of the choruses and vocal melodies on those albums that just make you wanna sing along after a few beers. Ben’s great at doing that and on this one he really shines with that chorus melody. It’s just good singalong metal!
Renegade. Simply put This is little tribute to Lemmy. No one is a bigger Motorhead fan than Ben and he did great job of paying his respects here.
Swords of Fire. Lots of mentions of Samurais and warriors in this one but I think really this about using your mind as your own sword of fire. Being Focused, positive, mentally awake etc. He recently told me he’d been reading some books about using positive thinking to improve yourself and it really hit a nerve.
Ghosts of the Primitive. This is my favourite at the moment.
The thing with Ben is, We never know what he’s gonna sing until we’ve written and recorded nearly all the tracks! So until he adds his bits over the top it’s a complete mystery to us what he’s planning and then songs take on a new life. I love what he did on this one. The world is a pretty fucked up place right now. And it does seem that we’re all still primitive creatures being fed lies by corrupt politicians etc. I know its always been like that through time but now seems scarier than I can remember in my life. Most of Ben’s lyrics are fantasy and escapism, just making up stories. But there are elements of real life in there as well . I could be wrong here but I think Ben touches on the same sort of subject matters on Zeitgeist and Burn the Ships. Probably wrong though!
Suicide Division speaks for itself I think. I few minutes of aggression and twisted/grim lyrics. What’s not to like!
The Strangerwas another one that floored me when I heard what Ben had done. He spent a lot of time on this one. He told us he wanted to try something different, a dark/Nick Cave feel. He definitely achieved that. And you’re right. It’s about a naughty/ slightly confused alien that loves killing. Again, what’s not to like!
You worked with Jaime Gomez Arellano on this album, what inspired you to work with him and how was the experience?
We’ve known Jaime for a long time and have always admired his work but never got to work with him until now. He’s a really sweet guy who is constantly on the go, coming up with new ideas all the time regarding how we should put songs together, what works and what doesn’t, etc. Not scared to tell us if something sounds shit or if we played something not quite right. He’s sometimes brutally honest and a real perfectionist, which is what we needed. We knew we were in safe hands with Jamie as he seemed to be on the same wave length as us, almost a fifth member of the band. That also applies to his assistant Chris. They both put their heart and soul into this album. We’ve been truly lucky to have made albums with some amazing people, Billy Anderson, Scott Reeder and Jaime Dodd. All work in completely different ways but are all masters of their trade. Jaime Gomez is no exception.
The Wolf Bites Back has been very well received, reaching number on Amazon Germany’s Rock/Metal chart and is currently #23 on the Amazon UK chart with huge names like Guns N Roses, Linkin Park, Metallica, AC/DC, Meatloaf and Megadeth. It must be satisfying to see your name up there with those artists?
Its a really amazing feeling, we’ve always been an underground band until recently and that’s kind of what we wanted. We never set out to be a big band and we’re not! But it is amazing to see our little band riding high in the charts with all the big guys. Even if it is only for a short while!
You have a tour coming up in October and November with Corrosion of Conformity, which is a fan’s wet dream come true. How did it come about and what can we expect?
Apart from being huge fans of COC we got to know Pepper pretty when we toured with Down a few years back in the states, We’d spoken about doing a COC/OG tour at the time but it never happened as we were both too busy with other stuff. Finally the opportunity came back around and we weren’t about to let it pass again. Its gonna be a really fun little tour. Especially with Fireball Ministry and Black Moth on the bill as well! What to expect? A party!
You can listen to title track The Wolf Bites Back below and you can read The Metal Report review of the album here. Orange Goblin can be found on Facebook, Twitter and their own website. For Orange Goblin merch either check out their online store or Gear4Geeks.
Metal Report Editor.
Ex guitarist in Zenopede, ex vocals for a goth covers band that was hailed as the future of Welsh music, former DJ, promoter and nightclub director. Writer for Gear4Geeks' Blog4Geeks and owner of Gear4Geeks ltd. First published music critique was Kerrang letter of the Week.
Definitely has never been the future, present or past of Welsh music.