Tuesday, July 30, 2019

interview: Orator (Washington State)

On the 28th of July, 2019 Orator played at the Mirkwood Public House in Arlington, Washington State, U.S. They are technical extreme metal. Online they have an impressive album called Kallipolis (2018) with lyrics and artwork that shows a philosophical approach. Metal Archives says that they used to be called Stealth Force Mutilation and in 2017 they apparently had a two-song demo with gore-and-violence lyrics, including with profanities. Obviously, they have chosen to change gears towards a more intelligent approach to the lyrics to go along with the skillful playing. We inquired about the concept of the band. Isaac, who plays one of the guitars and does the main growling, says, “The name Orator, we settled on that because it’s not very pigeonholing as far as lyrical matter. If we named ourselves something violent, then we’d probably have to have something very violent as subject matter. Orator all it means is a public speaker. A public speaker could be a storyteller. I feel it’s the opposite of pigeonholing. It’s also very tied to the subject matter of our release Kallipolis.” Will the concept continue on future albums? Matt (guitars and backing vocals) adds, “The new one will probably be a concept in its own way. We wanted that flexibility. It won’t focus on philosophy and the Greeks. It’s in the process of being built.” Isaac continues, “We have the skeletal structure, but we haven’t had the time to flesh it out.” Isaac explains that they have been busy doing things like selling tickets to open for Fleshgod Apocalypse. “As soon as that finished I had to set up the tour that we’re about to go on. I managed to do that, but it doesn’t leave much room to be creative. If I were to tie it (the new ideas for an album) to the whole concept of Orator. It’s a public speaker …” Matt completes the thought, “from a pulpit or a soapbox who has something to say. We do have something to say. The lyrics are very deliberate. They’re posted online and we want people to check them out. The next one will have more current issues. Everyone will be able to identify it. The next one might end up taking us extra to do it, but it’s going to set the bar” in terms of what they seek with their art.
Earlier in the conversation Matt explained Isaac and himself had recently graduated from college, and he also explained that the other band members are about the same age. We ask what makes a young band take the road of music that is difficult to play due to the technicality and blazing speed? What made the members of Orator go for this challenging music? Matt says, “Our interests are different, but in some respects it’s similar. We both like Fleshgod Apocalypse. Behemoth is near and dear to my heart. When I first heard Behemoth I didn’t like it, I wasn’t ready for it. Early on I was into metalcore. I liked Darkest Hour. I loved the riffs and melodies. Amon Amarth, you know, stuff like that. You can’t go wrong with that, but I also like to go fast!” About the desire to go for the technical, fast guitar, Matt continues, “I don’t know that I can blame it on a single band.” For instance, he says, “I heard Man Must Die and for some reason those riffs hit the spot. It clicked mentally. Music theory was always kind of interesting to me. ‘This sounds really cool. Why does it sound really cool?’ That pulled me into that. Musicians that are playing that fast.”
For Isaac it was “Suffocation. I really enjoyed Despise the Sun and Souls to Deny, the comeback album. I spent a lot of time in mosh pits when I was younger. I went to one show and my friend pulled me into the pit and I’ve never looked back. It’s so extremely cathartic. I can’t get enough being in a pit when a band that I’ve connected with is playing. It’s therapeutic.” How did he go from the pit to technical guitar playing? “It started with a frustration with some of the bands I was listening to or being exposed to. I just started writing music that would invoke the same feeling (the pit) in anyone else. I wanted to be a vehicle for anyone else to experience that.” Matt agrees, “If we’re on stage and we see people in a pit. That’s it. That’s all we want.” Isaac remembers, “For the Fleshgod Apocalypse show, there were 10 or 15 people who were pitting. That was one of the most gratifying experiences that has come from this so far. People really enjoying themselves.”
In order to play Orator music you have to be obsessed with being a good musician and knowing your instrument and what you want to do with it. For some of the material for the show on this night, Isaac says that he was rushing trying to be ready and do it right. He felt that he was not ready and he had to keep practicing. He recalls being “Terrified. We had to perform these songs in front of these people and if I couldn’t do it, then what are we going to do? Not play them? We had told people that we were going to perform our album from start to finish, we can’t back out.”
They didn’t back out. A good time was had by the people watching the swirling riffs fly in every direction. They will bring their music on the road. Orator begins touring on August 2nd in Bend, Oregon, and it goes until the 11th of August. Check their Facebook page for all the relevant information. Friends in the town of Bend, Oregon, it is time to rock and roll.

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