Friday, July 27, 2012

Fresh news about ORCHID through an in-depth Interview with Mark Thomas Baker !!!

In about three years, with just an Ep and their incredible debut album "Capricorn", ORCHID have revealed themselves as one of the most attractive bands in the overcrowded retro-doom/hard rock genre... After two successfull tours in Europe, including memorable performances at London's Desert Fest and the legendary Roadburn in Tilburg, between recording sessions for the new album and rumours about a deal with NB, I felt it was time to get some fresh news, this time with guitarist Mark Thomas Baker (after Theo Mindell, almost exactly one year ago)...
Of course Mark speaks about this new deal but mostly about the new songs, recording process, tours, friends and some more personnal things too... It's also cool to read that there'll be something released by the end of the year before (one of) the most anticipated albums of 2013 (possibly under the form of an Ep ?)...
After a nice interview with Joshua Adam Hart two days ago, I'm pretty happy with that one too ;) Huge thanx to Mark for being so humble and interesting, and all the best to ORCHID for the future !!!

Hi Mark, thanks for answering this interview… You recently celebrated your birthday, often people think the forties is the golden period in a life (you know generally life is easier, there’s more serenity towards money, children, work, sex, etc…), what’s your opinion on that? (From what I see you seem to be at least pretty much flourished on a family point and with Orchid of course!)
All phases of life have rewards that keep you moving to the next one. I don’t think things are any easier by any means, but at the same time, having a family and all the stress and constant motion that comes along with it offers a different kind of happiness or satisfaction. There are many days when I wish this sort of success in music happened earlier in my life, and other days when I understand that I may not have known what to do with it if it did. I suppose better late than never…carpe diem.

Earlier this month you went into the studio for the 2nd time working on the new album, was the 1st time dedicated to pre-production or did you effectively get to record the album in 2 parts ? It seems to have been intense work during a rather short time, are you satisfied with it? What’s the next working phase now planned?
We recorded the basics in 2 different sessions. We tracked for 7 songs the first time and 7 songs this most recent time, plus there are a few other things that have been created in the studio since them. We’re planning on a 9 song album, so that gives us a lot to choose from. I think it’s going to be great. I think it’s a natural progression to a new level. The goal when we record the basics is to get a good live drum track. Sometimes we get a good live bass track to go along as well, but the focus is really to get the drums. There are a few live guitars that survive now and then, but almost always, the guitars come out better under a controlled ‘overdub’ sort of environment. Hopefully everything will be wrapped up before September. I don’t think we’ll see a release until early 2013 although there should be some new Orchid stuff out before then, just not a full length.

Both new songs played at last Roadburn tend to prove that new album will definitely won’t just sound like Black Sabbath, something that some people deplored about “Capricorn” (sometimes easily and abusively too), is that something you particularly had in mind when composing new stuff? The heart of your influences is larger than what we could think, of course mainly rooted in the 70’s heavy rock but does it also include more recent/actual bands?
I think the new material will show that we are capable of much more than sounding just like Black Sabbath. I don’t know if it’s intentional or unintentional. It’s just growing really. Most of material on Capricorn was written years ago at the genesis of the band or even before the band existed. Songs are written now with more confidence; tours have happened, reviews have been written, fans have been made. All of these things soak into your thoughts and give different perspective on what you think you can achieve.

The 2nd European tour came in between these both phases of studio recording, did it allow to test new songs (you played 2 at Roadburn but maybe more on the period)? Were the songs from the new album all composed before this new tour, maybe you found new ideas in the particular environment of such a tour with your friends of Lord Vicar and Sigiriya?
Well, we could have played more new songs for sure, but with the way things are today with video and the internet, we really wanted to keep some things under wraps and not spoil any surprises. A few songs were composed and tracked after the tour. I’m not sure if the tour influenced any of it, but at the same time, each day you live influences the next one.

Last year when I asked Theo if Orchid felt attached to the occult doom scene, he said that you guys never set out to be a part of a scene but if now I ask you the same question, I guess you could say something like “Orchid is not a part of a scene but a part of a family “The Church Within family”? It seems there’s a very deep friendship which is born between you and the guys in Serpent Venom, Lord Vicar and Sigiriya…
I feel pretty lucky to have been part of 2 tours now that were both really fun and memorable. All the bands that we’ve gone out with have been really great to us and I feel like I’ve made friendships that will last a lifetime. It’s just really flattering when someone like Jussi or Kimi tell you that the tour you just finished was the best tour and best time that they’ve ever had. I mean, those dudes have been around the scene a bit and to hear that from them just makes you feel good about it. I’ll absolutely never forget as long as I live all the fun and laughs that I shared with the Serpent Venom guys. Those guys are some of the best people that you could ever hang out and have a few beers and tour with. I miss them dearly and look forward to the next time I get to see them. The whole Church Within family and starting our journey with that label has been a truly great experience.

