Genre: Orange Rock, Band: Mad Orange Fireworks
“We just thought we’d put it all together and call it ‘Orange Rock’.”
As the Indie music scene in the country is growing, there is one band slowly creeping its way into the ‘easily-recognizable’ category – Bangalore’s Mad Orange Fireworks. Michael Dias (vocals, guitar), Ramanan Chandramouli (vocals, guitar), Kaushik Kumar (vocals, bass) and Deepak Raghu (drums) definitely have a vision that has undeniably reflected the music they churn out. With a medley of influences, they don’t have a genre. They have genres – Jazz, Funk, Pop and Rock – which they fondly call “Orange Rock”.
My first experience of the band was a surprise. From raw energy, on-stage conversation, easy music and light lilts, there was no doubt that this band was going places. August saw the release of Mad Orange Fireworks’ debut album titled ‘Lifeline Cast’. This 10-song album is filled with heavy guitar riffs, easy vocals, personal lyrics and some brilliantly-groovy bass-heavy numbers. While most people who’ve heard the band playing would be partial to the accent-heavy dialogue in the band’s famous number Feet Ain’t Movin’, my personal favorite has to be the super-breezy Green Fever. The last track on the album, Give It Back, has a very Queen-meets-November Rain influence, with lucid backing vocals and beautiful guitar medleys.
Each song is different from the next, with a shaky undercurrent that the band has managed to make their own. While the vocals could be stronger, there is no denying the tightness with which each instrument comes together. Almost forming a platform on which the vocals sit. Every song has a strong jazz influence, that blends surprisingly well with the clear rock undertones.
Hint: if you’re wondering where the name of the album came from, listen to the track Confusing State.
All in all, this is definitely one album that once bought, will be revisited time and time again. I cornered front man, Michael Dias, during one lazy holiday and coerced him into answering a couple of questions about the band and the album.
Noopur: The first thing I have to ask you is a little bit about Mad Orange Fireworks.
Michael: Mad Orange Fireworks is my baby. I put it together over two and a half years ago. That was around February, 2011. We started off as a three-piece. We just got together and started working out songs together, as a band. And we had a thing going. The responses were good, right from our first gig; things were looking great.
A year after the band started was when Rama (Chandramouli) joined the band, and it just seemed to be a lot better with one more layer of guitar. We’ve been playing as a four-piece band since then. Only over two years after the band was formed did we get into the studio to record our first album. That was quite a ride as well. The album is called Lifeline Cast, which was released two months ago. And it’s been doing quite well. We’ve got some really good responses and things have been going pretty peacefully.
Noopur: So, you guys refer to your genre as “Orange Rock”. And that’s something that’s quite patented by you guys. Why “Orange Rock”?
Michael: *Laughs* Well, it started right from the band name. When we were trying to put the band name together, I wanted to call it ‘Mad’ something. And we were just trying to figure out what kind of color the music relates to. And we all agreed that it was Orange. Because it’s interesting and funky. And it’s a happy kinda colour. And somehow we just felt that’s what the music was about. If I had to actually explain what our music is it is sort of pop, rock, jazz… little bit of blues. A lot of funk, groove. Lots of things. We just thought we’d put it all together and call it “Orange Rock”.
Noopur: That’s cool. You guys had your album launch of ‘Lifeline Cast’ at The Humming Tree. 1. Why did you choose The Humming Tree as the venue for the launch? 2. You guys don’t just play music, you actually perform. Which is quite entertaining. Is that something that happens unconsciously or have you made an effort to perform that way?
Michael: Firstly about The Humming Tree, we hadn’t performed there before. And we had only heard good things about that venue. They were offering us a good deal to have an album launch, with a free entry, and the venue is very centrally located. Plus the sound is brilliant. So it just made sense for us to choose that venue. We did have quite a few options open but I’m really glad we did it there. To me personally, it was my biggest rockstar moment. *laughs* And there was a crowd of easily over 300-350 people. It was a brilliant experience.
Our act on stage is not exactly planned. We just try to enjoy our music as much as we can. So whenever I’m singing, I try to get into it as much as possible. And feel it. The only thing we’ve actually worked out is that stupid dance during Feet Ain’t Movin’. But apart from that everything else is very spontaneous.
Noopur: Apart from The Humming Tree, which is relatively new, any other venue in the city that you guys like performing at?
Michael: Among all the venues in the city, my personal favorite would be BFlat. Although it’s a lot smaller, the sound there is brilliant and it somehow just seems to draw in the most intimate crowd that’s just ready to listen to your music. Secondly, right behind is CounterCulture, which is another brilliant venue. The only issue there is that it’s a little far out and the sound is something you need to get used it. But it still works. It’s a bigger venue and pulls in a good crowd as well. So playing there is always fun.
Noopur: Now getting to the album. What went into producing an album like this?
Michael: So, first we had to decide on the songs. We have over 15 original songs and we wanted to make sure we came out with an album that had 10 songs on it. So just narrowing that down was the hardest part. Apart from that, all our songs are completely structured and worked out. When it came to recording this album, it was a completely new experience. It was brilliant.
We took over 3 months putting the album together. Once we started and got the hang of it, it was fairly simple. Production-wise we haven’t done too much in terms of electronic sounds on the album. It’s all stuff we played with our instruments. The only thing we tampered with was my voice for the dialogue in Feet Ain’t Movin’.
Noopur: Biggest challenge during the album-making process?
Michael: Singing on it, I’d say. This has been the first project where I’ve been singing. Prior to this, I’ve always been a guitarist. It’s been quite a ride. This took the most time. Everyone else was quite professional about putting their parts in.
Noopur: Any musical influences?
Michael: We all have different influences. For me it’s John Mayer, Dave Matthews Band, Sting. Bangalore’s Thermal and a Quarter has been a big influence. Kaushik is a big groove-based player. He likes all kinds of music. From Red Hot Chili Peppers to James Brown. Stuff that keeps it pumpy and heavy. Rama also has completely diverse musical interests. He likes stuff right from Scofield to lots of intense jazz. Snarky Puppy is one of his favorite bands. Jamiroquai, as well. On the album, it was Shravan who played and he’s a completely metal influenced guy. Now though, Deepak is playing with us. And he is a brilliant drummer. His kind of music is really heavy. More Trash Metal.
Noopur: What can we expect from Mad Orange Fireworks in the coming future?
Michael: Well, definitely more ‘Orange Rock’, I’d say. We’re always looking for more inspiration and after Deepak joined the band, our sound is changing. It’s maturing. We are hoping to take this to higher places. So hopefully, we win a Grammy someday. *laughs*
You can listen to Mad Orange Fireworks’ album ‘Lifeline Cast’ on their Reverbnation page.
Photos courtesy Mad Orange Fireworks