Code Orange: “We’re just constantly learning, constantly practising, constantly trying to get better.”

Interviews from Download Festival

Code Orange: “We’re just constantly learning, constantly practising, constantly trying to get better.”

By Rhian Wilkinson

Jul 19, 2017 7:27

We caught up with Jami from Code Orange to chat about what it’s like to maintain hardcore roots when playing stadium shows with bands like System Of A Down.

With a hugely busy and successful start to 2017 behind them, Code Orange have been able tick off some pretty huge achievements in the past six months, including releasing their second album as Code Orange, ‘Forever’ (technically the third if you count the Code Orange Kids Record), touring with Gojira, and completing a stadium run with System Of A Down.

So how have Code Orange come out of the hardcore scene and maintained the atmosphere in venues cut from a different cloth? “It depends. We play small shows, some towns we go and no one knows who the fuck we are, some towns we go and we play to more people that we’ve ever played to, sometimes we’re opening for a big band, it’s up and down.”

“You know it doesn’t always work. We’ve done two shows just for System Of A Down, and the first one, I had that feeling, and the second one I didn’t. We couldn’t really get ‘em, and we’re learning, that’s what we’re doing. But if we have them a little bit, we’re getting ’em. That was one of those shows where it was a lot harder when you’re starting from scratch.”

Jami explains that every show is its own beast. At the O2 Forum in Kentish Town supporting Gojira, Code Orange owned the crowd, seeing an in, they tore the crowd to shreds and very nearly outshone Gojira themselves. “We can still do it, but when you have them a little bit, or a good amount like London, then we know how to do that you know what I mean? We can get them into a frenzy if they know us… it’s a new challenge to try and whip them up when they don’t know us, or maybe they’re coming in with a negative vibe when they hear the screaming, we just do our thing. We’re just constantly learning, constantly practising, constantly trying to get better. I just want to get better. I want this to be better than that and that’s all I want,” Jamie says.

“We’re ready for whatever, as long as it feels good and it feels fun and it feels like it has a purpose, that we’re not just spinning the fucking wheel and doing the same shit to get paid, then we’ll do it. When we start doing that, that’s when we’ll quit, 100 per cent, as soon as the records aren’t right, like some of the bands out here, it’s just like, you’ve been doing the same thing for so long and I mean they’ll still put them on the main thing, so good for them, they get paid, but to me it sucks.”

Jami is incredibly enthusiastic, but when it comes down to it, he really loves music. He passes off jokes about wanting to be on the bigger festival stages, but underneath it all, it’s a pride thing. Code Orange do deserve to be on the bigger stages, and Jami isn’t afraid to say that they’ve been waiting around for people to notice.

‘Forever’ is a cinematic masterpiece, more than just an album, it takes the listener beyond an aural experience. And rightly so, the latest Code Orange record wasn’t written to be a normal record.

Code Orange: “We’re just constantly learning, constantly practising, constantly trying to get better.”
Code Orange: “We’re just constantly learning, constantly practising, constantly trying to get better.”

“We’re definitely influenced by all kinds of music, I love turnup music, I love hardcore, I love metal, I love alternative kinds of music and noise, we love all kinds of stuff so we just take little bits and pieces from different shit, and put it into our mix through our filter, and we’re getting better at it, that’s really it, we put a lot of work in and we practised, in writing that record we practised six or eight hours a day, every fucking day. And we still do that. We work very hard. We don’t have natural ability, we really don’t as musicians; we don’t have natural anything.”

Any sane person who has listened to ‘Forever’ would disagree with Jami on this point, they are superbly talented musicians. Very few artists are able to create the visceral experience that listening to ‘Forever’ imbues upon the listener. He laughs it off and continues, “I mean if you saw us back then you would know! I mean we have heart but we play real sloppy and it takes a lot of work, so we just put the work in and that’s that.”

On the cinematic nature of ‘Forever’, Jami explains that it was just one element of what they were trying to achieve. “There‘s a lot of  ups and downs and trapdoors, but it’s all planned out and a lot of times the way I start writing a record is certain songs, I know what song has to go where before we write it. Then we write a song almost to fit that mold, which can be dicey sometimes, and people have tried to do that and it fails, but that’s how it works from my head.”

“I kind of know the vibe that the song needs to be and then we build the song around that, so the record is complete, because it’s this kind of song then this kind of song,” Jami is talking with his hands, indicating the ups and downs of the tracks. “What if this was like this, and then you fill in the blanks and it’s a bunch of pieces and you put them together and it’s wrong, and it’s wrong, but then it’s right.”

As he wildly gesticulates the way songs form in his head, you can begin to understand the artist that exists within his mind, it’s chaotic and loud, but ordered in it’s own way. “The order [for Forever] was set, except for a couple of things, the main order of what was first, certain things, that was set. I mean before some of the songs were even written. And then when you hear stuff you change it, but I knew we needed to kick it off with a certain kind of thing, once we wrote that song I knew it was number one. Done. Then I knew what song had to come second, something that was really intense, and then we bring it down a little bit early you know? A little bit earlier than the other record. I feel it was like 1,2,3 hit em hard, bring it down, bring it back up a little bit, but we’ll take it in a different direction, then bring it back around, it’s got to have the path you know?”

Just like ‘Forever’ has its path, so does Code Orange, and hopefully that will lead them out of the festival tents, and onto the main stage soon.