Interview: The Orange Constant September 23, 2015 11:32
We recently caught up with Lee Guentert (drums) and Nickolaus Benson (guitar/vocals) of The Orange Constant, one of Athens, Georgia's most exciting young bands. Check out our latest interview and listen to a few of the band's original tunes while you're at it!
The Orange Constant came to life in September of 2012 at Georgia Southern University, playing various house parties around Statesboro, GA. How did the band come together, and what stands out the most when looking back over the past three years?
Lee: The band came together through Andrew and Nick meeting in a music theory class at Georgia Southern. They started to jam and write outside of class with Nick's roommate Kyle. Lee met Kyle soon after and we all started hashing out original songs immediately in the basement of Andrew's town-home. Many things stand out from our beginning, but we distinctly remember that it was a struggle for us to come up with a band name. We eventually came up with The Orange Constant after noticing that our rehearsal space glowed orange at practice every day as a result of sunlight passing through an egg crate held over the window.
You guys have since relocated to Athens, GA, one of the South's biggest hotbeds for original live music. How big of an impact has this move had on the band?
Nick: By the time we had moved to Athens, we had already been living together for a year, except that in the old house Andrew slept in the dining room. Everyone having their own space has helped us relax a little more. Statesboro is a fantastic town for anyone starting a band because there is not much competition and interest in live music is starting to take off. Moving to Athens has reminded us that there is always room to improve, so we are practicing now more than ever.
Who have been some of your biggest influences over the years? Are there any particular musicians/bands who you find the band being compared to by listeners? How do you guys classify your sound?
Lee: Collectively , we draw influence from just about every genre of music, but each member has their own preferences. Some of our favorite artists are The Beatles, My Morning Jacket, The Allman Brothers, and Frank Zappa. We are often compared to Red Hot Chili Peppers, Phish, and Incubus, but we have heard just about every comparison under the sun. For lack of a better description, we classify ourselves as Alternative Jam Rock.
What has been your approach when writing new songs? Do you typically start with the chords or thelyrics? How has the songwriting process worked within the band?
Nick: As a band, we don't really have a set formula for song writing. Typically our songs come from a seed. Every member contributes seeds at different times. A seed could be a guitar riff, couple of chords, bass groove, drum beat…etc. Once the seed has been planted, the other members come in and add water, some sunlight, and the occasional MiracleGro. If all goes well, we have a complete uniformed idea/song. Although democratic group writing is a common method, some songs are written primarily by one or two members. In those cases the other members try to enhance the preexisting vision. The primary lyric writers are Nick and Andrew, but every member has written lyrics to at least one song.
You recorded your first full length album, Time to Go, with Grammy-nominated producer John Keane (Widespread Panic, REM) earlier this year. Tell me about how you guys got hooked up with Keane, and what that experience was like as a young band.
Lee: When we were researching studios he immediately came to mind as the best option, but due to his busy schedule we were not hopeful. We had attempted to contact him for months when one day we check our inbox to see a a message from John Keane. It turns out he was available the week we needed to record so it all worked out. Working with John was an incredible experience. He is a very patient and focused individual. He will speak his mind openly but will do it without offending anyone. He also has a gift at bringing out the best of each member and translating that into a lively and clear recording. If possible, we definitely would like to record with him again!
The Orange Constant has quickly broken out of the Statesboro and Athens scene and made its way into the Southeastern circuit. Not many people understand how much goes into the business side of a band, much less a new band. How has that worked for you guys thus far?
Lee: So far managing ourselves has worked out well. Up until recently we did all of the booking ourselves, but have since joined forces with William Bridwell of Airbound Entertainment. Adding him to our team has allowed us to contribute more time and energy into the music. Overall, we are comfortable developing in a grassroots sort of way, but we are also open to joining a record label or management agency if the right opportunity presents itself.
How is the rest of 2015 shaping up for the band. What has you guys most excited? Have any major goals/plans for 2016 been laid out yet?
Nick: 2015 has been great for us so far. The move to Athens was definitely a big step for us as well as our recent van purchase. As for the future, we have a show coming up at the Georgia Theatre where we're playing on the rooftop after Umphrey's McGee. This is exciting news because they are a huge influence on us as a band and it presents the opportunity to play to a crowd of new listeners. If all goes according to plan, we would like to release a new album out in 2016. That is one of the biggest goals for the year to come. After that, we just want to keep improving and building a fan base all over the Southeast.