Orange Goblin's A Eulogy For The Damned comes out February 14th on Candlelight Records. It's the band's seventh studio album. Having been in possession of the disk for a couple weeks for review - I'm super stoked to tell you that this is the perfect Valentines Day gift to the one you love. I spoke with Ben Ward, Orange Goblin's smouldering lead singer and this is what he's got to say about life (Liverpool supporter), the universe (touring with Ronnie James Dio), and everything (music related).
KaliDiaries: January 14th, just a month ago, you played Croatia for the very first time. How did that come about?
Ben Ward: We just got an email from a promoter over there saying I noticed you guys have never played here and would you fancy coming to play? We're always up for something like that. We fly out Saturday morning, play the show Saturday nigh,t and fly home Sunday. So it fits in with our sort of lifestyle really. It worked out really well. We're really excited about it. Looking forward to Saturday. 14th
KaliDiaries: Are there any places you would like to play that you haven't played yet?
Ben Ward: I think Australia and South America and places like that. Places that we're gonna try to get to in the next couple of years. There are loads of places even in Europe. We've not been to the Czech Republic, or Hungary and Romania, and countries like that. It's not quite so easy to go tour those places because there is not a great deal of money around over there and these people can't really afford to pay travelling bands a great deal, so things not worked out logistically yet. But hopefully in the next couple of years we'll be able to sort something out. Canada is another one as well. We've been to the states four or five times but we've never actually made it across the border to Canada so. Canada and Mexico I think we should try to incorporate that as well.
KaliDiaries: You're going to play Bloodstock again this year. You played the very first Bloodstock Festival, what was that like?
Ben Ward: It's going to be the first time back there since 2001. So obviously our profile is a little bit higher than when we first played. We're looking forward to headlining the Sophie stage on the Saturday night. I think it's the perfect kind of time and place for us. So it's gonna be great. (the first one) It was really bizzare with it being the first one. No one knew what it was going to be like. The venue was much different. It was indoors. It was an indoor venue. I can't remember the name of it now. It was in Derby. From what I can remember it was sort of a great big community hall and Saxon were playing. And we were sharing the dressing room with a reformed Sabbat and I just remember all of us getting very very drunk and causing a lot of trouble. Which led some way toward us not playing until this year.
KaliDiaries: So you're saying you no longer get drunk and cause trouble?
Ben Ward: Yeah, we still do a bit of that. Just not as bad as we were in the early days. When you are headlining you have to be more responsible. Get drunk a bit later.
KaliDiaries: Have you been back to just see other bands?
Ben Ward: Actually I've played there two year ago with my other band Raven's Creed. We played in the unsigned tent. Had a great time hanging out all day, seeing a lot of friends back stage, a lot of bands I wanted to see. Unfortunately the weather weren't so kind that year and it was a complete mud bath. It was great. It's great that there is something like that in the UK. It's probably the best strictly metal festival there is in this country. Being a part of it this year is great for us. The bill is getting stronger and stronger every time they make an announcement.
KaliDiaries: Where else are you looking forward to playing this year?
Ben Ward: We'll be off on tour in the UK in April, got some festival dates lined up in Germany, France; I think there is gonna be a lot more in Scandinavia, Holland. We're looking to go back down to southern Europe as well, around Spain, Italy, Greece, Portugal; those sort of places and doing as much as we can to support the record. And then obviously we'll start thinking about writing more material for another new album next year or the year after.
KaliDiaries: It sounds like Orange Goblin stays busy!
Ben Ward: There's never sort of a dull moment. Because the band isn't our full time job, we all have to work to support our families. The band is really a nice sort of release for us. It's our hobby. We get to have a great time just hanging out with our friends, drinking free beer and getting paid for it. We like to do as much of that as we can.
KaliDiaries: So what do you do when you are not in the band?
Ben Ward: Me personally I work in a music management office looking after various artists. The rest of the band they drive vans delivering stuff and work in offices. We're kind of normal 9 to 5 horrible boring tedious.
KaliDiaries: Not office monkeys! That's so depressing.
