Their new album is out tomorrow, so Paul Visser (guitar / vocals) of Black Orchid Empire tackles our Band of the Day questions…
Not that simple! We’ve all lived in London for many years, but Billy is from Texas and Dave is from Napier in New Zealand. I’m from Coventry, which is easily the least exotic place on earth.
How did you meet?
I met Billy when he was producing one of my old bands way back in 2004. We started Cape Fear together a few years later and Dave joined that band around 2008. I think we found him online – like Tinder for musicians. He came into the first audition and smashed it, and he’s been with us ever since.
How long have you been playing as a band?
The three of us started Black Orchid Empire together in 2012 after Cape Fear broke up, so about eight years now.
Before you get sick of being asked… where does the band name come from?
Hah, no one knows any more. It’s funny, everyone asks bands that question but the real answer is almost always they just chucked words around till something cool stuck. The interesting stories are always made up afterwards!
What are your influences?
We love lots of different bands, mostly in heavy music – Deftones, Periphery, Tesseract, Tool, Biffy, Meshuggah. We are all full-time producers and pop writers though, so we spend most of our time in completely different genres like mainstream pop and hip-hop. I love the melody writing in good pop music, I think it’s a big part of the way I write.
Describe your music. What makes you unique?
We just make music we want to listen to. It’s a mashup of big, heavy riffs, technical drum parts and crushing basslines, but with beautiful melodic vocals. I don’t think many bands blend the two successfully – although there are a couple that do. Issues are amazing at it!
Do you have any particular lyrical themes?
The new album Semaphore is a sci-fi concept record – every song has a different narrative inspired by a science fiction story. I’ve also written short stories for each song, we’ll be releasing them once the album is out.
What’s your live show like? How many shows have you played?
Oh man we lost count a long time ago! We go hard live, and we set the bar for technical tightness really high too.
What’s the wildest thing you’ve seen or done at a live show?
We toured with Skunk Anansie last year and it was insane – playing a sold-out Brixton Academy was a ridiculous dream come true. Skin is absolutely bonkers live – seeing her come out in a huge costume made of gold foil and crowd surf upright from the stage to Front Of House was about as wild as any show gets.
What kit do you use / guitars do you play / etc.?
We use Kemper amps live, Billy uses Sonor Drums and Soultone Cymbals. Dave uses incredible basses made by Dingwall and I’ve just started working with Solar guitars which is really awesome, they’re amazing! Sennhieser are also really good to us – our IEM monitoring system is integral to our show.
What, if anything, are you plugging/promoting at the moment?
Our new album Semaphore is out on June 12th 2020 and it’s easily our biggest accomplishment so far. Go check it out!
What are your plans for 2020?
Other than surviving a global pandemic and releasing Semaphore, we’re gonna release some more playthrough content and hopefully some guitar bass, and drum tabs for the album. We’re also going on a postponed tour with the absolutely sick Exist Immortal later in the year so that will be great – we’ll just have to remember how to play our songs – it’s been a while since our last rehearsal!
If you were second on a three-band bill, which band would you love to be supporting and which band would you choose to open for you? A chance to plug someone you’ve toured with, or a mate’s band we’ve not heard of before!
We’d take our buddies RXPTRS out, or maybe one of the other wicked acts on Saviour Management. We’re touring with PALMIST next year which will be sweet! In terms of who we’d support – the biggest one ever would be Deftones. I’d lose it.