Black Phoenix Orchestra
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Black Phoenix Orchestra

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Unrated Music spoke to Calgary band Black Phoenix Orchestra (BPO). They play a big show in Calgary at Nelson’s as part of the Live Music Release weekend put on by Lazyman records on December 18, 2010.

How did you guys get together?



DARREN: I have always had the idea for BPO and when things ended with my previous band I knew it was time to get going. Devan just departed from his band and we had been friends for years so that fell in place perfectly, I had seen Erilk play at a festival a few years ago and I loved his style. I approached him about the idea and well, long story short here he is. When I first saw Greg play drums in a shitty bar, I honestly thought he was one of the best drummers I had ever seen. Again I talked to him about playing in BPO, and again, here he is (lucky me). Being long-time friends with Chris I knew he had to be in the band. Chris is the most passionate person about music and has more knowledge about rock’n'roll than anyone I knew.

BPO: As for the name which most people are curious about the origins of, it all started with Darren wanting to name the band Black Orchestra. It was suggested, seeing that most of the members were all kicked out of their old bands haha, to add phoenix. In reference to a phoenix rising from the ashes like the members starting over again from other bands.

Who are some of the biggest influences on your music?

BRMC, Black Angels, Kasabian, The Stone Roses, Oasis are all huge influences on us, but The Verve is by far one of our biggest influences. Unbelievable vocals/lyrics, Nick McCabe makes his one guitar sound like there are ten. Their first album A STORM IN HEAVEN was recorded 17 years ago and every time I listen to it I still hear something new. That’s what we’re going for.

What genre do you feel you fit into?

We dig the psychedelic/noise stuff, but we’re not too sure. We play our gigs the way we want to, mess around with the songs during some shows and people really get into it. But in the end, we’ll always label ourselves as a rock n roll band.

Favourite Tour Story

We headed to a family brunch joint the Sunday morning after the benefit show we had played in Wainwright, AB. Devan wanted a little whiskey in his tea so he tried to quietly take out the full 26 of Alberta Premium we had stashed, he dropped it instead. Needless to say the patrons and staff did not enjoy the smell that came from the pool of cheap ass whiskey plus glass all over the diner floor.

Who would be a dream artist to open for or who would you love to have open for you?

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. Our first road trip as a band was a trip to Vancouver to see these guys blow the fucking walls out of the Commodore. We did this before we had even played our first gig together. The only bad part of that show was Darren almost getting us thrown out of it.

How would you describe your live show?

Pure ecstasy.

What are your plans for the future?


Photo Credit: Greg Parke
We are in the studio right now with Brad Taylor from Taylor Sound. We are hoping to release the EP in the New Year. We’re having a lot of fun playing right now and cannot stop thinking about touring. We are planning a March tour out east to Ontario and then to the West Coast mid-year. After that who knows, we love touring and are all extremely excited about our ambitions to get out to Europe and the US sometime in the next couple of years.

Tell us about your latest album

DARREN: We are in the studio working on our first E.P. currently. We are excited to be working with Brad Taylor from Taylor Sound. We are extremely excited about how the recording process is going. Fans can expect to hear about the struggles we’ve had within ourselves and our struggles with love and religion with will be prominent on this album. - Unrated Music


Check out Black Phoenix Orchestra
A 5 piece band from Calgary.
Taking over British Columbia Aug.3 to Aug.9

Aug 3 Voodo's Pentiction, BC
Aug 5 Morrisey (Listening Party) Vancouver, BC
Aug 6 Pat's Pub Vancouver, BC
Aug 8 The Railway Club Vancouver, BC




1. When did your band form?
We formed March 2010 after most of us were kicked outta our old bands.

2. What inspired you to make music?
Darren- Richard Ashcroft from The Verve inspired me to make music, listening to him sing just blew my mind, I wanted to be that good, and Micheal Jackson but lets not talk about that haha.

