Code Orange have been one of the most talked about bands in heavy music recently. Their third album Forever received insane amounts of praise for how it’s taken the band in a bold new direction. Recently out on the road supporting Gojira we got the chance to sit down with Code Orange guitarist and vocalist Reba Meyers to discuss how these past few months have been and what this album could do for the band.
So how have the past few months since the release of Forever been for you?
Reba: It’s been awesome, yeah we’ve just been playing tons of shows and practising more.
The album seemed to get an overwhelmingly positive response, was this in any way a surprise or were you really confident with what you put out?
Reba: I mean we were definitely 200% confident with the record but you never really know how people are gonna respond. We had no idea what to expect but you know it had been two years since we put out I Am King so it was hard to tell what general critics thought of us now It’s always get to get a gauge on that but we were psyched about how it’s been. It makes things a lot easier.
Forever definitely seems like quite a departure from what you’ve done before. How did these changes come about and who had the idea to really step outside your comfort zone on this album?
Reba: Erm I mean we’ve all grown up together and all got into new music together so it was just natural for us to do something new. If it was forced you would have been able to tell. But we always wanted to push the sound and push the boundaries. We never want to be predictable. Jami definitely thought of a lot of it, like the general basis, ideas and concepts of the record. He’d be like “I want more electronics in it” and whatever but we’d each go and have our place and part in it and would make it happen.
So is there a particular song or moment on the album you are proudest of?
Reba: For me personally I’d say Bleeding In The Blur. That was yeah, erm that’s one where I’d been writing songs like that before but I feel like we really hit it right with that song.
When that song first came out the reaction was unlike anything there had been for you guys before
Reba: Yeah it was awesome.
Do you think hardcore can limit itself as a genre. Your roots are in hardcore and you are clearly still a hardcore band but on Forever there are some totally different ideas. Do you think more bands should try and step outside the confines of what is expected from a typical hardcore band?
Reba: Yeah I mean it’s kinda just like you can’t really control that. I mean we’re gonna do it cos we need to. We know that hardcore needs this. But like I have no idea, it just is what it is really like bands are just gonna do what they want to. I mean sometimes it’s awesome, a lot of straight up hardcore bands are awesome. I just hope that record labels do give bands a chance that step out the box. They need to find those bands and give them opportunities like we’ve been given opportunities. That’s all that I can really hope for.
Do you not think that some bands might not get noticed if they aren’t willing to take a risk?
Reba: Yeah that’s true. I mean it’s just all about what kids are listening to when they grow up. I mean if there’s a bunch of trash that’s just thrown in their face and they are told “this is good” then they won’t know what good music is. I mean we got lucky cos we were seeking it out. We wanted to find good music and interesting music. So that’s why we create interesting music, it doesn’t just come out of nowhere. So that’s the kind of cycle we are dealing with.
When you talk about seeking music, as a band you’ve spoken about loads of bands you’ve looked up to outside of hardcore. When you were writing Forever did you try and bring in any influences that just didn’t feel right or did it just fit naturally?
Reba: That’s what we were able to do better than in the past. Take all these influences and mix them in a way that still sounds like us. It’s hard to mix fucking Depeche Mode with Nine Inch Nails.
Yeah the Nine Inch Nails influence is constantly one that stands out for me
Reba: Yeah it’s just hard to mix that stuff with heavy ass music. But we all wanted to accomplish that and make it happen. We wanted have a more alt-rock song and wanted the darkest songs. So yeah I think we made that happen, in my opinion anyway.
I think the general consensus is that you did
Reba: *laughs* Thanks
Your tours have been branching out from hardcore as well. Whether it’s bringing different bands out to support you or this tour with Gojira. Has it been a challenge to step into these different live settings?
Reba: Yeah we definitely take it as a challenge and you know we’ve been doing this for a long time. We’ve done all kinds of things since we were kids and we’ve gotten used to trying different things. We don’t always get it right in those first couple of shows but once we can start to read the crowd and read a room you are able to tailor the vibe of your set to make it work for that scenario. I think we now know how to play to Code Orange fans but also how to play to people who don’t even know who the fuck we are. Like at these shows, some people know us but for the most part they are Gojira fans which is awesome. But I think you just have to keep an open mind on how people think.
So have the crowds been responding well on this tour?
Reba: Yeah it’s kinda hard to tell cos the shows are so big. So like when I go out after I don’t get to talk to a lot of people so it is hard to tell. But people are in there and they are moshing, I think we’ll be able to tell whether we made an impact next time we come back.
