The Oranges Band

The Oranges Band



(written by Craig Finn of the Hold Steady, April 2005)

I met Roman Kuebler in about 1997. My band at the time, Lifter Puller, played a show with his band, Roads to Space Travel, at Brownies in NYC. He wore his keys on a string around his neck (still does) which suggested that he might misplace them often. His demeanor and attitude were refreshing: he was determined and down for whatever.

For the next few years we traded shows in our respective regions, doing all the stuff touring bands do: playing, staying up late, crashing on floors, etc. I got to know him as a guy who wouldn't take no for an answer, someone who would plow ahead no matter what the circumstances. Eventually Roads to Space Travel dissolved and he hooked up with Dave Voyles on drums, Daniel Black on guitar and Tim Johnston on bass to form The Oranges Band.

I first put eyes on the new foursome while in Baltimore in Summer 2000 - they were scrappy and agitated but tuneful and above all, fun. Right away, the band put out a five song EP on Morphius Records, and booked a nationwide tour (in the reverse order as I remember). I asked Roman if he thought this might be a little too ambitious, and he shook his head. He did all things all the way. The tour was ramshackle but the guys were out to have fun. The second time they went out, it was just the opposite and the brutal drive home (after Tim was sent home with a broken ankle from a skateboarding accident in Wyoming, and their transmission was lost in El Paso) gave a name to their second EP, "900 Miles of Fucking Hell."

By the fall of 2000 my band had broken up and I was living in NYC. At CMJ, I attended a Spoon show at Brownies. To my surprise, Roman was on bass. It seemed like a good idea to him, one of his favorite bands asked him to play, and he jumped aboard for a number of tours before bowing out to concentrate on the Oranges.

Roman's can-do attitude struck again in 2002 when he decided to open a rock club in Baltimore called the Talking Head. I said "Dude, that seems like a ton of work". Of course, it was, but he pulled it off in his own way. The first time I was there the club didn't have ice or soda and the liquor bottles had been purchased at a liquor store rather than a distributor, but it was inarguably a rock club.

The Oranges Band began playing live a ton, and seemed to be in NYC every other week. Roman called me one day with the good news that the Oranges would be releasing a new record on Lookout Records. Lookout quickly released their third EP, On TV, in time for the Oranges to tour w/ Spoon. Then, in the spring of 2003, the Oranges' let loose their first full length All Around on Lookout. By this time I had a new band, The Hold Steady, and we were honored to play their record release shows in Baltimore and NYC. The Baltimore release show was something to behold: the city itself seemed to turn out that evening to celebrate something bigger than just an indie rock record- it was a celebration of life in Baltimore, with special guests on stage, an amazing rocker belly dance troupe, puppeteers, old friends, and new fans. Soon after, The Oranges left on a seemingly endless tour for All Around, playing dates with Guided by Voices, Ted Leo and of course, my band.

Early on in 2004, I went down to Baltimore, and hung out in the new house that the band had moved into. They had begun amassing recording gear in the basement, and Roman announced his intention to record the next Oranges record in the house. Again, I questioned the feasibility of it, but should have known better. Roman's will would once again lead the way past minor complications like lack of outboard equipment and having a washer and dryer in the control room.

After crafting more than an album's worth of songs, Roman started the process of putting songs to tape. Adam Cooke, the drummer from Roads to Space Travel helped with a lot of the recording. Roman's neighbor J. Robbins lent a hand, some gear and eventually mixed the whole thing side by side with Roman. They grabbed friends from all over Baltimore and beyond to sing, lend gear, play keyboards, and more. The record was a testament to Roman's ability to get people excited and cooperating towards a larger goal. After a few months of laboring over the details, textures, and songs, the Oranges Band closed the book on The World & Everything In It.

In March 2005, we played about ten dates with The Oranges Band on the way to SXSW. On the first day, Roman handed me a copy of The World & Everything In It. I got obsessed. It is beautiful, positive, and melancholy all at once. Dealing with themes of beach, surf, and wide open summer days, it seems to be the musical equivalent of August- warm and careless and exciting, but with a view of heavy stuff ahead: school, work, chilly weather, etc. "Open Air" is a perfectly detailed account of a lazy summer that gets too lazy in the days and too crazy in the nights. "Ride the Wild Wave" is a shimmering surf song that


The World and Everything In It (2005 Lookout Records)
All Around (2003 Lookout Records)
On TV (2002 Lookout records)
Two Thousands (2000/2001 Morphius Records)