3. What genre of music do you consider your music to be? Who are some influences?
Lick your ticket haha, our music isn't always stuck within structured lines, we give it room to move and let it take shape. Our influences are Black Rebel Motorcycle club, The Verve, Kasabian, Dead Meadow, Oasis and 100's more.

4. Who writes your songs? Is there a main theme or topic for your songs?
Darren- I write majority of the songs but Chris also helps with writing, We are very open minded everyone, adds there own parts. I don't want to tell people what to play, they can play whatever they want. The main topics for my writing are the struggle with Religion and love I guess. I don't believe in writing about shit I don't know.

5. What has been the best moment as a band so far?
Devan- The coolest thing to see is how the music so quickly takes a life of its own on stage. We have a handful of songs that always just kind of go where they wanna go, and we’re getting better at giving the music space to move and take shape.

6. How has your music evolved since you first started playing music together?
The band is very young, and while most of us have all played in bands before we’re definitely still easing into how we all work, on stage and off. We've been working on some higher energy songs lately but who knows where things will go. I would like to get into the psychedelic sounds more. I think that's what we will start focusing on. As long as we continue enjoying what we play, we're happy.

7.How can fans access your music? Do you have any albums out?
We just released an demo EP, which will be available at our upcoming vancouver shows. We start work on the new album in late Aug. you can check us out on myspace and facebook. If you like what you hear you can send us your email address and we will send you some free tunes every month.

8. What song are you currently listening too?

Greg Yukon Blonde- Trivial Fires

Darren Black Rebel Motorcycle Club-Sweet Feeling

Tyler Woven Hand- Kicking Bird

Devan Earthless- Sonic Prayer

Chris Interpol- Lights

9. Is there anyone you'd like to acknowledge?
We have had a bunch of help from so many people; X92.9fm, Paige Woodbury, Paul Gervais , Aaron Crook, The Nix Dicksons, Beth Bannerman, Chelsea Kindrachuk, Mark Mills, Telly, Lionheart Radio, Kirstin Jar, Calgary bands, The Dog and Duck Pub, Darren Ollinger (the new black center), and the most AMAZING friends.

10. Last Words?
COME OUT AND SEE A SHOW, I KNOW YOU'LL LIKE IT! - www.theshowloner.com


Full of hard-charging drumbeats and dry-mouthed blues grooves, Black Phoenix Orchestra’s closest brethren comes in the form of its psychedelic West Coast acts: Black Mountain. Kyuss. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. While such associations don’t bother singer Darren McDade, he’s still irked by the comparative creativity of certain music pundits.

“Someone once compared us to the Stereophonics!” he says in disbelief. “That’s gotta be the worst thing you can say to me. I want to get that wall of sound like Nick McCabe from the Verve — it sounds like he’s not playing anything at all, but at the same time, it’s like he’s playing 100 guitars.”

McDade’s fine-tuned ear to all things British, however, isn’t coincidental. Born in Scotland, he moved to Calgary 11 years ago, and, as he admits, he still hasn’t shaken his anglophile tendencies. That was evident in his previous band, The Lions — which drew plenty of Oasis comparisons — but Black Phoenix Orchestra, McDade says, is exploring new sonic terrains.

“It’s all about the grooves. I like to screw around; I don’t like straightforward shit,” he says. “When I started this band, I wanted it to be more mellow, to concentrate on soft riffs and to be more vocal-oriented. But (we got) a little more psychedelic, a little more into background sounds. I think the visual aspect of a show is really important, too — we don’t want to be a regular little band playing a regular little show.”

While McDade says he “never envisioned it being this heavy” — he credits bassist Devan Forster for any Black Mountain tendencies — and he likely didn’t envision the Orchestra being this prolific, either. Formed five months ago, the band cut a rushed demo — something, McDade says, the band submitted to X92.9 and that the band “doesn’t even sell anymore” — and a live album, along with videos for “Oh Why Me?” and “Punch Drunk Lover,” both directed by Vancouver filmmaker Curt van Woerkem.

