Colonial Militia Vol. 2
(Division Records)


The country of Norway is becoming a music lover’s paradise and one of the hottest rock bands coming out of the northern European stronghold is Orango. With its near hard rock sonic attack, the 2013 CD release of Colonial Militia Vol. 2 should go far to put Orango on the map big time. Essentially a well produced hard rock album with some serious sonic etchings, the CD echoes some of the great English hard rock bands of the late 1960s / early ‘70s including Deep Purple, Quartermass, Black Sabbath and others. There’s also some very cool instrumentals that bookend the CD, giving rise to a progressive hard rock orchestral side. At the hub of the Orango sound is singer-songwriter Helge Bredeli Kanck (guitars) who gets solid support from his band mates including Karl-Joakim Wisløff (bass / keyboards) and Trond Slåke (drums), with additional percussion work from producer Kai Christoffersen. Commenting on the band’s growing stature in the following mwe3.com interview, Helge adds, ‘The band and the songs are becoming better all the time, at least that’s what we believe.’ Some have compared Orango to ZZ Top and Deep Purple, but there’s also some cool layered vocal harmonies amid the sonic bedlam. If you dig the ‘70s sounds of Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin, you’ll be in for a treat with the sound of Orango. www.OrangoTheBand.com

mwe3.com presents an interview with
Helge Bredeli Kanck of ORANGO

: Has Orango carved out a niche for themselves in the hard rock arena of 2013? Can you give some background as to the founding of the group and tell us about your recordings and how that has led to your Colonial Militia Vol. 2, which is actually the follow up to the first volume. What does the title mean too? Humorous no doubt! (lol)

Helge Bredeli Kanck: Well, it’s hard to say, really. I hope so. Anyway, if we have been able to carve out anything at all in the rock arena in 2013, it must probably be quite an achievement, I guess. You know, being a three piece rock ‘n’ roll outfit and all, you must be honest enough to admit that you're probably not the first to come up with that kind of concept. That said, I think Orango has managed to create our own more or less unique sound, with a hard, swampy kind of rock feel and a nice three part harmony blend. At the same time we’re part of a long musical tradition by which we feel very inspired. Makes us feel at home.

The band got together way back in 1999 as two cousins. Trond the drummer and Helge the guitar player, teamed up with army buddy Karl-Joakim. In the beginning it was all mod suits, Rickenbackers and Ludwig drum kits, etc. Over the next couple of years we released two EPs and an album, which got a really nice reception. We toured all over Norway, until we suddenly got fed up. I don’t know why really. Maybe the fact that we had been living together in the drummers grandpa’s house for a year or so, is part of the explanation. Anyway, Orango rested until 2010, when we got back together and immediately started to work on a new album, that was to be Confessions. If you’re listening to Villa Exile and Confessions, it’s easy to tell that they're both Orango albums, but Confessions is definitely a more grown up album. Probably because now we’re grown ups, too. On this reunion album and on the two Colonial Militia albums that were to follow, we teamed up with producer and long time friend Kai Christoffersen, who used to play drums with Seasick Steve. A very nice and gifted guy who works his ass off to make this band sounds as good as possible. I would be happy to recommend him to every rock band, though we hope to keep him for ourselves.

The Colonial Militia albums were recorded at what must be one of the best and most spectacular studios and locations we ever saw: Ocean Sound Recordings. Located on a tiny island in a rather harsh part of the Norwegian west coast, it’s just a fantastic recording studio, which has attracted the likes of Mark Olson (Jayhawks), Arcade Fire, Travis, and a bunch of others. A great room, state of the art equipment, a hardworking and very professional staff, and most important – peace and quite! We did twenty-three songs in nine days, and took the tracks back to Oslo to do some overdubs and mix it. The plan was to release it as a double album, but having these studio bills piling up, we figured we could make more money if we released it as volume one and volume two. (lol) No, really, it’s more a matter of not being bigheaded enough to do a double album at this point. Two volumes seems more, eh, humble.

Where did that title come from? It’s from you guys. You and your revolutionary war. The colonial militias were loose army units that consisted of farmers, settlers, trappers and indians, brought together by the generals to assist the regular army in a guerrilla kind of way. When the crop had to be cut, they had to return home for while, before going back, or maybe desert. That’s how Orango sees itself – as a guerilla kind of rock ‘n’ roll band, a little bit on the outside of the main stream music business, doing what we want to do when we want to do it.

mwe3: These days Norway is a hot spot for great new bands and recording artists. Can you tell us something about music scene in Norway these days? It seems like this is the best round of new bands that sound like bands did 45 years ago! To my ears, Orango sounds like an early 1970s mix between Grand Funk Railroad and Quartermass. What musical influences go into making the Orango sound? Also can you say something about recording for the great Division Records? I know they also have the amazing Farmers Market too. What other groups can you recommend from Norway these days?

Helge Bredeli Kanck: In my point of view, the Norwegian music scene is just as entertaining or boring as any other music scene. It depends on the bands and artists. But it’s true that this country has produced and continues to produce a lot of really good acts. Our problem, compared to the Swedes, for instance, is that we haven’t been that good at exporting and showcasing our bands outside Norway. Maybe it’s because this is a rich country and people don’t have to work that hard, really. No rich man plays the blues, you know. That said, Oslo is the capital in Scandinavia that has got the highest number of concerts during a year, and each night you can easily choose between ten to fifteen live shows, which is pretty good for a city with just half a million people living there. The venues are great, too.

