US hardcore act Code Orange are always on the lookout for new ways to change up their musical style, but ultimately keeping hardcore metal at the root of it all. The band had set out to make 2020 their biggest year yet … until COVID-19 came along. However, the band aren’t going to let a worldwide pandemic get them down. Having just released their pummelling new album, Underneath (our review here), we caught up with drummer/now vocalist Jami Morgan to congratulate them on their innovative movement for live music and how their variety of musical opportunities led them to big time gigs such as Coachella.
Jami! Congrats on the release of Underneath! You guys celebrated recently by live streaming your album release show in your hometown via Twitch, amidst all the various show cancellations due to COVID-19. And I want to congratulate you on starting this movement! How’d you feel performing to an empty venue but knew fans were watching online?
It was definitely interesting, and exciting in a lot of ways. It felt like we were covering new ground. We were glad to give the show we’d been working so hard on for so long and present it in a cutting edge way. It was fun once we grappled with the whole idea of not being able to play to our fans. It’s like we saw another avenue – we turned a wall into a door and saw an opportunity in ourselves and hopefully for music in general. Seeing the way that it was handled and the execution of it all is something I’m really proud of artistically.
Would you be keen to do it all again?
Yeah, I think we can do it again! It was a good situation that time because we had everything already hired, which initially seemed like a bad situation because we couldn’t really get that money back. But we realised that we had everything we needed to do our own show then. We’re definitely going to look into doing more with the platform down the track.
I noticed in the lead up to the album release, you guys promoted the phrase “Thinners of the Herd” online a lot, can you tell us the meaning behind this phrase?
It’s been our band mantra for many years. It means weeding out the weak and making way for those who are ready to do everything it takes to put on the best show possible. Those who are willing to grind it out in touring, it just kinda became our way of being able to label the people who support us. It’s like our club name, if you will.
On Underneath, you’ve stepped up your duties in the band to include vocalist as well as drummer. At what point during the creation of this album did you decide to step it up?
Pretty early on. The idea was thrown around to take that jump in hopes that it would lead us to being able to connect better and just being able to play these songs without having to be strapped down to the drums which is what i used to do. It’s given us a lot more freedom and helps us in bringing more energy to the songs. We also just like to add more layers to the process all the time, we thought of a fun way to introduce it in our music video (‘Swallowing the Rabbit Whole’) and it gave a new element. We take things from the approach of trying to make it exciting all the time, for our fans so that we’re always changing it up.
You have definitely experimented musically on this record, and fans will be talking about this record for months/years after and it definitely shows! What was your inspiration going into the making of this record?
We were just inspired by all the different music and art around us, and we wanted to make something that’s more of a rollercoaster ride that has more of a cinematic feel than just a regular heavy record with big ups and downs and is influenced not just by hardcore, metal, but also by electronics and hip hop, all the new music that’s been coming out lately. We’re just trying to push heavy music forward and continue our story that we’ve been telling on our records.
And is having all those experiences and influences kinda leaned you towards jumping on festivals like Coachella?
Yeah, we are just the kind of band that has our chemicals really in everything. We’ve done theme songs for WWE, collaborations with JPEGMAFIA, and I think that’s part of what pushes us is to be able to innovate in that capacity, and just make our reach as far riding as possible by dipping into all these different things. we always keep the spirit of heavy music and metal at the core but, we’re able to do a lot of different things, we’re not just a token on those lineups (like Coachella) because we do all that, we’ve done all that consistently. But when it’s all said and done, seeing us on any lineup won’t be as surprising, it’ll make sense, you know?
Will you guys still be part of the Coachella reschedule this October (9-11 and 16-18)?
Yeah for sure. We’ll definitely be playing in October.
And once this COVID-19 pandemic is stabilised and things go back to normal again, will Australia be part of the world tour? Would you be looking at a music festival appearance or your own headline tour here?
Both. We want to reach out to as many people as possible, and we’d love to play a headline tour. There were some cool ideas for us to do something that was actually really outside the box in Australia that had to do with some scoring opportunities, but that’s been put on the fence for now. There are some very cool opportunities for us to get there, in different ways than we are over here, so we’ll definitely be there as soon as we’re able to.
We’ll see you as soon as it’s safe out there then!
Interview by Tamara May (@citylightstam)
Code Orange‘s new album Underneath is out now through Roadrunner Records. Purchase here
Code Orange – Underneath tracklisting
02. Swallowing the Rabbit Whole
03. In Fear
04. You and You Alone
05. Who I Am
07. Sulfur Surrounding
08. The Easy Way
09. Erasure Scan
10. Last Ones Left
11. Autumn and Carbine
12. Back Inside the Glass
13. A Sliver