What happens when King Crimson’s drummer, Porcupine Tree’s bassist, a massively prolific vocalist/composer, and a beyond talented guitarist cross musical paths? O.R.k. is the answer to that question – and as the online buzz around the band’s debut album Inflamed Rides continues to grow, TMMP got in touch to get the inside story about it all…
You all come from quite diverse musical backgrounds. How did you all first discover each other?
LEF (vocals): Carmelo [Pipitone, guitar] and I have been talking for years about making music together; it was just a matter of time and space. I know Pat as he’s lately played on a few records of mine (Saga, Il Canto Dei Canti – a weird opera with 14 horses on stage – and Berserk!), and I thought he would have been perfect for a brand new project with Carmelo. Bass-wise, I couldn’t think of anyone fitting better than my Obake bandmate Colin.
We all are crazy swamped busy – especially Pat, who has basically been touring non-stop for the last two or three years with King Crimson, Stick Men, and a bunch of other side projects – but it was worth a thought. Carmelo was obviously cool with this lineup idea. We produced a few minimal demos with just my vocals and Carmelo’s guitar, I forwarded that rough stuff to [the other] guys, and we all immediately had the impression that the music was really great and was definitely worth our time and energy.
What do you think of the term “supergroup”? Would you say it’s an appropriate term to describe this project?
Colin Edwin (bass): It’s very flattering, as it’s a recognition that as individuals, we’ve all had a great range of experience and all have some solid achievements behind us.
However, I am sure we can all think of few things that sound good on paper but don’t make the grade when you actually hear them. So while the people involved undoubtedly might grab the interest of the press, or whoever, I think it’s important to say that what drew me in – apart from knowing that LEF wouldn’t put his efforts into something mediocre – was simply the music.
The undeveloped ideas I heard initially grabbed me straight away. Carmelo Pipitone’s guitar playing, which was previously unknown to me, is individualistic and idiosyncratic, but also really vibrant and engaging. Paired with LEF’s voice, I could hear it had great possibilities, and I felt it would be a great context for me too.
How would you describe the creative process behind the making of Inflamed Rides?
Pat Mastelotto (drums): LEF sent me files, I added drumming and sent them back. Listen, talk, repeat.
Colin: For me, it was very spontaneous. It was actually a surprise to me that we had a whole album finished so quickly – it almost seemed a little too easy, which is a great sign. I guess you could say that we all have own distinctive “voices” and the conversation came easily.
Describe each of the tracks on Inflamed Rides in one sentence each.
Colin: Jellyfish [is] our calling card – it has all of the ingredients we use in O.R.k.’s music, subconscious imagery set to indelible riffs over quirky rhythms.
Breakdown: An apt title – the lyrical content deals with an existential crisis, [and] we all have them I am sure.
Pyre: The listener should decide wether the protagonist in the song is a hero or a villain – as Solzhenitsyn said, “The battleline between good and evil runs through the heart of every man”.
Funfair: The soundtrack to a demented and cruel amusement park populated by narcissistic psychopaths, could be set in any major city really.
Bed of Stones: Representing the continually evaporating dream of security and comfort.
No Need: A twisted homage to Roy Orbison’s Pretty Woman, which we all love unconditionally.
Vuoto: The title means “empty” in Italian – scientists tell us atoms, the building blocks of everything, contain mostly empty space, so where is the matter?
Dream of Black Dust: Nostalgia mixed with a determination to face the future.
Funny Games: The lyrics deal with the difficult and heavy theme of life and what to make of it, whilst the music is simplistic and easy to follow – so if the words evoke a feeling of discomfort, just sit back and enjoy the ride.
Black Dust: An ambient instrumental to focus the mind at the end of the album’s journey.
Is there a spiritual aspect to what you do?
Pat: Well, I think there is always a spiritual side to music – especially in collaborative group effort. It’s the losing of self entirely to the cooperative effort of the crew as a whole that brings more of the spirit to bands.
I think music really does live as a spirit. I’ve got this nutty idea that the supreme being God types that might have been the seed for humankind on the Earth communicated through frequencies or vibrations. And thus we can have this deep human connection interplay through music. And that’s why I think peeps all over the world get similar feelings – like goosebumps or a spooky frightened feeling or an uplifting happy buzz – from music.
Are you planning to tour the new band/album?
LEF: Of course, in February next year.
Beyond the release of Inflamed Rides, what do you have planned for the future (as O.R.k. and with your individual bands)?
Colin: We are aiming to take O.R.k. material live early next year. Playing fresh music to real people is always exciting to me, and I am confident it will come across really well.
As for other things, I have a new album with Metallic Taste Of Blood just out, so we need to think about making that a live concern, and next up will be the Endless Tapes album, which is finished and release-ready. LEF and I will be working again under the Obake banner before the end of the year too.
Pat: I’ve notched out 3 weeks in Feb to work with O.R.k., so hopefully after a bit of rehearsal we can get a couple weeks of gigs that will spread this music and get us revved for doing more.
LEF: We’ll be touring as O.R.k. the next year. Recordings for a new Obake album are slated for September. I’m also working on a new project with Bill Laswell, Eivind Aarset, and Nils Petter Molvaer.
What items are left on your bucket lists?
Colin: Diving the Great Barrier Reef, and relocating to a cave in the Atlas Mountains.
Pat: World peace.
LEF: Hey Colin, bring the booze to the cave or you end up declaring war to the entire world in a couple of days, making Pat a sad drummer…
Check out TMMP’s review of Inflamed Rides here.
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