ORBITAL JUNCTION have been hailed “London’s best new stoner rock band” by Desertfest and judging from their latest album Egos And Instincts, it’s easy to see why. A week before the release of this album, Rock Out Stand Out’s Lotty Whittingham spoke vocalist Owen Armstrong and drummer Jack Revans. They spoke about the debut album, how they have been coping with lockdown and things to help them cope with bad mental health.
First off; for those who haven’t heard of Orbital Junction, how would you describe your sound? I got hints of Clutch, I don’t whether you would agree with that.
Jack: I would have thought so. I think it’s hard to say really, we are every day probably stoner rock and our sound isn’t a million miles away from things like Clutch, also Orange Goblin. There’s actually loads and loads of influences mixed in there, maybe you can hear them and maybe you can’t. I think we definitely have a few things going on in our sound.
I am very curious as on your Facebook page under the story section, the opening line is ‘over beer and light snacks’. I wondered if there was more to it or if it really is what it says on the tin.
Owen: We like beer and we like light snacks.
Jack: I actually think there’s a bit of an error there because I don’t think the snacks we like could be described as light. We exclusively have heavy snacks.
Owen: A lot of pastry.
Jack: Yeah; a lot of pastry, pork scratchings and jellied eels. That type of luxury.
Owen: You get off on the jellied eels, I’m not a huge fan of them.
That picture of jellied eels on your Facebook page is now making sense. So, you’re due to release your debut album Egos And Instincts. First thing that intrigued me was the title, what was the inspiration behind that album title?
Owen: All the songs on the album follow a theme. It looks at different personalities and characteristics from individuals and groups of people. You have songs like Addict, which is quite self-explanatory. You’ve got Creep and Green Man that all follow some kind of characteristic. Each one is different; from writing experience they aren’t always about my experiences. Sometimes they are about other things.
The song Addict came to my attention. The song arrangements are fantastic and the lyrics are brilliant. I understand the addiction could be to a toxic substance, habit or person.
Owen: I like to think it could be open to interpretation. From a writing standpoint, it’s about a break up so it’s about a toxic person. It could also be about drug abuse, gambling etc. It’s about really wanting the thing that you’re addicted to but knowing it’s not good for you.
There’s the song 6ft2 which is from your debut EP. How did you go about choosing what song or songs you wanted to include from your debut EP?
Owen: We got a lot of really good feedback from live gigs as that’s the song people ask for, expect and they really enjoy it when we play it. We also really love the song. The song has evolved as we wrote that really early on as we’re still quite a young band. That was the one of the second or third songs that we wrote together. It’s kind of evolved from there and we play it live at every gig, it evolves and takes different paths sometimes. Plus, when we record it, we feel like the production and everything else is much better than the EP.
So, it’s no secret we are living in a pandemic and lockdown. I notice it’s been particularly difficult for musicians for example album releases and live shows being postponed. Did you manage to get your parts recorded before we went into lockdown and this was the intended release date?
Jack: Kind of, it was a little bit complicated. Basically, we had recorded almost all of the album and then the last session we had, which was to record the vocals for six of the songs and we were due to record those a couple of days after lockdown. We had to adapt as the album was only partly recorded for quite a long time and it was only when the studios re-opened, we finished the vocals. That was a bit of nightmare to be honest.
When did the studios re-open out of curiosity?
Owen: I think it was June. So, we recorded at Bear Bite Force with Wayne Adams. We managed to get and it was very strict when it came to who could be in the studio at the same time. So, it was only me and Wayne in the studio at that time, Jack came into visit but he couldn’t stay any longer than fifteen minutes as it was very strict. We managed to get it done and we’re really happy with the end result. We did a great job with the vocals and mixing the album as well.
Once gigs start up again, well there’s some socially distant gigs starting up with strict guidelines, which songs from your new record are you looking forward to playing live?
Owen: That’s a question. We really like playing Creep, we have been playing that one live for quite a while and that’s gone down really well. It’s a song we all enjoy playing live. Out of the songs we haven’t technically played live yet, one would be Gambling Man as we haven’t a chance to play that one live yet.
Jack: To be honest, I am really looking forward to playing all of them. I love playing every single one of those tracks, just playing them in general whether it’s live or not. So live wise, I am definitely looking forward to playing them all. All I would add is I enjoy playing Green Man and Addict live.
Speaking of lockdown, restrictions are now easing. When we were in stricter lockdown, what did you do during lockdown?
Owen: I did quite a lot of writing and we were already planning for the next release. Since we had a lot of time on our hands, it made sense to focus on writing as much new music as possible. One of the songs we are working on isn’t necessarily corona themed but it’s about being stuck inside and wanting to be out. We are kind of using the corona inspiration in that way. We have also been in the studio quite a lot and we’re really happy with what’s come out.
It’s great to turn something negative into a positive, some have done a lot of baking.
Jack: I have been baking, it wasn’t conventional baking. I got into really making naan breads. I really love curry and got into making that more so than usual which is already quite a lot. There was a point where I was eating curry and naan bread twice a day every day for about a month. I am quite good at making naan breads.
Owen: That explains the smell in the studio as well.
Did you add different flavours to these naan breads, like they do at the Indian restaurants?
Jack: Yes, there was the peshwari naan but I only did that once as it was too hard. Usually, I put loads of salt in it because I like salt. Maybe a bit of cumin.
Another thing people seemed to do is binge Netflix series, was there any new TV shows you guys discovered during lockdown?
Owen: The Tiger King.
Jack: Oh yeah, The Tiger King and there was a guy in that show wearing a Clutch t-shirt. When I saw that, I thought ‘Oh my god’.
Mental Health Awareness is important to us at Rock Out Stand Out. Particularly during Covid times when people can’t really see their loved ones. One thing that tends to help is listening to that album or band that give a confidence boost. Is there albums or bands that do that for you?
Jack: It probably would be Clutch for me.
Owen: I have been listening to a lot of old school blues so from Muddy Waters, Cream, Fleetwood Mac, that sort of stuff. I listened to a lot more blues than I normally would.
Jack: I really got into noise rock. During the peak of lockdown, I explored really different and interesting types of music for example noise rock, drone and weird kind of jazz. I don’t know what it was but I think it was how interesting these types of music were and it helped take my mind off whatever bad thoughts were going on.
Is there anything that helps you ground you when you’re stressed?
Owen: Are we allowed to say smoking? As a nice relaxing smoke helps me.
Jack: I like going for a walk at night time, that’s what helps me to stay grounded. When it’s getting close to night time, I will take a walk as at that time it’s very peaceful. I might go to the river or I might not go to the river. That’s my thing.
Do you have a message for those who may not be coping with lockdown?
Jack: I reckon, don’t go on social media. Don’t read the news. That’s it really, I think social media is so bad for that type of thing. You know how there is always some breaking news story about how you’re about to die from Covid or nuclear war. I know every day there is always something telling that I am going to die so I don’t pay attention to that and it makes my life a lot more enjoyable.
Thank you guys for taking the time to chat today and best of luck with the album release.