Ben Ward: Tell me about it . You go from one week being on tour in the States and playing to sold out venues in Chicago and New York then coming home and being told to sit there and go thru a pile of invoices on your desk.
KaliDiaries: That's odd because every place I've read says that you guys are the best live band on the planet.
Ben Ward: That's very nice. Not for me to say. I'd like to think we do go out of our way to put on a spectacle and a good live show. There's no fancy pyrotecnics or any of that stuff . Just four guys that plug in and play loud and play with a lot of passion and enjoy what we're doing and the crowd either get into it and enjoy it and have a laugh with us or they have a laugh at us. Either way we have a good time.
KaliDiaries: So what are some of the cool highlights form the last 16 years?
Ben Ward: For guys like us coming over to the USA and headlining tours over there is something we only dreamt about. Just having the opportunity to play with bands we've admired, been fans of for years. Queens of the Stone Age and supporitng Alice Cooper and Dio. They're highlights. Playing at big festivals over here that has been legendary - playing at Donnington in 2007. That was a dream come true . We've seen all our heros Metallica, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, they've all played there. For us to play there was another highlight. This past year we got to play Sonisphere the same weekend the Big 4 were there. being a part of a bill that includes those caliber of bands is a bit humbling really.
KaliDiaries: Really? Because when I listen to Orange Goblin music, I put you up there with those bands. There's really no difference. The music is just as good and in some cases better than theirs is.
Ben Ward: Thank you very much. I take that as a huge compliment. Unfortunately we don't earn the same kind of money as those guys.
Kali Diaries: What was it like opening for Dio?
Ben Ward: Well it was a little bit daunting. It was our first big arena tour. These were huge venues 12 to 15 thousand seat venues. And when you tour with bands like that , first band on the bill you learn pretty fast that you don't get much of a sound check. You're on pretty much as soon as the doors open. You're playing to sort of 95% empty venue. But we had a great time. And Dio, himself, was an absolute gentleman. A legend. I'll never forget his hospitality and his kindness and his words of support he gave us. He came to see us every night and encouraged us and give us beers after the show. It was just a great experience. You get to see how a big rock and roll machine works and I think that's held us in good stead over the last few years. As our profile has risen you learn not to get to big for your boots. Treat people with the respect you expect to be treated with yourself and all those kind of cliche things really. It's just a great experience and one that I'll always remember.
KaliDiaries: Tell me about how you achieved the vocals on the album. You sound positively wicked one minute, drop dead sexy the next.
Ben Ward: I think this album my vocals have just come out the way they have probably born of a little bit more confidence in what I'm doing which is testament to the support of the band. Also we recorded this album over a period of nine weekends. Rahter than doing a block of 2 to 3 weeks which we've done in the past which means you have two or three days to get all your vocals down. This time I was recording two tracks one weekend having a week off to rest my throat and back in fresh for another two songs and so on. It was a lot easier this time around.
KaliDiaries: Changing topics for a bit, why are you a Liverpool supporter when you live in Leytonstone? I would expect at best a Spurs supporter at worst a West Ham supporter.
Ben Ward: I'm not actually born in London, I'm from Margate. As a kid, my mum was Liverpool and my dad was Everton. So I had a choice between the two. And as a kid in the late 70s with Liverpool winning everything I opted for the redmen. I still try to get to as many games as I can. I followed them around Europe the last few years, go to all their away games in London. I've always been there and still support them proudly.
KaliDiaries: What is left for you guys to achieve? You've got awesome albums. You've got a great fan base.
Ben Ward: It would be nice to start making a living out of doing this. The oppurtunity to tour a bit more and visit all the places we havent' been to. I'm realistic. I know we're not going to be the next Metallica or Iron Maiden. We're not gonna be millionaires from it. But just to be able to support our families and do this would be the ideal scenerio. Hopefully the sales from this new album will increase. Raise our profile. Just keep enjoying it. That's the main thing. The sole reason this band is still going 16 years on - because we all just love doing it. I often get asked what advice you have for young bands starting out and I'm like well if you're not really into having fun, don't bother. That's the most important part.
Do yourselves a favour and look up Orange Goblin.