I guess venues like this are a lot bigger than what you typically play
Reba: Yeah it’s hard to gauge. But like last night we played in Birmingham and it was awesome. It was a great crowd and you could definitely tell they were enjoying it.
A while back the band said they’d love to play Bloodstock Festival in the UK which is as metal as it gets here, are you now just fully committed to taking metal on?
Reba: We wanna take everything on. We’ve done tours with Deftones, Gojira and At The Gates. We’ve done all kinds of different stuff. But yeah we definitely wanna take on metal, I know we aren’t gonna appeal to all those people cos we aren’t like most metal bands but I feel we can get to them in a different way.
Do you think this album could take you even further than hardcore and metal. Not necessarily the mainstream but could it grab the attention of people who wouldn’t usually listen to a band like Code Orange?
Reba: People just have to be brought into it in the right way. If they just hear a clip of something and don’t really understand the band then I don’t think it would go over with someone who just listens to regular music. But it just depends on how the timeline of things goes over the next couple of months. There are certain songs that could be a gateway for people to listen to the rest of the record and then see a show. I think we could do it, we’re gonna go for it and if it doesn’t work then it doesn’t matter we’ll still be playing fucking hardcore shows. I mean we are always gonna be a hardcore band, that’s what we are. We take opportunities we get offered and push towards goes, we’ll continue to do that. But we don’t necessarily expect something like this to work out but if it does then that is fucking awesome.
So this might be a bit more personal to you but being a fan of hardcore it has always felt like the scene is too male dominated. Has this ever caused any problems for you or the band.
Reba: Honestly no, I mean there’s stupid shit but there’s stupid shit in every scene no matter what and hardcore is no different. So honestly it’s been fine. I mean it’s been great to be like a figure representing that and I feel proud to do this. My friends fucking support and that’s all that matter.
Do you think you could be seen as a role model for girls getting into hardcore then?
Reba: I don’t wanna say that I am but if people see me that way then that’s amazing.
I think a lack of female musicians is a problem in a lot of scenes
Reba: It is for sure but it has to happen naturally. We can’t just be like “let’s put more girls in bands”. It has to be young girls getting into music, it’s when you are young that it really matters. Like it’s easy to be 23 and be like “I wanna be in a band”. When you are are a young girl that’s when you are more self conscious , kids are too nervous to pick up and learn an instrument and that’s where people need to be supportive. Like teaching girls to play instruments.
Do you think this links back to what you said earlier about bands just being thrown at kids without it being genuine?
Reba: I mean it can be genuine but what’s important is just getting young girls in bands and having it be natural from the very beginning. And then there will be plenty of girls in bands and it won’t be a big deal at all and it’ll just be a reality
It’s been interesting to get your perspective on this because it’s talked about a lot right now and it links to what you do
Reba: Yeah I mean I’ve been asked this stuff since day one and at first I was a bit like “oh this again”, like I never wanted this to be focused on. Like our band has meaning but we just don’t focus on something like this because then people start treating us like we are just a band with a girl in and we’re not that at all. Every single member has their thing that is 100% important. We’re a group and every single member is completely necessary. And that’s why we are gonna get where we are cos we don’t just have one fragile piece.
Recently the band has been seen as quite outspoken, things like that “bargain bin deathcore bands” or when called out Asking Alexandria for their behaviour. Do you think people see you this way because they are too afraid of upsetting people and won’t speak their minds?
Reba: It’s hard to say really. We’ve always been very outspoken and confident. We’re not trying to step on anyones toes. But we feel strongly about this. We feel strongly about our music and our scene. We have a real goal to bring ourselves onto a new platform and to show people what fucking real music is. We’re not just trying to shit talk but we’re not afraid of anything or anyone. We’re not afraid to tell people what we really think. I feel it’ll open peoples minds a little bit even if they don’t agree it makes you think. That’s just all it really is.
Finally what else have you got planned for the rest of this year and can we expect a UK tour?
Reba: Yeah we’re coming back in the summer. I can’t really say right now but it’s gonna be awesome. We’re playing some fests and some shows around that. We’re about to do this Killswitch Engage and Anthrax tour in the states so that’s the next thing. But I’m sure we’ll have tons of stuff.
Well thanks that’s everything, it’s been so great and interesting to chat to you
Reba: Awesome, thank you very much
Code Orange’s new album Forever is out now on Roadrunner Records. You can check out our review of Forever right now. Code Orange next return to the UK to play the 2017 Download Festival in June – get your tickets from the official festival website.