As for future releases, the band is preparing another EP with producer Brad Taylor, set for a tentative release in the winter of 2011. While still “in the production stages,” he says the young group will be expanding its sound and scope — expect to hear timpani drums, orchestral flourishes and standup bass added to the mix. That, and it hopes to take its psychotropic groove-show on the road.

“I’d love to be on tour six months of the year,” he says. “Being on the road, in a cramped van, drinking beer and playing a show every night. It’s the best thing.” - FFWD Fast Forward Weekly


Full of hard-charging drumbeats and dry-mouthed blues grooves, Black Phoenix Orchestra’s closest brethren comes in the form of its psychedelic West Coast acts: Black Mountain. Kyuss. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. While such associations don’t bother singer Darren McDade, he’s still irked by the comparative creativity of certain music pundits.

“Someone once compared us to the Stereophonics!” he says in disbelief. “That’s gotta be the worst thing you can say to me. I want to get that wall of sound like Nick McCabe from the Verve — it sounds like he’s not playing anything at all, but at the same time, it’s like he’s playing 100 guitars.”

McDade’s fine-tuned ear to all things British, however, isn’t coincidental. Born in Scotland, he moved to Calgary 11 years ago, and, as he admits, he still hasn’t shaken his anglophile tendencies. That was evident in his previous band, The Lions — which drew plenty of Oasis comparisons — but Black Phoenix Orchestra, McDade says, is exploring new sonic terrains.

“It’s all about the grooves. I like to screw around; I don’t like straightforward shit,” he says. “When I started this band, I wanted it to be more mellow, to concentrate on soft riffs and to be more vocal-oriented. But (we got) a little more psychedelic, a little more into background sounds. I think the visual aspect of a show is really important, too — we don’t want to be a regular little band playing a regular little show.”

While McDade says he “never envisioned it being this heavy” — he credits bassist Devan Forster for any Black Mountain tendencies — and he likely didn’t envision the Orchestra being this prolific, either. Formed five months ago, the band cut a rushed demo — something, McDade says, the band submitted to X92.9 and that the band “doesn’t even sell anymore” — and a live album, along with videos for “Oh Why Me?” and “Punch Drunk Lover,” both directed by Vancouver filmmaker Curt van Woerkem.

As for future releases, the band is preparing another EP with producer Brad Taylor, set for a tentative release in the winter of 2011. While still “in the production stages,” he says the young group will be expanding its sound and scope — expect to hear timpani drums, orchestral flourishes and standup bass added to the mix. That, and it hopes to take its psychotropic groove-show on the road.

“I’d love to be on tour six months of the year,” he says. “Being on the road, in a cramped van, drinking beer and playing a show every night. It’s the best thing.” - FFWD Fast Forward Weekly


Discography

BPO Demo - July 2010 - EP
BPO Live - October 2010 - LP
BPO Demo 2 - December 2010 - EP
X92.9 puts single "Punch Drunk Lover" on daily rotation - October 2010

Photos

Bio

Black Phoenix Orchestra is a high energy, bluesy psych rock n roll band known for their melodic wall of sound. The tightness of the band on and off the stage has resulted in a cult like following in the Calgary underground. Since their first jam 10 months ago BPO has a slew of gigs and a highly successful tour under their belt. Vancouver's legendary Railway Club has given the band permission to use the venue as a letter of reference. BPO has also released a demo EP, released a music video, released a full live album, headlined Vulcan Fest, gained multiple mentions and articles in the press, and have been spinned in the UK on Lionheart Radio. The band was also approached by Calgary's X92.9 fm to record a single for daily rotation, thus "Punch Drunk Lover" was born. You will not want to miss what has been labeled by the local press: "..the shape of Calgary Psych to come", "..psych rock mammoths..." and one of FFWD magazines "10 Bands You Need To Hear". In 2011 they plan to release their highly anticipated debut EP with a live DVD follow up, plus a western and east coast tour out to Canadian Music Week. Black Phoenix Orchestra is a rock n roll band hell bent on achieving their goals...we sincerely hope you can be a part of us.