Norwegians have always liked their rock ‘n’ roll, and it’s true we’re not the only band inspired by the heroes of the past. I think it´s hard to say what musical influences are more important to us, but the mix tape we put on to make sure we have a good time in the tour van, will probably contain a little bit of Creedence Clearwater Revival, Graveyard, early ZZ Top, Wolf People, Zeppelin, Grand Funk, Cream and Manassas on it. And we just love the vocal harmonies of Crosby, Stills & Nash. It’s probably no secret.

Putting out our albums on Division Records is handy, as some of us even run and own that label, and we gain full control of everything we do, which is as old-fashioned as it is important. The label has put out a wide range of band and artists, and the speed-balkan-boogie ensemble Farmers Market is now on that label to. They actually used to be on Mike Patton’s Ipecac label. Division puts out the music they care about, and are not so stuffy when it comes to the various sounds and genres. As long as it's good and real, it usually passes the audition. These are not on the Division roster, but if you want to check out some good Norwegian acts, I would strongly recommend Jonas Alaska, Monica Heldal and Mikhael Paskalev. Real music. No fakes, no agendas. Just real music. And of course, everybody knows Turbonegro.

mwe3: What inspired the instrumental tracks? Sounds like you have every base covered on the Colonial Militia II album! You guys did a great job on the instrumentals, so would you consider doing more symphonic hard rock instrumentals on coming CDs. What are some of your favorite rock and non-rock instrumentals and instrumental music artists?

Helge Bredeli Kanck: I almost forgot there were instrumental tracks on these albums! (lol) We wanted a statement, some sort of fanfare or overture to open the album, and the same kind of thing to close it. The idea was that you should be able to play the Colonial Militia albums reel to reel, with the two instrumental tracks being the glue. Then we fucked up, as we got the part one and part two of the instrumentals completely wrong. It was all probably due to working too many long hours. (lol) But, yeah, it was some kind of conceptual idea behind those songs. Musically it must have been inspired by many of the conceptual outputs of the late 1960s and early ‘70s, I suppose. Maybe we should pay a little homage to Pink Floyd for that guitar thing, but that’s just too obvious, isn’t it. We´ll rather claim it as an invention of ours! We haven’t made any plans on becoming a symphonic rock band and I will work very hard to make sure such a disaster is avoided. (lol) But when it comes to instrumental music, if it’s good we go along with it. We love the work of Quincy Jones, the Bossanova album in particular. The bass player listens to a lot of jazz, and the drummer prefers Herb Alpert when he's cooking. Link Wray is cool, too. Our all time favorite instrumental recording must be “Albatross” by Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac, I suppose.

mwe3: The CD benefits from a great studio sound. Can you say something about when and where Colonial Militia Vol. 2 was recorded and when was the music written? Who else was involved in getting the sound together in the studio and the CD mastering too was excellent. How are you planning to market the CD and promote the CD outside of Norway and the E.U. in general?

Helge Bredeli Kanck: Ocean Sound Recordings, again. That’s the secret... along with a well prepared band and a great producer. Both Militia-albums were recorded over that nine day period, with overdubbing and mixing taking place at Calmeyer Studio back in Oslo, where we all live. The music was written, rehearsed and arranged just after the Confessions tour. A couple of the tracks we made in the studio during the recording sessions. We just love to play and we were really productive for a period there. Still are. We actually managed to squeeze in a couple of 7 inch singles between those albums. The album was mastered by Morten Lund at Lunds Lyd in Oslo. He’s been around for a long time and really knows what he’s doing. These days a lot of Norwegian bands send their albums over to some of those hot shot mastering wizards you’ve got in the States to get the work done. Orango, however, likes to be in the studio listening to the playback and have a cup of coffee when it’s done, so we'd rather do it here. As long as it sounds good, we couldn’t care less about names and CVs.

So far Orango has been busy doing albums and touring in Norway, but we’re eager to bring the band around to other territories. The next album, which we’re starting to record this summer, we’ll definitely be out there!

mwe3: What guitars and amps are featured on your CDs? What guitars and keyboards interest you the most and do you perform strange sounding keyboards or add in other sonic effects in your search for the coolest sounds?

Helge Bredeli Kanck: You´ll probably regret asking me this question, as I will have a hard time keeping myself from raving on forever. The main guitar featured on these albums is a clean and simple Les Paul Black Beauty custom made in 1980 and brought over from the US by a friend. That’s the favorite guitar, matched with either a vintage Fender Super Reverb, a Vox AC30 or a Marshall Bluesbreaker. But the albums also feature a Telecaster Deluxe, brought over from the States, too, a 12-string Rickenbacker and even a plain Fender Stratocaster. The bass player makes do with his Jazzbass, Precision bass and a Rickenbacker, too, usually played through his vintage Ampeg stack. For the drums, we always go for the vintage Gretsch and Ludwig kits. Nothing beats it. The albums also have a lot of Hammond B3 organ with Leslie and some Fender Rhodes on it, sometimes with a wah-wah. And then, as the bass player is also a classically trained violin player, we do the string sections ourselves. We keep arranging and dubbing it over and over until we got ourselves this nice little chamber orchestra, kind of. It does the trick.

mwe3: So what are you planning for Orango and other musical endeavors moving into 2014?

Helge Bredeli Kanck: None of us have any other musical endeavors outside Orango, which is great for the band. The drummer just bought himself a little farm just outside Oslo. Very idyllic, very romantic. In a couple of weeks we'll gather there together with the producer to start rehearsals for the next album, which will be recorded during the summer and autumn, in between festival appearances and other live gigs. This album will be released sometime in the autumn 2014. The whole working process will be filmed, too, and we'll end up with a kind of mini-rockumentary, that we plan to release together with the LP, for those who care. The band and the songs are becoming better all the time, at least that’s what we believe, so we really look forward to make and put out the new album.

Thanks to Helge Bredeli Kanck @ www.orangotheband.com


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