Theo already knew rather well some parts of Europe before touring with Orchid, was it also your case? How did you enjoy both tours towards the material and cultural aspects? Did you learn things from the 1st tour that helped you being more at ease for the 2nd?
I had been to Europe twice before we toured. Both times as a tourist though. I love the old world and all the culture. I love seeing new places and thinking about all the history there. The main thing I learned from the 1st tour to the 2nd was that it’s really nice to get some rest and not be hung-over every morning. I think we all took care of ourselves much better the 2nd time. No one got sick. The first tour, everyone got sick at some point.

If I’m not wrong you have a regular job, how do you deal with your boss when there’s a tour scheduled, is that taken on holiday’s time or …? Can you imagine you leaving this job for just playing in Orchid or do you feel it’s yet too late considering your age and responsibilities? (I don’t mean at all you’re too old for this!!!)
Well, lucky for me I have a great job at a place where my bosses are very cool people who are happy to let me chase my dreams as long as it doesn’t become a hassle for them, so far, so good. It hasn’t reached a point where I’ve needed to leave beyond whatever vacation or personal time that I have saved up. I’ve been here for over 10 years, so I’m pretty well known and liked where I work. I can see how this might all change in the future, but I’ve always just thought I’d wait until life forces my hand on that issue. Yeah, I do indeed feel like it’s too late in life to gamble with my future when I have a wife and kids along for the ride with me. I’m not sure how everything will work out, but I’m willing to entertain the idea of music for a living if it’s a win-win situation for everyone involved. I just have to go along for the ride and see what happens with it. 

When arriving at Roadburn, one of the 1st thing I heard from different sources was a rumor about Orchid being signed by Nuclear Blast, something not confirmed since then, is there a part of truth in that? did they approach you during a date in Germany or … ? Will the new album be released by Church Within?
There’s been a lot of interest in the band from larger labels for well over a year now, so after many months of negotiations and making sure we had the right deal for us, we have indeed signed with Nuclear Blast. I still find it a bit funny that some people seem to think that this will somehow change what we are doing. They signed us because they love what we did on Capricorn and they just want to expose our sound and style to a much bigger audience and see what happens. It’s a chance for a bigger level of success, but in the end, the public will decide what kind of level the band can operate on.

How do you feel the fact that you already toured (a part of) Europe twice but never did a real tour in the States so far? Does it concretely reflect more interest from Europe than from your homeland for Orchid or it’s maybe just logical considering your label is German? Do you have live dates planed for the 2nd part of 2012 in the US?
It’s really just a function of being on a German label. I think we’ll play around the US at some point, but there’s nothing planned right now. Any offers that we’ve ever had for US touring haven’t been possible either financially or time wise. Someday something will probably line up right though. I don’t think there is any doubt that the European audience is way more into what we do than the US audiences.

The hall where you played (Het Patronaat) at Roadburn was pretty singular which made your performance even more memorable… I suppose this gig was one of your best memories with the band so far, how did you get into and enjoy it?
Without a doubt, Roadburn is one of my favorite musical memories. It was just so cool and we were treated so well by everyone involved. It’s really a great festival and well organized. When we arrived in Tilburg, one of the first people I ran into was my friend Aesop who plays drums in Agalloch. He’s from San Francisco as well, so I felt a little less foreign right away. Soon after we ran into our friend Boris, who put on the show we played in Nuremburg last year. He told us he was the stage manager for Het Patronaat and that he’d brought me his old Laney for me to play through. So right away, we unexpectedly had a friend on our side helping out. That really eased my mind a bit. I was actually a bit more nervous than usual throughout the day, but once we went onstage to get set up, all that faded away. Stuff like that is still kind of a surreal experience for me. I haven’t done this enough to be jaded yet.

You seem interested in always improving your sound, looking for new vintage amps, what about that Laney Supergroup that you got before the tour for example? Are you generally faithful to the same guitar over the years?
As weird as it may sound, Theo is the total gear nerd in the band. He’s really the one who is always working for me on getting a great sound and having the right equipment. None of this would be happening without his involvement. I really don’t think that much about gear or guitars. I generally just like to plug in and play as odd as that might sound. There’s a reason that the Gibson SG is so prevalent in this genre. It just works and is nice to play.

Margarita is a word that comes back regularly in your FB posts (!), is that your fave drink? I suppose that having played consistently in Germany and Poland helped you discovering great beers and vodka too?
Ha! I do love some good tequila and margaritas are a really enjoyable drink. There is a very large Mexican population where we live and I will admit that the food and drink of that culture is definitely among my favorites. I really overdid it last week on our independence day (July 4th), so I’m off the margaritas for the time being. I get freaked out when I wake up and don’t know what happened the night before.

Well, thanx a lot Mark, what can we wish you for the 2nd part of 2012? Can you tell us briefly if all ORCHID merchandising is still available (vinyl especially)?
Wish us good luck I suppose. I expect that a lot of things are going to happen to Orchid over the next few years. I expect some chaos, so hopefully it all works out well. I’ve heard from Church Within that the 1st vinyl pressing sold out a while ago. I expect he’ll repress at some point, but I don’t know when. Huge thanks to the people for buying it all. Keep a lookout for news of our first Nuclear Blast release as well. We’re really excited about the new material that we’ve finished and can’t wait for people to be able to hear it.

1 comment:

  1. une bonne interview gâchée par des questions slip ou caleçon......... dommage.