Recently, your correspondent has moved house. The Shire of Fremantle had been calling me for the longest time.
And I answered the call. But not before I’d spent a fair amount of time in a West Leederville apartment, across from a small house that a band was frequently rehearsing in. They were good. I could hear gorgeous ‘60s pop melodies within original songs from outside the walls and I always meant to pop my head in to say hello, until I remembered the underwhelming feeling felt when rehearsing with a band only to be interrupted by a knock on the door from some well-meaning old codger. So, I didn’t.
Somehow in the days leading up to my house move I discovered that this band was called Big Orange and that they had finally gotten out and started gigging. One Sunday as I was moving stuff I discovered some leftover balloons from my daughter’s 16th birthday party in the car boot. I found an orange one and anonymously placed it in Big Orange’s front yard. It may be the most stalkerish thing I have ever done.
“I never saw an orange balloon,” ponders vocalist/guitarist, Daniel Davis, “but thanks for thinking of us.”
“Yeah, thanks for throwing your junk in our yard,” adds keyboardist Emma Adams.
Still, it’s all brought us here, hasn’t it? And Big Orange have now released their debut EP, Streets. It’s been quite a long time coming.
“I started getting interested in Daniel’s music when he was playing in his first band Genoa,” Adams says. “We are both from a country town in the South West, so is Tom (Garvey) our keys player. That band would often throw these wild house parties out on a farm where Daniel lived. They would set up a stage and lights and I reckon every kid in town would trek out there. It was cool.
“Dan and I became friends when I was about 17, we had a lot of similar tastes in music and I started getting more interested in the music world. Eventually Tom, Dan and I moved into a share house in the city. Big Orange started as a lounge room project, I bought a synth… now I’m in the band. We needed a drummer, we saw a video of on YouTube of Russell (Loasby, of a legion of Perth original bands, and seemngly every third Record Club gathering) playing drums. I tracked him down online, sent him some demos and asked if he wanted to come ‘round for a jam. I found Mike (Georgieff) on one of those Facebook band groups (laughs). Oh man, we went through a lot of auditions before we finally came across Mike!”
That part about the lounge room project is spot on. As a neighbour, it was not uncommon to hear Big Orange rehearsing at all times of day. Daylight hours, mostly, from memory, and never at a particularly extravagant volume (not that I really mind). Long story short, they’ve really been working away at this.
“Yeah it has been a bit of work,” agrees Davis, “but I think the fact we went through so many different members at first might have contributed to that. Though we're in a much more stable position now. More productive. For a while we were kind of treading water, I think.”
The time taken reveals an admirable fact. Big Orange are committed to the art of the song.
“It’s extremely important to me,” states Davis. “I'm constantly working on it. I've always been interested in songwriting. Pretty much as soon as I started learning to play guitar I was trying to write my own songs. From when I was young, listening to Nirvana, I was always thinking about that side of things.”
The Streets EP was recorded at Rada Studios with producer, Dan Carroll. Old ties ensured that the process was as positive as can be. Well, mostly.
“I'd done a lot of prep work for it so the actual time in the studio was fine, and Dan is a mate of mine so it was cool. He actually played bass in Genoa for a little while there too.”
“Daniel records everything at home so by the time it gets to the studio I have heard it a million times,” Adams adds. “Things obviously get changed a bit and sound different when they get to the studio and get another set of ears on them. I get attached to certain things so I’ll be in the background saying, ‘It’s missing this. It needs more that’, like a brat. I’m sure I annoy the hell out everyone, but I like the way the final product sounds especially the strings part at the end of What I Left Behind. Dan Carroll got that sounding like heaven!”
Of all the band’s songs, why are these ones on there?
“Well I had the song, Streets, for a while and so I really wanted to finally record it,” Davis explains. “We tried a few times before but never got anywhere. Then we just tried to assemble a good EP… and also budget plays a part, too.”
Adams: “Daniel has so many songs that he has recorded in his home studio, so it was pretty much just going through and picking songs that felt right together. Streets was always a song that was going to be recorded, it’s been around for quite a while and so the EP was kind of moulded around that. Guiding Star was actually the first track that we took to the studio, I think purely because we thought it would be the quickest and cheapest to record. We had no money at the time and really wanted to put something out!
“The last track, Famous, was thrown in very last minute,” she says of the band’s first single release. “We had just recruited Russell on drums and wanted to get him in the studio. It’s the one that has probably done the best so far.”
Davis says that Big Orange feels like a real band now that they are gigging, so a debut EP release only makes that more so. From here on in it’s a case of more of everything… minus an orange-balloon-proffering-neighbour, of course.
“I think we're going to record again soon,” Davis considers. “My hopes are always too high, so I'll just see what happens.”
“Yes, that is definitely the plan,” Adams affirms. “We have the concept and songs picked for another EP, maybe an album, depending how much money we can scrape together.”
Big Orange launch Streets on Friday, August 4, at The Odd Fellow (Norfolk Hotel) with help from Telete, Coco Blu and Carla Geneve. Full details at https://www.facebook.com/events/133784527206863