Confessions: Orange Goblin on the beer and on the road

Orange Goblin’s appetite for ale is the stuff of legend. When the Deciblog caught up with them prior to the long-awaited release of Eulogy for the Damned, frontman Ben Ward, bassist Martyn Millard, drummer Christ Turner and guitarist Joe Hoare were piecing together the making of an album that was recorded over nine weekend sessions. But as excited as they were about the album, the prospect of digging out the passport and heading out on tour had them swapping stories and apologetically recalling why sometimes it’s true: sure, you booze, you lose. But shit, it’s all worthwhile: It’s a way of life.
Orange Goblin “Red Tide Rising”

You guys talk about Orange Goblin the way some people would talk about a social club. Is the camaraderie central to everything you do and sticking together is a measure of success?

Chris Turner: That’s what I say all the time; it’s not success as such but we still enjoy what we’re doing, and then if we weren’t doing the band then we’d probably still go down the pub on a Friday night and hang out, get pissed there instead of hanging out, getting pissed and doing a show in the meantime. It’s kinda like a social thing for me, especially.
Ben Ward: We’re not a band that advertised for members to join. We just all got together because we were friends. It’s like a brotherhood. There’s never been that, oh he’s not pulling his weight sort of thing; we enjoy each others’ company and we enjoy doing things together. We never thought of this as a job, it’s like a holiday with your mates, you get free beer, get pissed and get paid to do it. It takes over my life. I work in a music management company and I love it; I love filling out itineraries, boring shit, and sending it to these guys, trying to be planned. If I didn’t have that, I’d have nothing.

It’s kind of a shame there’s an hour or so of work each day.

Joe Hoare: But the gig’s the high-point. Remember those times where I picked you [Ben] up off the floor? That means we’ve just done a gig.
Ben Ward: Yes, hahaha! There are gigs that I’d rather not remember.
Martyn Millard: There are gigs he’s heard about.

There is no shame in enjoying yourself, though, is there?
Ben Ward: I’m a fucking disgrace, if I’m honest. Hahaha! There’s a certain limit. Everyone says it; when they’ve had a few drinks that the best gigs are the ones you don’t remember but there are a few in our history in our history that are best forgotten; Edwards Number Eight in Birmingham a few years ago…
Chris Turner: [And] we were told we would never play Sweden again.
Joe Hoare: Banned from Sweden!

How did you manage to get banned from Sweden?
Ben Ward: Trying to fight the whole crowd. Smashing someone’s head in with a mic stand. Beating some guy from the support band up in the toilets afterwards. We drink alcohol; It’s one of the curses of being on tour! It’s one of the best things about being on tour and one of the worst things in that you’ve got hours to kill
Joe Hoare: You get caught in the moment and you’re given free beer and you haven’t got a care in the world. But during those days when all this happened, we didn’t have any money; we weren’t coming home with any money so we were just having some beers, doing what we love. We were young. Now we’ve kinda calmed down a bit we can kinda appreciate it more.

How did that go down, though? It’s obviously well-intentioned roistering but, contrary to popular belief, people in this industry can get very sniffy about that.
Ben Ward: But when that happened we got mixed reviews! There were people saying, “You’re a disgrace… You’ve been banned from Sweden.” But, at the same time, there were Orange Goblin fans saying it was cool, rock ‘n’ roll. That’s what you go to a show for, some excitement from a band that might be a bit controversial. I’d disagree now, as it’s not the way you go about building a fan-base, but at the time I thought it was fantastic, all these stories about rock stars like Skynyrd and the Stones being out of their minds, fighting the audience and you think that is cool—that’s what I need to be! But you’re a band and you’re judged by your music and your performance. In the past we were encouraged because we had that reputation as a drinking band, and people wanted to lead us down that path. These days we’re all a little bit more wise to it. There’s more responsibility to perform. But afterwards, you can do what you fucking like!

It’s a weird thing, being in a rock/metal band; you don’t really have a boss. But when you were acting the goat, did you not get a bit of gyp off the record label?
Chris Turner: They’ll tolerate it so long as it’s marketable. Like major labels, if they can put you in a little cocoon, move you around and it’s a selling point, then great. But they’ll be the first people to drop you if it’s out of control, or if it’s not what they want. The small labels just let us be us.

Maybe it’s best you’ve been touring on the underground’s coin, then. You could have went daft on major label money.

Ben Ward: We’ve done a lot of playing up with the drink and the drugs, probably more than a lot of other bands. We’ve not been to the realms of Aerosmith and the Stones because we didn’t have the money. You learn from it, especially nowadays with YouTube and all that. My son will come home from school and be like, “Oh, my mate said he saw you showing yourself up on stage!” Haha! You can’t do that anymore.

Is there anything you’ve not done live that you’d like to do?
Martyn Millard: I’d love to do a gig where Joe wore a harlequin outfit.
Ben Ward: We were lucky that when this band started and the whole stoner rock thing started in this country, we were the band who got to support Fu Manchu, Queens of the Stone Age, Monster Magnet, Kyuss. In this country, everyone thinks the Yanks are cool, they’re that much cooler than us and they can sing songs about muscle cars and cactus, but over here we don’t really have that luxury. We have to concentrate on the music that bit more because we don’t come over as cool like the Americans do. That’s the thing, though, bands like Monster Magnet… We were really cool to them because we were the British element but we didn’t realise that at the time. And it’s great: you meet your peers and you don’t know what to expect but when they turn round and say, “Yeah, I’ve heard your band. I love your band!” Like, Wino said that to us. John Garcia said that to us. Josh Homme said that to us! And that makes it all worthwhile. Dave Wyndorf loves Orange Goblin! Jason Newstead from Metallica, 10 years ago, in the So What fanzine he put The Big Black in his Top 10 albums of the year. That’s awesome! And then he got sacked. Hahaha!

**Eulogy for the Damned is out now through Candlelight. Get it